This Covid quarantine has many of us anxious, irritable and worried about our finances and health. These six meditation and mindfulness exercises will help restore some calm and sanity to your life.
- WHAT: Four Count Breathing
HOW: You can do this one just about anywhere. It only takes about a minute. You just want to be in an area where no one will bother you. You can do this sitting, standing or lying down.
Close your eyes. Inhale to a count of four…Hold your breath for a count of four…Exhale for a count of four. Do this for five breaths.
WHEN: Do this any time during your day when you feel uptight, anxious or upset. I also advise doing it any time at all, for no reason other than giving yourself the gift of calm relaxation.
2. WHAT: Body Scan Relaxation Meditation
HOW: Just click here and listen as I guide you through various areas of your body. It’s around six minutes but will feel much shorter. I find the body scan to be the easiest and most relaxing form of meditation.
WHEN: Ideally, you want to do this one sometime in the morning before your day grabs hold of you and shoots you into the pinball machine of life. You don’t have to do it right when you wake up, but shoot for doing it within an hour so of awakening. It will help center you and set a tone of calm presence for the rest of your day.
3. WHAT: 3 Minute Breathing Meditation
HOW: You’re going to just follow your breath as it comes in…then follow it as it goes out…And if it feels comfortable, say to yourself “in” on each inhale, and “out” on each exhale. This can make it easier to keep your attention on the breath.
When your mind wanders, you just notice that that has happened and bring attention back to your breath.
HUGELY IMPORTANT POINT: You need to be vigilant about being good to yourself when your mind wanders. Most of the people I know who tried meditation and gave up on it did so because they got frustrated with their mind wandering into thought so much.
Minds wander. All the time. It’s normal. The key is just noticing that that has happened and literally saying to yourself, “Okay. No big deal. My mind wandered. Now let’s just slowly bring attention back to the breath…”
I’ve been meditating for almost eight years and I STILL do this all the time!
Okay, when you’re ready, click on this link and listen as I guide you through this short meditation.
WHEN: You may want to try this some mornings instead of the body scan meditation. Or if you want to go for it, do this one in the afternoon as a second meditation. It’s only three minutes. You can do anything for three minutes!
Three Mindfulness Exercises:
1. WHAT: Hot Wash Cloth Rub
HOW: Soak a wash cloth in hot water. Wring it out and then rub the cloth all over your face, neck and head, just like you do upon sitting at a Japanese restaurant.
Notice your breathing as you rub your face. When you’re done, look in the mirror and say thank you for being good to yourself.
Be sure to place the wash cloth next to your sink the night before so you don’t have to rummage around looking for it in the morning.
WHEN: Do this first thing in the morning upon rising. It’s a fantastic way to start your day.
2. WHAT: Nature Walk Exercise
HOW: Many of us have been going on walks as a way of getting away from our spouses, kids or roommates and stretching our legs in the process.
Next time you venture out on your walk find a scene that appeals to you. It could be a tree, flowers, a sunset, birds singing in a tree, a bee flying around pollinating flower after flower.
After you’ve found your scene, stop. Close your eyes. Now take 15 or 20 seconds and just relax your body. Start with your head, your face, then neck, shoulders, chest, stomach arms and legs.
Now take three slow, deep breaths…
Then open your eyes…and observe. Don’t label anything in your mind. For instance, if it’s a bird, don’t say “Wow. Look at that red breast and yellow feathers…how beautiful!” Just look at the bird. And listen to it. Experience it. Be present with it.
Using this relaxation and breathing technique is what I call a backdoor, indirect entry into the present moment. A lot of people will, for instance, see a sublime sunset and say to themselves, “Wow. How great. Let’s just be present with this!” And it rarely works.
It’s hard for most of us to force ourselves into the present moment in a direct way. Indirect entry into the moment through relaxation and breathing does work.
Also, try something Eckhart Tolle recommends. Stand next to a tree, preferably one in your yard or near your residence so you can return to it frequently. Stand there and sense the stillness of the tree. It’s alive. And it just stands there. Every day, all day and night. Some of them for hundreds of years.
Doing this can have the cool effect of instilling stillness in you. Try it.
3. WHAT: Exercise for Dealing with Anxiety and Pain
HOW: This Covid quarantine has many of us experiencing more than the usual anxiety. The way most people respond is to try and push the anxiety away. We resist it. It comes out in your head as “Ahh. I hate this feeling. It sucks. I feel like it’s never going to go away.”
And the anxiety just sits there, making you miserable. We do this automatically, not even aware that we’re doing it.
So next time you feel awful anxiety or some other type of suffering, try this instead:
Go inside and actually observe that feeling. Observe it as non-judgmentally as you can. Do the opposite of resisting it and pushing it away. Look at it. Talk to it. Accept it. It’s there. It’s the reality of that moment.
Now, that doesn’t mean you go inside and say, “Hey, anxiety, you’re not so bad. You’re fine. I like you.” No. That’s just denying the feeling which makes it worse.
Try this. It’s a game-changer. In fact, this one technique is at or near the top of the most profound benefits I’ve gained from eight years of practicing meditation and mindfulness.
As one of my readers commented recently, “Pain is certain, but suffering is optional.” This technique will cut down on the amount and duration of your suffering.
WHEN: Again, do this any time you experience acute anxiety or any other type of pain.
Trying some or all of these exercises will make a sizable dent in your Covid-quarantine blues. Go for it. And if you want to learn more about meditation visit my website davidgerken.net.