The pandemic and the quarantine it has forced us to live under have produced two distinct feelings in many people: persistent anxiety and a perplexing fogginess/malaise. Many of us are walking around our houses saying, “Ugh. I just feel weird…and lazy…and unmotivated.”
One obvious remedy for both of these afflictions is exercise. Throw your shoes on and go for a run or a walk or a bike ride.
But an equally powerful solution is meditation. You’ve all heard about it. Many of you have tried it. Unfortunately, only a tiny fraction of humanity does it regularly.
Some of you may be psyched out about meditation. You may have heard that it’s really hard or that it’s some weird, Eastern tradition where you have to burn incense, wear a funky robe and chant wacky Sanskrit words. Wrong.
Don’t overthink meditation
Meditation is not the big deal it’s cooked up to be. It’s just placing your attention on something happening in the present moment, like your breathing. Then when your mind wanders, you just notice that and bring your attention back to your breathing. Seriously, that’s all meditation is.
But it turns out that doing this for a short amount of time each day physically changes your brain in ways that will make you less anxious, more focused, happier and a whole host of other great things.
Don’t take it from me. Studies conducted at Harvard, Stanford and many other top flight research institutions bear this out.
Meditation has transformed me
I’ve been meditating regularly for seven years and it has been a game-changer. I’m calmer. Less anxious. More patient. My focus has improved. I’m happier. And by the way, I’m not a hippie, granola dude who grew up in an ashram. I’m a fairly regular American guy. So if it benefitted me, it can benefit anybody.
I’ll write an article in the coming weeks about how to develop a lasting, long-term meditation practice in the easiest, most painless way possible.
A simple meditation to calm you
But for now I want to focus on a simple, short-term solution that will help you today. And that is a five minute guided meditation by Sanjeev Verma.
As part of helping people in my community learn about meditation, I’ve been searching high and low for good, simple, guided meditations. Not too funky or “out there.” Just simple, calming meditations. This is the best one I’ve found so far.
Here’s what you do
What you have to do is incredibly simple and easy. Just bring your phone or computer to a quiet place in your home or apartment (btw, if it’s crowded and noisy at your place, just lock yourself in the bathroom and sit on the toilet). Put on headphones or ear buds if you have them. If you don’t have either, that’s okay. Bring this article up on your phone or computer. Sit up straight. Click this link to the five minute meditation. Then follow the instructions of Mr. Verma. If you find that your mind has drifted, just notice that and bring your attention back to listening to him. That’s it.
I can almost guarantee you that this five-minute meditation will leave you more relaxed and clearheaded than you’ve felt in weeks.
If you do it once and feel better, that’s great. But if you want to make a serious run at eliminating that pandemic-quarantine induced anxiety and fogginess, you’ll be best served by doing it every day.
Morning is best
And if at all possible, try doing it in the morning. Doesn’t have to be right when you pop out of bed. But within an hour or two of waking is optimum. Why? Because the calm and focus you’ll generate can serve as an anchor for the rest of your day.
And if you’re really digging it, try listening to it a second time in the late afternoon when most of us fall prey to that midday letdown.
Self-care is critical right now, not just for you but also those around you. This one’s a no-brainer. Give it a try.