If you’ve ever been curious about mindfulness exercises and meditation in general, now is literally the best time to learn more. It’s totally normal for all of us to feel stressed out and overwhelmed while we endure this pandemic, and during times of uncertainty it’s important that you remember to take care of yourself. Beyond your physical health and protecting yourself from becoming infected with the coronavirus, it’s important to work on your mental health as well.
Daily meditation can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression levels, and with countless free online apps and YouTube videos on the subject, there’s never been a better time to start.
“When you practice mindfulness meditation, you focus on being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and/or your physical sensations with openness and curiosity, and without judging or evaluating what you notice. You begin by finding a comfortable, upright position, where your body feels alert and relaxed. Then you bring your attention to the sensation of your breath. When you notice that your mind has wandered, which it will, you gently bring your attention back to the sensation of the breath,” said Jamie Price, co-founder and president of Stop, Breathe & Think, an “emotional wellness and mindfulness platform that offers guided meditation and activities, including breathing exercises, acupressure, and more.”
Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation that exclusively focuses on breathing. This is the most common form of meditation, as it’s meant to “anchor” the practicing individual in the present moment while removing any outside distractions regarding the current status of the world, troubles from the past, and fears for the future. The focus of meditation in general is to really clear your mind and place yourself in the present moment, which is why mindfulness meditation is all about being aware enough to control your thinking and focus it exclusively on the current moment, while also being unaware of how relaxed and stagnant you’ve become.
The best part about making the choice to start meditating is that it doesn’t require any fancy gym equipment or advanced knowledge in order for you to do it. You can literally start practicing anywhere at any time, and now that we all are stuck inside for an indefinite amount of time, you can start practicing mindfulness exercises all over the house.
Find a quiet place to sit and relax. Price recommends trying to return to the same spot in your home everyday at the same time to really get yourself into a routine. After a while, your brain will begin to associate that spot with relaxation and isolation from the outside world of scary pandemics and uncertainty.
Price also emphasized that you shouldn’t get discouraged if your mind begins to wander a lot, especially if you’re a beginner. Remember that your goal isn’t to stop all of your thoughts, but rather to focus on the present moment and strengthen your ability to watch your thoughts as they come and go without any further acknowledgement.
“It’s the difference between standing on a riverbank watching the river flow by, as opposed to jumping in and trying to reverse the flow. Rather than getting frustrated, try to view it as a great opportunity. No matter how little or how often your mind wanders, each time you become aware of your mind wandering and choose to bring your attention back to your breathing, you are strengthening your awareness — your mindful muscles,” Price said.
It’s important that we all are focusing just as much on our mental health as we are our physical health during this pandemic. Take at least 15 minutes everyday to just sit down with yourself and breathe. Put away all your devices, sit on the front lawn and take in the sun and fresh air. There’s never been a better time to center yourself in the present and remember that this too shall pass.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.