Meditation for Resilience
What a year! I have gone to ground to some extent. My response to the recent overwhelming events. I get quiet.
Lock-down stopped me in my tracks. Classes cancelled. Was offered 2 great jobs the week before everything closed down and then couldn’t start - I felt crushed.
This has been a time of re-calibration for me. A home-based retreat. I have a rare medical condition and have used this time to get reviewed by a range of health professionals and look at the latest research regarding the treatment and management of my condition. I’ve revamped my exercise routine and reviewed my priorities and values. I have written a 10 week pregnancy yoga course; a 5 week postnatal yoga course; and am presently in the midst of creating a Mindful Pregnancy and Mindful Parenting Workshops.
Getting buff, getting grounded, finding my balance.
Maintaining connections with students, family and friends via social media.
Having a husband on the front lines was a scary thing when Australia’s Covid growth curve was increasing by 25% a day and health workers could not obtain personal protective equipment. I will not lie - I have found some weeks in the last couple of months a struggle. Well-being practices like yoga, journaling, forest-bathing, meditation and contemplation have helped. They are not a magic wand but they certainly boost my resilience. They allow me a measure of calm and stillness in the midst of a current turbulent sea of Covid pandemic, racial tension, and an increasingly, environmentally-ravaged planet.
One thing I am realizing as I grow older is that very few people get a free ride in life. We all experience some form of suffering. When we suffer we can feel as though we are drowning in difficult thoughts, emotions and sensations. We feel consumed by them. Lost and alone. I see meditation as an emotional first aid kit when life is tough. There are many different forms of meditation and I thought that I might share a few, evidence-based ones that I have found helpful over the next few weeks. This first one is a simple meditation that uses all of the senses to help us settle our attention in the present moment.
Most of us spend enormous amounts of time in the past (reminiscing, resenting, or blaming) and in the future (worrying, planning, hoping and dreaming). Not all of this is bad mind you. As human beings, this capacity is actually an unique ability - necessary and helpful. The Covid pandemic is a pertinent example. Our public health experts needed to assess risk. They needed to model, plan and implement containment strategies. And fortunately for us in Australia, so far, their measures have been successful and we have not experienced the devastation other countries have. We too, needed to do our part. Be informed and change our way of living to reduce the possibility of infection or transmission. This all requires the ability to learn from the past and to forecast the future. To co-operate, make plans, and carry them out. Human beings, at our best, are great at this, surviving and thriving because we have the capacity to employ skills like these.
But if most of our time is spent with stuff that has already happened (therefore unchangeable) or might happen (but also might not) it can be unproductive and unnecessarily draining of our energy. Particularly if we are not experts and have a limited ability to change anything.
We can also navigate our days on autopilot, acting mechanically - just not thinking at all. Zoning out. Again there are times I think this is OK too. Sometimes our brains just need to power down for a mo and have a rest. But when these tendencies take up most of our waking moments they can chip away at our joy and experience of life. And they can prevent us from standing tall, taking our place as responsible adults in the world, and doing our bit to make a difference.
I don’t believe meditation is for everyone. But it has helped me and I was not a believer! I set myself a goal to spend 10 mins a day in meditation for 6 months as an experiment. I was not expecting it to be so helpful.
I am still meditating a decade later. At least 30 mins a day.
It is simple, but not easy because our minds are so readily carried off elsewhere. But every session builds our mindfulness muscle. Every session puts us a little more in touch with the here and now; with our true self; with loving source. Meditation builds a sense of connection to our own mind, body, and spirit and eventually to all living things. We find ourselves a little calmer. And when the shit hits the fan we are a little less reactive, a little more objective. A little bit more capable of thinking clearly and acting with wisdom. It helps to buffer against the slings and arrows of life.
I hope you find this meditation helpful too.
What experience of meditation have you had?
Please feel free to comment below.