Uncertainty of the future, worries over the health of the most fragile, and economic recession, and homeschooling. All of these and more, whether profound or superficial, are the basis for the chronic anxiety that is plaguing us at the moment.
As we spend our days wondering if things will ever go back to normal, we turn to distractions (Hello Tiger King!) or to fleeting pleasures (Hello bar cart!) wondering: is there perhaps a better, more long-lasting way to cope with our anxieties? The answer I've found has been: yes, in meditation. A few moments in the day or week where you can turn inward, tap into your gratitude bank, and remind yourself that you can be at peace regardless of the situation.
As Austrian neurologist, psychologist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl once said: "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way." In this vein, I reached out to three meditation coaches who share the importance of this practice to help us to continually stay in the light despite the grim situation around us. Read on to find our how you can start a meditation practice right now.
Sara Black is a celebrated photographer who, through a personal journey of healing, has discovered the yogic path and become a Meditation and Radiant Energy coach. She trained in the Himalayas, practices Sattva Yoga and leads people, whether it’s through their personal practice or in a corporate setting, to reduce stress, find Peace and discover their Inner Light.
Why do you believe meditation is an important tool for maintaining good mental health during this time?
Sara Black (SB) "Fear and anxiety are riding high on our emotional scales at the moment. Anxiety is our inability to let go of the past or too much projection into the future. Fear stems from the unknown or the uncertain in the future, something that we think is coming but have no control over. Both emotions wreak havoc because when saturated in them, it removes us from the present moment. Meditation elevates our present moment consciousness, giving us the exact technique and technology to bring us into the Now with ease. When we are truly present, we realize that lingering in the past or projecting too much into the future doesn’t have value when it disrupts our peace. Meditation teaches you to locate that space within where you can transcend doubt and all the mental chatter and come into a space of radical trust and surrender. The truth is we have no control over the future, but we can master our current state of being right now. And we always have a choice to be in Peace. We just need the tools to help bring us back over and over again."
How can we start a simple meditation practice?
SB "Sit with a long tall spine, close your eyes and start to tune in to your breath. Just be an innocent witness, without judgment or expectation. Bring awareness to the air coming in through the nose and the air exiting the nose. Notice how focusing on the breath brings you to the present moment. As soon as you feel grounded and anchored, begin a 4 part Yogic breath. Inhale through the nose for 4 counts, hold the breath in for 4, exhale through the nose for 4 counts, hold the breath out for 4. Repeat the cycle for a minimum of 5 minutes. You can choose your favourite classical music piece that is around the same length of time, and to breath to that. Stay with your eyes closed and keep breathing with the 4 equal parts until the music ends. If you're feeling the urge to open your eyes, just tell yourself a little bit more. At the end of the piece, stay for a few more moments with your eyes closed. Then open them slowly and take your time. Stay a few moments here and notice the shift in your energy to a more calm state. When 5 minutes is easy, keep working your way up to 20 minutes. Anchor yourself in the breath. It's such an elegant mechanism that sustains our life at all moments in time."
Sara’s next Online Course is a Meditation Initiation using Himalayan techniques covering both practice and philosophy which will run from May 1 -30. Students will have the opportunity to meditate with her via livestream every day for 30 days until the habit takes root. For more details, email here.