Whoa! What a week it’s been. I feel like our nation has gone into full panic mode. And to be honest, it saddens me. I see so many people struggling. So many battling with their emotions. So much hatred being spewed both on social media as on national television. Our nation is divided. It’s the vaccinated, versus the unvaccinated. The Floridians versus the rest of the country. LOL (speaking from a Floridian’s perspective here) Now it’s getting political. So much division, and all during the most critical time in our lives. But I’m also seeing a lot of fatigue. Pandemic fatigue is. In many cases, there have been reactionary responses to social commentary. I’ve witnessed unflattering behavior, and its detrimental to say the least; for yourself, and for others.
Some time ago, I conducted a poll in my Instagram stories inquiring about your self-care practices. I was pleased to see many had developed some positive coping mechanisms to help them in stressful times. However, others expressed difficulty in finding the time to care for themselves. While others expressed a lack of patience to meditate. Believe me, I’ve been there! I was that girl who would stare enviously at the yogi’s in Yoga class wondering how it was possible to be so deep in meditation after all that “twisting and turning.” I was also the girl who struggled to meditate with millions of thoughts racing through my head. I mean, I couldn’t stop them. I had “no patience.” The truth is, I just wasn’t patient with myself. The other somber truth was, I believed meditation to be something out of this world. Does this sound familiar?
It’s nothing to be ashamed of. This is far more common than most think. I was pleasantly surprised when I finally realized the truth behind successful meditation. After much reading and enlightenment I came to see just how wrong I was. I felt silly. Like, of course there’s no way to shut your brain off. Duh! It’s all about redirecting your thoughts, and BREATHING! I can’t stress that enough. BREATH is EVERYTHING!
How ironic, that a virus that has threatened our very ability to breathe, is now doing the same even while we’re virus free. I mean, do you realize what’s happening to you when you panic? Your anxiety shoots through the roof. Your blood pressure sky-rockets. For every time you see and respond to something negative on social media you are diminishing your capacity to BREATHE! So let’s reverse that. Let’s consider what a blessing it is to have breath. And let’s use it to our advantage. Can you imagine a state of mind where you’re so at peace that nothing, I mean, absolutely nothing can touch you, bother you, worry you, and affect your emotional state? The secret… MEDITATION.
In my previous writings, I’ve shared how I’ve learned some meditation practices through the ancient art of reading. LOL Yes… it’s called research people! Knowledge is power. I delve into this in greater detail in Series Four- “Self Care-Best Care,” in the blogs titled “Choose Yourself Every Time!” and “Peace of Mind.” Click here to read: issalivestyle.com/2021/03/29/be-your-own-bestie-or-your-own-enemy-living-with-anxiety/ You’ll find the common theme in the writings is, “BREATHE!” Finding peace within is crucial to a healthy state of mind. But how do you do it successfully? Well, it’s simple… and it’s not. You must find which method works best for you. Here are a few techniques I’ve learned along the way.
Meditation is the practice of breathing which helps you reach a relaxed state. Relaxation starts in the mind, and trickles down to the rest of your body. You’ll notice your jaw unclench, your fists unhand, your muscles loosen, and your breathing gets shallower. All by taking a few deep breaths. Start with taking one long deep breath in, holding it for an at least 15 seconds, then releasing it. Do this at least 3 times, or until you begin to feel tranquility. The point of meditation is to start small. Start with 5 minutes, then increase in increments of 5, until you notice you are getting better at honing the skill.
Now, the actual mind control aspect of meditation, really and truly is not as stressful as most make it out to be. The overall idea is to re-focus when you realize your mind starts drifting into other thoughts such as, “Oh I forgot to put the trash out,” or “did I turn the light off in the kitchen?” you know… distracting thoughts. They are OKAY to have. The key is to redirect yourself. You’ll notice that 5 minutes will fly by just with the attempt to reel yourself in from time to time and before you know it, you’ll be at 15 min, then 30 minutes, etc.
I once read in a book, though I can’t recall if it was the Book of Joy or Super Rich (if you’re interested, let me know I’ll go back and check my notes), but there was a mention of that infamous need to scratch when you have to be still. It happens to all of us. We attempt to be motionless and all of a sudden you get an itch on your nose and you think you can’t break your position in meditation to scratch because it’s going to throw you off. SCRATCH THAT ITCH! The thought of not being able to scratch and trying to withstand it is distracting you enough that you can’t move on to the next phase in your meditative state. Believe it or not, when I read that, I was soooo relieved!
Now… with your eyes closed, and after your initial breaths, imagine you are looking for a focal point at the edge of your nose. The very tip of your nose. Focus on that. Then, imagine that as you’re breathing out of your nose, you can see that breath. Silly to think about, I know. But in the moment, it will all make sense. Do this timed for however long you intend to practice meditation. OR, you can repeat a mantra in your head after those initial breaths. What is a mantra you ask? It’s a word, a sound, or phrase that when repeated frequently will help aid in concentration during meditation. For instance, if I had a rough day, and I sit in meditation, I may repeat the phrase, “peace, be still,” or if I want to be energetic in my day I may repeat the phrase, “I am energy,” or “energy flows through me.” I do this long enough to feel a state of calm and peace. I meditate while reading my morning devotionals. As I read bible scriptures, I breathe, close my eyes, and repeat the scripture that touched my spirit, over, and over, and over.
Note that there are other forms of meditation. Pop Sugar reported on SKY Breath Meditation in their article published September 7, 2020 (written by Tamara Pridgett). She states, “SKY Breath Meditation is a series of breathing practices research has now shown decreases anxiety and depression and stress, and improves well-being, positive emotions, mindfulness, [and] social connection,” Emma Seppälä, PhD, science director at the Stanford Center For Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and lead scientist on a Stanford/Yale study that looked at the benefits of SKY Breath meditation, told POPSUGAR. SKY (Sudarshan kriya yoga) is described in the article to be, “…where breathing immediately taps into the opposite of your fight-or-flight [response],” Dr. Seppälä explained. By using breath-work, you’re able to tap into your nervous system, calming your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure in minutes. They go on to express that doing this type of meditation, “You can notice an immediate effect. . . . And so this is a very fast acting, efficient, and effective way to come to a meditative state. You’re actively changing your breath and it’s bringing you into this deep state of relaxation that has these impacts on your mental health and well-being.“ You can read more of this meditation practice by clicking the following link: https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/what-is-sky-breath-meditation-47749815
And there you have it people! It’s as simple as that. LOL I kid. I know it’s not so simple. The key is to find a time, and a place, where you will be uninterrupted. You MUST find the time, and you MUST find the space. Even if it’s your closet, early in the morning before the kids awake. Before you head to work. Laying in your bed, with beats head phones and/or any other noise cancelling head phones you have. Your emotional health depends on it.
If you need help getting started, find guided meditation soundtracks that will help ease you into relaxation. Here are a few I’ve found useful:
Binaural Beats Meditation- YouTube
Healing Meditation Music- https://youtu.be/4wtG01ymIjE
I am that I am Meditation- https://youtu.be/HiTtEQ_X2o8
Gratitude Meditation- https://youtu.be/xfD4HaBBc0I
And I’ve recently found one of the individuals I admire most in life, next to Oprah of course, has developed a Meditation app. Totally worth checking out. Meditate while being lifted with words of encouragement with the “Mind Matters Meditation” app which can be found at the following link- https://linktr.ee/iyanlavanzant
Remember, these are only guides to initiate your practice. Soon enough you’ll have developed the ability to guide yourself into meditation in whichever way best works for you. OH! And… don’t forget to set the scene! I’m a major believer in aroma therapy. Use scents such as myrrh, lavender, and frankincense, or any other calming oils you prefer. If you’re into oils and want to learn more about them, listen to the podcast episode on Sea Latte, a wealth of information on grounding yourself and the various uses for Essential Oils:
I pray that this information is able to help you develop a regular meditative practice. One that will calm your soul, your spirit, and help you pour into yourself more and more on a daily basis. Recharging is critical to your emotional and mental well-being. Don’t get so busy making a life that you actually forget to LIVE. And by living, I mean, being your best self. What better way than to dedicate a few minutes a day on something that will build you and uplift you? Please don’t hesitate to share your experiences if you find this has helped you. Reach out to me if you would like some additional resources on your journey. I have a few book recommendations I can share. Who knows maybe I’ll even gift you one. 😉
Namaste… now go in PEACE.