Thoughts From The Couch – Meditation

When we are going through hard times we need a way to guide ourselves and find ways to steadily carry the lamp of calm and hope for ourselves and others. We as humans have always been tested. Generations before us have gone through war, depression, epidemics and famines. As the coronavirus pandemic grows we can all find ourselves getting caught up in collective fear and anxiety. As we are being asked to socially isolate and, for most, the way we are used to living our lives has tipped upside down, it becomes even more important to draw on our inner strength. 

Meditation is known to bring unexpected changes in the way our brain and body works. It is said to be more potent than coffee. According to Buddha, meditation trains the mind to “not dwell in the past or contemplate about the future.” It allows the mind to settle in the ‘now’ and allows us to see what is in the here and now. It establishes a secure connection between our internal and external worlds. Being fully present through mindful awareness training has been demonstrated to be a crucial factor in giving us resilience to face challenges that arise in our daily lives. 

Dan Harris, a well know newscaster, writes eloquently about his scepticism and journey into meditation in his book; 10% Happier. “Meditation is the best tool I know for neutralising the voice in the head.”

For many, one the thoughts they have around meditation is that they don’t have enough time. Perhaps, now with time having a different meaning, meditation might be something that you can experiment with. As we ride the waves of emotions stirred by the coronavirus, starting your day with a morning meditation can gently release fear and anxiety and help set the conditions for a more peace-filled day.

Every morning when the Dalai Lama wakes up, he begins his morning practices with a prayer from Shantideva: ‘May I be a guard for those who need protection; a guide for those on the path; a boat, a raft, a bridge for those to cross the flood; may I be a lamp in the darkness; a resting place for the weary, and a healing medicine for all who are sick. For as long as Earth and sky endure, may I assist until all living beings are awakened.’ 

Headspace, offers; ‘hundreds of options that include everything from deep breathing techniques and guided waking meditations, to semi-guided and completely unguided meditations. If time is of the essence, meditations can be as short as one minutes to as long as 20 minutes.’

There is no one size fits all to meditation. Jack Kornfield, shares a useful video titled, ‘Compassion In The Time Of Coronavirus’ and challenges us to meet our pain with compassion rather than self pity. He goes on to say that, despite not being able to see our loved ones, there are other ways to connect outside of physically. He suggests one way to do this is to practise bringing into our minds those that we love, along with those who we don’t know and who might be frightened, sick and alone. 

As a therapist I believe it is important to encourage my clients to look at other sources outside of our relationship that might help them to draw on their inner strength and bring wisdom, courage and care to not only themselves, but to those around them. I came across which is something that only takes a minute. A different sort of meditation whereby you can reconnect to the simple joy of being from the comfort of your own home. A sort of magical moment where you can feel and remember how it is when someone is really present with you without having to pay or say anything.

However you choose to explore the endless possibilities of meditation my hope is that you offer yourself the opportunity to relax, to steady the mind and return to the present, remembering in moments of fear or anxiety the words of Mark Twain; ‘ My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.’

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