The age-old practice of meditation is, essentially, a tool to train the mind. As we show up in meditation, we are training the mind, rewiring our conditioned patterns and responses so that we can show up with awareness and presence, able to navigate the waves of life with a little more flexibility and a little more grace. Meditation is meant to be a tool to help us get better at living. It's when life becomes uncertain and the ground beneath us feels shaky, that the cultivation of this space deep within ourselves offers a steady and calm refuge that we can retreat to whenever we wish. This is a time, perhaps more than ever, where these ancient practices are needed.
The Washington Post recently published a study indicating that half of Americans have reported that the pandemic is harming their mental health. Likewise, the Office for National Statistics reported a 50% increase in anxiety amongst British people as soon as lockdowns began in mid-March of last year.
Anxiety is our body’s natural response to stress. During times of uncertainty, when we do not know what lies ahead, our nervous system is on high alert, ensuring that we’re ready to run or fight when faced with any unknown future threats.
Right now, we are living in an unprecedented global pandemic, a time where none of us know what lies ahead. The effect of this on the body and mind can, at times, be crippling. It can manifest in a variety of ways including increased heart rate, physical tension, irritability, difficulty sleeping and feelings of lethargy.
The increased mental stress may be taking a toll on your body and mind. Even if your daily demands have decreased, you may be noticing increased fatigue or brain fog. This effect, caused by the accumulation of stress over time, is called allostatic load, and causes wear and tear on the body and can result in a feelings of exhaustion.
While it can be tempting to shut down and numb out on television or social media, this is actually an incredibly potent time to delve into a meditation practice. Small doses of meditation can help re-energize the body, shift mental focus, reduce the effects of stress and create clarity of mind. Even just a few minutes a day can make a world of difference to your mental state.
By Hailey O’Hara
Lead Meditation Instructor