Finding a sense of calm in uncertain times – World Meditation Day (21st May 2020)

With coronavirus dominating the news and isolation being the only constant, ‘uncertain times’ feels like a fitting phrase at the moment. 

And, unfortunately, it’s the not knowing that can make you feel anxious.

But if you’re feeling worried or panicked, you’re not alone. According to a Guardian poll, six in 10 UK residents have reportedly felt anxious about coronavirus

The good news is, there are plenty of tried and tested methods that can help. 

One of which is meditation

So, close your eyes and take a deep breath; today is World Meditation Day. And now, perhaps more than ever feels like the right time to give it a try. 

What is meditation?

According to Headspace, meditation is a way of training our brains to get a healthy sense of perspective. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not turning off your thoughts or feelings; you’re learning to observe them without judgment. A popular form of meditation is mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the act of knowing directly what’s going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.

“An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. That might be something as simple as the feel of a banister as we walk upstairs. Another important part of mindfulness is an awareness of our thoughts and feelings as they happen from moment to moment. It’s about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives,” said Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre.

Is mindfulness healthy?

Yes. According to the NHS, paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing.

How can mindfulness calm anxious feelings?

According to Mindful, this type of meditation alleviates anxiety in three ways:

  1. It helps you learn to stay with difficult feelings without analysing, suppressing, or encouraging them
  2. It allows you to safely explore the causes of your stress and worry
  3. It helps you create space around your worries so they don’t consume you

It’s easy to fit mindfulness into your daily routine and there are lots of tools that can help you practice. 

What are the best meditation apps?

There’s an abundance of great meditation apps available. However, according to Women’s Health, these ones are recommended by the experts:

  • Headspace is offering free help throughout the coronavirus crisis. Their series ‘Weathering the storm’ includes meditations, sleep and movement exercises. Try it here
  • Calm has helpful meditations to help you sleep and relax. You can also try this app for free.
  • Glo takes a slightly different approach and combines meditation with yoga and pilates. It’s suitable for all levels and you can register for a free trial.

Other ways to stay calm

Of course, meditation isn’t the only way to calm down. You could also try:

  • Reading a book, taking a bath or watching a film to distract yourself
  • Closing your eyes and listening to music with your headphones in
  • Indoor yoga or pilates 
  • Spending a little more time on hobbies like art, cooking and crafts – all very therapeutic

Importantly, make sure you take a break from watching the news if it’s making you feel anxious.

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