If you aren’t feeling at least a tad bit anxious these days, I’d like to know your secret. While life is always filled with unknowns, the situation in the world right now is pretty extreme for those of us with a tendency toward anxiety.
This is a meditation I’ve been leading in my weekly sessions for employees who are working from home, and they’re telling me it’s been tremendously helpful. I hope it brings you comfort and ease in this uncertain time.
First, sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your eyes closed.
Place one hand on your heart and the other on your belly and begin to breathe deeply. Give yourself permission to take this time just for you. Inhale deeply through your nose, and exhale fully through your mouth for several rounds of breath.
Next, scan your body for any sensations, physical discomforts, or tight spaces.
Start by wiggling your toes and then move up from there, resting your attention on one body area at a time, noticing the sensations without judgement. Notice the point of contact between your hips and the surface beneath you, allowing your body to feel anchored in this present moment.
Become aware of your five senses.
Going through each one at a time – sound, smell, touch, taste, and sight – notice the sensory input that your body is experiencing. Your breath, heartbeat, and body sensations are the keys to your mindfulness practice, bringing you back to present moment awareness even when your mind drifts into thoughts.
Now, scan your emotional body for any tight spaces.
What is lingering there? Have you been feeling anxiety? Frustration? Sadness? Grief? All of the above? Ask yourself if there’s a story you’ve been telling about these feelings. What judgements are you holding that are related to these feelings?
Know that your stories and judgements amplify your emotional responses.
If you can, clarify what your stories and judgements are and acknowledge their presence. Then, give the judgement and stories permission to drop away. Your mind may push harder to hold onto those judgements and stories; simply recognize those thoughts and reactions too, allowing it all to drop away.
Look at yourself and your reactions as if you are a neutral observer, with total curiosity.
Anchor yourself in the present moment with your breath, and notice if your anxiety or other emotional tightness has shifted.
I invite you to come into the knowing that you are safe. Repeat these words, out loud or silently:
In this moment, I am safe. I am breathing. My heart is beating. I am alive. I am safe.
Next, come into the knowing that you have resources. Repeat these words, out loud or silently:
In this moment, I have resources. I have food. I have shelter. I have access to information. I have resources.
Now, come into the knowing that you are connected. Repeat these words, out loud or silently:
In this moment, I am connected. I have people who love me. I am connected to the world around me through technology. I know where to go to get the help I need. I am connected.
From this place of knowing that you are safe, resourced, and connected, give yourself permission to come into clarity about the very best next step for you to take.
Not the next five to ten steps, just the next step. Then, sit silently for one to ten minutes, focusing on your breath, and allow that clarity to come.
Our judgments and stories about our uncomfortable feelings – such as anxiety or frustration – tend to exaggerate our experience of stress and unease. They can skew our perception of reality and block us from seeing the truth.
With this meditation, I invite you to allow in ease and comfort, giving it to yourself as a well-deserved gift.
You may want to practice this – or a shortened version – three or four times a day right now. Even taking 10 deep breaths can shift your inner experience dramatically. Please don’t hold back on using the power of mindfulness at this critical time.