After all the ups and downs of 2020, starting the new year with a new lockdown is probably not what any of us hoped for. However when we are hit with with times of uncertainty, creating positive small daily rituals or habits can really make a difference to wellbeing.
And of course for me, one of the things that I do on a (mostly) daily basis is meditate. Meditation is really helpful as it can:
– help you to get more comfortable being with difficult emotions or times
– break negative thinking spirals
– give you a wellbeing boost by turning on your relaxation response (which is the opposite to being in fight or flight mode).
This is not to say that you shouldn’t be feeling anxious, angry, worried or frustrated as these are all totally natural feelings when things get tough. However if you can experience these feelings without holding on to them too tightly or getting caught in vicious and unhelpful cycles of negativity, then they have less of a hold of you.
It’s said many times and it can sound a bit corny, but it’s really important to remember that these feelings, this situation, will pass. (And then there will be other difficult times to deal with in the future because that’s life!)
Tips for meditation in lockdown
Just as a reminder, some of my general tips for meditating in lockdown include:
1. Finding a regular time each day to practise meditation – but not being too harsh on yourself if you skip a day here and there as you are human after all
2. Get a meditation buddy to share this with – either someone in your household or sharing a session via Zoom or Skype
3. Explore some different types of meditation to find out what suits you best – and try different types a few times as they don’t always gel with you immediately
(You find my full list of tips over at my post on how to meditate in difficult times.)
I should also say, meditation isn’t the only thing I do for my wellbeing, but it is a key part of my daily routine and even on days when I don’t feel like I’ve had a ‘good’ session I know that it’s still doing me good just to create some space to sit away from technology and activity.
Some lockdown meditations to explore
I also wanted to share some specific types of meditations that I’ve personally found helpful in difficult times (though do remember meditation is helpful in good times as well as the the bad!):
1. Mindful Eating or Drinking
This is of course one of my favourite types of meditations as my workshops normally involve either mindful eating with pieces of chocolate or mindful drinking with hot chocolate. I find that if you’re struggling to quiet your mind in meditation, having something external to focus on really helps.
Also, we have to eat and drink every day so it can be easier to slot this type of meditation into your day. It could mean spending a minute of quiet focus on your morning cup of tea or coffee, or sharing a family dinner where you eat for the first 5 minutes in silence together, really focussing on the sensory experience. Make it as little or large as you can manage.
Try it out: Calm Cocoa Hot Chocolate Meditation
2. Body Scan Meditation
Sometimes when you’re caught up in a busy mind, one of the best things you can do is bring your focus into your body – and that’s exactly what a body scan meditation does. This meditation (which is also the one that’s normally done at the end of a yoga session) helps you to connect with your body and also use it as an ‘anchor’ to ground you in the present moment away from anxious thinking.
Try it out: Body Scan Meditation
3. Mindful Walking
As with a body scan, mindful walking is a great way to move your focus into you body. It’s also particularly helpful if you find it difficult to sit in stillness for meditation (and is often a good meditation exercise for kids). You can do this inside just walking in a circle or a line and tuning into the feeling of each step, or you can do it outside. This has the double whammy of fresh air and meditation – and it’s particularly lovely if you have woods or a park you can walk in.
Try it out: Mindful Walking Exercise (mindful.org)
4. Gratitude Meditation
It’s so easy to get caught up in negative thinking spirals (especially if you’ve been doomscrolling news or social media), so shifting into more of a gratitude mindset can help to break this cycle. As with all meditation this is not about pretending all things are okay; it’s about recognising that even if many things aren’t okay, there are still some things that are!
It might be as simple as being thankful for your comfy bed or a lovely cup of tea in the morning – or something much larger. There’s a lot of evidence around the benefits of ‘gratitude thinking’ so even if it feels a bit too unicorns and rainbows for you, why not try it for a couple of weeks and see how it feels?
Try it out: Gratitude Meditation (Jack Kornfield)