Facing uncertainty in challenging times with the help of mindfulness and meditation
In times when we are faced with uncertainty and anxiety, when we feel that we lose control over our lives, fear starts to take over our thoughts and body. This is an important and very natural emotion, but it can very easily take control over our life. However, we do have a choice.
We can acknowledge things for what they are, sending compassion towards ourselves, noticing our feelings and thoughts and difficult emotions with kind and unjudgemental attitude. We can keep feeding the fear and let it control your thoughts and affect your wellbeing.
The world has stopped, everything is still, we are forced to be still, many of us may feel trapped in our minds and as well as in our houses. It may not feel comfortable, it may not feel easy. Although the world has stopped, our minds are still racing, perhaps for some people even more than they used to.
We are given a chance to look inwards and let go of what is beyond our control. We need to focus on what we can control, like choosing what we feed our minds with and looking after our bodies. Allow ourselves to surrender to the new reality, and change that is forcing us to let go of the attachments and ideas we had about the future. We are faced with a challenge that forces us to wake up for a moment from the dream that we have been dreaming.
This biggest fear we humans always battle with is fear of loss. Fear of losing life, fear of losing someone close, losing control, or losing financial support. All of those fears are rooted in our attachment. We tend to forget that we cannot hold on to all these things. The nature of all things is impermanence, and we are aware of it deep down, but we do not want to face it, as it is an uncomfortable feeling and makes us feel uneasy, so we choose to forget about it at least until we are forced to face it.
The latest events are giving us a chance to face our fears, sooner or later every one of us will have to do it, anyway. When we lose someone dear, break with the love of our life, find out about a terminal illness, losing youth, losing health or face a financial crash. We’ll always have to deal with some forms of loss in our lives. I see great freedom in that knowing.
When we are reminded of impermanence, we are also invited to enjoy every moment, cherish every relationship and appreciate all beauty in the world. Instead of worrying, trying to hold on to things, and predict the catastrophic future, let’s be grateful and fully present and alive with our family, friends, with ourselves. It would be so much easier if we could keep this awareness of impermanence alive in us, get accustomed to it and to not be taken by surprise when we’re challenged with loss of any sort. Life can change any moment as we witnessed it lately. Paying attention to our breath, sensations in the body, emotions and thoughts is a practise that grounds us in life and helps to accept change and challenges that present themselves to us. We can choose to grow from this experience or be stuck in fear.
We can choose to guide our energy and attention to things under our control, like our well-being, getting enough sleep, eating healthy, supporting our immune system as much as we can. We can do whatever is in our capacity to protect our communities by staying at home, but we can also choose not to feed our mind with stories and news that are not helpful and negatively affecting our immune system and mental health. Those are conscious and important decisions. We are not totally out of control.
In meditation, we learn how to be the observer, how to share compassion and kindness with others, but also within ourselves. It helps us to act wisely from the place of balance and wisdom, rather than react and letting negative thoughts and emotions power this wheel of fear and anxiety.
We have an unbelievable chance now to get to know ourselves, go inwards, learn and grow. However, for many people, it can be a scary and uncomfortable experience to be with their own thoughts and company. It is a challenging time mentally for us all, unless we choose to use it as an opportunity, and learn how to befriend our minds.
For many people, being alone with their thoughts can be frightening and uncomfortable. It is a difficult time for all of us; it requires us to adapt and change our way of life. Mentally, it can be difficult for many people who have isolation and attachment problems. However, we can use this time and learn how to make friends with our minds and with ourselves.
In difficult moments you can always come back to your breath or the feelings in your body, with the understanding that everything is changing, and that this will also pass.
I am very grateful that I was introduced to meditation, and I hope that it will become more available to everyone now. For years I was living with a panic disorder and chronic anxiety. I have my meditation practice to thank for being able to manage my fears and find peace within. When the fear comes, I can now be with it, even when panic creeping in for a moment, it quickly melts away in a wider awareness. Simply paying attention and recognizing it can ease the intense feeling and break the dangerous patterns of thoughts which would otherwise stir up more unpleasant emotions.
Meditation, however, is not a magic cure for all sorrows but is a way to understand, on the deeper and experiential level, what is the cause of our suffering. By paying attention and strengthening our awareness, we can go through any difficult situation or emotion with more ease and acceptance. Being alone with the mind is not always a pleasant experience. I often feel trapped, even when I start meditating, often this is a process I have to get through at the beginning. The mind feels confined. A little like we may feel in our homes right now. If you ever had panic disorder, feeling totally out of control or feeling trapped, the mind sometimes can feel like that too. We are given time to reflect on our lives, to start being responsible for our well-being and health. This is a time of stillness and transformation. It’s not about denying the grief and suffering of many people right now. But acknowledging the opportunity to grow by going inwards.
Meditation is not a universal solution. For those who are struggling with serious mental health conditions, like schizophrenia, for example, meditation may not be helpful. Although it has so many benefits for most people, going inwards, for trauma survivors or people with serious mental conditions needs to be done with a mindfulness teacher who recognizes this and knows how to adjust the practice to the needs of these individuals, or a psychotherapist who is trained in mindfulness.
Meditation is a simple practice, and you can learn it online, listen to the recordings, and meditation podcasts. But I will always recommend having a teacher that you can turn to in times of doubts, ask for support and guidance. There are many things we discover each time we meditate, and guidance is very beneficial when learning meditation. For some people, listening to recorded meditation is enough, but many of us need some support. I recommend online courses or meditation apps when we all need to stay at home.
I will be happy to support you during your practice, right now via Skype and live sessions on our Facebook page–Sound Magic Ireland. Ask for help and support if you are finding this time difficult mentally. You can also follow our Instagram account @mindfulnesshavengalway or @soundmagicireland for some pointers. You can also listen for free some of our guided meditations, and relaxation with the sound on our Bandcamp account–look for Sound Magic Ireland.
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Author: Kasia Slabon.