I used to love horror movies, like The Birds from Alfred Hitchcock or the Poltergeist movies by Brian Gibson.
The problem was that I would often feel so anxious about any sounds I would hear, and any shadows I would see, that it would take me hours to fall asleep.
Often, I would wake up full of sweat, my body shaking and my heart beating faster than ever.
About ten years ago, I decided not to watch movies with violence- especially before going to bed.
Ever since that day, I feel less nervous and anxious, sleep better at night and no longer worry about things that are outside my control.
The reason I am sharing this is because right now, most of us are feeling very stressed out and overwhelmed for so many good reasons.
- We are scared to catch the coronavirus.
- We fear the virus will reach our parents or grandparents.
- We are terrified to think about the financial consequences of this epidemic crisis.
- And we feel restless and tense from being confined to our homes.
All of these concerns create strong emotions that harm our health and our personal well being.
The good news is we can do something about how we feel.
One of the best ways to help us regain at least some of our mental sanity, and train our brain to stay calm even in chaotic and tense times like today, is the practice of meditation.
Meditation usually means staying in the present moment, focusing on your breath, and noticing any thoughts or feelings as they might appear, without making any judgements.
For tomorrow’s challenge, I want you to schedule 12 minutes for a short mediation, and see how you feel afterwards.
To help you do this, I want to answer a few commonly asked questions:
“Isn’t meditation something that only Buddhist monks do?”
Often, we worry that meditation is some new-age ritual and that sitting down and doing nothing is a waste of time.
My simple answer is this:
Just try it ONCE, and see for yourself- in the worst case you spent 12 minutes resting.
In the best case, you discovered a practice that will help you feel more relaxed, calm and centered, which is exactly what you want in these super stressful times!
“How can I sit still and think of nothing?”
When I speak to people, they think meditation means sitting in a weird position for hours while thinking of nothing.
This might be ONE way to meditate, but it’s not the only way, and it’s obviously not the right way to get started.
Instead, I recommend you to start with guided meditations.
For tomorrow, I recommend you use this guided meditation from Zen12.
I love it because it is very simple to follow, has wonderful background music and you will feel great after you complete it.
If you prefer a series of meditations that you can do for the next few weeks, you might want to try the guided meditations from Headspace.
To help you get started, let me answer some of the most commonly asked questions about meditation:
“How can I reduce distractions around me?”
Ideally, you want to find a quiet place where you can meditate daily, without being interrupted.
At the same time, if this is not possible right now because you are home with your family, just find a spot, where you can sit still, put on your ear earphones accept that there will be background noises and that people might even interrupt you.
If family members tell you that you are being weird, offer them to try one 12 minute session with you, and let them judge for themselves how they feel afterwards…
Part of your practice will be to accept distractions from coming and going, instead of resisting them.
“For how long should I meditate every day?”
A famous master was asked how long one should recommend.
“20 minutes a day, unless you are very busy. In that case, at least one hour a day.”
In other words, the more busy and anxious you feel, the more benefits you will experience from a simple meditation practice.
For tomorrow’s challenge, I suggest you start with 12 minutes- not too long and yet enough time to feel calm and relaxed.
“What should I be thinking of while meditating?”
The good thing about guided meditations is that they will direct you what to focus on. Of course, there will be moments you may still feel distracted and think of other things.
But that is fine.
There really is no right or wrong way to meditate.
The goal is to find time to chill and relax.
Everyone has random thoughts that pop up while meditating.
Whenever you notice disrupting thoughts circulating your mind, just acknowledge them and then gently try to reconnect to your meditation.
Feeling distracted and reconnecting to your meditation is one of the key aspects of this practice.
“What should I do after I meditate?”
One of your goals is to feel more present and engaged after your meditation. Therefore you don’t want to get up from your meditation and rush into your daily life.
Instead, take a few moments to stay relaxed, and then set an intention for how you want to feel for the rest of the day.
Obviously, one meditation won’t change your life, but it will give you a taste of the power you have to calm yourself down.
If you decide to continue, you will experience tangible results very quickly:
For example, I used to feel irritated and annoyed very quickly whenever something wouldn’t go my way, or whenever someone would criticize me in any way.
Now I usually manage to stay calm and composed whenever facing ordinary struggles, like arguing with a friend, or witnessing tantrums from my kids- and it makes me feel very good about myself.
You will feel more relaxed after your first meditation, and if you continue this practice for a while, you will develop the skill to calm down and relax in stressful situations.
Day 2: Meditate for 12 minutes
Below are the steps for tomorrow’s challenge:
- Schedule a time for tomorrow in which you will not be interrupted.
- At that time tomorrow, seek a quiet spot and find a comfortable position. Your eyes can be closed or slightly open. Take a few long, slow breaths to settle in and bring your attention to your breathing.
- Now play the following guided meditation: https://youtu.be/mTm6lnu6Xyk.
- If you are using your phone, make sure to switch off notifications.
- After the meditation, spend a few minutes to remain still and relax.
Remember- this is tomorrow’s challenge which I am sending you in advance, so you can prepare. 😉
Today’s challenge is to disengage from the news and read a good book instead- let me know how it goes, and if you manage please leave a note in the comment section below with a word “done”.
Warm regards, Allon
PS. You can check the previous challenge below:
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