Meditation Resources in Times of Uncertainty

Coronavirus has put our world in a state of fight or flight / shock and trauma. Our collective nervous systems via the media and social network streams are flooded with both real crisis information, and a significant amount of mis- and dis- information. The data is confusing and over-consumption of information is addicting. More than ever, we need to support each other to find inner peace and calm to get to the other side of this with greater resilience and fortitude. Meditation is one obvious at-home practice you can start now to help you get there. Added bonus — it’s also a way to rewire your limbic system for natural immunity. The immune system is also called “the floating brain” for its ability to communicate with the brain when chronic stress or invading pathogens are causing system malfunctions. The mindbody connection science points to the same implications, which is that we control our reaction to external stressors. The choice is ours. Although it’s not always as easy a making a simple and quick ‘in the moment’ choice, especially in times of crises. It takes extra effort to rewire the brain (and body) to be a ninja of calm and clarity! Maybe you simply don’t want to freak out as much; a desire for emotional stability that seems far from reach. (It’s not). Or maybe you see this time of shelter-in-place to be an opportunity for the soul-searching you have never had time for before. Or to deepen the soul-finding you have attained thus far. We are only at the beginning of huge societal changes, which means it’s time to build some wellbeing endurance for the long haul — not just for ‘shelter in place.’ Check out this wonderful article by my friend and advisor, Deepak Chopra: The coronavirus and the need for spiritual well-being. When our attention is hijacked by chronic fear in the media, it could engender an epidemic of ‘soul sickness’ at a societal level. So, this invitation to begin (or deepen) a meditation practice is also an invitation to be upstream to this concern, such as a preventative medicine tactic. In this article, I will provide some great resources first, and then tell you the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the research-backed benefits, with some tips and tricks too. “Impossible! My mind is too active to sit in stillness,” you might be thinking… Challenge yourself. Prove that narrative mind wrong. Yes, your mind is “too active” to meditate, until you train it. Meditation Apps I’ve highlighted the most popular meditation apps and the resources they are offering for free during these trying times. Keep in mind, there are A LOT to choose from and each one is highly unique. Try to select which one intuitively matches your personality. Similarly to picking out a local yoga studio — you gotta vibe with it! Once you have found one you like, stick to it for a 2-week minimum before giving up or trying another. Trust me. But first, before making a selection, ask yourself one question — what is your intention? Or, what do you want to achieve with this experiment? Shauna Shapiro, a leading mindfulness scholar and professor says, “Whenever I begin teaching mindfulness, we always start with an intention, it helps set the compass of our heart.” Setting an intention or goal will help you in your selection and also keep you motivated once you get going. @Sergey Nivens Headspace is now offering free Premium access for people working in U.S. public healthcare. For everyone else, there’s a broader section with free guided meditations and more. Generally, the app offers hundreds of themed meditation sessions on stress, sleep, focus and anxiety. These guided meditations come in 10-minute sessions and are voiced by Headspace founder and former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe. Headspace also offers SOS exercises that can be used for ‘sudden meltdowns.’ There is also a buddy system for friends to stay motivated via accountability. Calm app has curated a page full of resources to help you through the stress of our current situation, which can be accessed in your browser without having to download the app and sign up. There is even a mindfulness calendar you can print out with daily tips, as well as compassionate conversation starters to support your community and loved ones better. If you do download the app, Calm offers 100+ guided mediations for meditators at all skill level, from beginner to advanced. The Sleep Stories section offers soothing stories that are read by well-known voices. The Body section features ten-minute video lessons on mindful movement and gentle stretching. Lastly, in the Music section, hundreds of hours of exclusive catered music tracks including original compositions, nature sounds, and white noise are available to help the user focus, relax, or sleep. 21-Day Meditation with Oprah and Deepak have launched a #HopeGoesGlobal movement by offering a special 21-day experience curated to ease existential panic and anxiety. If you sign up for a subscription, the app has a wide variety of themes with pre-recorded lessons and corresponding meditations with Deepak and Oprah. You can join live with a group doing it together, or experience the recordings in your own time. Insight Timer is always free, with over 30,000 guided meditations and a simple timer for meditation. There’s also a premium support tier, which has a generous 30-day trial. Breethe is offering free memberships to North American healthcare workers during the pandemic as well as launching a free meditation collection called “Inner Wellness During Coronavirus.” Breethe offers guided audio meditations, talks, music, and stories. Brightmind is offered now for free in response to the pandemic. Brightmind is led by renowned meditation teacher and New York Times best selling author, Shinzen Young. This app is unique in offering a variety of techniques, because what works for you may not work for someone else, and what works for you today may not work for you tomorrow. In addition to meditation, the app helps you set goals to bring a mindfulness practice into communication, life purpose, behavioral change, and service to the world. Ten Percent has a free basic course of explanatory videos and guided sessions. There are also free […]

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