Today our planet is going through a phase of transformation unlike anything we have ever seen, and it is important we have the tools to stay grounded and calm.
Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has spread around the world, infecting over 1.3 million people at the time of this writing. It has also brought Earth to a standstill. Hundreds of millions of people remain isolated in their homes, doing their part to slow down the spread of this infectious disease, but many are encountering the emotional challenges of being confined to a single space. While the circumstances are bleak, we must remember that our efforts and isolation will save countless lives, and even give the planet some time to catch up with the damage it has sustained.
It is in these challenging moments when our spiritual practices must nurture us and keep us from drifting into emotional distress. Meditation can certainly be a tool to help you. First started in India over 5,000 years ago, meditation has become one of the most successful spiritual practices of all time and serves as important parts of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism, and even denominations of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. No matter what specific views you hold, the act of meditation can greatly assist you.
We want to provide a basic, at-home meditation practice for those who may be new to this technique. It can help you find your peace during these difficult times.
Meditation for Beginners
1. Start by finding a quiet place in your house to rest where you won’t be disturbed for 10 minutes. This could be on a chair, a pillow, or a bed. For beginners we are not concerned with perfection in technique, just having you do it!
2. Close your eyes, and take a minute to breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose, exhaling out your mouth. Try to breathe in for eight seconds, and out for eight seconds. Don’t struggle if this is too difficult. Do what comes most comfortable.
3. Once you feel comfortable and relaxed, focus your concentration on a single part of your breathing and keep it there as best as possible, whether that be focusing on your lungs, on your belly, on the air coming in and out of your nose, etc.
4. Now comes the difficult part. As your mind begins to wander away from your focal point (and believe us, it will), simply acknowledge that your mind has wandered and bring it back to your focal point without judgment or struggle. Don’t try to “stop” thinking about whatever distracts you. Simply acknowledge that it is there, let it go, and return to your focal point. The practice of meditation is not only to focus on a single point, it’s also learning how to return back to that point tenderly and gently without getting hard on yourself.
5. Continue along this cycle of focusing, acknowledging a distraction, and returning to focus until your ten minutes are up. Then congratulate yourself for a job well done and bask in the peace of mind that you’ve found.
Adding a Mala
For some, adding a mala and mantra can be a great way to assist in meditation or to take your practice to the next level. Mala is the Sanskrit word for “garland” and refers to any strand of beads used during prayers or meditation. A typical mala is made of 108 beads, often crystals, and one guru bead attached to a tassel or medallion signaling where the meditator begins and ends their mantras. A mantra itself is a sacred word or sentence that one repeats, allowing it to become ingrained in one’s soul. When deciding what mantra to use during your meditations, you can choose one of many ancient Sanskrit vibrations like OM, for example, which represents the primordial sound of the universe. Alternatively, you can also choose any word or affirmation in your own language such as “I am Love,” or “Peace” to repeat to yourself. The important thing is to choose a mantra that feels right for you. Use your intuition. Together malas and mantras form a powerful duo.
When adding a mala and mantra to your meditation, follow the meditation process as described above, however, your focal point will now be on one bead at a time of your mala. Hold a single bead between your thumb and middle finger and speak the mantra of your choice either out loud or to yourself. When you have recited your mantra, move onto the next bead and repeat. Continue in this way until you get all the way around 108 beads and reach the medallion again. By doing this, you begin to slow down your mind and realign it onto the positive energies and thoughts contained in your mantra. When we intentionally focus on positive energies and repeat the mantras to ourselves we cultivate them for growth in our soul, just like watering our plants every day. 108 mantras in one meditation session may sound like a lot, but let us assure you, over time the positive energies in our mantras become permanent and we carry the peace of our meditations with us wherever we go, whether or not we are meditating.
Meditating in this way helps us reshape our thoughts, as well as our reactions to our thoughts. We learn to stay composed by remembering that our thoughts and our emotions need not control us. Rather, we can choose to gently detach from any negative thought or emotion whenever we like and let it drift away without judgment. We regain balance and control over our lives and even begin to realign our chakras, a topic we will discuss more in the future. Finally, the crystals used in our malas during meditation can be excellent sources of nurturing and comfort while holding them in our fingers. When choosing a mala, take some time to see which stones and crystals call to you. Think about any intentions you may have in your life and see which crystals can best serve you on your journey.
Together, using our spiritual tools such as meditation, malas, crystals, and mantras we will be able to get through this challenging time and come out more enriched on the other side. Blessings and Namaste.