I wake each morning with a sense of dread. Oh God, we’re still in this thing. And I’m not alone. I’m reading on Facebook that people are not sleeping through the night, drinking more, generally feeling overwhelmed. It’s natural at a time like this to be overcome by emotion.
But you don’t have to stay that way.
I’ve enrolled myself in weekly guided meditations with my friend Duda Baldwin. She’s a life coach and spiritual teacher, and had offered a limited meditation course for a small price. It was worth it to me, because I knew I’d need to get a hold of the emotions running amok inside—and I couldn’t do that on my own.
The aim of these meditations is to detach from the emotion you feel. As Duda said in our last session, rather than think “I am afraid,” think “I feel fear.” Turn “I’m anxious” into “I recognize there is anxiety.” You are not your emotions. They are merely visitors to your mind.
Thinking like this changed my perspective. It’s this mindfulness that aims to disengage from our primal reactions to external conditions—the “fight or flight” survival instinct ingrained in us from millennia of evolution.
Just acknowledging your emotions is already a step in the right direction. So many of us, myself included, are just surviving each day, and we may be doing this by suppressing our feelings, which are enormous considering the global situation. Next thing you know, you’re shooting up in bed at 3 a.m. in a panic. Our emotions will out, so it’s best to create a safe space for them to do it. And mindful meditation does just that.
What are you feeling? Why are you feeling it? Spend time here until you find the root emotion or emotions. Give your emotion the space and attention it needs. “Invite your demons to tea,” Duda says, quoting Buddha. Give that emotion what it wants. For example, if you’re feeling sadness, give yourself comfort if that’s what is needed. Or cry and release it. Or, watch a funny film. Each person will have different emotions and different needs. Whatever is in there, recognize it and let it be what it is. Don’t judge, don’t admonish yourself. Embrace your emotions with loving care.
Give yourself the compassion you deserve. I now start my day with a mindful meditation to ease the grip of that dread, fear, and anxiety in me. Today, I uncovered deep sadness. I understood the root cause of that and wept. Afterward, I felt lighter—not just in my heart, but in my chest well, my muscles, my joints. I had been holding onto that sadness, holding it in, not just psychologically, but physically. And meditating for just a few minutes allowed me to release my grip.
I encourage you to do this mindful meditation. You can use this when you are feeling that sudden sense of panic, or better still, at the start of each day. It will set you up in a better frame of mind—creating a stronger, more peaceful, more flexible version of yourself. Be kind to yourself and you’ll be in a better position to be kinder to others.
Do you love yourself enough to do this?
Tip of the day
Join a meditation group or take an online meditation course. Guided meditation is a good way to get started in the practice if, like me, you’re new to it. Duda does one-on-one meditation guidance, and has her Little School of Buddhism, here. My friend, author Kathryn Kemp-Griffin, is doing guided meditations at 10am EST on her Instagram account (@kathrynkempgriffin). If you want to meditate, there are many options out there. I urge you to give it a try.