May is National Meditation Month, and this year, you’ll find many people clamoring for anything that resembles reprieve from life’s chaos! There’s something missing from that knee-jerk reaction, though: the simple truth that any peace or solace we find in life is still within that life. So, what would happen if we began to treat life itself as the meditation? Mindfulness is a tool that makes this possible.
Anytime we pay attention to what we’re doing when we’re doing it, we are practicing mindfulness — and we’re not worrying and ruminating! If you feel stuck in a cycle of worrying and ruminating — or downright panicking, which is understandable during this unprecedented pandemic — your system can get caught in a chronic cortisol and adrenaline “danger zone” that is harmful to the immune system. We need our immune systems to be as robust as they can be right now, so calming down is vitally important. Mindfulness meditation can help us get there. If we treat life as our meditation, mindfulness is the perfect tool to bring what we most want to attend to into focus.
Calm Yourself With Mindfulness
Here are some mindfulness tools you can use to create more peace and calm within.
- Soothing touch. Place your hands on your heart, then your belly. Cradle your face, hug your upper arms, rub your thighs, place your hand in your other hand. Let each soothing touch sink in for a few minutes, really noticing how it feels in your body. At least one of these positions will make you feel good; that’s the mammalian caregiver response that releases oxytocin and endorphins in your system, down regulating the cortisol and adrenaline and helping to calm you down.
- Drop your attention to the soles of your feet. Are they warm? Cold? Moist? Dry? Feel them on the ground. Shifting your awareness can break the discursive loop of worrying and ruminating.
- Look around and notice what you see. Name what you see out your window; name what you see in your room.
- Name the emotion to tame it, and then work with it by walking through RAIN:
- Recognize the emotion by labeling it: fear, anxiety, etc. Just labeling it calms your brain down (the amygdala).
- Allow it to be there so you can soothe yourself.
- Investigate why it’s there. That’s a no-brainer right now! It’s completely understandable and appropriate to feel fear, stress, anxiety, and more right now — but staying stuck in those negative emotions is not helpful.
- Nourish yourself. What do you need to hear right now? Options might be: I’m okay right now, in this moment. This too shall pass, because all things do pass, the good and the bad. Also, look at what you need to do right now. What would change the channel and make you feel better? Look to your joy list and choose something nurturing. Once your mental state feels good, really take it in; let it land for a few breath cycles, so you are rewiring a happy bridge in your brain. What wires together fires together, and we want to be wiring positive mental states, not negative mental states.
Mindfulness meditation is a wonderful way to ease pain and create peace in your life, just as it is here and now, struggles and all. Life is the meditation, and mindfulness is a practice that can help us find peace within it.