Mindfulness meditation against fear
If you’re not feeling at least a little bit anxious these days, I’d love to know your secret. While life is always filled with the unknown, the situation in the world is quite extreme, especially for those of us with a tendency to fear.
This is a meditation I have led in my weekly sessions for employees who work from home and they tell me it has been hugely helpful. I hope it brings you comfort and ease in this uncertain time.
First, sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your eyes closed.
Put one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach and begin to breathe deeply. Allow yourself to take this time just for yourself. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale completely through your mouth for several breaths.
Next, scan your body for sensations, physical discomfort, or tight spaces.
Start by wiggling your toes and then move up from there, focusing your attention on one area of the body at a time, feeling the sensations without judgment. Notice the point of contact between your hips and the surface below you so that your body feels anchored in this present moment.
Become aware of your five senses.
Go through each one at a time – sound, smell, touch, taste and sight – perceive the sensory impressions your body is experiencing. Your breath, heartbeat and body sensations are the keys to your mindfulness practice and bring you back to awareness of the present moment, even if your mind drifts in thought.
Now scan your emotional body for tight spots.
What is left there? Did you feel scared? Frustration? Sadness? Grief All of the above? Ask yourself if there is a story you told about these feelings. What are your judgments related to these feelings?
Know that your stories and judgments reinforce your emotional responses.
If you can, explain what your stories and judgments are and acknowledge their presence. Then give permission for the judgment and stories to fall away. Your mind can try harder to hold onto these judgments and stories; Just recognize these thoughts and reactions too and let everything go away.
Look at yourself and your reactions like a neutral observer with full curiosity.
Anchor yourself with your breath in the present moment and notice whether your fear or other emotional tension has shifted.
I invite you to come to know that you are safe. Repeat these words out loud or softly:
In this moment I am safe. I breathe. My heart beats. I’m alive. I’m sure.
Next, you come into the knowledge that you have resources. Repeat these words out loud or softly:
Right now I have resources. I have food. I have shelter. I have access to information. I have resources.
Now come to know that you are connected. Repeat these words out loud or softly:
In this moment I am connected. I have people who love me. I am connected to the world around me through technology. I know where to get the help I need. I am connected.
From that place where you know you are safe, resourced, and connected, give yourself permission to gain clarity on the next step that is best for you.
Not the next five to ten steps, just the next step. Then, sit still for one to ten minutes, focus on your breath and allow that clarity to come.
Our judgments and stories about our uncomfortable feelings – such as fear or frustration – tend to exaggerate our experience of stress and discomfort. They can distort our perception of reality and prevent us from seeing the truth.
With this meditation I invite you to allow yourself in peace and comfort and to give it to yourself as a well-deserved gift.
You may want to practice this – or a shortened version – three or four times a day now. Even 10 deep breaths can dramatically change your inner experience. Please do not hesitate to use the power of mindfulness during this critical time.