Mindfulness Exercises in a Time of Restlessness and Uncertainty
By Caitlin Brown
These are unwarranted times for us all. The world as we know it has, for the most part, been turned on its head, leaving us anxious for what is to come. We find ourselves staring at the unknown, and scrambling to find safeguard, protection and some sense of normalcy.
Kids are home, parents are working as teachers as well as caregivers; many are without work or the workplace has dramatically changed; there are new, financial stressors; we are glued to our televisions with more bad news, but we watch as we must navigate for ourselves and our families; physical activity has been confined to our homes/yards or outside, social distancing six feet apart (with anyone we are not sharing a living space with).
We find ourselves worrying about our loved ones, our friends, their lives, and ours and our families. It’s a lot. Too much. Our physical, mental, and emotional well-beings are being put to the test. I, as I’m sure most of you, find it hard to remain positive. All the noise around us (adrenaline-inducing news, feelings of isolation, jilted plans, the cabin-fever and illness in the air) is the perfect recipe for negativity.
What to do? Well, sit with it. Hear me out. Mindfulness practice has become more important than ever. Activities like breathwork can be incredibly beneficial for easing stress, lowering blood pressure, improving mood and even altering the way the body responds to illness and pain. Here are a few calming breath techniques that can help us stay positive and grounded through trying times and return to gratitude.
<Let It Go Breath>
- Beginby sitting in a comfortable position with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath.
- Inhale, feeling your belly and lungsexpand. As you exhale, feel your feet grounded on the earth steadying you.
- On the next inhale, visualize moving any negativity that you’ve been experiencing all the way up from your grounded feet, through your body, into your head.
- On the exhale, imagine pushingall of that negativity out through your ears as gray smoke. See and feel it leaving your body completely.
Repeat this breath and visualization as often as you like. I do it multiple times a day.
<Safe Place Breath>
- Getin a comfortable position, sitting or lying down, and close your eyes.
- Start by bringing your attention to the rise and fall of your breath. Right here, right now, all you need to focus on is your breath.
- Next, become aware of your body: What sensations do you notice as you are sitting or lying in stillness?
- Now, expand your awareness to include the space around your body. That space may extend several inches or several feet, depending on what feels comfortable for you.
- As you take note of this space, imagine that it’s your bubble of safety, enveloping you in a peaceful, impenetrable cocoon. Know that this bubble of safety is always with you, regardless of what’s happening around you.
- Begin by getting comfortable, either sitting or lying down, and then close your eyes.
- Start to pay attention to your breath, consciously deepening your inhale and slowing your exhale.
- Now, put your hands on your heart andbring to mind something, or someone, that you’re grateful for. Choose an easy one: a person, place, situation, pet that fills your heart with appreciation.
- As you continue to deeply inhale and slowly exhale, let the feeling of gratitude wash over your entire body. Hold this feeling for one to five minutes, or longer if you like.
In the words of Paul McCartney, “Let it Be.” This too shall pass. This is a time to breathe and be reminded of the simple things that matter most — our health, our loved ones, all that we have to be grateful for — so that we can all be together again once more, stronger for where we have been and grounded where we are, with our feet planted firmly on the groun