With all the widespread uncertainty, worry and fear due to covid-19, it’s refreshing to create an oasis of calm within yourself to weather the storm. What better way to do this than to develop a meditation habit that takes you out of your spinning head and whirlwind emotions and into a place of calm and serenity? Take the 7 day meditation challenge to start creating this refuge within yourself today.
The 7 Day Meditation Challenge
What is the challenge? It’s to meditate for a certain length of time every day for 7 days. Many of us have plenty of down time these days. Rather than binge TV or relentlessly check the news, why not use some of your free time to go inward into stillness and calm?
The amount of time you meditate may vary according to your familiarity with meditation. Beginners are advised to start with 10 to 15 minute sessions, while those who have greater exposure to meditation may resolve to sit for 20 to 30 minute sessions each day. If 10 to 15 minutes seems too difficult, start with 5 minutes. That amount of time will still yield benefits.
3 Meditation Techniques
Meditation doesn’t require any fancy materials or supplies. The floor, a cushion, a pillow or just sitting comfortably on a chair or couch will do. The point is to sit and go inward, letting your mind settle and focus on something as simple as your breath or body or those whom you love and cherish.
Here are 3 fantastic meditation exercises to practice during the week-long challenge:
Focus on your breath. This is a tried and true technique. We’re all breathing if we’re alive so it’s an easy focal point for going inward and letting go of extraneous thoughts and worries.
Take three deep in and out breaths – in through the nose, out through the mouth. Then focus on following your breath in and following it out.
Try counting to 10 in and out breaths to help maintain focus and to structure your mediation. The point is not to reach 10. Often your mind will wander and you’ll lose your count. That’s fine and normal! Just notice when that happens and go back to counting in and out. It’s a training exercise to help teach your mind to focus and let go, sort of like sprinting or endurance training for runners. Reaching 10 is not the goal. Following your breath is merely a technique. Peace and freedom develop from even attempting to follow the breath, whether you ever reach “2”, let alone “8” or “10”. Because of this, don’t get frustrated over the numbers. If you do, just drop the count down to 5 or even 3. Or switch to a different technique.
Focus on your body. This is a wonderful relaxation technique to bring you back to yourself by scanning your body from head to toe or toe to head.
First, take 3 deep breaths – in through the nose and out through the mouth. Then starting with your feet, focus your attention on feeling them. Breathe in and out 3 times normally while keeping your focus there. Then move up to your lower legs. Feel your legs as you breathe in and out 3 times. Move up the body in this way, focusing on thighs, hips, stomach, chest, arms, hands, neck, and head. You may also want to include knees, eyes, ears, etc. Having scanned once through the body, feel free start over, go backwards down your body, or even switch to a different mediation technique.
Breathe in and out, feeling the body with this exercise. You may want to note areas of tension, pain, ease or well-being or areas that feel neutral without any particular sensation. Just note them, feeling them, breathe in and out 3 times, and move to the next area.
This is a very relaxing exercise you could also enjoy doing when you lay down for bed. You might fall into a wonderful sleep before you even finish!
Cherish your loved ones. This third exercise will generate great waves of well-being and happiness nearly without fail! With this technique the focus is on others and wishing them peace, happiness and good health.
First, breathe deeply 3 times – in through the nose and out through the mouth. Then picture someone dear to you – a spouse, a parent, a child, a friend, etc. While picturing them, wish them peace, happiness and good health. This can take the form of prayer or benediction. It’s a wish from your heart that they stay safe and find happiness in difficult times. You can personalize this wish or prayer. Generate love and kindness towards that person from the bottom of your heart. Then think of another loved one and do the same for them.
You may want to also focus on colleagues and acquaintances, wishing them peace, happiness and health one by one in the same way. A deeper practice is to also include those people you may feel neutrally toward or even despise. In these cases it is often difficult to generate such love or warmth for them! I tend to wish/pray that they develop peace and wisdom, as the development of such traits often leads to positive and wholesome behavior. This practice allows me to forgive and lessen my own negative emotions toward them. Don’t push yourself into this last practice if you find it painful or if it stirs negative emotions difficult to handle. Go back to more neutral people or those you feel fondness for. We want to generate love, peace and well-being in this exercise, not upset ourselves.
Finding a Refuge in the Storm
Meditation takes us out of our spinning heads and tangled emotions by directing our attention inward. We use techniques like focusing on our breath, body or loved ones to turn our mind toward useful thoughts and emotions – breaking the cycle of focusing on worries, fears and uncertainties.
This training provides a refuge of calm within ourselves when everything external seems crazy and upside down. It stops us from joining the crazy party and instead helps us develop skills that enable us in our everyday lives to tap into that peace rather than go with the frantic flow. We can all develop these skills through meditation and its benefits are greater resilience, calm, peace, joy and happiness – even in times of stress and difficulty. Who doesn’t love that?
Take the 7 day meditation challenge and start building your inner refuge today.
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