Meditation Advice for Absolute Beginners
It may seem like a strange era to be mindful and present. But experts say it’s just the right time to meditate.
A practice that makes a person more aware of what is happening in the world around them seems less than ideal when the world is on fire. However, many people are turning to meditation to cope with it all, with apps like Headspace, Calm, and Ten Percent Happier seeing a surge of new users turning inwards to create a sense of calm or inner compassion to help face the outside world. And that’s just what meditation is about, experts say — learning to accept the ebbs and flows of life so that they rock your personal boat a bit less intensely — and why it actually does make sense to try it in a difficult time.
In fact, multiple studies have found that meditation has many physical and mental health benefits, alleviating anxiety and depression, even potentially reducing high blood pressure and physical pain. As for a person’s mental state, experts argue that meditation helps people build self-compassion and resilience that can help them through the uncertainty of the pandemic.
For Sharon Salzberg, famed meditation expert and author, meditation keeps her from obsessing over negative thoughts and what-ifs about the future after the pandemic. “I fill in that uncertainty with lots of stories. So this is going to happen, then that’ll likely happen, then that’ll fall apart,” she says, describing the spiral of negative thoughts that can easily be triggered in uncertain times. “And then [through meditation] I can recognize that and remind myself, I just don’t know. Then I actually feel some space and I feel some relief.”
The practice can also help people build a sense of inner trust to rely on when they’re questioning the world, notes Alisa Dennis, PhD, a psychologist and meditation teacher based in Los Angeles. “People are finding that if they turn inward and focus more on their own internal sensing and intuition, cultivating inner peace, that gives them a greater sense of stability during uncertain and scary times,” she says.
While you’re certainly welcome to try whichever app your friends are recommending, it’s also worth learning more about the different meditation techniques out…