Pushing the Pause Button
As we sit in our bubbles of quarantine, there’s an odd thought that comes to mind. This is probably one of the only times in human history that this many people around the world are doing the same thing. We are all sitting at home - thinking about the world. It’s a unique opportunity. Not to focus on the isolation, the lack, the fear of scarcity - but on the sameness, the shared-ness, the true human condition. That ultimately we are all the same; all vulnerable, all just thinking animals - all capable of feeling and responding with kindness and thoughtfulness - or callousness and self-interest.
This is a strange PAUSE button that we have pressed - that the world has pressed. We have an amazing opportunity to use this pause to genuinely reflect - to really evaluate what life is all about. To realize that it isn’t the busy-ness and the To Do lists - it isn’t about the FitBits and the Likes that we normally use to measure our ‘success’. We have been stripped of our normal lives; our work and workplace, our usual means of socializing and distracting ourselves with exercise and alcohol. Yes, we still have our phones and devices - but we are even evaluating what their primary purpose is - and how we can best make use of them.
This is not something we expected, not most of us anyway. But it is something that we have been given. And that we should use. Yes, of course - reorganize the pantry and spring clean the closets… But also stop - and truly think - more than think - truly meditate on what it means to be human - what this life really is all about and what being part of humanity really means.
We have to promise ourselves - and each other - that we will all ask ourselves these questions and that when we come back from our bubbles - that we will be different. That we will not continue on the trajectory that we saw happening in many countries - to elect political leaders who espouse isolation and greed for their country at the expense of others. That we won’t see our success in what we have, but what we have in common. That it isn’t about how much we can ‘do’ in a given day - but what we do.
To that end - I wanted to spend a couple of minutes talking about Breathing. While we are alone, one of the best tools that we have is what keeps us alive - our breath, our ability to breathe. I am encouraging us to spend 5-10 minutes a day consciously using our breath. You will see amazing benefits with your ability to deal with stress; slowing your heart rate, lowering your blood pressure, increasing your oxygen levels and endorphins, boosting your immune system - all of which is great for you in this time of uncertainty. But stopping to focus on the breath also gives us the chance to unplug from the ‘mass-conscious matrix’ that is how we normally conduct ourselves in our auto pilot lives - and to really open our minds.
Who knows what we will find? Who can predict what will come from this - especially if we use this time positively? Can we really change the world by changing the way we think? We have always said we could - how about we prove it.
The Universe has given us this opportunity.
How can we dare ignore it?
Start just by sitting quietly in a place with no distractions and breathe in through your nose; fill you belly and chest with air – slowly drawing the breath in for a count of 4-5. Then hold the breath inside for a count of 4. Then slowly release it – through your mouth, like a slow sigh for 4-5 seconds.
The first time you do it – try to do it at least five times, building up to five minutes.
When you have built up to five minutes – try and add five minutes of meditation.
Here are two suggestions of meditations that you could add after your ‘counted breathing’. You can continue to be seated while you do them, or lie down comfortably.
Your Safe Place
- Close your eyes and let your breath become slow and steady. Inhale slowly, exhale slowly. Relax completely and bring yourself in your mind to a safe place outdoors. It could be a place that you know well; from your childhood, perhaps - or it could be a place that you have never been, one that exists only in your mind. Just let it come. Let the place appear around you. Know that you are safe here. You are truly safe. You are alone, but not lonely. You are at peace.
- Begin to explore it. Let the pictures come into your mind. Where are you? A forest? A field? The beach? What time of day is it? What season is it? Can you feel the sun? A breeze? Look up and see the color of the sky. Look around you - what do you see? Notice the trees, or the grass and flowers. Notice the waves, or dunes and sand. Let everything get more vivid and colorful. Let all the pictures fill in as you look around.
- Listen carefully. What do you hear? Are there birds or the wind? Do you hear waves crashing or the gurgling of a stream? What can you smell? Wildflowers? The grass? The sea? Breathe in what is around you. Breathe in the beauty and safety. Breathe out fear. Breathe in the safety. Breathe out fear.
- Now allow yourself to walk around your safe place in your mind. To become familiar with it - to know with certainty that you can return here whenever you want or need. That you can add to it as you like - building a seat or a shelter, planting what you would like to grow here - flowers or a garden.
- Know that you can create any spaces here that you need. A waterfall or deep plunge pool to wash away anxieties, fears and pain. You can stand under the rushing waterfall and feel it cleanse and rejuvenate you.You can create a dreaming place where you can plant your dreams and wishes and encourage them to grow. You can also create a healing place where you can lie down and let go of traumas and griefs and bring deep healing to yourself. Letting go of what you don’t want to hold onto anymore - knowing that you can release it here and be free of it.
- Here you can create your place of ultimate peace. Where you are in perfect comfort. Here you can breathe. Breathe in safety and peace for yourself. Breathe out fear. Breathe in peace. Breathe out fear. Let yourself be safe. Let yourself heal. Let the world heal.
- Emerge from the meditation after 3-5 minutes.
Heart Chakra Meditation
- Close your eyes and let your breath become slow and steady. Inhale slowly, exhale slowly.
- Imagine that you are drawing emerald green energy up from the earth, through your body and towards the heart. Feel the energy as it slowly rises up from the base of your spine and moves into your heart.
- When it reaches your heart, it begins to spin; a bright green spinning ball of energy. As you inhale and exhale, the ball of emerald green energy spins faster and gets larger and brighter.
- As you see and feel the ball of energy increase, let yourself focus on the feeling of love. Feel it inside your heart - and send this love to yourself - then let the feeling of love radiate out to those you know and love - then beyond them - into the world. Hold yourself in this state - radiating green spinning energy to the world.
- Emerge from the meditation after 3-5 minutes.