By: Danielle Palli
We are all feeling the effects of Covid-19, in varying ways and to varying degrees. And when working remotely (or not working at all), caring for family members, homeschooling children, checking in on the health of loved ones, trying to remain healthy and safe ourselves, upending our outdoor activities and social calendar, all while managing stress, loneliness, fear, and sadness … well, it is, understandably, overwhelming. While many turn to mindful activities and meditation as a coping strategy, many may feel that they don’t have a moment to themselves for the luxury of meditation. Others might have so much time on their hands, are bored, and are climbing the proverbial walls. So, why on Earth would they do something as boring as meditation?
The Benefits of a Boring Practice
The benefits of practicing mindfulness (i.e. being fully in the present moment, being aware) and meditation (i.e. the process of mindfulness as a structured process) are well-documented. We know that one of the best defenses against Covid-19 is a strong immune system. Just as we know that stress is one of the key factors in chronic illness. Mindfulness and meditation can help us reduce stress, anxiety, and depression while boosting our immune system. Meditation has also been associated with better sleep, pain relief, and even better health outcomes that include redirecting our attention from potentially negative habits. Habits can be physical, such as raiding the refrigerator and stress eating, and mental, such as re-playing worst-case-scenarios in our minds and making snap judgments about the people around us.
Keeping Emotions in Check
In a time where we are collectively under so much stress, we are also very much divided – and not just physically. There are so many differing opinions politically, economically, and where our health is concerned. But with this comes a unique opportunity for extraordinary growth. Through mindful practices, we can develop greater self-awareness and an understanding of others (giving our EQ a workout). We can observe our present moment, notice what emotions we are feeling, and process them without lashing out. And, we can pause and make better decisions (which ultimately contribute to better brain health).
It’s Okay to Be Bored
When practicing meditation or mindfulness, give yourself permission to be bored. Inactivity is not our normal state, and undoing is hard. Being alone with our thoughts and stuck in our own skin 24/7 is hard. But boredom has a way of breaking down our resistance, and eventually allows us to be fully present, where we’re no longer judging something as good or bad, boring or fun – it just is. It is the, as one of my former martial arts teachers used to say, “boring yourself to death” that gives way to better emotional control, more focus, and greater impulse control. And, just as our bodies need a break from exercise, our brains need a break too. In moments of mindful pursuits, we can both quiet the stressful thoughts and emotions, and consciously return to them when we are ready. Through regular mindful practice, we’re taming our sometimes-out-of-control-brains that we are the masters of our minds.
Mindfulness and Meditation Resources
We recognize that for many, time is limited. For that reason, we’ve created a series of brief mindfulness activities and meditations. I’m listing them below, in order, from shortest to longest. Please consider including one of these in your weekly routine. It can do you a world of good.
Ocean Breath (6.5 min.)
Moving Through Emotions (6.5 min.)
Three-Part Breathing Meditation (7 min.)
Alternate Nostril Breathing (8 min.)
Mindful Relaxation Activity (11 min.)
Color Journey (15 min.)