Are you going crazy? Are you in a state of I don’t know what the heck to do? Take a second, count to three and take a nice long deep breath. I’m serious — do it! We are all in this together, no one is exempt. Skin color, sexual orientation, material wealth, 10,999 Instagram followers, etc. does not protect any of us from the Coronavirus (COVID 19). I know it’s a lot for us to deal with right now but we are so much more resilient than we give ourselves credit for and we will get through this together.
Many of us are stuck at home and there isn’t a predetermined date for this madness to end but I urge you not to feed into the hysteria. Instead, take time to rest your mind, move your body and be grateful for your many blessings that were overlooked prior to the Coronavirus (we all have).
Last year during the craziness of my life, I turned to something that was a staple in my life for many many years, meditation. I started meditating again and it’s been an incredible help and has proven to be ever so valuable in the past few weeks.
Rest your mind
For centuries meditation has been used as an effective technique for easing our minds, providing relaxation, better wellbeing and better overall health. Originally a part of spiritual practices — meditation became mainstream as we made failing efforts to navigate our increasingly stressful lifestyles. Many studies have linked meditation to positive mental and physical health and many others are focusing on understanding meditation and it’s positive effects on our brain.
Now I won’t bore you with lengthy details about the studies and research about meditation but I will tell you about some of the benefits. I will also link all the resources at the end of this article for your information and you can if you choose to read it in your spare time (which you have plenty of now ? jk).
The benefits of Meditation
- Manages stress, anxiety, and depression
- Increases immunity
- Make us more compassionate
- Improves sleep
- Can generate kindness
- Promotes emotional health
- Enhances self-awareness
- Sharpen our attention
- Reduce blood pressure
- May help fight addiction
I’m sure there are many many more benefits. The point is, it is very helpful and easy to make a part of our lifestyle. I know many of you are probably saying I can’t meditate. But I believe everyone can and the beauty is we can meditate anywhere and start with just one minute and build over time.
Apps and Books I love
There are countless apps and book out there about meditation and mindfulness however here is a few of my faves:
- Insight Timer
- Ten percent happier
- Dr. Shauna Shapiro “Good Morning I love you“
- Thich Nhat Hahn “Being Peace”
- Angel Kyodo Williams “Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace”
- Jon Kabat-Zinn “Mindfulness for beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment—and Your Life
Start by sitting in a comfortable position or stand with your back against the wall. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in, scanning your entire body up and down, from your toes to the top of your head, then back down again while breathing out.
Breath deep into your chest so your belly fills with the air. When exhaling, control the air as it leaves your lungs. Your only responsibility is to breathe in and out. Listen to your breath as it goes in and out of your nose. Feel it as it fills your lungs. Control it as your lungs empty.
There one minute and you’re now mediating?.
Move your body
I love to move my body but like many, I’m easily bored and I hate the gym. For movement to be a part of my lifestyle it has to be fun, challenging and interesting. When I was much younger track and cycling were my favorites. But after I moved to Brooklyn finding something that kept me interested wasn’t an easy feat.
Over the years I have tried the gym, and a slew of other things but never stuck with anything on a consistent basis. Two decades ago I stumbled upon Yoga and Pilates — and I fell in love. I loved the way it made me feel and the way my body looked. When I needed something with a little more punch I found kickboxing and loved the intensity and challenge.
As life got in the way I stopped doing much of anything for many years but after my eight surgery and a health scare in 2016 — I turned to something I was familiar with, yoga. This time around Bikram yoga known as hot yoga (please note not all hot yoga is Bikram). And for intensity and challenge, I found Soulcycle. When time only allowed me one thing I chose Soulcycle but I still felt the urge to get back to my yoga practice. This year on January 1 I eased back into my yoga practice in the comfort of my home with a 30 days yoga challenge with my cousin and my sister. And I’m so happy I did.
Yoga is amazing — it does wonders for our mind, emotions, and body. Like meditation yoga offers us many benefits, some of the benefits are the same however many differ. I believe practicing yoga transcends the physical — it’s a holistic experience for me. I feel stronger mentally and physically with each practice yet I feel compassionate and vulnerable. I’m kinder to myself, I sleep better and I’m gentle with my body. It surpasses my need for a physical workout and losing a few pounds and it takes me to a space where my mind, emotions, and body becomes one.
There are many apps for at-home yoga, I’m sorry I can’t recommend any at this time because I have not tried any of them. There are also countless books written on the subject — many are a bit difficult to navigate but still helpful. And of course Instagram is my constant motivation. To ease back into my practice I turned to YouTube and it has been quite useful.
Youtube + Books + Instagram
- Yoga with Adriene (I started here)
- Yoga with Adriene (Channel)
- Yoga with Tim (Channel)
- Beginner (Sun Salutation Flow)
- Sleep (when I can’t sleep)
- Sleep (Practice in bed)
- Max Strom “A Life Worth Breathing“
this is the one book I find myself going back to over and over.
- @sacredbrooklyn (online classes)
Be gentle with yourself and don’t force anything at all — we can really hurt ourselves if we try to force poses (Asanas) especially when we’re new to yoga. There are many more Instagram accounts that offer inspiration, too many to list and I don’t remember many of them but I have listed a few.
What are you grateful for
This morning as I opened my eyes I heard the birds chirping in the backyard — over the past few weeks the chirping has become more distinctive.
There isn’t a lot of traffic or busyness to obscure the wonderful sounds of nature. I Whispered thank you as I got up, touched my toes and opened the curtains to greet the beautiful sunlight. As I grabbed my journal I thought about our new normal and what a crappy situation it is but I smiled and thought “but isn’t this the perfect opportunity to ravel in the things that have proven to be important to you Nat.” And yes it is the perfect time for us to be grateful for the things that matter to us — the things we take for granted every day.
As I began to write I wrote thank you for
- for the positive and supportive community that is forming as a result of the coronavirus
- universal love
- my delicious ginger tea that I tend to hurriedly swallow most mornings
There are many studies on gratitude and the positive effects it has on our daily life. Whenever I’m practicing gratitude I feel better and my life flows well. I’d like to tell you I’m grateful every moment in my life but the truth is I sometimes have to remind myself to be grateful for the little things that I tend to take for granted.
I started practicing gratitude Consistently five years ago because a friend gave me a gift for my birthday and instead of thinking how thoughtful. My lips moved and said thank you but my thought at that very moment was “what the heck am I going to do with this shit.” I felt guilty for days — she didn’t have much but she wanted to give me something and I could not appreciate it. I started to think about it a lot, I was ashamed of myself and wondered when I had become so ungrateful.
As someone who has always appreciated whatever anyone bought me especially a card I had lost touch with that part of myself. I started researching how people become ungrateful and how to make gratitude a priority in my life (thanks google).
The benefits of Gratitude
- It makes us happier
- Improves our health
- Strengthens our positive emotions
- Increases our mental strength
- Opens the door to more authentic relationships
- Helps us to sleep better
- We become more optimistic
- Enhances empathy
- Improves our self-esteem
- Reduces materialism
I stick to simple things such as saying thank you for my food or for my bed or being able to use the toilet, etc throughout my day. In the mornings I write three things I’m grateful for in my prayers journal and as I plan my day I one thing I’m grateful for and one thing I am excited about at the top of my planner.
There are several books and apps dedicated to the practice of gratitude. There are also many gratitude journals for sale but do what feels right to you — that is the only way you will consistently incorporate gratitude into your life.
- Shelly Hitz “21 Prayers of Gratitude: Overcoming Negativity Through the Power of Prayer and God’s Word”
- Dr. Oliver Sacks “Gratitude”
- M. J. Ryan “Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life”
- Five minutes of gratitude
As you begin to practice being grateful — you will feel better as a human being. Be kind to yourself as you begin to find ways to be grateful, don’t beat yourself up for the things or people you forgot meant so much to you. In the beginning, it may feel strange but stay with it and you will see how beautiful an attitude of gratitude can be.
Make the choice to react in a positive way
In light of what’s going on right now, we can still move forward — we have to, there is no other choice. We can’t sit in front of our TVs, stay on social media all day long or sit in fear and worry. Life is meant to be lived and to be lived generously. Although we are limited to how freely we can live and move about right now we can choose how we react to all of this.
As always I’m sending love and prayers to each of you. Be safe, be supportive and check up on your loved one, your elderly neighbor and check-in with yourself more than you ever have.
Articles like this one are written to offer practical advice, provide some entertainment, foster a sense of social cohesion, and remind to us that life is still wonderful during these strange and isolating times.
I am not a doctor or a professional therefore it’s imperative that you do your own research and listen to your body.
This article contains affiliate links for books I HAVE purchased from Amazon if you make a purchase I will earn a small commission.
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The Science of Yoga
Beyond the mat
The benefits of yoga
For beginners (yoga)