The spread of the COVID-19 virus has not only brought sickness it has also brought rapid change, uncertainty and all of the emotions that come along with experiencing these types of major transitions. People in Miami and beyond are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious, and that is okay. We want to continue to deliver tools to help you navigate this unprecedented time, so we reached out to five of Miami’s top meditation teachers to share their favorite mindfulness tools for easing stress and anxiety.
Meditation teacher at Ahana Yoga, Modern Ōm, Atmananda Yoga, and Dharma Yoga. Follow on Instagram: @michaelstasko108
This is a demanding time; one which requires us to surrender our plans, to remain more isolated and to face uncertainty. For many, if not all of us, these times call us to be more mindful and to learn how to cope with feelings of fear or anxiety that may arise. Here are some suggestions to do just that:
- Check-in with your body frequently. Direct your attention inside and search for anywhere you might be holding tension—soften the muscles of the stomach, unclench the jaw, and relax the shoulders down.
- Practice yoga, pranayama (breath-work) and meditation. Do a little bit every day. (Michael is offering free meditations on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:00 pm).
- Stay present. Breathe. If the mind carries you away into being anxious about the future, pull the plug by bringing your attention back to the breath.
- Install these healthy affirmations deep in your mind, like an essential software update:
- I know this too shall pass. It is a temporary phase, and, just like it came, it will go.
- I trust the universe’s timeless wisdom and process. I can accept change and grow.
- My nature is love itself, and I am connected to everything. I am never alone, and nothing can ever threaten that.
Co-owner of Innergy Meditation
Our life is ever dynamic. It unfolds in every moment. The human mind has a tendency, a need, to predict the unknown flow of life, as prediction creates an illusion of safety and security. Yet, life holds no promises. That is why every moment and every breath within the moment is a gift on its own.
Anxiety is a tendency to worry about the future, the mind disconnects from the present moment and goes on the journey of wonder about what’s next. When we explore negative outcomes, it creates doubt, fear, frustration.
The power to address anxiety lies within the ability to maintain your attention in the present moment. Here are a few ways to raise your awareness and strengthen your capacity to focus, to be present, to be right where you are:
- Breathe. Practicing conscious breathing is key. Your mind is powered by breath. When your breath moves, your mind moves as well. Practice: Inhale for 3 counts, hold your breath at the top of inhalation for 3 counts, exhale for 3 counts, hold your breath at the bottom of exhalation for 3 counts. Inhale consciously with full awareness to the breath. Hold the breath with acceptance of the present moment. Exhale with gratitude for this moment, for this breath, for life itself.
- Acceptance. Negative emotions begin to arise when we resist what is. We often develop an idea that things should be different, but the faster we adopt an attitude of acceptance, the faster we can release the resistance and accept the present moment just the way it is. There can be great peace in acceptance of difficult situations, in allowing things to simply be. Practice: Observe how you use the words ‘could’ or ‘should’. Notice what you are resisting in this current situation. Acknowledge the fact that it is already occurring. We do not have the power to change the past, yet do have the power to accept the present and create the future by accepting what is.
- Gratitude. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Invite your mind to find things within your reality right now to appreciate. Practice: Write down 3 things that you are grateful for today. Reflect on what showed up for you. Revisit your list every morning and continue to add new items.
Ganesha Michael Shapiro
Energy Healer and Embodied Movement Teacher
Brennan Healing Science and Kundalini Yoga Instructor at @kundaliniyogamiami
Ganesha shares these six tips on how to calm and balance the nervous system during times of elevated stress, crisis, and/or trauma.
- Slow everything way down and hydrate with water or herbal tea as frequently as needed.
- Practice yoga, qi gong, tai chi, dance or other mindful movement practices daily.
- Practice Sitali Pranayam: Inhale slowly and deeply through a curled tongue and exhale slowly through the nose. Imagine you are sipping or drinking honey through your tongue. Repeat for 1-3 minutes several times a day.
- Meditate, sing or chant any soothing sounds or words that vibrate your vagus nerve.
- Feel your emotions in your body and practice active imagination. Consciously and proactively listen and stay present with the sensations, feelings, emotions, and images that arise in your consciousness as you listen to your body’s wisdom. Dialogue with them or create art following their impulse or directions; e.g. drawing, dancing, painting, sculpting, etc.
- Speak to a licensed therapist, counselor, mentor, somatic experience practitioner, or qualified energy healer for guidance, support, and assistance with emotional regulation, if necessary.
Founding Teacher Modern Ōm
Anxiety is a one-sided conversation within yourself. It stems from fear of the unknown. To add another side to the dialogue, we need to remember what gratitude looks like.
Here are a few of my favorite practices to bring you back to what you know:
- Meditate right when you open your eyes, rather than grabbing your phone and scrolling. Either tune in to a guided meditation (Jasmyn is teaching every morning at 7:30am), or don’t grab the phone at all, and just sit up in bed and give yourself 5 minutes or more to breathe deeply, without strain, just enough to draw your attention to the present moment.
- Create more than you consume - Instead of mindlessly consuming comfort foods and media, take more time to cook meals from scratch, playing with easy recipes made from fresh ingredients, work on projects that you’ve been putting aside for awhile, or connect with your lost hobbies or talents.
- Exercise - Take advantage of the amazing digital offerings from Miami’s trainers, turn on your computer and get your body moving. Our bodies are over 60% water, and when water becomes stagnant, it becomes murky and gathers disease.
- Connect with people whom you’ve been wanting to call. Call your loved ones, call people who inspire you, reach out to people you know who struggle with anxiety, health, depression, loneliness, or anything else and simply ask them “How can I support you?”
- Express Gratitude - Expressing gratitude in action makes it second nature. Gratitude defeats anxiety.
Kundalini Yoga Teacher
Keep in mind that meditation is not an act of clearing your mind of thoughts. Your meditation practice may actually be extremely difficult, emotional, and filled with anxiety, especially now and that is completely fine and normal. The point is to commit to the practice, to sit down and be present with those emotions instead of pushing them back, let them come to the surface and feel them fully. Doing this regularly can help to release built-up emotional energy over time and elicit the clarity of mind that you might be looking for. Try this kundalini yoga to release panic with Chloe or join her for a 40 day meditation challenge.
A silver lining of staying at home while we weather through this is that we now have more digital opportunities at our fingertips than ever. Try taking this time to try classes with all of the amazing teachers in Miami that you may not have been able to make during your regularly scheduled life.