Keep Calm and Connect with Your Heart
It is natural to experience stress and anxiety in the face of so much change.
The last year has brought unprecedented challenges to us all. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to much change – severe restrictions to our normal lives, loss of physical contact with family and friends, and difficult working conditions. For many, it has brought loss - of health, loved ones, livelihood, financial and emotional security, and of the small joys and activities that provide a balanced and happy existence. For some it has led to isolation, loneliness and fear.
It is natural to experience stress and anxiety in the face of so much change. The pressures caused by these changes are throwing us off balance, triggering stress, anger, depression and anxiety, that can lead to mental health conditions and exacerbate existing ones. Even before the pandemic, the World Health Organisation reported 300 million people suffering from depression.
What can we do under such circumstances? There is no magic pill or fix - but we can find simple and effective methods to help us cope better and develop resilience. Many people are learning relaxation and meditation techniques and there is a lot of scientific evidence of the health benefits of meditation. In fact, if you search for “benefits of meditation” on Google, there are 163 million search results!
At a physical level, meditation improves sleep, reduces inflammation, strengthens the immune system, and reduces and builds resilience to pain.
At a mental level, it calms the nervous system, reduces anxiety and mood disorders, increases empathy, improves memory, clarity and focus, creates inner peace, a more balanced perspective on life, and increases happiness.
As for the benefits at a spiritual level – they are numerous. Some things are better left to individual experience.
Four Simple Practices
Here are four simple practices that, if done daily with interest and enthusiasm, will support your mental well-being.
Relaxation is a simple technique that takes only a few minutes and can be done anywhere, anytime. It especially helps at moments of panic, stress or fear.
You can also use nadi breathing whenever you feel panicked or stressed. Hold your right nostril with your thumb and take 10 deep breaths in and out through your left nostril: it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms you down.
Meditation regulates the mind as it learns to focus on one thing – gently and naturally. In this heart-based meditation, we go deeper into the heart to discover our world of feelings, creativity, divinity, compassion and love, and emerge refreshed, with a sense of well-being.
3. Rejuvenate - clean your heart and mind
Your mind and heart need to be cleaned just like your body. With this unique practice you clean away impressions from your heart and mind, let go of worries and frustrations, to find inner calm, clarity and lightness.
4. Connect with your higher Self
To feel whole and contented, we can connect with our higher Self through the time-honored practice of prayer. Prayer takes us into the infinite world of the heart, to experience an inner condition of love, hope, beauty and joy.
1. Be in tune with Natural Cycles
Mental well-being also depends on living as natural a lifestyle as possible, in tune with the daily, weekly, monthly and longer-term cycles that are wired into our physiology. If we go against these natural rhythms our health is badly affected.
Here are four tips that help us live in harmony with Nature and look after ourselves better: 1. Get a good night’s sleep Try to sleep by 10 pm to maximize the benefits of your sleeping hours. Take time to wind down and relax, avoiding TV, video games etc, which over-stimulate the brain and disturb sleep.
2. Be an early bird
Wake early and meditate. This creates a calm, balanced foundation for the day. And when you learn to carry that inner state into your day you will be able to handle anything that comes your way.
3. Speak with love
Make an effort to speak gently, kindly and moderately; it will change your life. It will also help overcome the feeling of stress and loss of connectedness from remote communications.
4. Eat with love
Many of us have lost the art of eating in a way that contributes to wellbeing, and this has been exacerbated during this pandemic. To be healthy in mind and body we need to take time to eat. When we eat on the go, or while watching TV or a computer screen, the body diverts energy to the other tasks and our digestion suffers.
Our attitude towards eating is also important for wellbeing. Scientific studies show the benefits of gratitude in any activity and eating with an attitude of gratitude and love has a very different effect on our bodies than eating with greed or a lack of awareness.
So dear friends, right now, we have to live with the virus and find ways to regain our mental balance, to refresh, rejuvenate and revitalize ourselves, so we can continue to function and also to find joy in life, even in these challenging times.
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