Worried, anxious, stressed – are these words that describe you right now? Because, same. Times of uncertainty can be especially challenging for our tiny little brains. But when things are out of our control, it’s important to find ways to manage these emotions or you’ll find them derailing your day pretty quickly.
“When you find that calmer state, you’re not getting caught up in everything. You just see it for what it is, and you can step away from it,” says Luke Mcleod, a mindfulness coach and founder of Soul Alive. He encourages people to use the practice of meditation to manage their busy lives – and now, to help deal with the mental health impacts of a global pandemic. “Meditation isn’t going to give you all the answers, but it helps you approach whatever problems you have with a clearer state of mind,” he says.
Photograph: Supplied/Soul Alive
Mcleod initially sought out meditation to help him be more productive in his high-performance job – but five years later, when his personal life fell apart, it helped him stay afloat. “People still associate mindfulness with religion or see it as something that they’re a little bit intimidated by, but it’s something that anyone can do, anywhere, that can really help them.”
A clearer state of mind is something we could all use right now, so we asked Mcleod to break down some common misconceptions about meditation – to and explain how you can start using it to better cope with, you know, everything.
TO: What is meditation, and how is it different from mindfulness?
LM: Meditation leads to more mindfulness. Meditation is the exercise, and mindfulness is the state that results from meditation.
Who is meditation for?
Meditation is for anyone. If you work in a high-pressure position, it can be used to increase your performance – whether that’s for more focus, more energy or achieving a clearer mindset. For people looking to use it to manage stress or anxiety more generally, it’s a way to achieve a ‘neutral gear’. So, not as a solution, but more as a preventative to that stressful state.
How can people be more mindful if they’re busy or time-poor?
You don’t have to go sit in the mountains for an hour and try to meditate, you can find small moments here and there during your day. Taking five or ten minutes throughout your busy day can be just as impactful as spending an hour somewhere totally serene. Whether you’re in an office cubicle or at home, you can do short breathing exercises, or just take a couple of minutes to really open up all your senses and engage with the environment you’re in.
What’s a simple meditation exercise people can do at home?
Right now, wherever you’re at, find something you can really tune into. Search for things you can see, hear or feel and notice them in a curious, detailed way – no matter how mundane …….