Introducing Mindful March
By Kiran Deol, Business Development Coordinator
As we round out one full year of the pandemic, you may be feeling restless and feeling like you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. You are not alone! We are all feeling this way. Here at Reportex we are lucky to have such a great team to support us in anything we need, even if it is as simple as a little chat. In support of our team we have been focusing on wellness initiatives each month — February was all about Walking for Wellness, and as we move into a new month, we are introducing Mindful March. The goal for this initiative is to focus on shifting your headspace to where you want it to be, with the support to help you achieve your mindful goals along the way!
A whole year ago, at the beginning of this pandemic, I decided to organize my life. I still had boxes in the storage room from moving, I was newly-ish married and I had just gotten back from my brother’s wedding in Cancun. I spent some time reorganizing my house — and may I just say that it was spotless! Next I wanted to organize my headspace. I was all over the place with what I wanted but was ready to start a new challenge. Part of this challenge was to be a happier person.
With this in mind I started a new job at Reportex at the strangest time possible (but I must say that starting a new job during this time had a lot to do with my mental well-being and became such a blessing). I vowed I would find the person I once was and would prioritize the people and things I love in a new way. The hardest part of doing this was being able to divert my mind from the things I did not want to have power over me. As months went on, the struggle was to not give in to the negativity of the pandemic. That is when I decided it was time to get back into meditation! I had included meditation in my routine in the past but hadn’t practised in over three years, and I remembered how much it had helped with my positive headspace, my work life and my personal life.
I feel that when many people think of meditation, they picture a monk sitting in silence for hours at a time with chants or mantras being repeated. Yes, this is meditation; however, it can also be much, much simpler. For example, whenever you feel overwhelmed and decide to take a minute to close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths — well, that is a form of meditation! You are focusing on your breath to get yourself back on track and calm yourself down.
The biggest obstacle most people have with meditation is being able to shut off their minds for even one minute, so here are some tips to help you achieve a still mind in your meditation journey:
- Be consistent! I find that being consistent is key with practices like meditation. It takes the human brain 21 consecutive days to get into a routine, so if you can successfully meditate (for even a minute) for 21 days, you are on the right track! Be consistent in your timing — set aside time in either the morning or evening. Morning meditation has the best benefits for me, but if you prefer the evening, just make sure it is the same time every day.
- Find a space. Set up an area in your home that is comfortable and quiet. Your setup does not have to be complicated. Personally, I have a comfy cushion on the floor, and I sit in front of the fireplace in my living room. Ideally you want to be in a space where you know you will not be bothered.
- Focus on a sound. Once you are nice and comfy and sitting in a comfortable position, find a sound that soothes you. I use sound because it helps me concentrate on the present as opposed to having all different thoughts going through my head, like what I will make for breakfast! The type of sound is a personal preference. There are many options for meditation sounds that you can play on YouTube: a running river, ocean sounds, birds chirping or acoustic music. There are also guided meditations. I would suggest trying a couple of different things to see what works for you. (I play a mantra my grandmother used to play, which I always found relaxing.)
- Set a timer. To begin, start a timer on your phone and start with as little as one minute. Shutting your mind off for one minute is harder than you think, but if you are successful in shutting your mind off for one whole minute, increase the time each day until you have a time that you are comfortable with and that you see yourself sticking to. Do not sit down and expect to turn off your mind for an hour at a time! At the beginning of my meditation journey I started off with one minute and worked my way up, and I can now successfully turn off my mind and be still in meditation for 20 minutes, which does wonders for me.
- Be patient. Do not be hard on yourself. If your mind starts to wander off, you may be tempted to give up. Sitting still is not an easy thing to do. We are not necessarily used to setting aside time for ourselves, and just like a muscle, the mind needs to be exercised. If you begin to feel your mind wander off to something else, simply acknowledge it and bring yourself back.
- Focus on your breath. This is the most important part of meditation because your breath is ultimately how you control your body. There are several different breathing techniques to use. I use the 4-7-8 method: breathe in through your nose for four seconds; hold the breath for seven seconds; exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. I repeat this five times and then relax my breathing for the rest of my meditation. This technique of breathing decreases fatigue, anxiety and symptoms of asthma, works to manage stress and improves migraine symptoms. Lastly, I find that this type of breathing wakes up my whole body! I have not had a cup of coffee since August, and although I do miss the nudge, this breathing exercise really helps to get my blood flowing and wake me up.
- End with intention. After my timed meditation I simply think of three things I am most grateful for and say them out loud. This is a great way to conclude your meditation and take the time to focus on gratitude. I am forever grateful for having 20 minutes of meditation each day to rest my mind and recharge.
Meditation has become a daily routine for me, and I cannot stress enough how beneficial it has been for me over the last little while, especially while coping with pregnancy and this ongoing pandemic. It helps me stay positive and productive and keeps my energy levels high. Meditation is a very personal practice, so finding what is comfortable for yourself is key. If you can shut off your mind, you’ll be successful! I wish you all the luck in your Mindful March journey.
The divine soul within me bows to the divine soul within you, as in namaste.