During the month of April 2020 – yes THAT month – the COVID-19 month of stress and uncertainty – The Resilient Activist offered a nightly online meditation as a stress-management and resilience tool.

Bluebells in the woods
Bluebells in the woods

Each night included instruction in a variety of meditation techniques along with a guided meditation session. Participants requested more information and reminders of the types of meditation styles and this article is in response to that request.

For a more general article on the benefits of meditation for environmental grief, check out EnviroTip #13: Meditation – a Powerful Resiliency Tool.

Meditation flow

A general daily meditation practice could include:

  • Practice in a safe, comfortable space
  • Honor your body’s needs with a blanket, pillow, etc.
  • Begin with gentle stretching and deeper breath to center yourself in the present moment – include gentle or chair yoga stretches
  • Set an intention for the practice
  • Practice with your chosen meditation style or technique
  • Sit in “true meditation” – Adyashanti’s Resting in Being
  • Reconnect to your intention
  • Gratitude

Throughout the month, participants practiced one or more of these styles and gradually built a personal, home meditation practice. Download the Intro to Meditation Handout for simple steps to resilience through a personalized meditation routine.

Our standard daily practice that participants use as their basic practice is:

  1. Connect to the space and land around you with intentional grounding
  2. Gentle stretching
  3. Intention statement
  4. Brahma mudra with 3-part breathing
  5. Alternate nostril breath – 10 minutes with 3-part breathing, exhalation longer than the inhalation
  6. Body scan or other meditation technique from the “practices” list below
  7. Count backward from 100 to zero, then true meditation
  8. Gratitude

This practice can be completed easily in 30 minutes and adjusted for a shorter or longer session.

Practices

There are so many wonderful styles of meditation and mindfulness practices it may be hard for you to decide what is the best practice for you. The practices taught in our series touch on a variety of styles.

  • Five Essentials for a Resilient World
  • Gentle neck opening with Brahma Mudra – here’s a sample YouTube video
  • Alternate nostril breath – Nadi Shodhana
  • Connect to nature through five senses and through all seasons – Time in Nature: Embodying the Seasons on Insight Timer
  • Gratitude meditation in nature, in life, and in the body: gratitude meditation vs. affirmations, inspirational mantras, intellectual, prayer, analytical, and benign (breath/mantra/object)
  • Yoga Nidra and deep body scan with relaxation – Meditating on Boundaries: A Yoga Nidra Practice on Insight Timer
  • Breath and energy focus on areas of tension or pain – sensations, size, shape, temperature, color, etc.
  • Three-part yoga breathing – belly, chest, throat – practice with Steve Wolf
  • Extend the breath out in nature; focus on deepening the exhalation
  • Spirituality and five energy sheaths – Koshas
  • Focus attention on various aspects of life:
    • visual – eyes focus on an object
    • sound – ears focus on sounds near and far, instrumental music
    • breath – observing the breath
    • counting – backward from 100
  • Mantra meditation – mentally repeating the words inhale/exhale with each breath
  • Chanting – enjoy Shaina Noll’s Ocean of Shanti video from Chants for Inner Peace
  • Chakra meditation – Coming into Balance on Insight Timer

Compassion and Analytical Meditation

Books referenced

  • Meditation: A Simple 8-point program for translating spiritual ideals into daily life by Eknath Easwaran
    • Lesson: you don’t need to be in a remote, pristine retreat site to meditate. You can find the stillness in your everyday life.
  • Vipassana Meditation as taught by S. N.Goenka by William Hart
    • Vipassana is “insight” meditation – revealing the truth
    • Lessons:
      • There are three types of actions: physical, vocal, and mental
      • The training of moral conduct
        • Right speech
        • Right action
        • Right livelihood
      • The training of mental development
        • Right effort
        • Right awareness
        • Right concentration
      • The training of wisdom
        • Right thought
        • Right understanding
        • Vipassana (insight)
          • Impermanence
          • Egolessness
          • Suffering
          • Equanimity
  • Chakra Meditation: Discover Energy, Creativity, Focus, Love, Communication, Wisdom, and Spirit by Swami Saradananda
  • How to Meditate: a practical guide by Kathleen McDonald
    • Analytical meditation
      • These meditations get us to look at our assumptions about life, suffering, death, love, and human relationships and to see that it is these assumptions and their attendant expectations that cause our unhappiness and frustrations
    • Eight Verses on Thought Transformation
      • 1 – with the thought of attaining enlightenment for the welfare of all beings, who are more precious than wish-fulfilling jewels, I will constantly practice holding them dear.
        • Honoring all life and wishing for the wellbeing of all beings
      • 2 – whenever I am with others I will practice seeing myself as the lowest of all, and from the very depths of my heart I will hold others dear and supreme
        • I know there is always more to learn from others’ experiences and I understand that my own actions and reactions are not the only truth
      • 3 – in all actions I will examine my mind and the moment a delusion arises, endangering myself and others, I will confront and avert it without delay
        • When I experience the clarity of one of my thoughts or past actions, I will spend time understanding it and its impact on others and the world and I will honor that understanding by taking action to change or repair any damage that I may have caused
      • 4 – whenever I meet a person of bad nature who is overwhelmed by negative energy and intense suffering, I will hold such a rare one dear, as if I had found a precious treasure.
        • This is an opportunity for me to just sit in compassion for them and their lives and to reflect on why they are like that and to treasure the concept that their bad nature is no reflection on me and I can choose to not let it  impact me negatively
      • 5 – When others, out of jealousy, mistreat me with abuse, slander, and scorn, I will practice accepting defeat and offering the victory to them.
        • There don’t have to always be winners and losers and it’s not always necessary for me to set the record straight in every situation. Sometimes the compassionate answer is to just allow them to be right and to let go of my own ego that thinks it needs to be right.
      • 6 – When someone I have benefited and in whom I have placed great trust hurts me very badly, I will practice seeing that person as my supreme teacher.
        • When I observe times like this from the perspective of the witness/soul/spirit/higher power within me, who understands that there is always more to every story and every interaction than my human mind and heart and ego can possibly understand, it allows the thought that this interaction gives me an opportunity to honor this truth from this “supreme teacher”. 

Sami Aaron

Sami Aaron is the founder of the nonprofit, The Resilient Activist, a community resource for those who are fearful, anxious, fatigued or overwhelmed about the climate crisis. Join us for Climate Conversations and more. Contact Sami.