Q: What is one of the most powerful resiliency tools?
A: A regular meditation practice.
And here’s the good news: you don’t even have to know how to meditate!
Through local teachers, books, and various online sites and mobile apps, you can treat yourself to guided meditations that will help you slow down incessant thoughts, calm a stressed mind, release tension throughout the body, help guide you to sleep, and much more.
As part of The Resilient Activist’s programming, we offer online meditations to our audience through the free portal at Insight Meditation Timer
Titles include “Time in Nature: Embodying the Seasons” (13 min.) and “Coming Into Balance” (20 min.) New meditations will be added on a regular basis.
When you set up a free account with Insight Timer, choose to follow our founder, Sami Aaron, so you will be notified as new recordings are published on the site.
Download the Insight Timer app on your smartphone or tablet to take these calming techniques with you wherever you go.
What Does a Meditation Practice Look Like?
Well, there are more meditation teachers, styles, and schools than you’ll ever be able to wrap your mind around, so here is The Resilient Activist’s explanation for everything you need to know:
- You can practice meditation privately, in groups, or even in online meeting rooms.
- You can meditate in a glorious meditation hall situated in a breath-taking nature retreat center, in a closet-sized personal sanctuary, in your backyard, or even in bed.
- You can be silent or include chanting or repetition of a phrase (called a mantra).
- Some meditations start with or include movement although most embody stillness and relaxation (which really is the point, isn’t it?).
- You can guide yourself through a meditation, attend classes or workshops, or listen to recordings by your favorite teachers.
- You can sit, lie down, stand, or even walk during meditation. (Operating a dangerous vehicle while your mind is in a blissed-out state is, needless to say, not recommended.)
- Your eyes can be open or closed. Yes there will be some meditation recordings that may make you roll your eyes a bit too. They may not be the right teachers for you.
- You can wear multi-colored flowing robes and a cool neon flashing turban or you can just unbutton your jeans so you can breathe more comfortably. And then there are pajamas. Definitely pajamas. (Shoes and bras are always optional.)
How Can Meditation Help with Climate Anxiety?
Before we focus on meditation and climate anxiety, if you haven’t already done so, start by reading through our EnviroTip #10: Grief and Hope in Times of Environmental Angst. You’ll find a wide variety of tools and philosophical mindsets that address the fear, overwhelm, and frustration that can accompany our understanding of the impacts of climate change.
What follows are three important benefits of a regular meditation practice that can help release physical tension, calm your thoughts, and promote clarity and inspiration.
Release Physical Tension
When the latest news article or social media post has you clenching your teeth, gripping at the gut, and hunching your shoulders, you’re definitely in fight or flight mode. Practicing meditation techniques, especially those that focus on physical relaxation and body scans like Yoga Nidra, can bring a powerful release of muscle tension and may just lower your blood pressure at the same time.
Calm Your Thoughts
When we get caught up in the overwhelming amount of environmental news, worries, and fears that are such a big part of our everyday lives, our brains automatically join in with endless questions. What to do? How to do it? Who is working on this problem? Is it a good solution? Who else is impacted? Who should I vote for?
Meditation is mind training. It’s a simple way to slow and redirect these interminable thoughts and give your brain something else to focus on. The various meditation techniques are just the thing to help you shift your worry about the future and rumination about the past into the safe space of the present.
Promote Clarity and Inspiration
With practice, meditation becomes a cleansing for the busy-ness and clutter of your mind and thoughts. It’s an opportunity to clear away the ideas, plans, tasks, should’s, and shouldn’ts so you can just give it all a rest. Like a walk in the park, a meditation session is a reset which allows space for new ways of thinking, bright ideas, and inspiration to bubble up.
Interested in Starting a Personal Practice?
We can help you there too.
Our Introduction to Meditation Handout is a step-by-step EnviroTip to help you start a home practice.
This downloadable PDF gives you simple concepts and beginner’s techniques, as well as a workbook page to help you build your home practice in a way that will be most likely to work for you.
Here’s the main thing:
If you just read about meditation you’ll experience some far-off imagined sense of blissful calm and relaxation. This is also known, in the ancient teachings, as “wishful thinking.”
Not really helpful.
If you actually practice meditation (with the same commitment and enthusiasm that you used to rehearse the clarinet or practice the proper way to slide into home-plate without breaking open last night’s raspberry scab) you’ll actually receive the benefits.
In other words, a meditation practice is called a practice because that’s the only way to reap the rewards.
There will be no gold stars or cheerleading teams rah-rah-ing around your meditation cushion at the end of a practice. (Although InsightTimer now tracks your time and frequency and I guess you could buy your own little trophies as a reward…)
But there will be a sense of calm. And a sense that there are always more ways to think about a problem than your everyday brain can imagine.
And especially, there is knowing that you are a vital part of all that is our remarkable life on Earth.