Saying that 2020 has been challenging would be an understatement.
Between the uncertainty, stress, and anxiety, most days felt like a struggle. For the first few weeks of lockdown, I found it almost impossible to focus. I would be trying to write an article, then realize halfway through that I was thinking about my parents’ health instead of my topic. I was too overwhelmed to concentrate even on writing, the one thing which had been a constant all my life.
Then, as the day drew near its end, I would realize that I hadn’t done everything I planned, so I worried a bit more. By the time night came around, I’d have gone through dozens of worst-case scenarios, becoming stuck in the negative what-ifs.
To top it off, travel, relaxation, and many forms of self-care have become high-risk or completely unavailable. I couldn’t see friends, go to my favorite yoga studio, or escape on a weekend hiking adventure. In other words, I was left to my own devices.
However, after the initial shock of the pandemic wore off, I started to realize that there was one part of my routine that was slowly but surely showing positive results.
Meditation as Routine
My foray into meditation, at least, in this case, wasn’t a conscious decision. I believe it was the universe giving me the exact coping mechanism I needed at the moment.
It started off as an attempt to naturally boost my immune system. In addition to kicking up my nutrition and exercise regimens, I also started to introduce morning sun exposure sessions in my day. So, in my attempt to get sufficient levels of naturally synthesized vitamin D, I also found the one habit that helped me through this year.
You see, I chose to limit my exposure to the time of day when I could spend more than a couple of minutes in the sun without health consequences. This meant that I had to do it for at least 20-30 minutes per day. And as I chose this to be in the early morning, it turned out that this time was just what I needed to reintroduce meditation in my life.
The Positive Effects
The first positive effect that I noticed after just a couple of days was that I was approaching my work desk in a calmer, more focused manner. As I was feeling less stressed, my productivity naturally shot up.
And not just that, but I started to feel better physically. I was relaxed, in a better mood, and was sleeping much better, without suffering the night sweats which had been bothering me for the first few weeks of lockdown.
But the most positive outcome of my meditation experience was that, instead of losing energy on all the uncertainty and change surrounding me, I focused my attention inwards. And it was there that the solutions I needed presented themselves.
Of course, I still couldn’t make everything right. But being attentive to my thoughts reminded me of all the things I could impact.
I could take the necessary steps to keep myself as healthy as possible with nutrition, rest, and exercise.
I reminded myself of how lucky I was to be able to work from home.
Despite not being able to travel, I finally had the opportunity to spend quality time with my family and friends, even if it was via FaceTime.
And perhaps most importantly, the conscious act of getting in tune with my thoughts allowed me to understand people around me better. Not only was I more open and patient with myself, but the same feelings spilled over into my relationships.
Getting Started with Meditation
If I think about the best thing that’s happened in 2020, it’s definitely the fact that I started paying more attention to my thoughts and emotions. And, without the pandemic, that may not have happened. It was the stress and negative feelings that pushed me towards introspection and self-care.
Sure, sitting down with myself wasn’t always the easiest of tasks. Sometimes, my mind would race. Other times, my home would be just too distracting. But what I pride myself on the most is showing up every morning and sticking with it. Even if only for a few minutes.
Nowadays, it’s much more likely that my morning meditation is something I’m looking forward to rather than a chore that I feel like I need to get off my to-do list. And I know that it’s definitely thanks to the practice that I’m feeling positive and optimistic about what’s to come. Whatever happens, I know I’ll be able to cope.