Many have asked us if there are any meditations they can use in the midst of the current public health crisis.
If you have practised mindfulness before, you may find it helpful to revisit many of the meditations you have found most helpful in the past: for example, the body scan, sitting with sounds, thoughts and feelings, the befriending meditation.
However, there is one aspect of traditional mindfulness practice that people have asked us about: the breath. In mindfulness practice the breath is the place in the body most often used to anchor attention, the place to return to when the mind wanders. When we use the breath, we settle on a place where we feel the breath moving (such as the nostrils, the chest or the abdomen), or we follow the whole breath in and out. Many will continue to find the breath a great solace and support at this time.
But for some people, the breath may be a relatively uncertain anchor: the sensations of the breath don’t feel quite so grounding or helpful. This is especially true if you have an asthmatic condition, or a history of panic attacks, or are experiencing symptoms of the current virus.
Whether you have practised before or you are new to mindfulness, here is a meditation (“Finding your Ground”) that may help you find a place of calm. It invites you to explore different places to use as anchors for your attention – the feet, seat, or hands as well as the breath.
Below, there are three versions of different lengths. You could use the ten-minute version twice a day (Track 1.1) or the twenty or thirty minutes once per day (Track 1.2 or 1.3). Feel free to explore what is most helpful for you.
Once you’re familiar with the instructions, there are two extra tracks to use: first, a ‘minimal instructions’ (Mi) version (Track 1.4), or a track with the sound of bells only (Track 1.5). In both these tracks, the bell sounds at around 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 minutes so you can sit for as long as you choose, using each of the bells as a choice point about whether to end the practice at that point, or continue for a little longer. You can go back to the full guidance at any time if you wish to refresh your memory.
And if you return to practicing any of your usual meditations, feel free to use feet, seat or hands as alternatives to the breath.
We wish you well as you continue to practice in the midst of it all.
Finding Your Ground meditations
Play each track here (or click download arrow – only available on a computer).
Track 1.1 – 10 minute
Track 1.2 – 20 minute
Track 1.3 – 30 minute
Track 1.4 – Minimal Instruction
Track 1.5 – Bells only