My mom is in the hospital right now. It’s not COVID, but it’s a serious issue. I found out Monday morning, one hour after having a conversation with her about exactly this thing: what would we do if one of us had to go into the hospital, and we could not see each other, or may never see each other again?
I was out of my mind with—I’ll name it–terror–for about 2 hours. We heard nothing for most of the day. Every horrible thing went through my mind, and the worst was the utter powerlessness that I cannot do anything, anything at all that is material, to help. I called all of the people in my primary support system and talked and tried to alleviate my panic.
Later in the day, I was informed of her status, and that went a long way toward making me more sane, even though she’d been admitted and the issue is not resolved. The other thing that helped vastly was all of the connection and support I had, and continue to have, from my family and my family-of-choice—a large circle of intimate friends that I trust.
Here’s the thing. My mom is still in the hospital. None of us are allowed to visit. I can’t travel to see her or my family. Her situation is still serious. COVID-19 is raging through the world, creating devastation on almost every level. Aaaaand…I seem to be OK.
Why? I have observed a simple equation in myself.
Meditation = good day. No meditation = bad day.
Look, I can go into a lot of scientific studies that show that meditation relieves stress, creates well-being, blahbedy-blahbedy-blah. Honestly, at this moment, I don’t know that I care. I’m pretty empirical, when it comes down to my own life, and this I have learned during this intense time in my life: 12 minutes of meditation=good day.
If you have never meditated, it’s probably because you say to yourself, “I tried that, I’m bad at it.”
Can I tell you a secret? We all are.
This morning I heard myself say “Well I just wrecked this meditation thinking about (insert work situation).” Then I corrected myself, because I have learned that it doesn’t matter if I spend 50 seconds of every minute of my 12 minutes obsessing about something, or if I have razor-sharp focus and an unbelievable sense of oneness with the universe. I still have a much better day if I meditate. There is no such thing as a “bad meditation.”
If you have never meditated, I recommend an old book by Ram Dass called Journey of Awakening: A Meditator’s Guidebook. It goes into all different types of meditation—beach walking, candle meditation, whirling, dance, movement, breath meditations, you name it. It was very important for me as a beginner because I could not do sitting meditation for years, thinking myself incapable. It was really important for me to learn from a highly-respected teacher like Ram Dass that meditation could take many forms. The ones I tried all enhanced my life.
Today I also recommend Insight Timer. It’s a free app, with a timer for those of us who like to simply time our meditation, including a nice sound to begin, interval sounds if you like them, and an ending tone, all fully customizable. It also has thousands of free guided meditations for all levels of meditators, even courses. These guided meditations run from one minute to full courses, and you can choose your meditation by teacher, by subject, by goal (like better sleep or more compassion) or by time it takes to do it.
Recently I saw a study that showed that 12 minutes of meditation a day created better concentration and more well-being in the participants, and I laughed because 12 minutes is my sweet spot. I have tried 10 (not quite long enough for me to relax), and 15 (a little too long at the beginning of my day). If I feel like continuing after my 12 minutes, I often do, but these 12 minutes literally work wonders for my stress levels, my sense of well-being and my mood.
Meditation = Good Day. No meditation = Bad Day.
And thanks for all the prayers, love and energy for my Mom. We all deeply appreciate it.