DON’T SUFFER, RESET NOW.
8 March 2021 | Becs Mansfield
Modern Meditation trainer Becs Mansfield talks about panic, fear and suffering in the age of Covid. You can also join Becs as she leads a live guided meditation below.
Expectations & Overload
We’re all going through collective adversity due to the coronavirus outbreak and a national lockdown (and this could be on top of our own personal adversity). Over the last year, since the announcement of a global pandemic in March 2020, suffering is now normal. During this time we have continued to put pressure on ourselves. We may have decided to try new recipes from our unused cookbooks, bake banana bread, or maybe even build a business! How many of us thought it’s a great time to exercise and finally get the body we’ve always wanted? And then we have all the usual responsibilities of maintaining a job, looking after children, parents, or dependents and keeping a clean and tidy home. We continue to want to do it all during a global pandemic and a time of tragedy. It’s not the time to be overloaded. You don’t need to do all the things on your to do list (I remind myself I am not a to do list). You don’t even need to catch up on the news or social media if you don’t want to.
Take this moment now to ask yourself “how’re you doing?” Gently, like you would ask a friend. Then if you have some time join in me in a live meditation below to help ease suffering and fear.
It can be tricky being honest with ourselves. Up until this point, you have probably directed your attention outwards – on organising a cupboard, acquiring a bicycle, or maybe acquiring bicycles for the whole family. Now is the time to slow down, relax and turn your attention inwards. You may be reading this thinking you don’t want to focus on how’re you’re feeling. You may be fearful of what you’ll find. You may rather busy yourself with the next thing on your list. You may be thinking you’ll be fine when you’re out of lockdown.
Acceptance & Processing
If we don’t process what is happening to us, and how we’re feeling, we can experience some level of trauma from this challenging time and our coping mechanisms can become overwhelmed. Unprocessed experiences or memories can be frozen or on alert and stored in an emotional form that can be triggered by experiencing a similar situation in the future. The memory can be forgotten, but the feeling of panic or anxiety can be continually triggered in the present. When we process the experience, and accept what is happening or what has happened, the anxiety mechanisms start to dial down.
Essentially we need to process experience from the right hand side of the brain, via the Limbic system and the amygdala, to the left hand side of the brain, the hippocampus. When we process experiences into the left hand side of the brain we move it into a library in the mind, where we’ve accepted it and it doesn’t ruin our lives anymore.
Adversity forces us to awaken
Use this time of adversity as an opportunity to awaken and be conscious. If you don’t awaken you will suffer – you will be unhappy, anxious and fearful. When you’re conscious and in the present moment you know there is nothing to fear. Only when you leave this moment you experience fear in an imagined future thought. When you are suffering you have lost yourself in the mind and your emotions reflect this. Maybe when we fear being in lockdown for another month. Or maybe when we fear our family, our friends, ourselves catching the virus.
I watched a video Eckhart Tolle (a spiritual teacher) shared at the start of lockdown in March 2020 ‘staying conscious in the face of adversity’ and I wrote down this quote in my journal that I’ve continually gone back to over the past year:
“Adversity forces us to go deeper when life is too unbearable on the surface. We go deeper because we can’t stand the suffering or the anxiety anymore. When things are going well, we’re in your comfort zone. No one awakens in their comfort zone. Meet the situation in a state of consciousness.”
Modern Meditation & Resetting Regularly
It’s not too late to go deeper. This is the signpost you’ve needed to make a change. We’re going to turn our attention inwards and open up to whatever experience is happening in the body. This is where Modern Meditation comes in…
Meditation gives us the space to safely explore feelings and pay attention to pain and suffering. We learn to stop resisting feelings in the body, even if that feeling is negative, even if that feeling is fear. The feeling is there to serve you. Your feeling is there to realign you with happiness, joy and purpose. We allow the body to deliver the message. Even if you feel fear, anxiety, panic or overwhelm. If we resist negative thoughts or feelings, try to control and stop them, this gives energy and intensifies the experience. We learn to take notice of these feelings. And when we start to accept these feelings, they start to soften. We can’t choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we respond.
Learn to reset regularly, stop adding extra suffering to your pain, and practice daily meditation.
You can listen to me leading one of our recent Monday Morning Modern Meditation sessions talking about suffering, panic attacks and fear here. Plus I lead a special guided Modern Meditation designed to help gain some control and perspective on suffering.