Self, Health And Wellness

How To Meditate Your Way Through The Constant COVID-19 Updates (For The Sake Of Your Nervous System)

Photo: Omid Armin on Unsplash
How To Meditate Your Way Through The Constant COVID-19 Updates (For The Sake Of Your Nervous System)

Let’s face it, we are going to be anxious in the face of the danger unfolding as the COVID-19 virus spreads throughout the world.

We are vulnerable, and that is never a comfortable place to be. Our nervous system is designed to help us survive, and it is normal to feel anxiety in the face of uncertainty and things like the Coronavirus pandemic, over which we have limited control.

However, we can use meditation to help us cope with our feelings and steady our nervous systems so we can think more clearly and make good decisions for ourselves and the collective whole.

If we are too fearful, we cannot see outside of our small bubble and be present for those who depend on us to stay cool, calm and collected.

RELATED: How We Must Reframe 'Social Distancing' To Truly Protect Ourselves & Others During The Coronavirus Pandemic

The technique known as Heart Rhythm Meditation is the perfect way to settle your nerves by increasing your vagal tone, which moves you out of the stress response of flight, fright or freeze.

When the ventral branch of our vagus nerve becomes active through the practice of Heart Rhythm Meditation, we enter a state where our social engagement network can come online. This is important, as we need to be able to connect to those around us with as little fear as possible.

This is particularly true for parents and health care workers who have extra responsibilities right now to manage their anxiety.

The basic practice of Heart Rhythm Mediation is to establish a deep rhythmic breath tied to your heartbeat. This will change the state of your nervous system and help you cope with the flurry on new information coming at us daily.

Follow these steps to access the power of your heart through meditation and provide some balm to your frayed nerves.

  1. Sit up straight in a chair. Prop a pillow behind your back if needed to get your spine straight.
  2. Put your hand on your heart area in the middle of your chest. Then take a few easy breaths in and out through your nose.
  3. Close your eyes. If you notice you are more anxious with your eyes closed, keep them open.
  4. Notice your breathing. Over the next several breaths, just be aware you are breathing in and out.
  5. Breathe more deeply. Start to lengthen the breath with a deeper inhale and exhale.
  6. On the exhale, squeeze the air out but pulling your belly button back towards tour spine. This is an active but quiet breath. A strong exhale will help you get a better and deeper inhalation.
  7. Establish a comfortable breathing rhythm and match the length of the inhale and exhale. Count the length of each and then match the other to the shorter duration. For example, if your inhalation is six counts but the exhalation is eight, switch to duration of the exhale to 6 to match the inhale. This is what we call a rhythmic breath.
  8. After the breath is established, see if you can feel your heartbeat or a pulse somewhere in your body. It can help to put your hand on your heart or feel your pulse at your wrist as you hold your hand near your heart.
  9. If you can feel your heartbeat or pulse, use it as the counter for your rhythmic breath. For example, six heart beats on the inhale and six heartbeats on the exhale. It is typical to have a count of six or eight.
  10. Don’t worry if you can’t feel your heartbeat. Just count at a rate you imagine your heartbeat to be.

Try to meditate for 10 minutes each day and feel your body respond to the rhythms of a steady breath and heartbeat.

Keeping your concentration on your breath and heartbeat harmonizes the basic rhythms of the body for peace and well-being.

Love, harmony and beauty to you all in these anxious times.

RELATED: How To Keep Your Stress Level Down & Immune System Up Until COVID-19 Is Contained

Kathleen Friend, MD, is a physician, mother and author of the children's book, "The Greatness Chair," which is available on Amazon.