“What do you get when you squeeze an orange?” self-help guru Dr. Wayne Dyer asked from the stage at a speaking event in Toronto.
“Duh! Orange juice!” shouted a little girl sitting in the front row.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because that’s what’s inside!” she exclaimed.
I love that anecdote, and it sprang to mind when I was thinking about the wildly different reactions people are having in response to our changed lives in the face of COVID-19.
The way I see it, like the orange, we’re all being squeezed by external circumstances, but unlike oranges, with people there’s no guarantee as to what will come out. While we’d all love to ooze nothing but calm, optimism and joy, chances are that fear, despair and anger are just as likely to pour out.
This is a time of great uncertainty. We have no way to predict how long these extraordinary circumstances will continue to test us. But with focus and intention we can start to change what comes out of us when the pressure is on.
The virus has forced us to create space, and if we choose to embrace that space we can use it to get still and clear. In stillness and clarity, we can start to reprogram old habits of thought.
Can you be still, or does your mind demand that you get you back into your comfort zone of perpetual motion? Try calming your mind with this; research shows that if you can sit in meditation for 10 minutes 3 times a day and bring yourself to feeling hope and love, after only four days, your immune function will improve by 50%. If meditation is something you have always resisted in the past, this may convince you to give it a try!
Set yourself up for success; make sure you sit in a comfortable position, and start with just a few minutes. To slow the mind, try focusing on your breath or on a constant but benign sound like the whirr of a fan. Don’t expect your mind not to think- that would be like asking the lungs not to breathe. You will have thoughts. What you’re looking for are the spaces between the thoughts-that’s where the magic happens!
If the word “meditation” throws you, try substituting words like “contemplation” or “familiarization” instead.
The essence of the meditation practice really is about familiarizing yourself with elevated emotions like peace and love. The more you practice and the more familiar those emotions become, it will be easier and faster for you to summon them when you sit. In time and with dedicated practice, they can become your natural response as you go about your day- even when you’re being squeezed.
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