MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Joining us this morning is Nena Nimit with the Meditation Center of Alabama. Depending on how closely you follow “safer at home orders” more people are more apt to stay in than ever before, but that can create mental strain. What is the most common mental strain you see people try to cope with at this time?
Guest: The most common mental strain is definitely anxiety, worries, and fear of the uncertainty and unknown in this pandemic we are living in. As a psychiatrist, most of our outpatient population, about 9/10 people, indicate some level of worry and anxiety about the health and safety of themselves and their families. So please know that you are not alone. This is a normal response to a challenging situation. There is uncertainty with jobs, it’s difficult to plan and go places, and we are cut off from the people and places that mean the most to us. The challenge becomes how do we accept, adapt, and adjust to the reality of the world.
Anchor: How do you people find peace and a center when it seems like the world is sometimes closing around them?
Guest: It’s very important to accept the world around us exactly as it is, no matter how challenging it may seem. This is the first step to peace, acceptance. Because we should do our best, wear a mask, social distance, exercise regularly to stay healthy. But at the end of the day, there is so much more that is outside our control so we have to just let go and accept whatever is happening. And instead change our attitude or mindset, the only thing that is truly under our control. Meditation and mindfulness are some of the most powerful tools to change our mindset. By breathing, letting go, and coming back to the present moment you create space in your mind. So instead of fighting and not wanting the situation, you create peace and can channel your energies into something more productive and useful in getting you through the challenges at hand. If you look closely enough, in every crisis there is some opportunity or silver lining. Now you might have more free time to spend with your family and loved ones, pick up a hobby, exercise or continue your spiritual journey. By focusing on the positives, breathing, and coming back to our center we can cultivate peace amidst the storms of life. At the center of every tornado, there is a bunker of peacefulness and stillness at the center point.
Anchor: It’s one thing for a person to embark on their own meditative journey, how do you get a household on board?
Guest: First the most important person to start from is yourself. I once had a friend who became a Buddhist monk and really went deep into his meditation practice and found true inner peace and happiness from non-attachment, a longer-lasting happiness. He was so excited to come back and share this knowledge with all his friends and family. He asked the vice abbot of our temple, “how can i share this with everyone? It’s life-changing.” The vice abbot said, and I’ll always remember this, “If you want to change the world, change yourself.” Everything starts with yourself and your own example. Maybe after you’ve started meditating for some time your kids and wife begin to comment wow Dad you really seem more peaceful, less angry when I do silly things. So they begin to notice until one day they might ask you what you are doing, or maybe they see you meditating every day and start asking questions, getting curious about what mom or dad is doing that is really causing a palpable change in their lives. The energy you bring into the room will change, even if others don’t say anything they can feel when you are more calm and peaceful. So please don’t misunderstand even if you are the only person meditating in your family, that doesn’t mean you aren’t helping your family, you are.
This being said we can still help our families once we begin the journey ourselves. When I was a young girl my mom would have me chant and meditate for about 10-15 minutes everyday at the end of the day. It was a habit and something I grew up with. So when things got tough or I faced challenges in my life I had a tool to come back to my center and my breath, to calm myself down. Whatever religion you believe in or even if you’re not religious at all you can tag on a few minutes of mindfulness to your nightly prayers and self-reflection time.
Maybe on the way back from school after picking the kids up you ask them about their day. After they tell you might invite them to take a moment to breathe and calm themselves down. Invite them to let go of the past and the future and just take some slow gentle deep breaths. Noticing any thoughts that pass through like clouds passing through the sky or leaves floating down a river. Just let them go and just gently come back to the breath, continuously releasing. Maybe at the dinner table before saying thanks you invite everyone back to the present moment and do a little loving kindness. Many people struggle with self-love so I love this practice. Loving-kindness is a wish for all beings to be happy starting from ourselves. Maybe you put your hand on your heart and feel your breath, just connecting with your soul and sending peace, happiness, and joy to yourself. Forgiving yourself of everything. Just inviting everyone to share loving-kindness to themselves. And let’s share this peace energy and loving-kindness to everyone here in our family, wishing everyone to be happy and able to find true peace in their lives. And we allow our light like the sun to just radiate throughout the earth comforting and healing all beings. Loving-kindness is a wonderful practice to decrease irritation in the mind and develop more empathy and positive relationships with yourself and with the people around you. So these are some ideas of what you can do. And once you start your own practice you can be creative, the limits of how to share the peace journey with others is truly endless.
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