“It’s not like a one-time, Band-Aid, take-an-aspirin kind of thing, although that’s how everybody starts.”
Has the doomscrolling and nonstop election updates got your head spinning?
One way to help calm down your racing thoughts and fears can be to meditate, Mark Curtin told The Copper Courier. He has been instructing people in meditation since 2012.
In the tradition he follows, it works like this: First, set your posture so that you’re sitting tall and relaxed, but not heavily leaning into a chair or wall.
Next, keep your eyes open but point them slightly down. Start to focus on your inhales and exhales and feel the breath enter and exit your body.
And lastly, if your mind tries to derail you (“What’s the electoral vote count? Has Arizona updated its results yet??”), direct it back to the sensation of your breath, “as gently as placing a feather on a pillow.”
Hear Curtin talk through it here:
What’s Within Your Control?
Curtin said it’s no surprise people are feeling heightened levels of anxiety during this election.
“There is a lot of fear driving the election cycle, and just even prior to that, it was made worse by the confirmation hearings of this new Supreme Court Justice,” he said. “It was a lot of fear driving people to take action.”
On top of that, there’s the deadly pandemic that has killed over 234,000 Americans and kept people isolated from loved ones.
But when it comes to these events, Curtin said he encourages people to focus on what they can control.
“With regard to the pandemic, wearing a mask … and maintaining healthy social distance is all within your control,” he said.
As for the election, he reminded people that no matter what happens, they still have agency.
“Even if the outcome of the election isn’t to your liking, you still have a voice and you still have power and you still have the ability to influence change,” he said.
Ultimately, it’s about accepting that certain things are out of your hands and that you can adapt to what comes your way.
“You can’t control all the variables enough to have as much certainty as the mind is grasping at,” Curtin said. “And we try and help people work with their minds so they’re comfortable with greater degrees of uncertainty.”
Make it Daily
Curtin cautioned that meditation isn’t a quick fix. While it can help create some calm, it’s best to practice consistently.
“It’s a practice worth exploring,” he said. “It’s not like a one-time, Band-Aid, take-an-aspirin kind of thing, although that’s how everybody starts.”
Curtin said he first learned how to meditate in 1996 but really started to see the benefits when he committed to practicing it daily in 2008.
“The thing about meditation is that it can be some relief … but it’s a practice. The consistency is what gives you results over time,” he said.
“Making a commitment of 10-15 minutes a day, you’re training the mind to be more settled. You’re training yourself to be less reactive when the world throws stuff at you.”