As you work to stay healthy during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to remember to keep your mental health in check, especially as quarantines, homeschooling, bills and uncertainty continue to pile up.
In light of this, more and more people stuck at home are turning to something that can help transport them to a happier place: meditation.
“Everything is just overloading our system,” said Michelle Berlin, a meditation and yoga instructor at Innergy Meditation in Miami Beach.
Meditation apps like Calm and Headspace have recently grown in popularity, each with more than 50 million downloads.
“Why do you think it’s becoming so popular?” NBC 6 anchor Sheli Muñiz asked Berlin. Her response: "Um, people need it."
Getting rid of "monkey mind"
What exactly is meditation? Berlin says it's simply "the action of being present."
This is easier said than done because of something called “monkey mind," a term referring to unsettled, restless, or confused feelings.
“Meditation is not clearing your thoughts. It’s a practice where we give you something to focus on, and slowly the thoughts will dissipate,” said Berlin.
The idea is to shift your mind from fight-or-flight mode into a state of calmness and relaxation. It has proven to carry physical benefits, such as improving blood pressure and aiding sleep issues.
NBC 6's Muñiz stopped by Innergy Meditation and tried out a sound meditation, guided by Berlin.
For several minutes, Berlin played an variety of instruments that are meant to abruptly interrupt your thoughts. After several minutes of just sitting, being, and breathing, Muñiz instantly noticed results.
“How do you feel, Sheli?” asked Berlin.
“Amazing. As if I didn’t just sit in an hour of traffic,” responded Muñiz.
The power of meditation
There are so many ways to meditate.
To prove its effectiveness, Innergy Meditation had Muñiz try the Muse Headband, a device that measures your brain activity and provides real-time feedback.
After a short three minute meditation, the device said Muñiz was “59% calm,” according to Chelsea Sarnecki of Innergy Meditation.
“This really shows you the power of meditation,” said Muñiz.
“Yes, most definitely. It is live feedback instantly,” Sarnecki responded.
Meditation apps like Calm, Headspace, Insight Timer offer free guided meditations. Headspace even has a special section for dealing with coronavirus anxiety under “Weathering the Storm.”
The app is also offering free upgraded subscriptions for healthcare professionals burdened on the front lines.
If you have a story idea or health trend, you’d like Sheli to explore, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org