Mindfulness Practices For The Pandemic Home Stretch

Guest Post by Sarah Vaynerman, Work From Om®:

In a January interview with Pollstar, Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio says, “…as soon as it’s feasible, we’ll be back.” He continues, “Because the moment we’re back onstage together is just gonna be so [laughs]–I can’t even.”

Are you ready to be “back?” I know that I am. I cannot wait for a return to crowds, hugging and LIVE MUSIC! 

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino is optimistic that large-scale concerts could “start in midsummer.” But, unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet. Frankly, this pandemic is a slog and will possibly change our lives forever. So where do we go from here?

On the one hand, we all have an opportunity to lean into becoming our best, most authentic selves, and make plans to achieve our biggest, wildest dreams once everything opens back up. 

That’s great and all, but sometimes the “let’s expand your mind” talk can be a little…well, overwhelming. It can feel unattainable, unrealistic, and dismissive of what is happening RIGHT NOW. Dreaming and planning is important but we don’t really know how far we have left to go. We’re all exhausted and need to rest. 

These are, in a way, two sides of the same coin, and I don’t want to choose. I’m going to start with a few tips to help you get through TODAY, and then if you’re feeling inspired to go further and look out into the FUTURE, I’ll share some of my favorite techniques for that too. 

Making it through: Mindfulness tips to boost your resilience TODAY

On the days when we’re struggling, it’s important to tune into our resilience. But what does that mean, exactly? You may have heard that resilience is about being tough, about powering through what life throws at us. Well, it’s really more about elasticity. It’s about having a flexible mindset so that we can respond mindfully and adapt. 

We work with our students to employ these five steps to access our resilience during challenging times:

RELAX by pausing into the present moment.

RELATE by observing your thoughts and feelings, and acknowledge what is going on. 

REFRAME the situation if necessary, through gratitude and positive thinking. 

RELEASE what doesn’t serve you. 

RECLAIM the experience by focusing on what you can control and identifying with your highest self. 

If you want a deeper dive into each of these five R’s head over to the Work From Om® blog. For now, I’m sharing two additional practices that we think are especially relevant to the Backline Community and this moment in time:

Breathing Technique: Lion’s Breath

Since we’re now a year into this pandemic, we have found that in order to RELAX and RELEASE, we need a little more oomph to get out our emotions and calm the mind. Lion’s Breath is great with its forceful exhales because it reduces anxiety, tension, and just plain feels good. 

Try it:

  • Sit comfortably on the floor or in a chair with your feet parallel and flat on the ground. Stretch your hands down, placing them on your thighs or knees, and keep your arms energized through the practice. 
  • Inhale deeply through the nose with the mouth closed. 
  • Opening your mouth, stick out your tongue and exhale powerfully through the mouth. Make a “ha” or “ahh” sound while you exhale. Try to open your mouth as wide as you can, stretch your tongue down as far as you can, and make your exhale breath as loud as you can. Be powerful, like a lion! 
  • Relax the face, inhale again through your nose with the mouth closed. 
  • Exhale forcefully as before. 
  • Repeat 3-10 times. 
  • Relax your arms, rest your hands in your lap, and take a few slow breaths in and out through the nose. 

Gratitude Practice: Future Journaling

We love incorporating a gratitude practice when we need to REFRAME our situation. Combined with future journaling, which is a way to tap into your future self, it helps our students better visualize the hopeful, positive future that is available to them. 

Try it:

  • Find space to write in your daily journaling routine or on a page you can keep and refer back to. Bonus points if you hang it on your fridge or bulletin board as a daily reminder!
  • Begin by writing down at least three things that you are grateful for in the present. You can also try writing these as expressions of thanks to people or entities. For example, “Thank you mom for loving me and supporting me in my career path.”
  • Next, express gratitude for what you don’t yet have, phrased in the present tense. For example, “I am grateful that my dream job exists! I am confident that it will be mine.”

Next steps: Healthy habits to power you into the FUTURE

I’ve heard a lot of manifestation types talk about how this pandemic is a time to “reinvent yourself” or “start a side hustle.” These sound great, but where are the practical steps to get us moving in the right direction? Once we know what our goals are, how do we actually achieve them?

My favorite advice: take this time to set up strong, healthy habits. 

I know that at first glance the idea of building habits is not nearly as sexy as achieving your big dreams and goals. Mental health writer Mark Manson says, “There seems to be a bias in the human circuitry that underestimates what it takes to accomplish really big goals in life and overestimates the effort required to take on a series of small goals or habits.”

I have found this to be true and the only antidote is to jump in and start small. Trust me, a foundation of healthy habits will make achieving your goals easier. Creating good habits reduces our cognitive load, making more space for us to allocate our mental resources to the things that matter. Building a habit means that we only have to make that decision once, and then it becomes automatic. 

Habits can set you free! 

Try it: 

  • Start with super small habits, but a lot of them, and track them (also a habit!) That way you can check off a lot of things each day, and your brain gets a hit of dopamine each time. This will feel good and motivate you to keep going!
  • Hack your environment to be more mindful. Make the cues of good habits obvious and eliminate cues for bad habits. For example, stock your kitchen with healthy food and hide the unhealthy stuff; leave your yoga mat, running shoes, or exercise equipment out so it’s easy to get in a workout; set a daily alarm to meditate and/or gratitude journal; or designate screen free zones like your bedroom. 
  • Celebrate accomplishing even the small steps and habits, they build upon each other and will make it easier to accomplish your bigger projects and goals! 

I hope these simple practices will help propel you through the rest of this very challenging time.If you’re looking for additional guidance in real-time we have a full schedule of donation-based/free classes available and we would love to see you in class! 

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and hear the beautiful sounds of our first show back. Hang in there and feel free to reach out if there’s anything at all we can do to support you or the music industry. 

We’re all in this together.  

About Sarah:

Sarah built Work From Om® to help organizations support their employees’ well-being and development, and manage stress in a world where the lines between work and life are becoming increasingly blurred. She created the Work From Om® model that has touched thousands of professionals nationwide and has personally led successful mindfulness trainings at more than 100 companies.

Sarah believes that the transformative qualities of mindfulness and conscious movement must be widely available and has devoted her career to building programs that are relatable and accessible to individuals from all walks of life and all levels of practice.

Before launching Work From Om®, Sarah spent nearly a decade in marketing communications, leading brand engagement initiatives for growing companies within tech and on Wall Street before starting her own consulting practice. Through the practices of yoga, mindful movement and meditation, she soon noticed profound improvements in virtually every aspect of her life, from sleep and physical fitness to productivity and personal relationships. Inspired and rejuvenated, Sarah completed her yoga teacher training and launched Work From Om® in 2014 with a mission to deliver the same benefits to busy professionals one company at a time.

About Work From Om® 

Work From Om® is on a mission to integrate well-being into every person’s workday. By partnering with conscious employers around the world, Work From Om® brings active mindfulness and movement into workplaces for healthier, happier and higher-functioning employees. Since its founding in 2014, the organization has worked with more than 150 companies and today continues to define the new standard for workplace well-being in a changing world. Learn more about the way Work From Om® empowers authenticity and practice-driven growth at www.workfromom.com and join our virtual community on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.