Our everyday lives are filled with stress and anxiety-inducing issues that may manifest right in the moment, or accumulate over time. Most of the time we might not even realize that it is happening. Meditation and Alternative Therapy
Pressures from jobs, school, family, and relationships can cause mental and emotional challenges such as anxiety, sadness or depression, and overall dissatisfaction with our lives.
Mental health problems and emotional issues are unfortunately not so clear cut, and may not be easily recognized; the awareness of how to address them is not prevalent. Plus, there is still exists a stigma attached to these types of issues. But when Coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown period hit, many sought help for the negative emotions they were experiencing at the time.Meditation and Alternative Therapy
We talked to Maggie Balbaa about the online meditation therapy group she created for people who were struggling with issues resulting from the Covid-19 lockdown, and about the different tools and practices which can help many of us achieve some semblance of balance and peace.
By Farah ElAbd
How did you notice people and life change during the lockdown period?
When Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, the lockdown was enforced on us and our lives changed drastically overnight. People had been living in what I perceive as hamsters on a wheel; they had been living their daily routines which they had created and perfected over the course of their lives until the lockdown shut that down for everyone without any warning. Meditation and Alternative Therapy
When we were forced to stay home and sit with ourselves and our thoughts with nothing to do, I personally struggled with adapting, and I saw that other people around me really struggled too in more ways than one.
What led to the creation of the online group meditation sessions?
When I saw people being confused, depressed and struggling to adapt to life in lockdown, and I had been attending a weekly online session a former teacher of mine had created for a group of us to talk about how we were feeling during that time, I got the idea of why not create something similar but with meditation for people struggling during lockdown.
I then created the Six Week Meditation Club where we would meet as a group once a week to meditate together, and then choose an exercise or a technique to learn or work on, to help develop meditation skills until the next session.
How was that experience, and what was the feedback from those who participated?
The reaction to forming that group was one of the most unexpected things to happen, I created that group through WhatsApp expecting few people to join the meeting, instead, around 150 people joined, which was really great. Meditation and Alternative Therapy
I ended up creating two more levels to be completed in the group after everyone asked, ‘now what?’ after the first round of six weeks.
Other than the feedback about the group, the important feedback was how the participants were feeling after each of our sessions; how they were feeling better after each session, as well as after learning more and more about techniques that help them both improve meditating on their own, and regulate how they deal with their thoughts and emotions.
What did the sessions entail or what would you do during them?
The first group meditation sessions were created during the lockdown period so they had a focus on learning about meditation in general, how to meditate at home and techniques for breathing and improving meditating on your own.
There was also a time slot for the participants to speak and share what they learned, how their meditation is going, as well as talk about how they were generally feeling at that time. Meditation and Alternative Therapy
We aimed to figure out what to do with all this free time at home, to figure out how to deal with the negative emotions they might be feeling as a result of the pandemic and the lockdown, and to find a way to let out all of the negativity they’re feeling in a healthy way.
How do meditation and other therapeutic tools help people in their struggles?
The thing I would like to say at first is that meditation and therapy in general do not need to be practiced only in tough times or in difficult situations, but rather they should be implemented as core practices in our everyday lives, regardless of what’s going on.
The biggest issue with human beings in our current times is that we are never in the present moment; we are either stuck thinking about the past and the mistakes we made, or we are thinking about the future; stressing over what could and might happen.
Meditation makes you take control of your brain and focus only on the present moment you are meditating in or focus on a certain topic, rather than thinking of a 100 things at once, which cause stress and anxiety.
What would you say to the skeptics who don’t believe that meditation and therapy really work?
I would say that many of those who doubt whether they work or not have not even given it a try themselves because they’re just holding on to a belief that has been deeply ingrained.
Meditation and the other tools and ways of therapy are not magic tricks that will make your life perfect as soon as you try them; they are there to help you become a more mindful, calmer, and happier version of yourself.
You begin to see that your life and your journey here on this planet do not have to adhere to a strict plan or routine that was created for you, but rather, that there is so much more to both you as a complex human being and to your life’s journey.
Although it is scary and uncomfortable to break free from the common and traditional ways of thinking, it is what will ultimately make us realize what negative patterns we have been consciously and unconsciously repeating in our lives, which we will be able to change.