Meditation guru Luke McLeod shares his top tips on ways meditation can help you reduce your stress and anxiety.
There is no doubt that 2020 has been the cause of a lot of stress and anxiety. In fact statistics from Lifeline show people across the country are struggling with their mental health. So much so, the hotline has received twenty five per cent more calls than this time last year, the equivalent of one call every thirty seconds.
Luke McLeod is the founder of Soul Alive, Australia’s first live streamed meditation service that aims to help introduce meditation in a convenient and relatable manner.
The service currently offers live guided classes throughout the week.
Related Article: How to Keep Your Mental Health In Check During COVID-19
The structure is designed to make it easier for people to stick with meditation from the comfort of home. For the past 10 years Luke has immersed himself in the study and practice of meditation and mindfulness, including spending several months in India to study.
If you haven’t already, now is a very good time to adopt some good habits and set up some plans into place to look after your mind and mental health. Prevention is key.
While I am a meditation and mindfulness instructor, I actually recommend that you do some deep breathing and some calming practises first if you are feeling extremely stressed or anxious.
The idea of meditation is to get you into the present moment, but you need to ready yourself to get the most out of it.
Start with deep breathing. Breathing is essential to life and it is also great for helping you calm yourself. Begin some deep breathing exercising through your nose for 3 breaths and out for 3 breaths. If you can get that up to 5 breaths even better. The idea here is to help you feel calm.
Walk in Nature:
Even if you live in the city, find a beach or a park that you can be in and just walk. Be mindful in your walk though. Try to find 5 new things you haven’t noticed before and really pay attention to them.
Even if it is a leaf or a lady bug, take a look at it, notice the colours, notice where it is/ how it lives/ what it is doing. Taking a moment to notice your surroundings is a great way to get into the present moment
Contrary to popular belief, if you are highly stressed, doing something that is high intensity may be counter intuitive.
This is because your cortisol is already too high and making it higher is likely to make you and your body more stressed. Therefore opt for something low intensity, walking, swimming or yoga for example. Exercise is very important for helping you feel better and get your body and mind feeling great, just be mindful of what you need.
Meditation is a great practise to get you in the present moment, the idea is to be here now. If you have a thought while meditating that is fine, acknowledge and let it go.
I started meditating originally because people who I admire such as Steve Jobs, Muhammad Ali and Hugh Jackman all do it for focus and productivity, however then I started going through a harder time in life and started using it for stress and anxiety. It was a game changer for me.
The secret to meditation is to find a style you like and keep practising a similar session each time. Unlikely exercise, variety is not the key. The key is to go deeper. With Soul Alive our style often has a different focus, be it healing, relaxing or creativity and we do a body scan.
5-Alive – The 5-Week Mindfulness Challenge
After the success of the first one, Soul Alive is bringing back the 5-Week Mindfulness Challenge. The goal is to complete 5 meditation sessions each week for 5 weeks. There’s no better time to invest in your mental wellbeing then right now and this Challenge is the perfect opportunity to do just that. Starting on the 1st of September, here’s what you can expect:
- 5 x live guided meditation classes every week for 5 weeks
- A new mindful topic to master each week
- Soul Circle catchups with other 5-Alive members
- A progress tracker to keep you on track