Recreating Recess: Taking time for yourself in time of crisis

Whether it is in bed, in a backyard or at the beach, meditation brings a nice retreat.

The answer to the question for what you should do right now, in a time full of stress and worry, may be to hide in your bed. Surrounded by walls decorated with posters and pictures from better days, there is no other feeling but comfort inside your room. In bed, you feel safe.

But this strong sense of relief can also come in the form of meditation.

Meditation does not mean leaving your room — or even your bed — because it is an exercise that can be done almost anywhere and in various ways, with all of them providing benefits to your wellbeing.

For example, one form of meditation focuses on internal cues. In this form, your attention is guided towards breathing, slowing the inhalation and exhalation patterns to the point where thoughts can pass freely.

Another form of meditation can be attending to external cues, which are cues that arise in the present moment. For example, if you are in bed, then those posters and pictures resting on the walls can be considered cues to direct your attention. Sometimes you can combine the internal and external cues into your practice, focusing on an object while slowing your breath, which is a more advanced version of meditation.

Apps like Headspace and Calm also provide guided meditation, instructing you through a meditative exercise consisting of breathing repetitions while listening to a soothing sound.

There are also many books, such as Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle, that are not only examples for the growing popularity of spirituality and meditation, but also provide epithets for meditation session that serve those who want to go deeper.

Although meditating in bed is the suggested option, the possibility of venturing outside to a seclude area is worth considering. Such areas can include forests and beaches, where the relaxation benefits from meditation connect with the health benefits from breathing in fresh air — while taking into account necessary safety and social distancing precautions.

At Wreck Beach, near Vanier residence, meditating during sunset is the most scenic experience on campus. The beach offers a spectacular view of the sun setting behind the snow-covered mountains and the colourful sky that looks like bubblegum ice cream.

This does not mean that other beaches on campus should be ignored. At Tower beach, located behind the Museum of Anthropology, there is a great view of Bowen Island and Lighthouse Park with its main attraction — a red and white lighthouse — front and centre. After sunrise, both Tower and nearby Acadia beach present a symphony of city lights from West Vancouver that glow across English Bay in a suitable display for meditation.

Really the water is what makes meditating at any beach so special. The rhythm of waves copies the breathing patterns, one wave signalling an inhale and the next an exhale, which makes meditating easier. Then as day turns to night, the water reflects the light of the sun before sparkling from the moonlight.

One night, about a week ago, I went to Acadia beach and meditated while watching the sun set. It did not take long to fall into the right mindset with the waves and weather in great form. While the whole scene could bring to mind a certain Bob Marley song, I was comforted by the fact that once the sun was gone, it would still rise the next morning.

But perhaps it is best to save heading to the beach for meditation trips until things start to calm down, as it is important to do our part in social distancing.