New COVID Support VT Workshop Samples Meditation Practices

I’m terrible at meditation. My mind keeps racing. I can’t sit still long enough. There’s no place for me to do it. I’m too busy. My legs don’t cross like that.

Meditating is one of those things – like exercise and eating right – that we probably know we should do, for the sake of our health and well-being. But yet, we probably don’t. Or maybe we don’t do it as much as we want to. Or as much as we think we should. Maybe we just don’t know where to begin. Do we really have to sit like a pretzel?

Join COVID Support VT’s newest workshop, COVID Recovery: Wellness Through Meditation, every other Friday at 1:30 p.m. beginning October 1.  

This new hour-long experiential workshop will explore different meditation techniques and how to incorporate them into your own wellness journey. The focus will be short guided meditations aimed at giving participants a sampling of meditative traditions. Facilitators will share resources and provide support and encouragement for establishing a meditation practice that works for you and your lifestyle. Participants will have opportunities for interacting with the group through Zoom interaction, chat, and in-the-moment surveys.

Meditation Looks Different to Each of Us

“If you’re interested in developing healthy practices to improve your well-being and resilience in turbulent times, meditation can be a great addition to your toolkit,” says COVID Support VT Counselor Nate Reit. “But meditation is a big umbrella. It looks different to different people.” 

Maybe making music or art is meditative for you. Perhaps chanting or moving your body brings you peace. Or you find calm just walking in nature. Maybe yoga helps you find stillness. The point is, there are a million ways to “meditate.” Find the ones that work for you.

Of course, formal meditative practices abound. So do mobile apps. Some are steeped in millennia of tradition, and some may soon be in the digital dump. But you don’t need to find your guru or even give up your data to learn to meditate. Simply being still with one’s breath is meditation in its most stripped-down form. Mindfulness meditation uses the breath as a focus to return to when the mind is distracted. Mantra meditation reins in the wandering mind with repetition of phrases or names. Compassion meditation focuses attention on loving kindness directed to ourselves and others. The internet is rife with examples of each, and many more. Start here to find more.

Separating Meditation Pseudoscience from Solid Science

Meditation was once a backwater of scientific research, thought of as “fringey.” Now it’s the focus of a large and rapidly growing database supporting a range of benefits to body and brain. It’s become so popular in fact that it can be hard to tell the pseudoscience from the solid science. Common benefits recorded in rigorous scientific studies and published in peer-reviewed journals include:

  • improvements to attention, focus, and cognitive control; 
  • less emotional reactivity; 
  • more resilience or ability to “bounce back” from challenges; 
  • better mood. 

Brain scans of long-time meditators show distinct changes in the structure and pathways of the brain. These include changes in attention networks and circuits linking the prefrontal “thinking” brain to the more primitive emotional brain. Other studies have found thicker cortical tissue in meditators, and more efficiency across the corpus callosum, the fiber bundles linking the brain’s left and right hemispheres. The wealth and breadth of data suggest clear effects of meditation on brain and behavior and value as a stress-management tool.

Learn More and Find Meditation Resources

Join COVID Support VT’s newest workshop, COVID Recovery: Wellness Through Meditation, every other Friday at 1:30 p.m. beginning October 1.

Find resources and apps for meditations on the COVID Support VT website, Take Care section.

How to Make Meditation a Habit offers practical tips and guidance for jump-starting a practice.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers a very measured overview of the proven – and unproven – health benefits of meditation in 8 Things to Know About Meditation for Health.The Mindful Brain provides an overview of what is known about the brain and behavioral effects of mindfulness meditation and how it might work to improve focus and attention.

Blog written by Brenda Patoine on behalf of VCN/Vermont Care Partners for COVID Support Vermont, a grant funded by FEMA and the Vermont Department of Mental Health

Need to Talk?

Call 2-1-1 (in Vermont) for assistance.

In Crisis? 

If you or someone you care for is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, you can: call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-825; text VT to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor 24/7; connect with your local community mental health center for 24/7 support. 

Find Help

Find resources and tools for coping with stress at

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Find your local community mental health center by visiting Vermont Care Partners.

COVID Support VT is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency, managed by Vermont’s Department of Mental Health, and administered by Vermont Care Partners, a statewide network of 16 non-profit community-based agencies providing mental health, substance use, and intellectual and developmental disability services and supports. 

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