Wellness Challenge: A Guide to Meditation for Resilience – The New York Times

We think of meditation as something to calm our minds, but did you know meditation can also make us stronger and more focused on the challenges ahead? Today, try a four-minute fierce meditation with the Rev. angel Kyodo williams, created just for the participants of the Fresh Start Challenge. Ms. williams, who capitalizes only her Buddhist name, Kyodo, teaches that fierce meditation is about showing up to whatever is happening in the world right now.

Science shows that a regular meditation practice can reduce stress, increase calm and clarity, and promote happiness. Other research shows regular meditation can relieve chronic pain, ease depression, help people quit smoking and help people sleep better.

The basic premise of mindfulness meditation is to pay attention to the present moment — especially your own thoughts, emotions and sensations. Ms. williams, a Zen Buddhist priest and founder of the Center for Transformative Change in Berkeley, Calif., is well known for her focus on the role meditation can play in social justice, and she teaches that meditation can be a powerful tool to make us stronger, more focused and prepared to face the small and big challenges of daily life.

Credit…Christine Alicino

She says some people make the mistake of thinking that meditation is an escape from stressful situations. “We have a lot of practice running away from our experience, trying to figure out what else it could be and why it should be different, which actually increases our anxiety,” said Ms. williams, co-author of the book “Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation.” “Meditation and mindfulness becomes a way that people can reconcile the confusion, the anxiety, the fear of the unknown.”

Despite the name, fierce meditation is not loud or aggressive. The fierceness comes from the power of meditation and mindfulness to help you tackle whatever fear, anxiety or challenge lies ahead.

“There’s a softness to meditation that allows you to go, ‘Oh, I can meet myself. I can meet the fact that I don’t know what to do about this,’” she said. “But there’s also a fierceness in meditation that says, ‘You have to show up to what is happening.’ And you have to feel what you are feeling about this rather than escape and check out into powerlessness.”

Before you begin, think about what matters to you most. “You do not have to go save the world,” Ms. williams says. It could be your family, friends, having a sense of purpose, feeling safe or taking care of yourself. Settle on what matters to you, and then start the meditation by clicking the audio link above.

Learn more about meditation in the “How to Meditate” guide. You’ll find four additional short meditations from Tara Brach, a psychologist and well-known meditation teacher. The guide includes one- and four-minute meditations, which are great for beginners or if you don’t have a lot of time. If you’re more experienced or ready for an extended mindfulness session, try the 10- or 15-minute sessions. Ms. Brach also offers a body scan meditation, which involves systematically focusing on different sensations and areas, from the head to the toes.

The guide also includes a walking meditation and a mindfulness practice for drinking tea from Sharon Salzberg, another well-known meditation teacher. You can download all the tracks and listen to them when you’re ready to meditate.