As I sat down to plan my June article for Lotl.com, I was filled with a sense of dread about researching the issues affecting the LGBTI community around the world. For the past few weeks I’d been struggling to watch the news on TV or check my Facebook feed. I was craving a break from the barrage of bad news.
Feeling helpless after the Orlando Massacre and anxious at the prospect of a plebiscite on marriage equality, I wondered if other people in the community were struggling like me. So I contacted well-known LGBI psychologist, Paul Martin.
Paul describes the LGBTI community as being in a “perfect storm moment” right now, with the attack on the safe schools program, talk of a plebiscite on marriage equality and the Orlando Massacre. “It’s almost like every kind of angle has been covered in public exposure of some of the worst, most homophobic attitudes at the moment. So I think we’re being bombarded basically as individuals and as a community.” This bombardment is causing LGBTI people to be living with “chronic, persistent, ongoing, moderate levels of emotional distress or stress,” which we humans are psychologically and physically ill-equipped to handle.
This conversation confirmed what I was already thinking - that many of us are struggling to cope.
Paul gave me great information for my article – from the importance of developing our self-awareness and self-care, to tips on building resilience and strengthening the LGBTI community. One of the topics we touched on was the benefits of meditation, a powerful tool which researchers and psychologists are now beginning to understand. Meditation is known to have a particularly positive effect on the ruminative thinking which causes us distress and is associated with depression and anxiety.
I’ve been practicing Buddhist loving kindness meditation on and off for over a decade now and it’s my go-to meditation for finding peace during difficult times. In the past it’s helped me increase my self-esteem and self-love, which a lot of us struggle with. Not only is loving kindness meditation proven to build resilience and reduce stress levels, it focuses you on positive emotions like empathy, compassion and kindness – the kind of emotions that help us heal.
So why wasn’t I practicing it now, when I needed it the most? It turns out that when we’re under stress we tend to do the exact opposite of what we need to do to look after ourselves.
Here are the free guided meditations from the UCLA Mindfulness Research Centre that Paul recommends. Last night my partner and I tried the loving kindness one and loved it!
So, thank you Paul for helping me put something positive into the world this month.
Peace out everyone xxx