Mindfulness During Covid-19
Remember the days when you weren’t afraid to go to the grocery store? When you didn’t worry. “Did my mask work today?” Lately, those days seem like they were in the distant past. We are surrounded by so much input about the coronavirus, about social-distancing, about the economy, it’s hard to get away from it all for even five minutes a day..
We end up going through our days on autopilot just to get through it all. Our brains race with thoughts of gloom and doom. We are often just plain scared..
All of this leads to high levels of stress and anxiety. It’s O.K. to feel anxious. It is a normal reaction to what is going on right now in our world. There are ways to deal with the anxiety, though, so that we don’t feel like we’re going crazy.
Research tells us that the practice of Mindfulness, over time, can alleviate the stress and help us focus better on the things that bring us joy in our lives.
Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as, “The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding experience.” Another definition from Mindful magazine is: “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
“Pausing to practice mindfulness for just a few minutes at different times during the day can help your days be better, more in line with how you’d like them to be.” (From 5 Simple Mindfulness Practices for Daily Living, Mindful magazine, August 27, 2018).
Much research is now being done on mindfulness and meditation. Research is still in its early stages, however it demonstrates that meditation has many benefits which include lowering levels of stress hormones, lowering blood pressure and supporting the immune system.. “Meditation has also been shown to mitigate depression, anxiety, ADHD, and age-related cognitive decline”
The Practice of Mindfulness
If you haven’t practiced Mindfulness, then you may not know where to begin. Mindfulness can be as simple as focusing on the breath, being conscious of the inbreath and the outbreath, and noticing that you can begin to feel calmer as you do. If your mind starts to wander, which it will inevitably do, it’s just about returning to the breath and noticing your thoughts in a non-judgmental way.
It usually starts with getting in a comfortable seated position with your back straight and supported. You can cross your legsif you are on a cushion on the floor, or if you are on a chair you will want to touch your feet on the ground.. It is best to do mindfulness in a quiet space where you will not be distracted by noisy kids or you cell phone ringing.
Mindfulness can take place seated in this way, or walking someplace in nature. Wherever you are, it should be an uninterrupted time. Many meditators prefer to do it first thing in the morning to start their day on the right foot, or last thing at night to ease into sleep naturally and peacefully.
It is O.K. to start out in small increments of time, even as little as five minutes, and build up from there. One of the most important things to remember is to hold the intention to be at peace and to not judge anything that comes into your mind.
However you choose to do it, mindfulness can be just what the doctor ordered to support you in dealing with these very challenging times.