Mindfulness in Times of COVID-19
Media channels around the world are calling now for more mindfulness for avoiding the risk of infection with COVID-19. The great news is that this is exactly one of the things mindfulness practice teaches: To become aware of automatic patterns, to stop them and to choose a new response.
Here are four main areas how mindfulness helps with preventing infection:
1. Reduces automatic behavior
2. Chooses a better behavior
3. Stress reduction supports the immune system
4. Stay informed but don’t panic
Mindfulness practice also has a proven track record of lowering anxiety and worry. With the media on the coverage of the coronavirus from around the world does what the media does, it’s easy to fall into worry or even panic.
Mindfulness helps being aware of the presence of anxiety or worry in the form of thoughts and as sensations in the body and to observe them with friendliness instead of trying to push them away. Repeatedly returning to the sensations of the breath or the grounding feeling of the feet on the floor help to reorient to the present moment instead of racing towards the anticipated future.
In response to COVID-19, we’ve moved our practice groups, affinity groups and classes online.
What is mindfulness?
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.
While mindfulness is something we all naturally possess, it’s more readily available to us when we practice on a daily basis.
Whenever you bring awareness to what you’re directly experiencing via your senses, or to your state of mind via your thoughts and emotions, you’re being mindful. And there’s growing research showing that when you train your brain to be mindful, you’re actually remodeling the physical structure of your brain.
What is meditation?
Meditation is exploring. It’s not a fixed destination. Your head doesn’t become vacuumed free of thought, utterly undistracted. It’s a special place where each and every moment is momentous. When we meditate we venture into the workings of our minds: our sensations (air blowing on our skin or a harsh smell wafting into the room), our emotions (love this, hate that, crave this, loathe that) and thoughts (wouldn’t it be weird to see an elephant playing a trumpet).
Mindfulness meditation asks us to suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness, to ourselves and others.
How do I practice mindfulness and meditation?
Mindfulness is available to us in every moment, whether through meditations and body scans, or mindful moment practices like taking time to pause and breathe when the phone rings instead of rushing to answer it.
Agreements for Community Interactions
Adapted from Visions Inc., “Guidelines for Productive Work Sessions”
TRY IT ON: Be willing to “try on” new ideas, or ways of doing things that might not be what you prefer or are familiar with.
PRACTICE SELF FOCUS: Attend to and speak about your own experiences and responses. Do not speak for a whole group or express assumptions about the experience of others.
UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INTENT AND IMPACT:
Try to understand and acknowledge impact. Denying the impact of something said by focusing on intent is often more destructive than the initial interaction.
PRACTICE “BOTH / AND”: When speaking, substitute “and” for “but.” This practice acknowledges and honors multiple realities.
REFRAIN FROM BLAMING OR SHAMING SELF & OTHERS: Practice giving skillful feedback.
MOVE UP / MOVE BACK: Encourage full participation by all present. Take note of who is speaking and who is not. If you tend to speak often, consider “moving back” and vice versa.
PRACTICE MINDFUL LISTENING: Try to avoid planning what you’ll say as you listen to others. Be willing to be surprised, to learn something new. Listen with your whole self.
CONFIDENTIALITY: Take home learnings but don’t identify anyone other than yourself, now or later. If you want to follow up with anyone regarding something they said in this session, ask first and respect their wishes.
RIGHT TO PASS: You can say “I pass” if you don’t wish to speak.
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