Mindfulness in the Time of Coronavirus
The COVID-19 pandemic has effectively ground life to a halt for many, or at least it feels that way. Our time and minds aren’t filled with the usual noise that keeps us marching forward – wrangling family schedules, getting to class / work on time, family events, dinner with friends, festivals, and birthday celebrations. We are trying to figure out how to manage our anxiety and live life strictly through video, phone calls, and social media. Some introverts are probably figuring out they didn’t LITERALLY want to stay home ALL the time… maybe only 75% of the time!
Now may be a good time to explore new ways to find peace, calm your mind, and connect with yourself. The effectiveness of mindfulness is supported by research and has been incorporated into many different mental health therapies.
But - what is it? Definitions can be cryptic…
- Being fully present in the moment (Right, right.)
- Management of attention with non-judgmental acceptance (Huh?)
- Developing moment-to-moment awareness of your physical body, thoughts, and emotional responses to internal and external stimuli (Ok, this is starting to sound like work.)
- What it is not: meditation
Meditation is a way to train your brain to be mindful in your daily life. Mindfulness is bringing all of your attention and awareness to THIS moment (not thinking about the past, or what’s happening next), without judging yourself, and without being reactive to emotions and thoughts that you discover.
So, how “in the moment” are you? Have you ever made it to school or work and realized you have no memory of actually driving there? Walk into a room and totally forget why you dragged yourself off the couch in the first place? Curious about where you are on the mindfulness spectrum? Check out the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale, higher scores reflect higher levels of mindfulness.
There are many different approaches to mindfulness practice: focused attention such as in breathing exercises, body scan / awareness meditations that connect your mind with your physical body, “noting” of thoughts or emotions that distract you during meditations, or “resting awareness” by letting thoughts enter your mind and then letting them “float by like clouds” – sounds nice, right?
There are many free sources to help you get started practicing mindfulness; check these out: https://www.headspace.com, https://www.calm.com, and https://www.simplehabit.com
If you want to dive deep – check out https://www.mindful.org, a website “dedicated to inspiring, guiding, and connecting anyone who wants to explore mindfulness—to enjoy better health, more caring relationships, and a compassionate society.”