Monday, April 20, 2020

Becoming Virtually Mindful … No, Mindful Virtually


This is the last in a series of blog posts helping you add value to your time in coronavirus quarantine.  We’ve pointed you to online resources for edutainment (museums, music, films, continuing education classes), virtual travel journeys, ways to entertain kids schooling from home, and support for exercise at home.

Today, we’re going to help you keep your sanity while sheltering-in-place.

I was already on an exploration of mindfulness before the pandemic arrived, and have welcomed the strategies to calm my anxiety-prone thoughts.  Especially the skill of noticing your thoughts without judgment, but not allowing yourself to get sucked into them.  “Oh look, I’m worried about [insert symptom or person’s name] … again.  How interesting . … Let’s return to deep breathing and clear that busy mind …”

This interview with Jack Kornfield gives you an introduction to the general principles and benefits of mindfulness, especially in the context of Covid-19.  Bottom line:  (1) accept fear, anxiety and grief as normal; and (2) try to let it go.  Breathe deep, breathe some more.

There are plenty of free resources available online to introduce you to mindfulness and guide you through your own mindfulness experience.  Here are a few to try:

·      Mind Control:  Managing your mental health during Covid-19 (U of Toronto, available through Coursera)
·      The Science of Wellbeing (Happiness) (Yale’s most popular course, available through Coursera)
·      Coronavirus Sanity Guide (Ten Percent Happier)
·      UCLA Mindful (UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center)
·      Insight Timer (guided meditations)
·      Balance: Meditation (app)
·      Shine: Calm Anxiety & Stress (app)
·      Ten Percent Happier Meditation (app)
·      Headspace (app)
·      Calm (app)

The unbelievable thing is, this mindfulness stuff really works.  There are neuroscience explanations for how/why it works (it really does rewire your brain), but take my word for it and try it for yourself.

Breathe deep, breathe some more.  Go wash your hands. Don’t check your email, newsfeed or social media for a bit.  Breathe deep, breathe some more.

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