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Image by Fabian Møller
For many of us, it seems like a dream, or maybe the plot of the next hit movie. But this pandemic is our current reality. As we retreat into our homes for protection, anxiety and stress levels seem to be at an all-time high. But in these current challenging times, there is a way to turn this darkness into light. Forced out of the busyness of our usual routines, we now have the chance to move into stillness and go inwards. Taking this quarantine as an opportunity to grow, rather than let the negativity and fear overwhelm us.
The Philosophical Basis of Mindfulness
Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist philosophy. One of the key premises of Buddhism is that everything is impermanent. Like a tree blooming in the spring, its flowers will one day fade and fall to the ground only to come back and bloom again the following year. This is a fact of life; we move through cycles all the time. But the good part of this is that all cycles come to an end. Coronavirus too will come to an end, and at the end of this we will grow back stronger than ever before.
Another major component of Buddhism is that suffering is a part of life. We cannot control the events around us, and the pandemic of COVID-19 is a perfect example of that. The winds blow whether we want them to or not, and coronavirus spreads whether we want it to or not. The only thing we truly have control over is our mind. As the uncontrollable events of life unfold, we choose how we react to it. We can choose to let fear overwhelm us and to let anxiety take the driver’s seat. But we can also choose to be positive and to keep moving forward. We can choose to let this time be an opportunity for growth and inner searching instead.
Practical Tips for Bringing Mindfulness into Your Daily Routine
Now, more than ever, self-care is essential. Every day try to do at least one thing to take care of yourself and to focus inwards. If you don’t know where to start, try one of the suggestions below:
Every day when you wake up, and a few times throughout the day, take a moment to pause and check-in with your inner state. Sit and be with your emotions. Allow them to be present, notice them, and then let them fall away. Acknowledge your feelings but allow yourself to simply be with this fear and uncertainty. At the end of the day, they are just emotions and they do not control you.
Another major component of mindfulness practice is loving-kindness or metta. The basis of this practice is to send love to yourself and others around the world. In the panic of COVID-19, this is more important than ever. Recognize that we are all struggling right now, so give yourself some love and spread that love to others around you as well, because I guarantee you, we all need a bit of that right now! Call your family and friends, check-in, and tell them you love them. Just this small gesture can go a long way.
Although the media is certainly a powerful tool and a gift to the world, it can also be overwhelming if consumed too much. Seeing the fearful headlines about coronavirus every day can create a cycle of inner panic and fear that is difficult to break out of. However, we still need to stay informed and up to date on the current events of COVID-19. To protect yourself from getting too overwhelmed, try to avoid reading the news before going to bed or right when you wake up and limit your exposure throughout the day. Rather than reading the news, try calling a friend or practicing some meditation instead, moving inwards rather than focusing on events you cannot control.
Photo by unknown
The truth of the matter is that none of really know what is coming or what to expect with coronavirus. As brilliant as the doctors and leaders of the world are, we have no way of knowing when the COVID-19 pandemic will end. The only thing we can do is accept the uncertainty and allow ourselves to sit in this feeling. Radically accept the state of the world and focus on the things that you do know and that you can control. This radical acceptance will allow you to move forward and let go of the need to control your surroundings.
Meditation is a powerful tool that can relax you in these stressful times. Even practicing mindfulness meditation for 5-minutes each day can transform your inner state. Take this chance of seclusion to move inwards and try to incorporate this into your daily routine. Every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to sleep, take a moment to concentrate on your breath and relax your mind. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed at any point during the day, just pause and take a moment to practice some mindfulness meditation.
Photo by Spencer Selover
As coronavirus spreads around the world, the virus of fear and anxiety seems to be spreading along with it. But the good thing is, there is a great cure for the virus of fear, and mindfulness is the number one tool to beat it! Use this quarantine as an opportunity to move inwards and grow stronger and always remember that you are not alone in this. One day this will end, and we will come out of this on the other side stronger than we were before.