Mindfulness During Covid-19
Updated: Jun 5, 2020
Mindfulness can be a useful technique for learning to 'live mindfully in the present' through gentle self-reflection and non-judgemental observation of one's thoughts, emotions and surroundings. Mindfulness has many positive mental and physical attributes, some of which are listed below, which can be particularly useful during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Through the careful and regular practice of mindfulness, negative and self-defeating mental thoughts do not have to be endured. Learning to tune in to yourself can result in a 'breakthrough' or what Tsoknyi Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist master, refers to this as "accessing our spark that lies at the heart of our being."
The Practice Of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a much needed practice at a time when mental health issues in particular are at an all-time high. A mind that is judgemental, that quickly creates stories about others, that too readily falls into envy or jealousy, or even more challenging, the destructive or critical mind that attacks the self over and over, can certainly prove be one of the most difficult of masters.
It is said it takes 21 days to break an old habit and form a new one and this can be all the more challenging when it requires you to simply stop, sit in silence and not judge the thoughts and emotions that arise. The practice of mindfulness takes time because you are introducing a new behaviour into your life which in all probability runs contrary to the life you may have been leading.
Too often in western society we are either running to stand still or are filling our lives with consumption or an array of other temporary and short-lived distractions that do nothing to address the inner angst or difficulties we may be experiencing. The daily practice of mindfulness, namely being present in the here and now and not allowing the infamous 'monkey brain' to distract us, is one of the great challenges.
Mindfulness seeks to firstly quieten, calm and sooth the mind so that it operates in harmony with us rather than against us. The emergence of mindfulness, meditation and other cognitive techniques are proving increasingly popular when it comes to taming our often over-active minds and reflects the desire of so many to live more balanced and peaceful lives.
Mindfulness can be practised almost anywhere, from waitng in the GP's office, waiting for a Zoom call to connect or while enjoying a nice meal. You simply take a few minutes to notice your breathing and 'check-in' with your thoughts, your feelings and your surroundings. Notice what you are doing as you are doing it and tune into your senses. For example, when walking notice how your body moves and how your feet feel as they hit the pavement. When your mind wanders (and it will wander!), simply remind yourself to come back into the moment (this will get easier with practice). Mindfulness is awareness and being fully in the present, which hopefully leads to developing a better understanding of ourselves and our present reality.
Mindful eating is a current favourite of mine. It has been pointed out that due to perceived time pressures eating, one of the most important activities in our day, has been reduced to a 'mindless exercise'. Mindful eating seeks to enable you to appreciate and enjoy the food you have prepared. Mindful eating allows you to rediscover the taste and texture of the food you have chosen, allows your body to properly absorb the nutrients within the food while giving your digestive system the time and space to do what it does best. Apparently mindful eating also promotes weight loss and reduces the need to binge eat. By slowing down, you restore eating to once again being a 'mindful act'. The practice of mindful eating may also give you the skills to deal with emotional or impulse eating at times of stress or unhappiness.
It can be interesting and fun extending mindfulness into other areas of your life. For instance, mindful listening seems particularly needed in a world where so many seem more focused on talking often so they can garner attention or appear important to peers. A mindful approach seeks to move past such desires/whims to a deeper and more reflective space and reduces the need for self-gratification.
Additional Benefits to Mindfulness
Boosts Resilience/mental strength
Reduces potential for burnout
Improved sense of acceptance
Enhanced mind-life balance
Decreased Stress levels
Enhanced Cognitive Ability
Improved general health
Increased empathy, compassion & respect
For 'What's The Buzz About Mindfulness?', click here
For 'Mindful Eating 101 - A Beginner's Guide', click here