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How to Practice Mindfulness in a Crisis

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This past couple of weeks have been incredibly difficult for everyone. Not one person will be excluded from feeling the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. All around me, I see panic and anxiety, and it’s difficult not to get caught up in those draining emotions. I feel blessed that I have a strong mindfulness practice in times like these. Mindfulness and Meditation have helped me to feel resilient, strong and hopeful. I’d like to take this opportunity to share some ways in which mindfulness can help you too. May they bring you strength, peace and faith in a higher purpose for the weeks and months ahead.

Be an observer of your emotions

Practice becoming an observer of your thoughts, feelings and emotions as they arise. Observe the mental chatter and notice how anxious thoughts and emotions feel within your body. Does your heart rate accelerate? Do you become agitated or restless? Do you head for the biscuit tin??!! Just by observing your thoughts and how they affect your behaviour, you’re becoming mindful of negative habits. You can also detach from these emotions more quickly and the emotions will pass under your observation.

A Mindful Mantra

Suffering is not something that any human being really desires. When we feel any sort of suffering we tend to try to move away from it, distance ourselves from it. We simply don’t want to experience it. The problem with wrestling with negative emotions is that ‘what we resist, persists!’. By resisting the suffering and turning away from it, we can actually inflict more intense negative emotions on ourselves. By turning towards the emotional pain, befriending it and shining light on it, we actually dissolve the negative emotion and allow it to pass by more quickly. A mantra is useful to stop us from clinging to a thought about suffering. For instance, I like to use ‘All is well’ and ‘this too shall pass’. I find the energy of those words soothing, and if I say them with a smile, its very difficult not to feel better!

Plenty of mini-meditations

Anxiety around any topic makes our minds stressed and our bodies tense. We enter into the fight or flight mode and all hell breaks loose in our nervous system. Learn to recognise when anxiety is creeping in. Sense the clenched jaw, the sweaty palms, the tight shoulders, and take a deep breath in! Inflate your tummy on that in-breath, hold the breath in for the count of three, and then exhale  in a long, exaggerated breath, letting go of all of your muscle tension. Feel it melt away as the out breath elongates, feeling yourself ease and soften into the moment. Do this a few times and feel your body and mind begin to calm and de-stress.

Crack out Creativity!

When we put our imaginative and creative mind to work we tap into a field of mindful awareness and inspiration. How many times have you got lost in a bit of sewing, crochet, woodwork, or doodling? Whatever your hobby, know that whenever you indulge yourself and allow your creativity to flow, you are entering into a meditative state just by doing it. Your mind focuses and mental chatter begins to quieten. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to the craft project at hand. This is mindfulness training in action – the ability to bring your mind back to the task trains your brain to put your focus where you want it to be. You become the master of your mind instead of a slave to it.

Practice Gratitude

It sounds very cliché and smug when people say you should be grateful for all that you have. But actually, I find that if you live in a mentally of lack then you feel very unfortunate. Whereas, if you seek to find abundance in every moment, you soon start to feel very blessed. Today, I went for a walk with my children along the river. In that moment, I felt lucky to have such a beautiful walk close to my home; healthy, happy children who were fully embracing the weather, the river and the fresh air; and good health myself which enabled me to take them on a two-mile trek. It was a pure moment of ‘aaahhhh’ – peace and contentment with life. There was no global pandemic on that walk. Just happiness and joy. Seek to find those ‘aahhh’ moments whenever you can. Seek to find joy and happiness, allow yourself to experience pleasures and to rest, and the hard times will then feel easier.

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