How to beat the Covid Blues by cultivating an attitude of Mindfulness?

A couple of days ago, I spoke about how all of us need to take an actual planned ‘breather’ while we are on ‘Stay Home’ notice. As important as it is to communicate with our loved ones at home, it is as critical for us to recognize the need for private space. It’s a quiet space away from family and the din that has been generated in the last couple of months in these uncertain and challenging times.

I hope you’ve managed to befriend the stillness with a few minutes of breathing space not only for yourself but for your family members as well. Even if you haven’t been able to persuade your family, it’s fine. New habits take time to cultivate. We need patience. The ‘breathing space mindfulness exercise’ STOP is a simple yet powerful mindfulness exercise that will allow you to take stock and move ‘HEARTWARDS’ instead of ‘OUTWARDS’.

Why is Mindfulness especially relevant today?

We need to acknowledge that these are unusually challenging times. There is so much uncertainty and fear making us vulnerable and stressed. The ‘stay home’ notice has robbed us of our freedom and for some their livelihoods bringing with it additional problems and stresses. It is infinitely more important today that we learn to tap into our deep interior resources that we are all born with…to remain calm and to acquire the wisdom that we are born with for growing, healing and transformation. Instead of fearing, “we need to learn how to befriend this kind of situation and take care of ourselves” (Jon Kabat-Zinn) in ways in which we can optimize the deep connection we have with each other and the universe. In this new paradigm, we need to learn to continue in different ways as a species. We need to develop ‘awareness’ which is another synonym for ‘mindfulness’ and ‘heartfulness’.

Prior to the Covid 19 pandemic, we haven’t been paying attention to the way human activity has been disrupting the balance and order of the universe in spite of the many warning signs we have been encountering in recent times. We have to really listen and understand. Not just governments and world leaders but each and every one of us has to start making shifts in how we are going to be in our relationship with nature, our universe and with each other. As we are all in it together.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is what arises when you pay attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally, and as if your life depended on it. And what arises is nothing other than awareness itself.

Mind Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D

How would it benefit us?

Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We feel more alive. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing.

(MBSR), Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D

In a research study carried out in 2018, Mindfulness in education: the case of Singapore, Kiat Hui Khng of National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, cites studies that have demonstrated the benefits of MBSR and its variant programmes on the attitudes of mindfulness and how it reaps “positive outcomes such as empathy, self-compassion and quality of life, in reducing negative psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, rumination, anger, and general psychological distress”. These studies also reveal how the practice of mindfulness “enhance(s) cognitive abilities such as sustained attention, working memory and executive functions, in both clinical and non-clinical populations. (e.g., Chiesa et al., 2011; Keng et al., 2011).”

Shalini Damodaran is passionate about writing and coaching others to write. She was a teacher educator, specialised in the teaching of writing at the English Language Institute of Singapore.
Shalini Damodaran is passionate about writing and coaching others to write. She was a teacher educator, specialised in the teaching of writing at the English Language Institute of Singapore.
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