Mindfulness in the Time of Coronavirus, plus free meditation session
What an unusual time we are all going through at the moment. I’ve been struck recently by the range of experiences people are having during the outbreak, with lockdown, shielding and social distancing. For some people this has been a devastating experience, losing loved ones, being isolated from friends and family, or being ill themselves. For some, it has been a time to rest and reflect, to enjoy being at home for an extended period of time. For others a time of worry, relationship issues and financial crisis. Then there are the people, key workers, who are carrying on and maybe even working harder than ever. Just talking with my own small community of friends and family, between us we have felt the full gamut of experience. Scale that up to the entire world, add in the constant media bombardment and is there any wonder that lots of us are feeling confused, stressed and anxious?
As mindfulness teachers and practitioners, we are taught to be in the moment, to feel what’s here now, the entire range of emotions and sensations that are occurring, the thoughts in our head, the sights and sounds around us. Easy, right? The last few weeks have been the biggest struggle I’ve had with mindfulness in ten years of practice. It’s so understandable that we want to bury our heads in the sand, to pretend this isn’t happening. We find endless creative and comforting ways to numb ourselves, from binge watching Netflix, to eating too many carbs, to daytime drinking, to online shopping. It’s as though we’ve been given a free pass to forget about healthy lifestyles for a few months.
So, to combat my inner ostrich, I am making a concerted effort to get back to my daily meditation practice. It’s easy to push it to the bottom of the to-do list when there are so many other delightful distractions. The benefits of meditation aren’t always tangible or easy to explain to others, but I just know that I feel better when I make some time every day to just be with whatever is here.
By coincidence, I have just finished reading a book about an astro-physicist who finds a way to use quantum physics to build a machine that can visit any reality in the multiverse. He gets into the box and is confronted with an infinite number of doorways, each of which opens onto a world just like his, but subtly different in some way. He has to decide whether to stay in his own reality or to risk stepping through a doorway, into the unknown. I was struck by the similarity of the position we are in now. It’s as though we are in limbo at the moment and have lots of decisions to make about where we go next. Do we want to go back to our old ‘normal’, or do we want to use this strange pause to create something different for ourselves?
One of the ways that meditation can help is by carving out a period of time every day when we can just let things be as they are. This doesn’t mean a passive acceptance of a bad situation, but allows us to observe with clarity, so that when the time comes to move forward, we can make the right choice.
In case you were wondering, this doesn’t mean that I won’t be binge watching The Crown whilst eating a tub of Hagen Dazs.
If you would like to learn more about Mindfulness and try a meditation session for yourself, join me on Monday 11th May from 6pm-6.40pm for a free online session. This is suitable for complete beginners and advanced practitioners. Click here to book your place.