Help in a crisis during Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic
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For other medical advice and support contact your your GP or visit NHS 111.
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Coronavirus: Mindfulness in difficult times
The situation with Coronavirus Covid-19 continues to change rapidly with new advice coming out daily. With the shutting of our community venues and schools last week, and now further restrictions as to going out, it’s a time of monumental adjustment. If you’re feeling disorientated and perhaps overwhelmed at times due to the pandemic and its fallout, you are in good company. How do we keep steady amidst all this and prevent ourselves spiralling into panic or despair?
The team at the Nottingham Centre for Mindfulness are aware of this sense of shared vulnerability and would like to share some materials and practices that may be of some support. We will refresh this page regularly over the next weeks.
Mindfulness, as many will know means paying attention, purposefully and non-judgmentally, to your experience in the present moment. It can involve a formal practice - e.g sitting or lying down and focussing on your breath and body, or ‘informal practice’ which involves bringing mindfulness to everyday activities. Once a regular mindfulness practice has been established, it can offer a way back to steadiness that can be really helpful – especially during difficult times.
Paying attention to our breath is one helpful way of stepping out of our cycle of worrisome, stressful thoughts and coming back into our bodies and senses. We can also practice awareness of sounds, or sensations in our hands or feet, or the sight of something outside such as a bird or tree. These are all examples of ‘mindfulness practices’ which help us come in to the present moment.
Two simple mindfulness practices
You will be well aware that during this period we are being advised to protect ourselves and those around us through regular handwashing. Such an activity is often carried out while on autopilot, or accompanied by worries of the need to reduce risk of infection. Bringing mindfulness to this activity brings an opportunity to more fully connect with the full sensory richness of this experience - an opportunity to practise ‘being alive and knowing it’.
1. So, how can you practise mindfulness as you wash your hands?
‘The feeling that any task is a nuisance will soon disappear if it is done in mindfulness’
Thích Nhat Hanh
- Before you begin, consciously choose to stop and connect with your breath or the sensations of contact of your feet on the floor.
- As your hand comes into contact with the tap, tune into the sensations this brings with it, including texture and temperature. Where on the hands and fingers are these sensations showing up most vividly?
- As best you can, bring as much present moment awareness to all and any sensations of smell, sights and sound as you make contact with the soap and water and then as you wash and dry the hands
- If you notice the mind wandering off, and the process of washing being taken over by ‘autopilot’, reconnect with the breath, and then return to where you left off.
- Try investigating how the hands respond to the temperature and movement of the water as you rinse them
- Notice the sensations as you dry your hands as you use the towel or air dry them.
2. A brief Mindfulness practice by Meditation Teacher Tara Brach
The following short practice (5 mins) can help us come back to the present moment through simply bringing awareness to the breath and body.