The pandemic is causing many people to feel “I’m not safe.”
This takes many different shapes and forms, like, How do I feed my family? How do I pay my bills? What happens if my loved ones can’t work or even die? Why doesn’t xyz do something about it?
It creates emotional turmoil within us that we may not know how to deal with.
Mindfulness has a lot to offer at this time. It can’t make the virus go away, but it has many tools that can minimize the stress we feel as a result. And because lower stress means your immune system works better, it can be a significant step toward coping with the lockdown/safe harbor in a positive way.
A mindfulness practice called “sitting with difficulty” invites us to pause and notice the emotions that we don’t like. This is the opposite of how our culture teaches us to deal with pain: we hide, we push it away, we might eat chocolate.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t work—not for long, anyway. In the “sitting with difficulty” meditation, we take a few long, smooth breaths and allow those feelings to be inside us for a moment.
It takes courage, but the reason for doing it is that we learn that the feelings are not as bad as we first thought. We learn not to be afraid of our uncomfortable emotions. And crucially, we learn that they will pass. It won’t last forever.
This is not the first thing you normally learn as a newcomer to mindfulness. Usually it’s easier to become familiar with focusing on the breath and the body before jumping into the more challenging practices, but right now, we may need something that addresses our fear. It’s the heart of the matter.