Practicing Mindfulness in Times of Uncertainty

If there were ever a "right time" to begin developing a mindfulness practice, I feel that now would be that time. I've been trying to take a step back to see how things with COVID-19 will pan out, and I unfortunately had to make the decision as a small business owner to close my physical doors temporarily and resort to online services only. While I am fortunate enough to work in a profession that allows this option, so many of us aren't, and this makes me feel uneasy. In fact, I've been under the perpetual cloud of general unease a lot lately and I'm seeing this in others as well.

The truth is that we don't really know what is going to happen. We can make our assumptions, post it on social media, and get everyone hyped up, but we will ultimately wake up to a new day with new news and new fears and uncertainties, and that isn't going anywhere. This is where a mindfulness practice becomes so important.

In the upcoming days, weeks, and maybe even months, our exterior worlds will change significantly. We will be home more, working less, and potentially spending a good deal of time alone with our thoughts and feelings.

Anxious thoughts tend to stem from a fear or uncertainty about the future, which is exactly where we stand today. By practicing daily mindful behaviors, you can begin to cultivate a focused mind and a peaceful life, leading to an overall state of calm amidst the current climate of chaos. Mindfulness simply means focusing your awareness and attention on the present moment. While we are all trying to navigate this current pandemic, now is the ideal time to begin shifting your focus inward, bringing your attention to the here and now, and enjoying and utilizing this time that we are being encouraged to take.

Some ways to develop a mindfulness practice include:

-Connecting with nature. Spend some time gardening or getting your hands dirty. Take a walk on the beach or in the woods.

-Take a step back from your phone. Challenge yourself to a period of time during your day to put your electronics down and find new ways to just enjoy the present moment.

-Find a new recipe and cook a meal or bake some sweets.

-Practice yoga. YouTube offers tons of videos (I recommend Yoga with Adriene), and several apps like Down Dog are free until April 1st for people who are practicing social distancing.

-Read a book (an actual paper copy of a book). Take it outside with your coffee or tea and enjoy the spring weather.

-Begin writing in a journal. Journaling is a great way to express your feelings and sort out some of your thoughts that might not make a lot of sense during this time.

-Organize your space. Consider using this time to sort through some of your belongings, clean out closets and drawers, and get rid of things that no longer serve you. Creating an organized and clean home environment can bring a sense of calm and stability.

-Practice meditation. Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and other guided practices through apps like Calm or Headspace are great for beginners.

Try this grounding, safe space meditation to see how it feels for you:

-Turn off your phone ringer and clear your environment of any distractions. Assume a comfortable position (seated or lying down) and close your eyes.

-Take 3 deep, cleansing breaths to bring your focus to the present moment. With your inhales, focus on breathing in feelings of light and peace. With your exhales, release any fear, tension, or anxiety you may be holding on to.

-Allow your body to relax with each full breath cycle. Remind yourself that there is nothing you must do at this moment except experience the breath in your body, the peace and calm that you are inviting in, and the unconditional love it brings to you.

-You can repeat this mantra: "I am safe. Nothing harmful may enter my space. Nothing but my highest good may leave it."

-Remain here for as long as you'd like. Consider starting out with 5-10 minute periods of time, and progressing from there.

-When you are ready, return your attention back to the room, moving your arms, legs, fingers, and toes. Slowly sit up and stretch. Take these feelings of peace and contentment with you throughout your day.

I hope we can all use this time to strengthen our bodies, minds, and hearts and come back into our daily lives with a renewed sense of calm, compassion, and love. I encourage each of you to take this time and use it for good...bettering your relationship with yourself and placing your energy and attention on what is truly important to you. Find what inspires and motivates you, and take this time to pursue it.

Remember that nothing lasts forever, and this, too, shall pass. Sending all of you love and strength during this period of uncertainty.



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