I’m on day 12 of quarantine, and it’s starting to feel like my perception of time has been distorted. Twelve days in theory is not a long time. Twelve days in practice feels like exactly what it is: 288 hours or 17,280 minutes spent trying to figure out what the fuck is happening and how this is all going to unfold.
Two weeks ago, I was in Qatar basking in the sun, having gourmet Japanese meals at refined restaurants, sipping raspberry lychee martinis by the pool with my partner.
Now I’m stuck at home indefinitely, witnessing all the family feuds I’d escaped by constantly traveling. Our grocery store has run out of eggs, resulting in painfully incomplete avocado toast; I can’t even use my vibrator because the walls are so thin.
Can you feel the frustration?
In truth, we’re all feeling it. We were all caught by surprise by coronavirus as it’s ravaged its victims by the thousands, leaving behind grieving families, full hospitals, desperate governments, a paused economy, a collective panic, and a big question mark in our heads as we wonder where this is all going.
It’s in the midst of this terror that I’d like to introduce you to mindfulness.
Forget your previous assumptions about mindfulness related to spirituality, crystals, and energy. Mindfulness is essentially what you need right now—here’s why.
Remember how badly you wanted the attention of that special someone? How you not only desired but needed their interest to feel validated?
Now imagine how intimate and grounding it’d be to direct that at yourself.
When disaster strikes, it’s easy to get lost in fear. Investing some time in any practice that helps you cool down will decrease your emotional reactivity, reduce your anxiety, and allow you to make better, wiser decisions in this time of crisis. Mindfulness gives you an opportunity to shift your focus toward having control in some form, and finding both support and security.
The most popular form of mindfulness is meditation. It offers consistency and discipline, and rewards like peace of mind, acceptance, and balance. Here’s how to get started:
Find a calm space and sit down on a comfortable surface with an upright posture. Begin with your eyes open, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. After a minute or two, close your eyes.
Check in with yourself—how are you feeling? How’s your head hanging from your neck? Is it light, heavy, supported? How’s your heart? How do your hands feel? Can you sense the density of the air? Keep your ears open to any sounds.
Slowly shift your attention to your breath, the expanding and deflating of your chest and belly. No counting or forced attention. Just a gentle awareness that follows the vivid flow of your breath. In and out. Stay here for a moment. Find your rhythm; give yourself time.
Whenever you’d like, open your eyes and come back to the space you’re in. Evaluate how this has shifted your mood and attention.
This is a concise, simple, and practical version of meditation. Once you have the hang of it, there are tons of other meditation approaches to explore.
Gratitude is another form of mindfulness. It encourages connection to the present while allowing us the chance to focus on what we tend to overlook. You can wake up and take five minutes to appreciate things you never think about such as fingernails, legs, running water, eyebrows, and so on. In realizing your sheer abundance, you’ll develop feelings of fulfillment, satisfaction, and connection.
Lastly, compassion. As we face moments of uncertainty and hardship, it’s always great to shift into a more thoughtful state. This can be the push we need to show up and be present for ourselves and each other. Coronavirus is a wicked reminder that we’re interconnected and interdependent.
Embracing the facts, accepting the raw truth, and cultivating stillness without being absent-minded will allow us to respond to the urgency of these times with the care and consideration required.
I wish you all a stable and safe quarantine. Stay home and wash your hands!