During these trying times, we need to stay kind, stay calm, stay safe, and take good care of ourselves and each other.
During a pandemic like this, our capacity to stay calm, present, and compassionate is more important than ever. As Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh said, describing the Vietnamese refugee crisis of the 1970s and early 80s: ‘When the crowded Vietnamese refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if everyone panicked all would be lost. But if even one person on the boat remained calm and centred, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.’
What is Mindfulness?
Our human tendency to worry about several things at once interferes with our ability to focus on the present moment – we tend to function on autopilot and become ‘mindless’.
In practising mindfulness, we begin cultivating conscious awareness of our thoughts, feelings and environment in every moment, without judging the experiences.
Mindfulness helps us to silence our mind, calm our nerves and examine our inner world. Most importantly, the practice of mindfulness helps us to nourish and reinforce our inner ability to restore wellbeing – to recognise the happiness that is already in our life.
Mindfulness can be practised anytime. The process simply involves intentionally directing your attention to your thoughts.
The three purposes of mindfulness
Knowing the mind: The first objective is self-discovery without judgement, observing thoughts and feelings without criticism – you begin
with knowing your own mind and understanding your inner motivation.
Training the mind: Meditation trains the mind to live in the present moment with awareness. A conscious mind is less vulnerable to external forces, learning it is better to accept things as they are and work to change only what we can.
Freeing the mind: Letting go of negative opinions, judgements, people and possessions is central to the philosophy of mindfulness. When our minds become free, we experience higher levels of focus, concentration and relaxation.
Seven foundations of mindfulness practice
Non-judgemental: To practise non- judgemental observation, we must first bring awareness to our process of judging and reacting – something we are prone
to do all the time. Mindfulness teaches the observation of thoughts, ideas and feelings, without getting caught up in them and following the mind.
Patience: Many of us live in a constant state of agitation or fear, wanting to live the ‘better moments’ as soon as possible. Practising patience helps
us to allow life to unfold moment by moment, without rushing to the next activity or thought to make it richer.
Beginner’s mind: Shedding preconceived ideas and habitual judgement helps us to see the true nature of reality for the first time. Cultivating a beginner’s mind opens us up to new possibilities and helps us enjoy the state of just being, instead of harbouring expectations based on past experiences.
Trust: When we practise mindful meditation, we take responsibility for being who we are. We learn to trust in our own wisdom, intuition and authority.
Non-striving: In practising meditation, we gradually learn to intentionally cultivate non-striving. Approaching the practice with a purpose – for example, I want to be calmer or more creative or a better person – will get in the way of accepting things as they are without judgement.
Acceptance: Often acceptance only comes after volatile periods of anger or denial. An attitude of acceptance reduces the likelihood of resistance – once we accept a certain situation, it can change for the better.
Letting go: Instead of holding onto or denying experiences, with mindfulness we simply let go of them. We watch thoughts, wishes or regrets arise and go on their way, without pulling them towards us or pushing them away.
During these unprecedented and challenging times, it can be so beneficial to stick together and support one another for the future of our profession. We are stronger together.
Mindfulness practice for coping with COVID-19
Staying in the moment: With so much uncertainty ahead, cultivating a mindfulness practice with daily meditation can help us stay centred and focused on the present.
Gratitude: It’s important to acknowledge and accept our grief and sadness about what we’ve lost during this time, and to remain grateful.
Walking meditation: Practise ‘mindful walking’ by paying conscious attention to your bodily sensations as you walk – your feet, your legs, your hips, and your eyes.
Mindfulness of Media Consumption: Be particularly cautious about getting oversaturated with talk and news about Covid-19. Too much social media and news consumption can overload the nervous system with stress and overthinking. Cultivating moment-to-moment awareness can help us make conscious choices about when to put down the phone or turn off the computer to get a good night’s sleep.
Daily meditation: Through consistent and regular practice we learn to disentangle ourselves from the daily ebb and flow of emotions, anxiety and stress. We begin to connect with our lives and with others in a deeper and more profound manner.
Extracts from piece written by Colette Assor in the British Acupuncture Council Journal Acu – some great advice thank you Colette.
For more information about Mindful Living and Acupuncture treatment to help you achieve this contact Hannah on:- https://www.southwellacupuncture.co.uk/contact/