“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 centered, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.” - Thich Nat Hanh
3 Simple & Quick Mindfulness Tools
Panic about the coronavirus is contagious, and the more we expose ourselves to the panic, the more we feel it. On the contrary, cultivating a sense of calm is also contagious. Often, getting started with a regular meditation practice is challenging as the ‘monkey mind’ does not let up. An easy way to get started is to begin to bring awareness when emotions are heightened, e.g., anxiety. A simple, easy to remember mindfulness meditation is the RAIN meditation by Psychologist Tara Brach.
R - Recognize - The first step is to recognize the emotion. E.g., “Alright, I am feeling fear”.
A - Allow - Allow the anxiety, fear, overwhelm, etc. to be there. Instead of trying to fix, control or judge it, just let it be.
I - Investigate - Feel where the fear is in your body. E.g., you may feel tension in your chest. Wherever it is, breathe into it and give it gentle attention.
N - Nurture - Practice self-compassion at this stage. Acknowledge the fear and provide it with a soothing message. One thing that I resonate with at this stage is stating that the fear is there for a purpose, trying to protect me.
Savouring is when you intentionally pause to notice and appreciate the experience you are having. The act of doing this lengthens the positive emotions that accompany that experience. Often, we are not present in the moment long enough to enjoy what we are experiencing.
For me - I have been savouring each and every cooking opportunity I have been getting. Usually my times in the kitchen are rushed or strategic for ‘meal prep’. Currently, meals are decided often on the fly, instead of at the beginning of the week, and I get to be creative with the ingredients I have on hand.
While staying fully present in the positive experience, you can savour it by:
Taking a photo.
At the end of the day journaling about the experience you savoured.
Keeping a souvenir of the experience.
Sharing the experience with someone you’re living with.
Gratitude is an awareness of, and thankfulness for, the good things in one’s life. At a time when there is a lot of unpredictability and uncertainty in our lives, transitioning your mindset from being ‘me’ focused to ‘we’ focused can shift perspective and cultivate happiness.
Strategies to cultivate more gratitude in your life right now:
Express gratitude to someone who you have not told before, maybe this is done virtually (e.g., video or phone), or through an email or letter.
Savour the pleasant experiences; maybe you would consider setting aside 10 minutes a day to be conscious of these pleasantries.
Express your thanks and gratitude to front line healthcare workers right now, along with grocery store attendants, postal workers and many more who are continuing to contribute to keeping society running smoothly.
While hand washing, consider doing a loving kindness meditation: "May we all be happy. May we all be safe. May we all be healthy. May we all live with ease.”
Meditation Apps: Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer, and Ten Percent Happier.
The FREE happiness course by Yale, that over 2 million people have completed: The Science of Wellbeing Course