As school’s start to reopen this month it is only natural for parents or their children alike to worry about what they are walking into in terms of catching or unknowingly transmitting the coronavirus.
Our natural instinct as parents is perhaps to feel fear, a sense of helplessness as we anticipate the prospects of our children returning to school, their worlds getting a little bigger since lockdown began 10 weeks ago. After all, our anxiety is a response to threat, and in the case of Covid, the invisible threat, and the unknown of contamination.
When hijacked by anxiety, our ability to reason, think straight and logically can diminish. Even despite our school’s assurances of stringent safety regulations, for example, maintaining social distancing practices on the premises, regular hand washing and sanitizing, and smaller class sizes, we can overthink and get worried about the what if’s. So, how can we get our logical thinking back on-line? Well, Mindfulness can help.
Mindfulness practices were inspired mainly from teachings of the Eastern World, particularly Buddhist traditions. Nowadays it has become integrated into our Western society as a mainstream, non-religious method of meditation and stress-reduction that is even recognized by NHS for helping with mental health problems.
So, how can Mindfulness help with our fear in these times of uncertainty?
The first step is to allow your mind to be free.
Spend 20-30 seconds just sitting comfortably and observe your mind. You might find yourself inundated with thoughts and plans or feel calm or focused. Whatever happens in your headspace is completely normal. Enjoy the rare chance to let your mind simply be without judgement. Our instincts here is to try to stop the flow of thoughts or worries as this ‘traffic’ can appear daunting. Or we can so easily become lost in the thoughts. Allow it to run in the background of your mind, unacknowledged. It’s as if you are observing the flow of traffic on a busy road, never trying to stop the vehicles or better still unfocus and just allow the thoughts to flow by (the traffic to rumble in the background). This is the first part of letting go of the activity of your mind.
Whilst you allow your thoughts to pass through your mind, focus on your breath. Don’t make any effort to change it, just observe the rising and falling sensation it creates in your body. This can assist in grounding yourself whilst you attempt a mindfulness state.
To let go of our current collective fears about Covid, can you observe your anxious thoughts, allowing any obsessive thinking to pass through your mind without taking root? The common pitfall is to over-estimate the dangers of the contagion in our children’s schools and invest in fearing the unknown. How much of that distorted thinking do you allow? In a mindful state, how much of those fears and worries do you observe simply as thought, in short, as easily as it enters your mind, can you allow it, without effort to exit again?
Thanks to the booklet How To Meditate in 10 Easy Steps (Guardian, 2011): https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gallery/2011/jan/22/how-to-meditate-ten-steps-headspace
Also thanks to Headspace, www.headspace.com and the accompanying YouTube video for inspiration: https://youtu.be/iN6g2mr0p3Q
For additional meditations to help stress related to Covid-19 https://www.headspace.com/covid-19