Special thanks to our meditation instructor Haven E. Carter for sharing this guest post on how to stay mindful in times of uncertainty. Don’t miss her next virtual session May 14.
Finding Your Mind
During this most odd time in our lives, do you ever feel like you are going crazy? Sometimes I do. I feel like this is a perfect time to slow down, sit still, and be. It’s like the COVID-19 message to me is to slow down, just be. Sit. Sit still. But I can’t. I want to. But I can’t.
And there is this persistent pull to do. It feels like there is this constant barrage of media and online appeals: stay connected, learn something new, don’t fall behind, dress for success (even at home), remove belly fat, micro-needle your face at home, be the most sought-after [fill in the blank] once this is all over … but only if you take this course (!).
It’s overwhelming. I don’t have the inclination or energy for it. I don’t know what I want, and then I do. What has happened to my once-stable mind? Rarely do I misplace my files, keys, books or clothes. Lately I cannot seem to locate whatever I’m looking for. I search and search. I leave the room out of frustration, return and whatever it was I so desperately needed is now right before my eyes. What is going on with me?
Oh, I have my moments of Zen – sensing serenity and peace. Then, for whatever reason, I notice a tightening in my throat, sweaty palms and an overall unease. This discomfort shifts into confusion; or maybe it’s frustration. Before I know it, I’ve drifted into sadness, grief or anger. Then I’m feeling contented. Am losing my mind?
Can you relate?
And then I remember to go outside and look up at the sky. With both feet planted on the earth, gravity holding me, I feel my body being pulled upward, my head tilting back and my eyes gazing toward the heavens. Once again, I feel connected. My mind is not lost, but connected to my physical body. I stop thinking and worrying. I am in the moment. Being in the moment brings a warm sense of appreciation. I begin to count my blessings, the silver linings of this time we find ourselves living through. I am grateful I can feel my feet touching the earth. I am grateful for the warm sun on my skin. I am grateful for clean air to breathe.
I sense my breath slowing and deepening. Consciously, I breathe in through my nose deeply, filling my belly. It expands. I pause for a moment. Then slowly and completely I exhale through my mouth allowing all the breath to leave my belly, chest, whole body. I pause before breathing in with intention once again.
Connecting my physical body to the earth, grounding allows me to integrate the mind and body and bring both into the present moment. This integration brings clarity so I remember what really matters to me and what I can control. Thus, I am able to release that which does not matter and which I cannot control. The release helps move me into appreciation which raises my mental, physical, and emotional states and enhances the ability to stay in the present moment. As do the breathing practices.
If you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or like you are ‘losing your mind’, practicing any of these (or all of them) in any order will help reduce your stress. Grounding, breathing and gratitude exercises will calm your nervous system, reduce your blood pressure and lower your heart rate.
Remember this is a most odd time. If you feel like you are “losing your mind,” you can reclaim it. Breathe in and out. Count your blessings. Go outside. Stand in the dirt. Look up. Release. Repeat. Repeat as often as needed.
- If you need additional support around stress and overwhelm with work, you can email me: email@example.com.
- If you are under what feels like unsurmountable pressure, please reach out to a professional health care counselor for help at 919-682-5777 or carolinacss.com.
- If you or someone you know is in a situation of emotional, verbal, and/or physical abuse, please contact Durham Crisis Response at firstname.lastname@example.org, 919-403-6562, and durhamcrisisresponse.org.
- If you or someone you know needs crisis support, please call 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.