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Pandemic & the mind

by Sara Chieffallo about a year ago in coping

Practicing Meditation

The year 2020 started like any other year, as we all planned to aim for New Year’s resolutions and goals to achieve. The two first months of the year came and went, as we began hearing rumors of a pandemic that might be right around the corner. We began to hear words buzzing about a possible quarantine and social isolation. The Corona Virus was the hot topic, as governments around the world scrambled to lock their doors to protect their nation’s citizens. Many of us did not expect to have bouts of quarantine and social isolation extended past the initial two week implementation. Today, as we head towards the end of November we are still seeing governments impose social restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19. Some regions are questioning these restrictions, wondering how they are helping us fight against a global pandemic. As we walk through a superstore, such as Walmart, bumping into strangers and processing our purchases at the check-out line. With the idea that a serious virus can spread quite quickly, we wonder why these trips to a superstore are still accepted when we can’t even visit a family member in need.

In fact, there is still a slew of people contesting the reality of this whole pandemic, from anti-maskers to conspiracy theorists. Many are wondering if all this is actually as bad as it is portrayed by our government officials and if any of these extreme lockdowns or precautions are still valid. Many of us are also questioning our own sanity and wondering what to believe, as the heads of our respective governments are lifting and re-instating restrictions on the regular. We are consistently given a broad amount of information and at times that information is conflicting with the last. Now, as we are into the eighth month of social confinement, we are all reaching our limits one way or another. Many people have lost their jobs, while others are struggling with their own solitude. With all this in mind, it is understandable to be confused and drained in regards to our current worldwide situation.

As many aspects of this global pandemic are still uncertain and facts seem to be scarce, many are trying to deal with their own mental health. The only thing we know for sure is that we have to find ways to steer clear of dark thoughts and heavy loads on our shoulders. Although this concept is not an easy one to accomplish, we must keep searching for methods to fight the dark thoughts and keep moving forward. With resources being difficult to come across, some can’t afford a therapist or psychologist and others don’t even have access to the appropriate medical help during these tough times. Keeping this in mind, we have to find alternatives to help ourselves and others escape the mindsets this pandemic has caused on our psyche.

As this year advances, the results of this global pandemic has caused many to lose jobs and homes bringing them to deal with a very heavy load. Many are overwhelmed with life crashing at their feet, leaving them to deal with a flood of dark emotions. In many ways, we do not know the details of how this will affect our future economy, with companies closing and jobs dissipating into thin air. Lots of people will have to create their own job opportunities, as others may not have any options in the near future. In the time being, we need to keep our spirits high and develop coping mechanisms to build a sense of hope within ourselves. The most effective method that has helped me keep my head above water during these difficult times is meditation. Many find this to be quite an intimidating practice, as we don’t necessarily understand it in detail.

Center yourself

Meditation

We often hear about the benefits of meditation, but do we really understand what it actually entails. When we think of this form of relaxation, we often think about belching out ‘’Ohm’’ sounds while seated on the ground with our legs intertwined. We forget that there is much more to meditation than a simple sound or seated position. In fact, there are actually nine popular types of meditation practices; mindfulness meditation, spiritual meditation, focused meditation, movement meditation, mantra meditation, transcendental meditation, progressive relaxation, loving-kindness meditation and visualization meditation. The following types of meditation are the ones I have found solace is practicing, while learning how to take control of my own mind during these difficult times.

Mindfulness meditation comes from Buddhist teachings and is the most popular meditation technique. With this type of meditation, you pay attention to your thoughts as they pass through your mind. You try your best to simply observe and take note of any patterns these thoughts may be creating. This combines your ability to concentrate with your sense of awareness. While practicing this type of meditation, it might help you to focus on an object or your breath. As your focus in, you observe any sensations running through your body, as well as your thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness can be easily practiced alone, for people who do not have access to a teacher for guidance.

Focused meditation is a form that involves a person to concentrate using any of our five senses. You can either focus on something internal, like your breath, or you can bring in external influences to help focus your attention. If you have a difficult time holding your focus, especially if you suffer from anxiety, it might be hard to hold your attention on something for more than a few minutes at first. You will find your mind wondering, it is important to pull your attention back to the practice and refocus. Best for people who require additional focus in life.

Visualization meditation is a technique focused on strengthening feelings of relaxation, peace, and calmness by imagining positive scenes or images. While visualizing, it is important to imagine the visions vividly and to use all five senses in order to add as much detail as possible.

In the end, as we all go through a different type of struggle during this global pandemic, we must find the strength to build our minds. By doing so, we will all come out of this stronger and more capable of having a strong mindset when faced with difficulties. Stay safe and keep smiling.

coping

Sara Chieffallo

Constantly having that “tip of the tongue” feeling, or being able to flesh out thoughts in your mind only to have them come stumbling out when you speak can be frustrating. Regular writing can keep this from happening.

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