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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction during the Corona Virus crisis

Dear friends,
I sent the following note to residents who attend Mindful Living sessions which I lead twice a month at the Cokesbury Village, a senior home where I live. The response was good. Therefore, I am sharing this with you. If you think it will be useful to others, please feel free to share.
Faced with bad news day after day and increasing restriction of activities, I was wondering how to keep a positive attitude. As if on request, I received a form-letter from Dr. Richard Davidson of the Center for Healthy Minds of the University of Wisconsin on this topic on what we can do during this corona virus pandemic. I liked his idea and therefore I added a few more items to his list and modified some to write this piece.

Dr. Davidson points out that “social distancing “ is actually an act of compassion, because its purpose is to prevent us from infecting others, in case we are infected but do not have symptoms. That made me reflect on several related practices we are taught in Mindful Living (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction or MBSR).

Instead of giving in to negative thoughts, fear and feeling helpless, we are taught to practice “Positive Psychology” techniques. You may be practicing these already. If not, here is a suggested list.

With all the noises around us in abeyance (no sports, no theatres) and nothing to do, we now have time to slow down and reflect. To be in the present moment.

Although I cannot visit people physically, this age of technology allows me “to visit with them” face-to-face. Let me use this technology to keep in touch with family and friends, particularly with those who live alone.

May be, I can read a book I have been wanting to but, have not. May be, I can listen to a new genre of music I have been wanting to explore.

May be, I can write a letter to someone I care about, realizing that in this age of Twitter we have forgotten how to write a letter.

I can take a walk in the local park.

May be, I can send a message of gratitude to all those in the medically related field who are risking their lives to take care of all of us.

May be, I can send a message of gratitude to all those in the grocery store, pharmacy, transportation and other essential services to keep the society running.

May be, this is the time to send a message of loving-kindness and compassion to all those all over the world who are suffering from this disease.

This is certainly the time to send a message of loving-kindness and compassion to families who have lost someone in this pandemic.

This is the time to pray for courage, strength and hope in the face of this crisis.

An invisible microbe has shown us how vulnerable and how interconnected we humans are. It has shown us that this small microbe is an “equal opportunity” attacker and can affect people of any age, any sex, any nationality and any faith tradition.

We are all in this together.

"May you be well; May you be safe; May you be free from suffering."

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