5 Ways A Mindfulness Teacher Cultivates A Sense Of Calm At Home
As the coronavirus outbreak upsets everyday life around the world, forcing us indoors, we're seeing a lot of cancellations, social distancing, working from home, and parents home-schooling.
These are certainly interesting times we're living in, and while none of us knows exactly how this pandemic will unfold, we do have choices about how we respond. We can be practical without panic and even find the blessings amid the chaos.
As a mindfulness teacher these days, I'm offering lots of online sessions to help people go within while they're stuck indoors. This unique time is a wonderful opportunity to cultivate an inner sense of calm that remains unshaken by external events. Here are my recommendations:
Look for silver linings.
While the current state of affairs is full of uncertainty, there are many silver linings. After all, we're typically so accustomed to nonstop doing, many of us may find ourselves with more time for simply being. Now that you're out and about less, are you spending more quality time with family and loved ones? Eating healthier at home? Finally reading that book on your nightstand or getting a bit more sleep, for that matter? Think of this time as a personal retreat to dive into a routine that nourishes you most.
When the stress of the situation catches you in its grip, shifting your perspective to gratitude is a helpful way to reduce the fight, flight, or freeze response of the amygdala (the core fear system in the brain). Take a break from worrying for a few minutes to reflect on what you're grateful for. Times like these help us see what and who we truly cherish. Complete this sentence: "This situation makes me grateful for:______________."
Focus on your breath.
Any method that helps you relax, shift your thoughts, and even connect with a higher power is absolutely invaluable in these times. A quick and simple mindfulness meditation that focuses on your breath can really do wonders. Feel free to do this exercise as often as you like. Set a timer for two to five minutes, and spend those minutes just noticing your breath. As thoughts rush into your mind, think of them as clouds passing through a vast sky. Notice the thoughts float by, and then return your attention to your breath. Clouds will come and go, but the sky remains.
Support your mental immunity.
Be aware of your emotions during this time. You may be worried for your safety or the safety of your loved ones. Notice if your worry escalates to anxiety, and seek support if it's getting in your way. Fear activates the sympathetic nervous system and sends stress signals throughout the body. Fear is also associated with autonomic dysregulation1, which can weaken your immune system. Instead of letting fear take over, this is the perfect time to double down on mental and physical well-being through self-care, which will support your immunity and resilience.
Physical distance and social connection.
While we maintain physical distance from all but our nearest and dearest, it's critically important that we continue to stay connected to each other—no matter how anxious or home-schooled-out we become. Call, text, message, and video chat your loved ones. Join online groups. Social distancing doesn't have to mean social isolation! If nothing else, this pandemic helps us see how inexorably connected we all are, how even on a vast planet, our fates remain forever intertwined. Let's help each other get through this time with levity and kindness.
As we ride out this storm, remember the big picture. When you look into the smallest particles in existence, as quantum physicists do, physical reality is only a tiny fraction of the reality we experience. The rest is energy. That energy responds to our thoughts and emotions. Our collective response at this time has the power to shift actual particles. Let's choose an attitude of grace and positivity.
Kaia Roman is the author of the highly-acclaimed self-help memoir, The Joy Plan, which has been featured on the TODAY show and in Forbes, The New York Times, and more. Publishers Weekly calls The Joy Plan “an energized and informative plan for transforming your life.” Merging 20 years of brand experience work in Silicon Valley with her neuroscience and mindfulness research and training, Kaia is an intrepid entrepreneur and passionate advocate for people, projects, and products working toward a better world. You’ll find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and at KaiaRoman.com.