Quarantine, isolation, disease, sickness, death, fear, anxiety, job loss, layoffs, economic slow-down and many more such words are just getting normal.
Do you feel safe when you read or hear such stories or words? Imagine if you are hooked onto these words and constantly checking websites or social media to get more information on the latest news.
In 2014, when EBOLA outbreak happened, I was at Ivory Coast, West Africa where more than 13,000 people lost their lives to the virus. I also remember the terrorist attack of 2008 in Mumbai when the country was gripped with fear and panic. During these incidents, people were glued to television sets to know the latest news because of high levels of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, confusion, anger, sadness and helplessness.
Have you ever considered what happens to our biological and mental state during such situations? Is the novel COVID-19 leaving us with a strong sense of fear, panic and insecurity?
What does fear do to us
Fear is a primal emotion triggered in conditions of perceived danger. It is the body’s survival mechanism that signals our internal and external state to counter the threat with a fight or flight response and an aim to protect our body.
In the short term, in a fearful situation, the brain triggers an emotional response which stimulates hormones from adrenal glands that increases heart rate and boosts blood to muscles for fight or flight reaction.
Changes in body brought about by fear
- Increased blood flow to heart and muscles
- Reduced function in other areas such as digestive system
- First stage stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are released to fight
- Store memory
But in continued state of fear, people are constantly anxious and our body loses ability to fight or flight making us incapacitated In our actions.
This condition can have severe adverse consequences on our health, such as a lower immune system, fatigue, depression, Eating and sleeping disorder, accelerated ageing and even untimely collapse.
How mindfulness can help fight COVID
Firstly, it is normal to get anxious and fearful during such times of distress and pandemics. If you observe closely, fear is mainly due to lack of knowledge, uncertainty, non-control, and anything which is hidden and not known to you.
So accepting the situation compassionately allows you for open awareness, understanding of the threat allowing you to have deeper knowledge and better control over yourself.
Let me share a few simple Mindfulness based meditation practises to deal with fear and increase mental and physical endurance.
The meditation style I’m sharing with you helps to expand your awareness, increase your acceptance to build calm and immunity to counter COVID-19
- Find a safe place
- Sit comfortably
- Take 5 deep breaths with your eyes opened
- Inhale deeply from your nose, let your chest swell and then gradually exhale from your nose.
- Exhale longer than the Inhale.
- Gradually close your eyes and now breath normally
Opening your awareness
- Recognise the anxiety or any other emotion you may be feeling
- Notice the physical sensations it is causing in your body
- Observe your feelings and the responses as it is
- Witness any other emotions that you spot in that moment.
- Fully accept all your feelings and the responses
Expanding awareness with acceptance
- Try not to form any interpretation or judgment.
- Notice if there is any struggle or strain.
- Examine your physical or emotional state.
- Avoid altering your feelings while you are noticing them.
- Simply be aware of what you are experiencing in that very moment.
- If there are any negative emotions or feelings, simply observe and acknowledge them for a few seconds.
- Gradually return your awareness back to breath.
- Stay with your body sensation and observe the calm between the breaths.
- When you notice that your mind is wandering gently bring your attention back to your breath.
- Try to do this meditation for at least 10 to 20 minutes.
- Open your eyes and stay in that moment for a few seconds.
When you finish, extend gratitude to your body and yourself as it helps you to complete this practise. Extend the calm gathered during this practise towards the well-being of people who may be suffering.
Trust me, this simple mindfulness practise will lead you to deal with fear and build strength to steadily tackle this menace. Regular practise will also help build your immunity that can relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.
In the beginning you might find this difficult but gradually as you practise daily, this will become easy and effortless. Think of this as your commitment to foster goodness in yourself and in this world.
Fight your fear: ’Fear is only as deep as the mind allows’
Fear can only exist till the time it is hidden, when we address and name it, fear starts to lose its grip on us. Also many times, fear grips our brain so strongly that we are not able to see the positive picture. The brain distorts the real picture and shows the gloomy side, the reason why sensational news sells more than good news.
When you fully accept the situation,the brain comes out of fight and flight mode. It frees up resources that are under siege, and once that happens, you’re free of fear.
‘Feed your faith and starve your fear’
Today this pandemic is teaching us many new things which we seem to have forgotten in this fast paced world. When faced with this hidden, small, invisible, enemy, we see technology as powerless in this modern age and how powerful our inner strength is.
Accepting fear is the first step towards revealing the hidden enemy. Gathering our inner strength enables us to deal with compassion and make our choices from a place of calm.
If there is isolation … Compassion is our choice
If there is fear … Love is our faith
If there is sickness … Healing is our strength
If there is panic … Being calm is our power
If there is death … Birth of new mindset is new reality
If Speed is an epidemic … Slowdown is a new cure.
If Virus is a killer … Our breath is a healer