If you can’t go outside, look on the inside – these are the words to live by as we find ourselves manoeuvring through uncharted territory. While ‘social distancing’ and ‘self-isolation’ have become buzzwords for dealing with the pandemic externally, here is a buzzword to help you deal with it internally – mindfulness. In Buddhism, mindfulness has only one purpose — to end suffering. Isn’t that what we all want?
For the first time, we realise how truly connected we all are to each other. For the first time, we realise that we are all the same – across continents and social hierarchies. We are all sailing in the same boat and we must all be mindful of this fact. Now is the time to practice kindness and empathy. To reach out – not through the shake of a hand, but by wishing each other peace, health and safety.
But while we show compassion to others, we must also not forget to show it to ourselves. With the bombardment of news, mindless text forwards and government lockdowns, it is only natural to be fearful and anxious. This is when practicing mindfulness will help. First, recognise the source of that fear. Take the news, for example. If you are watching it constantly, be mindful of what this triggers in you. Does it help you make the logical decision to stay put at home? Or does it make you want to panic buy? If it is the latter, then it is best to stay away from the television for a while. You must know that for the sake of your mental health, it is okay to switch off from time to time.
Such deep introspection would mean taking out at least five minutes of your day to meditate. In these times of self-isolation, this won’t be hard to do. Close your eyes, take deep breaths, drown out the outside world and visualise your fears. Once you recognise a pattern, it will become easier to deal with negative thoughts and keep them at bay.
While we await an effective scientific solution to this pandemic, practicing collective mindfulness is the best weapon we have to fight this out. So please, stay safe and stay healthy.