How can one stay sane in a time of crisis?
How can one stay sane, connected and cultivate an inner peace in a time of crisis such as global pandemic of COVID-19?
The time may appear very confusing. It may shake our own feeling of safety, bring deep anxiety about our loved ones’ safety and may bring underlying issues to the surface that we didn’t want to acknowledge. It may, for example, bring a need to control to the surface. Someone who lives their life by consciously or unconsciously attempting to control their external environment, may feel out of their depth. An opposite response to feeling overly anxious may be, for example, denying the danger of spreading the virus and putting ourselves and others at risk.
Each time, if one decides to stay present, aware and lovingly connected to yourself and others, even and especially in the time of suffering, it will bring an insight and a resolution within one’s psyche. How to stay aware without experiencing a maddening amount of thoughts or getting stuck and hijacked by one emotion or thought? Your own routine of well designed mindfulness techniques will help. If you haven’t got one, you may want to try meditation apps such as Insight Timer, Head Space, Calm or The Oxford Mindfulness Centre. You may have a preference in regards to the length of the meditation or whether it is a female or male voice led one. It is important to choose one that feels right for you.
I have a few recommendations in terms of the content of the meditation for the time of crisis.
Feel your body
Choose a meditation where you are encouraged to feel your body through Body Sensing exercise. This is a very important stage of mindfulness as it moves the attention from creating millions of very often useless thoughts, to simply welcoming sensations in our body.
By feeling our body we feel grounded, connected, and we are able to stay connected to the needs of our bodies in the time when our bodies indeed, will need to overcome the illness if we become infected. You may be encouraged to feel your ‘being’, which means the essence of who you are, the safety and completion of your being.
Choose a meditation that invites you to welcome all your sensations. While you are sensing your body you are welcoming all sensations, emotions and thoughts as they all have a message for you, whether these messages are about your own safety, about others or about the whole society.
Everything you need to say is: you are all welcome to be here.
Working with opposites
Choose a meditation that invites you to work with opposite sensations, emotions and thoughts in order to balance your mental health. While welcoming the content, you will be encouraged to naturally, and in your own peace, bring simultaneously an opposite sensation, emotion or thought, balancing your mental health. These techniques will bring an inner peace, resolution and a deeper insight.
Befriending the life that lives you
Eventually, as our mind cannot hold opposites simultaneously for a longer period of time, it sort of gives up on these usual patterns of thinking and feeling, and it opens up to a life within you that lives you (not the other way round).
While you experience the life that lives you, you will also have a deeper experience of the life that lives others; the interconnectedness of the world and the underlying binding force behind it. You will be able to find peace, meaning and life. Try and see for yourself.
A good example of this type of meditation is IRest: Resilience for Everyday Stress, created by Richard Miller, PhD, psychologist, researcher and a yogic scholar (www.irest.org). Richard’s meditations connect psychological research, neuroscience and yogic inspirations. They are designed to be adopted to people of all religions and none. They are simply a collection of concentrating methods and not a system of beliefs, therefore, this can be adopted to your existing formation.
You don’t need to sit still. Don’t hesitate to do your mindfulness routine while walking, exercising, doing yoga or resting. If you decide to look after and balance your mental health using mindfulness techniques, you may need to be prepared to encounter some resistance. It’s also important to be committed to it on a daily basis. Miller says: ‘This isn’t difficult. I didn’t say it is easy, but it’s not difficult’.
If you would some further guidance on how to use mindfulness to bring peace into your life you can speak to a professional counsellor. Use our search tool to find a qualified therapist offering expert advice in meditation and mindfulness - many offer online and telephone sessions too.
Find the right counsellor or therapist for you
All therapists are verified professionals.