So first up – know that you are startlingly brilliant for having made it through the last six months with some semblance of equanimity. If you have stayed afloat and sane without annihilating your family members – great work. Top marks.
As the year lumbers forward headlong into Autumn and Winter, and with shorter days coming (and what looks like at least a further 6 months of distancing) it is entirely normal to be hitting a bit of a wall emotionally right now. In the much-shared post on socials, Professor Aisha Ahmad describes how those living through challenging times often need a break when they hit the 6 month wall. So, how can mindfulness help you stay positive and well over the next months, whilst continued uncertainty is the order of the day?
1. Mindfulness Increases our Skilfulness With Anxiety
When we are anxious, mindfulness encourages us to meet the experience with acceptance, non-judgment and compassionate awareness. One of the outcomes of the mindful approach is that we may find ourselves more often able to step into resourcefulness rather than victimhood. By acknowledging our experience and not resisting it, we allow it to be neutralised by the energy of acceptance. Anxiety dissipates, or we take action.
2. Mindfulness Calms Catastrophising
Have you ever noticed that when something small goes wrong, the mind starts listing a whole sequence of future problems that could arise as a result. This mindset is often dubbed catastrophising and a global pandemic provides fertile ground for an acceleration of this predilection. Mindfulness allows us to come back to our actual experience, it returns us to the present moment bringing us back to our senses (literally). It is far more useful to be fully present with what is true than to live life predicting the worst.
3. Mindfulness Cultivates Equanimity
No human life will go untouched by vulnerability or tragedy and with a sea of challenges all around in 2020 – we have all perhaps had our fair share of stress. Whilst mindfulness cannot protect you from the pain of loss or the storms of emotional disturbance, it can teach you how to be with difficult emotions, how to remain clear present and grounded, and how to navigate the thinking mind.
4. Mindfulness Brings With it Compassion and Patience
The pressure of working from home, zoom fatigue, client deadlines, difficult colleagues, and the struggle for recognition and virtual office politics all provide wonderful opportunities to put the lessons of mindfulness into practice. Through practice you may notice your growing ability to respond resourcefully, create solutions consciously and to meet each moment as some version of your better self.
5. Mindfulness Helps us Navigate Issues at Home
We used to say – if you think you are enlightened then spend a week living 24/7 with your family! Well we’ve all been doing that for 6 months now and you’ve likely had a few tests of character along the way. Even before the disruption, our biggest interpersonal challenges were often found at home. How easy it is to repeat old patterns, to rehearse painful conversations, arguments, and to re-draw familiar lines in the sand. Mindfulness points in a different direction – inviting us deeper into the present moment with an increased capacity for listening. In time we may be able to see through our own drama, and that of our loved ones and find new ways of forging ahead.
In short, as the nights draw in – I invite you to turn inward, to increase your dedication to your mindfulness practice, and consciously continue this year’s wild ride of transformation.
If you’re new to mindfulness and not sure where to start try one of my free practices on Insight Timer: Cultivating Calm Through Disrupted Times.
By Neil Seligman
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