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Monthly Archives: March 2020

Mindfulness During the Coronavirus

An article by Haley Yamada from Good Morning America

The coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, continues to disrupt life as we know it.

As the World Health Organization officially declared the virus a "pandemic," cities across the country are implementing preventative measures, like “social distancing,” to try to mitigate the number of cases.

To combat the scary news and anxiety around it, meditation and mindfulness can be your best friends.

"Meditation and mindfulness can be valuable allies in times like this...Of course, they don’t keep you free from disease. But they can help you be free-er from panic, more able to protect yourself, and more in touch with your own inner wisdom and resilience."

- Dr. Jay Michaelson -
​Editor
​Ten Percent Happier

ABC News' Dan Harris sat down with Michaelson and Dr. Luana Marques, a clinical psychologist and professor at Harvard Medical School, for a special edition of his podcast, "Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris," to discuss mindfulness and how it can help you stay grounded, practice healthy habits and protect your loved ones.

Working with Anxiety

An unprecedented situation of a novel coronavirus is the perfect storm for anxiety, said Dr. Jay Michaelson. The space between what is known about the virus and what is yet to be discovered often leaves the general population worried and fearful.


Mindfulness can help you recognize those moments when you begin to feel overwhelmed.

“So, I think the first thing we all need to remember is anxiety is appropriate right now,” said Dr. Luana Marques on the podcast. “So the idea that anxiety has an inverse relationship with performance...Up to a point, the more anxious you get, the more performance you have. There is a point, a tilting point, though, that too much anxiety affects anything that we're doing. So we can't think critically. We get stuck. We start to get more anxious.”

By understanding that you’re experiencing fear, you can recognize the situation for what it is and where you're adding your own personal anxieties.

“I recommend [for those facing extra anxiety], run outside. Or [be careful at] the gym, but any kind of exercise. I mean, a brisk walk. It's something that any of us can do,” said Dr. Marques. “Be creative. Do jumping jacks at home.… Exercise brings down anxiety and does it fast.”

Building Healthy Habits

Things doctors have been telling us for ages, like “wash your hands for more than 20 seconds” or “don’t touch your face,” have become especially prudent during the coronavirus outbreak -- and we realize just how bad we are at consistently practicing those healthy habits.

Mindfulness helps you take those steps toward recognizing those impulsive face touches and too-short hand washes, said Dr. Jay Michaelson.


Also, as Dr. Michaelson suggests, you can turn those, sometimes seemingly boring, habits into extra time for yourself.

Those 20 seconds of hand washing can turn into a moment of meditation and those face-touching urges can serve as a reminder to be with a desire, rather than just indulge it, said Dr. Michaelson.

Also, remember the importance of a good night’s sleep.

“Good sleep ... hygiene, turning off the phones, turning off the news at a reasonable time, and decreasing [things like] caffeine, chocolate, anything that activates you,” said Dr. Marques. “If you can't sleep, get out of bed, because sitting there and worrying guarantees you won't sleep.”

Building these mindful habits will ultimately aid your immune system and improve your chances of being healthy, said Dr. Marques.

Growing Wisdom

“The kind of meditation that we're focused on, mindfulness meditation, I like to think of it as a kind of a two-step process,” explained Dr. Michaelson. “The first is to, kind of, calm down and center the mind enough to do the second step, which is to just see what's going on and to just co-exist with what's going on.”

Using mindfulness will help you release generalized anxiety that is out of your individual control -- and focus on being present and what you can do to help, without slipping into denial, said Dr. Jay Michaelson.


“We [don’t want to be] binging on terrifying articles until 3:30 in the morning, but we do want to be aware of the severity of this issue and our moral responsibility to those who are less resilient and who are more vulnerable,” said Dr. Michaelson. “[Denial is a] very tempting refuge because this is terrifying and is hurting everyone ... so denial is a really comfortable place to hang out.”

Practicing mindfulness lets you be aware of your anxiety and helps to strike the balance between informing yourself, but also recognizing the effort needed to take care of your own personal mental state.

Harris, Dr. Michaelson and Dr. Luana discussed the details of setting up a non-judgmental moment of awareness, mindful breathing, and how to feel that needed sense of calm.

All coronavirus content on “Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris” is free for those interested in following along and hearing more about the specifics of mindfulness practices.

By strengthening your mind, you will be able make smarter decisions, build healthier habits and ultimately, take better care of those you love, concludes Dr. Michaelson.

Full Article:


Mindfulness during the coronavirus: Harvard professor's tips to help lower anxiety


 BY Haley Yamada


Yamada, Haley. “Mindfulness during the Coronavirus: Harvard Professor's Tips to Help Lower Anxiety.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 2020, abcnews.go.com/GMA/Wellness/mindfulness-coronavirus-harvard-professors-tips-lower-anxiety/story?id=69555324&cid=social_fb_abcn&fbclid=IwAR0EuZjyBT84dzYQYuFGHgcw7GQfLeOMADLjTMaFW4ZjYjbPAiu30Wa98sY.

Director of Strategic Communications

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[nekiesha]

During this time, it seems we’re all looking for coping mechanisms to keep our anxiety at bay and mental health in check. This article spoke to me because I’m personally relying on meditation to help me stay regulated and grounded.

Integrating our own Wisdom

A blog post from Rachel’s Corner by Rachel Wixey

Each week, we curate content relative to mindfulness in classrooms. We set out to offer material from different perspectives that reflect ideas, thoughts, practices, social issues and more that are relevant to youth, adults working with youth, and of course, mindfulness is the underpinning.

“Today feels different.”

Today feels different. Just in the past week, the world has become different. I have heard many words to describe how people are feeling – uncertain, concerned, annoyed, hopeful, and that these times are crazy, and strange. My best friend checked in this morning and her word was – wild. Indeed, it is all of the above.

The past few mornings I have had to commit my entire meditation practice to clearing the way for my own internal wisdom to rise up. While this is part of the reason I practice each day, it now feels like the stakes are much higher when I set this intention. We have a barrage of information coming in, and coming in quickly. The updates, restrictions, guidance, life-changes and consequences, personally and collectively are a lot to absorb. What we are trying to intellectually take on is so much at once, and it’s hitting our nervous system faster than we can actually process and adeptly integrate. The information given to us is important, and we encourage everyone to follow the guidelines of course. Yet, there is more available to us; and this is what I mean by “clearing the way”.

“It is healing to honor our fear (concern, uncertainty, etc), examine how we relate to it, and release it even for a moment.”

We are able to regulate our nervous system and provide it some direct relief. It is healing to honor our fear (concern, uncertainty, etc), examine how we relate to it, and release it even for a moment. As we do, we open to the presence of what lies beneath the chaos. Through this, aspects of our wholeness are revealed to us and begin to truly nourish our well-being. What we find beneath all the disorder is our inherent wellness; that which beats our heart, pumps our blood, and makes us all the same. This is secure in each one of us – by whatever name you may call it. When we access this, our internal wisdom has room to rise, guiding us from our strength, integrity and our dignity during our most trying times.

The presence of love is within us, and around us, at all times. As we integrate our own internal wisdom to this whole experience, we open to the presence of our personal guidance, and deeper understanding that we may otherwise have missed altogether. May our practice help build our capacity to offer this love to others, and invite others to do the same. 

With love,

Rachel

A Two-Minute Mindfulness Practice to Unhijack Your Attention

An article from Mindful.org by Elisha Goldstein

In the midst of our busy lives, awareness can serve as an anchor, allowing you to get out of your head and into the present moment. But it can be difficult to find time to pause and acknowledge how your environment and your actions impact your overall well-being.

The good news is that awareness is a skill you can practice and strengthen over time. This two-minute mindfulness practice can be done wherever you are, so you can break out of autopilot and notice how your mind and body feel throughout the day.

Explore this three-step practice for cultivating mindful awareness:

1. Brief Body Scan

Start off by taking a single, deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. You are welcome to gently close your eyes, or keep them open. Notice your body where it is: the positioning of your body, and also how your body is feeling. If you’re feeling any tension anywhere, see if you can allow that to soften, or adjust your body as needed.

2. Tune in to Your Environment

Begin to allow your awareness to wander a little bit. Notice the sounds inside your environment or outside your environment. Be aware of how sounds have a nature of disappearing and reappearing, and also how your mind comes up with different comments or images on these sounds, or on your experience. Allow for all of this.

3. Notice Thoughts and Emotions

Now begin to gently open your eyes, noticing how there’s also visuals in your environment. Notice how you feel. Take stock of how you’re feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Full Article:


A Two-Minute Mindfulness Practice to Unhijack Your Attention


 BY Elisha Goldstein


Goldstein, Elisha. “A Two-Minute Mindfulness Practice to Unhijack Your Attention.” Mindful, 22 Mar. 2019, www.mindful.org/a-two-minute-mindfulness-practice-to-unhijack-your-attention/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I've realized that in a busy day, it's hard to find time to be mindful. That's why being able to take little snippets of time to center yourself is an important skill to have. Whenever, wherever, and for however long, making mindfulness a daily practice can change the way you see the world around you. 

Mindfulness Helps us Set up a Positive Learning Environment

An excerpt from Seven Ways Mindfulness Can Help Teachers by Patricia A. Jennings

Megan Cowan, The program director for the nonprofit organization Mindful Schools explains how mindfulness practice helps schools to become more compassionate places. Megan Cowan created the curricula for teaching mindfulness to elementary school students and adolescents. She has taught more than 3500 youth via Mindful Schools' in-class direct-service program, and trained more than 2000 educators, mental health professionals, and parents in mindfulness practices and applications for youth. This video is from the "Practicing Mindfulness & Compassion" conference on March 8, 2013. The Greater Good Science Center co-hosted this conference with Mindful magazine.

There is a mistaken belief among many teachers that we can and must control our students’ behavior. This sets us up for power struggles, where our attempts to control are likely to backfire.

It’s far better to create and maintain an effective learning environment by learning to control ourselves. We can control how we communicate, how we behave and where we position our bodies in space. We can set and reinforce expectations and limits. And, we can control the classroom physical space so that it supports learning.

A kindergarten teacher I know couldn’t get his students to stop running in the classroom, even after repeated reminders, and he was getting very frustrated. But, once he became mindful of the fact that his classroom furniture was arranged to create distinct “runways” in the class space and remembered that children have a natural inclination to run in open spaces, he could see what needed to be done: he moved the furniture to block the runways, and the children stopped running.

Knowing what’s going on in your classroom and with your students is critical to your ability to orchestrate the social-emotional dynamics and the physical spaces that are conducive to learning. Practicing mindful awareness helps you develop the skill of paying attention in the present moment and learning to see what’s truly happening in your classroom, allowing you to come up with better solutions to problems you see.

Full Article:


Seven Ways Mindfulness Can Help Teachers


 BY Patricia A. Jennings


Jennings, Patricia. “Seven Ways Mindfulness Can Help Teachers.” Greater Good, 30 Mar. 2015, greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/seven_ways_mindfulness_can_help_teachers.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this article because it shows that kids are just that - kids. They are going to run and be wild, but that doesn't mean that they have to sacrifice their learning or that the teachers need to sacrifice their sanity. Every problem has a mindful solution!

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