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Gillian Sanger

Coronavirus - Mindfulness practices for fear, overwhelm, compassion, and grief

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Hello everyone,

I wanted to get a conversation going around the coronavirus. Not about the details in particular as those change according to the day, the news source, and who we're talking to, but instead about how we can mindfully manage the thoughts and feelings that arise in wake of what's happening.

From confusion to apathy to panic to fear, it seems that the news of this virus is really sparking all sorts of reactions. What has your experience been like? Has it shifted at all over the past few weeks? Whether you've felt unfazed by the news or have found yourself stockpiling, I'd like this to be a compassionate place to express and explore our reactions.

In the beginning, I felt confused and worried, but as time has passed I've started to become more comfortable with the unknown. I've also found that mindfulness of my news consumption has drastically helped to lessen any anxiety I've felt. In fact, last week my boyfriend and I took a 'news fast'. I still used social media so would catch glimpses of what was happening, but I avoided clicking on anything related to world affairs. While I think it's important to stay informed, I also think we over consume our newsfeeds, so a time-out was exactly what I needed.

I've also noticed that on social feeds and in the news (since I've tuned back in), there is much judgment being cast on people's actions in relation to their coronavirus fears. For instance, people who stockpile are labelled to be irrational - and that labelling does not appear to be coming from a loving heart. How can we find compassion for everyone around the world - whether they're sick with the virus or are fearing it - instead of judging?

On that last note, this is a nice, simple journal exercise that helps us to explore our judgment of others and could be useful as we discuss this continually changing situation with others: https://mindfulnessexercises.com/assessing-vs-judging-others/

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On 3/11/2020 at 12:24 AM, Gillian Sanger said:

mindfulness of my news consumption has drastically helped to lessen any anxiety

Completely agree. I allow myself to check the news once per day for the important updates I need to know, and I only check the official local and national sources. In the world of social media where the news is being flung towards you from every direction, it can definitely be difficult. Applauding you for taking a news fast.   

9 hours ago, Gillian Sanger said:

Here's a resource that explains a bit about the fear response (and the social contagion of coronavirus emotions) and lists some exercises for managing this fear: https://mindfulnessexercises.com/dealing-with-covid-19/

I came here today to find exactly this! Thank you so much, Gillian!

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Thanks Gillian, brilliant post & great resources here.

For myself, my greatest fear that I am working through with gratitude, meditation & mindfulness is the uncertainty of income as schools & businesses grind to a halt. 

I am a casual relief teacher &, although schools are still open here in Australia, I am concerned that if or when they close, I am without work & the bills & rent still need to be paid. Mindfulness exercises help keep me in the present with a clear head & open heart to deal with my emotions. 

I know this too shall pass & that, whatever happens, I can & will handle it. Being in the moment yet creating a contingency plan brings me peace of mind & allows any anxiety to flow through me without giving it any weight. 

Another challenge that I find harder to deal with is my husband's mood....he seems to be sinking into a depressive state which is not helped by his steady diet of TV news. 

This, along with financial burdens, is putting our marriage under great strain. Any suggestions of what is within my own scope of power & what I can do to help him would be greatly appreciated. 

Thank you once again 

Maureen 

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Posted (edited)

Hi Gillian,

Thank you for starting this thread. I have noticed my own thoughts and feelings change quickly during this outbreak. Now I am beginning to see how I might be a support to my local community. I am also president of the Bd of Directors for the Center for Mindful Living here in Chattanooga, Tn. We are a non-profit offering mindfulness classes, yoga, MBSR, QiGong, and other healthy mindful activities. We had to just cancel our  fundraiser and we have shut down our facility while trying to offer some Services online. We are projected to run out of funds at the end of June given the current expenses and  projected income. I was wondering if anyone was aware of resources we could access. Or I would appreciate suggestions  for what we could do. We are considering offering an "online summit to the greater community beyond our membership as an act of service while also asking for donations. We are sensitive to the financial hardship many face high now also. All suggestions are welcome and appreciated. Sending wishes for safety and wellness to all in this amazing community.

Edited by Mike Goins

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On 3/20/2020 at 12:18 PM, Maureen Wise said:

I know this too shall pass & that, whatever happens, I can & will handle it. Being in the moment yet creating a contingency plan brings me peace of mind & allows any anxiety to flow through me without giving it any weight. 

Yes I think this certainly requires balance - how much can we actually control and prepare for and what can we surrender and open to with trust.

On 3/20/2020 at 12:18 PM, Maureen Wise said:

This, along with financial burdens, is putting our marriage under great strain. Any suggestions of what is within my own scope of power & what I can do to help him would be greatly appreciated. 

And I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately. Well, how we all react differently and that within any family or partnership, the dynamics are now shifting.

@Maureen Wise - Are there any at-home activities you might enjoy exploring together? Yoga, meditation, dance, online learning/course, art, and so on? This could help to shift some focus away from the 'diet of TV news'. I think it's so important that we all make a conscious effort - for the sake of our own mental health - to distance ourselves as much as is possible from what is being said about this virus and the state of the world (without falling into denial of course).

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21 hours ago, Mike Goins said:

We are projected to run out of funds at the end of June given the current expenses and  projected income. I was wondering if anyone was aware of resources we could access. Or I would appreciate suggestions  for what we could do. We are considering offering an "online summit to the greater community beyond our membership as an act of service while also asking for donations. We are sensitive to the financial hardship many face high now also. All suggestions are welcome and appreciated. Sending wishes for safety and wellness to all in this amazing community.

@Mike Goins - I think an online summit is a wonderful idea, and I, too, was considering going donation-based for online meditation sessions with groups. This will help to keep your offerings both accessible and sustainable.

I imagine a summit would take quite a bit of planning? But you may have some material already prepared that could easily be implemented in that sort of thing. If, however, it will take some time to get that up and running, maybe you could offer online activities at a low-cost or by donation. You could incorporate yoga, QiGong, mindfulness classes and anything else you already offer. You could have people sign up and donate via your website and then email them a Zoom link (or link to whatever other platform you might use to hold the classes).

Also, I know in Canada that banks are offering deferrals on mortgage payments - and hopefully rent relief is coming soon. Is that something that might be accessible in your area? Even if not now, things are always changing so hopefully more financial support becomes available!

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18 hours ago, luma said:

If anybody is interested, I have created a Facebook public meditation event to slow COVID 19 and the fear surrounding it at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1284889245038173/

Thank you for sharing this luma!! I see you are offering the first event tonight... and then another on April 4th. Is that correct? I'll make a note of it for next week's newsletter.

Could you post some more details about the April 4th event into this forum? Time, description, way of connecting, etc. 🙂 

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For the April 4th event, you will need to friend request me to get an invite as this one is by invitation only, whereas the event this evening is public. I am Barb McLaughlin from Ottawa, IL on facebook.

 

The event link for April 4th is https://www.facebook.com/events/666940470783309/

 

Here is the description info for the April 4th event:

The times listed are Central Time. To find the corresponding time where you are go to: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/ 9:45pm to 10:30pm

I would like as many of you as possible to join us in a meditation to slow the covid 19 virus and the fear surrounding it.

Scientific studies have confirmed positive effects of mass meditations and activations on human society.

http://thespiritscience.net/2015/06/18/studies-show-group-meditation-lowers-crime-suicide-deaths-in-surrounding-areas/

http://www.worldpeacegroup.org/washington_crime_study.html

I know some of you think this is being blown out of proportion. I am no stranger to conspiracy theories myself. HOWEVER, whether we are being told the truth or not, the fact is, YOU WILL BE affected by the response by individuals and governments worldwide. At the very least, meditate with us to spread calm and rational behavior surrounding the situation.
My plan is to post a guided meditation audio to aid the meditation experience for us.

We will be using Marianne Williamson's guided meditation for both events. You can find that at: 

I hope many of you here will join us!

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Thanks, Gillian! It actually is still going on through 10:30pm central time tonight. If all goes well, I will be going live with a guided meditation for the event around 8pm central time rtonight.

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I just came across this resource from Harvard University entitled 'Managing Fears and Anxiety around the Coronavirus (COVID-19)'. It's a two-page document that outlines some of the many reactions we might experience in light of this pandemic.

One of the things I appreciate about it is that it mentions a wide range of feelings we might have, from grief and anger to excitement, skepticism, and curiosity. I've noticed for myself that I've sifted through quite a number of these reactions. And, when we become more mindful of that, I think it can help us to have greater compassion for the flow of emotions and beliefs within others. We're not always on the same page at the same time in regards to our emotional response to these events; however, we all have the capacity for any of it somewhere within ourselves.

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On another note for anyone interested...

I've started a poll to have a look at what is concerning us most at present in relation to COVID-19. You can find it here:

 

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How is everyone feeling today? Or how have you felt this week? I've noticed myself feeling a bit more balanced this week than the one prior... but when I talk to friends, it seems we all have our own waves. Sometimes the current happenings have me feeling heavy & scattered... while at other times, I feel inspired to create something new for myself and for the world. Can anyone relate?

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