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Being Mindful During the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging on many fronts. Many are describing the toll it has had on mental health as the “fourth wave.”  Indeed, it has felt that we are living under siege at times. One of my medical students described our weekly public health unit webinars as “war time radio.”

The barrage of information, the fear and the removal of all things that used to be restorative have been factors that have contributed to anxiety and depression. Many of the things we used to do were, in fact, distractions rather than restorative. If we reframe to consider this time as an opportunity for inner exploration, we may come out of this more resilient, stronger and healthier.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is credited with bringing mindful meditation to the main stream of medicine, began a mindfulness-based clinic in Boston. His clinic has helped many people with chronic illness and mental health find mastery over their illness. There is excellent evidence for the usefulness of a meditation practice on our health and well-being.  

There are many ways to begin a meditation practice.  One can begin by sitting and focusing on the breath. Avoiding screen time, walking with awareness of one’s surroundings, and slowly and thoughtfully focusing on our senses when we are eating, doing any activity and engaging in work are also ways of meditating.

One can find many videos on YouTube that guide the listener through a body scan which is a focused meditation that helps to focus on various parts of the body. A free app called Insight Timer, or others such as Calm and Headspace, can help to bring focus to practice.

As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “Meditate as if your life depends upon it because, of course, it does.”

Dr. Bhooma Bhayana is a family physician in London and the mother of two young men and grandmother of one lovely princess! She continues to find wonder and enjoyment in family practice despite more than 30 years on the job!


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