MyODP News Online

What is Mindfulness?

A man with his eyes closed in meditationHave you been hearing the word "mindfulness" a lot lately? Us too, but it feels like a misunderstood concept.  Some see mindfulness as a new-age and serendipitous approach that lacks substance, while others see it as a solution to every problem.  In practice, mindfulness is a wonderful tool based on decades of research that doesn’t necessarily solve problems but removes barriers from thought processes that might inhibit problem-solving skills.   

This is nicely explained in the article What Covid-19 Can Teach us About Mindfulness:

“Mindfulness is not a panacea. It will not protect you from COVID-19 or an uncertain world. What it will do is allow you to move through uncertain times with more grace, calm, spaciousness, and generosity of spirit. Collectively, these will pave the way for wiser choices and more secure communities.” 

The article offers some practical advice on how mindfulness can help:

  • Noticing that your heart is racing with fear can give you enough distance from that fear to take some deep breaths and find an outlet that soothes, calms, and interrupts the anxiety. The outlet may include contacting a loved one, listening to a favorite song, going for a walk outside, doing something creative, or exercising.
  • Bringing awareness to the source of your fear allows you to take whatever steps are possible to address it.
  • Planning mindfully for the future by staying in the present moment helps you to make good decisions now to better prepare for future uncertainties. If your mind begins catastrophizing about your uncertain future, bring it back to the present, to what you are doing in the moment, to your breath, and to your thoughtful planning.
  • Shifting your attention from “me to we” will help you immeasurably. If you are healthy and relatively secure, focus on what you can do for others to relieve not just their imagined dread, but their very real hardships. This might mean bringing food and essentials to leave outside the door of sick, elderly, or immune-compromised neighbors or calling people to connect during this time of social isolation.

Please send any suggestions or  questions related to this email or requests for additional resources to RA-basprovidersupprt@pa.gov