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Thoughts about Mindfulness in a Pandemic

During this time of pandemic as I face the difficulties of social distancing, the fears of contracting the virus, the constant worry about loved ones, and colleagues on the front lines and the deep sadness of friends lost to the disease, I ride the waves of fear and panic and grief and anger. I am so grateful for the parachute of mindfulness to bring me back into balance over and over again, if only until the next wave hits.

Recently a friend remarked: “You have meditated for so many years, you must be free of anxiety by now.” Nothing could be further from the truth. While it is true that studies have indicated that Mindfulness practices strengthen the immune system, they certainly don’t provide immunity from the fear of contracting a potentially lethal disease. What they do provide is the ability to be aware of what is happening, allowing it to be as it is and choosing to come back to the present over and over and over. Its not that I don’t get caught by my fear and anxiety, but I have exercised the muscle of returning to the present enough to find my way home more quickly when I’m knocked off balance.

“Practicing mindfulness is like weaving a parachute for the future which is certain to be uncertain.”

My heart is breaking for all the families who are pregnant and trying to plan their births during the pandemic. So much additional anxiety and fear has suddenly entered the picture with so much uncertainty and so many unanswered questions. As difficult as it is, the reality is that there could be no better training for becoming a parent. The ability to be open to whatever comes is a skillful way to be with getting what we don’t want and not getting what we want. The truth is, we have so much less control than we want to think we do. And those lessons will just keep on coming. Practicing mindfulness is like weaving a parachute for the future which is certain to be uncertain.

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