Can mindfulness help society heal as we emerge from lockdowns?
Posted: 24 January 2022, in News
It goes without saying that the last 2 years have been unsettling for the global population and for some of you reading this now, it might have been the toughest period you’ve ever known.
The recent announcements in the UK to roll back measures will have provided a much needed boost to many but for some, it will bring apprehension.
COVID has exposed societal vulnerabilities and brought them into sharper focus, be that from a personal health perspective (physically, mentally and emotionally), ability to cope in times of difficulty, our lack of self-sufficiency and disconnection within communities.
Growing Through Adversity
Our natural human instinct is a preference for pleasantness (internally and externally) over unpleasantness, but if I reflect on my life journey, it was the most unpleasant experiences that lead to the biggest breakthroughs.
In Eckhart Tolle’s teachings on acceptance, he states “whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Work with it, not against it and it will miraculously transform your whole life!”
With that wisdom in mind, maybe COVID coming along can provide the catalyst for meaningful individual, systemic and cultural change? Times of adversity and crisis bring about change and nothing’s more potent at unlocking our creativity than ‘dire need’.
So as challenging as this COVID era has been, can we find the gifts, lessons and opportunities to help us take inspired action to steer the world in a more positive direction?
Gandhi’s words, “be the change you wish to see in the world” are as relevant now as they’ve always been and I believe we’re in the midst of one of the biggest periods of change we’ll experience in our lifetimes. More turbulence is inevitable but if we use this time wisely to strengthen our mental, physical and emotional health, it will increase our confidence and give us a solid foundation to better navigate whatever life throws at us.
Our experience of the last 2 years will have differed from person to person, depending on personal circumstances, any predispositions, how we’ve been relating to the information we’ve been consuming and our perception of personal risk.
The ongoing narratives in the media have for many people increased the sense of personal threat (including concerns for loved ones), lowering confidence and elevating anxiety levels. When our nervous systems are hyper stimulated, we can be operating in a frequent state of low-grade anxiety, which affects our immune system, our behaviours, our ability to self-regulate emotions, our focus and our energy levels.
There has never been a more important time to take back control of our minds. The way we manage our mind determines our quality of life and whether we achieve our goals and aspirations.
The Power of The Present Moment
It’s been said that the average person is only fully present for 5-10% of their day, which means the rest of the time we’re distracted by the continuous chatter of our minds but not always aware of the nature of this chatter.
So for a large percentage of our day, we’re running a programme from the subconscious which can be harmless or it can be increasing our stress, driving our behaviour and depleting our confidence depending on the flavour of the internal dialogue.
It stands to reason that learning how to become more present more often could be good for us! In fact the conscious present moment is the only place we can take our power back and become the master of our own lives. This is primarily what developing a regular mindfulness practice can do for us.
They say in mindfulness that the ‘seeing is the doing’, so the more we practice, the more we learn and the more calm and measured we become with how we respond in every moment, regardless of the situation.
Mindfulness can help society heal and connect us with our hearts so we can move forward with greater confidence. When love overtakes fear as the dominant emotion and permeates out into the collective consciousness the ripple effect of positive change will be unstoppable!
Gary Young, The Mindful Enterprise CIC
Try this easy Mindful Minute practice:
– Pause what you’re doing and notice your breath
– Pay attention to the breath in and the breath out without needing to change anything
– Close your eyes or keep them open whatever feels most comfortable
– Begin to silently count each in-breath
– Continue for a count of 8-10
– When the mind wanders, bring it back gently to the feeling of breathing
– Open your eyes (if closed) and notice how you feel now?
– Take note of what you noticed
If focusing on the breath doesn’t feel comfortable, try instead picking up an object and engage your sense of touch to explore all sides and textures of the object. You can do this with eyes open or closed and use different objects or surfaces. Like above, when the mind wanders, bring it back gently to the object.
Should any of the SES members wish to join a mindfulness training course in the future, we will offer a 16% discount. Our next course starts on Monday 28th February and is available in-person (in central Edinburgh) and online. To take up the discount, email email@example.com with SESGIFT16 in the subject heading.