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Coronavirus and COVID-19 have brought a flood of fear and uncertainty for many of us.
We have a 24-hour news cycle that consumes us. We’ve been told not to leave our houses unless we must. Most of our lives are in sudden upheaval as we adjust to a “new normal” for an unforeseen amount of time.
Sometimes we don’t know where to turn for support. While this global pandemic is unique in many ways, these feelings of fear and isolation are nothing new. Many of our religious and spiritual traditions have been poised to respond to times of crisis since time immemorial.
In conversation, some common themes have emerged.
While we normally think of grief only in connection with the death of a loved one, we can have the same feelings of loss when we are facing uncertainty.
We could all be grieving losses in this time. These may include loss of:
Sometimes when we experience grief, we feel shocked, anxious, fearful, sad, powerless, angry, or helpless. What we need to remember is that all these feelings and many others are normal. Being able to acknowledge where we are emotionally and spiritually can be empowering.
Be kind to yourself as you navigate through your emotions.
When we are tired and overwhelmed, it’s important to remember that there are a lot of things we can control. We can take care of ourselves right now.
People commonly say that we “can’t pour from an empty cup.” We can’t care for others, be expected to work or do strenuous activities, unless we take care of ourselves. This is always true, especially within the context of stress and change.
These activities may be helpful:
Often in times of distress, we turn our minds to God. This can be difficult if the places we normally go to worship are closed right now. It can be helpful to try to recreate this environment at home. Many houses of worship are posting services online. Maybe your home community is offering this option, or maybe it’s an opportunity to hear from a new pastor, imam, or rabbi.
A simple prayer you may want to repeat:
You know right now things feel scary. But even now, we know we are not alone.
Watch over us, and may we rest in peace and hope.
(Adapted by author from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital chaplains)
Instead of, or in addition to, resources from our own spiritual or religious traditions, many people find calm and comfort in integrating mindfulness practices into their routine. Mindfulness can be as simple as taking a few moments to take a few breaths in and out. Focusing on the breath for even 5 or 10 minutes can help us feel grounded in the present moment and lessen worry. It’s hard for many of us, but it’s a skill that can be practiced and learned.
Senior Niroga Instructor, Jonathan Relucio, leads a short centering exercise that focuses on rhythmic breathing (4:8) using arm movements. The language and sequencing use best practices in trauma informed mindfulness.
Reviewed: April 2020