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Choosing Stillness in the Midst of Chaos: Practicing Mindfulness During the Pandemic

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Last week I was sitting on my screened-porch with my laptop in front of me, looking at the faces of my colleagues on Google Meet as we reviewed plans and expectations for the week ahead of Remote Learning. As we talked, I was reminded again how very blessed I am to be surrounded by these selfless, dedicated humans. I thought about how much I miss our faculty lounge chats and worshipping together in Chapel. We all discussed how much we miss our sometimes stinky, yet lovable and delightful students. My mind wandered, as it has many times in recent weeks, to thoughts of how much longer this social distancing was going to last. That answer hasn’t come. 

Then I looked up to see this:

My children had filled some kiddy pools and were basking in the sun together, silently and mindfully taking in the glory of a South Carolina spring day.

At that moment, they reminded me of something that I had been preaching to our Middle School students for the past 4 years through our #mindfulinthehall program. I needed to be still. We all need to be still. 

Instead of hyper-focusing on when our world will return to something closer to life as we once knew it, we can find joy and peace in the journey. Morgan Freeman wisely said, “Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen-that stillness becomes a radiance.” Can’t you hear his soothing voice speaking it right now?

As we journey together through unprecedented times, I encourage you and your family to be still. Here are a few ideas to practice mindfulness together:

 

--Create a gratitude poster or journal. Each day, ask every family member to write something, big or small, for which they are grateful. Or simply share a new gratitude each day at meal time.Gratitude is the best antidote to sadness or worry.

--Take a mindful walk. Walk quietly around your yard or neighborhood. Try to identify all of the things that you notice with your 5 senses. 

--Put a blanket on the ground and watch the clouds. Try to find different shapes and designs. 

--Use an app to help guide your mindfulness practices. Mind Yeti (good for children up to 6th grade), Calm, Headspace, and 48 seconds are just a few with free meditations, music, sleep stories, and other activities  to explore. 

--Focus on your breath. Using “royal posture” (seated comfortably, neck and head aligned, chest open and ready to expand with your breath) breathe in and out through your nose. Close your eyes, and count the number of beats it takes to inhale, then count the exhale. On your next breath, try to extend the inhale and exhale by 2-3 beats. (Ask your HHES Middle School student to share other mindful exercises!)

 

Be still, my friends, and be well.