How to be mindful through a potential Covid-19 episode.
I was first introduced to meditation in 2006, over this last couple of weeks I've never been so grateful for having a daily meditation practice.
Whenever we're physically unwell, our body tries to repair itself, to return itself to a state of health. In an overwhelming majority of cases, this is a highly successful process. We just need to get out of the way of nature to let it do its job. As we face this new virus though, it seems so scary because there's so much we don't know. There's a very real risk of death though, so that also scares us.
When we have the facts we can rationalise thoughts, which can stabilize our emotions and ensure our behaviours are also seen as rational.
The thing is, much about the novel coronavirus is unknown. Although we are gaining some information, for example, we know that there are certain groups that are more likely to contract Covid-19 than others, there are certain groups that it is more likely to be more damaging to, than others. We use that knowledge to help us to rationalise our thoughts, and to then predict our behaviour.
Having an underlying health condition I decided early on to self-isolate.
So when I started with symptoms, I fought my intuition with my rational mind. I knew I had a risk factor, but I also knew the likelihood of contracting it was low. And that given all the other information I had to hand, if I was to contract it, I had a very good chance of survival.
So rationalising helped my state of mind to a certain point.
However, I was also aware that there was a growing panic inside.
I was battling to rationalise some thoughts though. They came in more frequently. Even when I did rationalise them, they kept coming back, so I knew that I needed to do something else.
I knew that I needed to meditate. This was the very thing I was resisting because I was very much aware of my breath. I didn't want to turn into my breath anymore.
I knew how ragged it was.
How shallow it was.
How much it hurt when I breathed.
However, I knew that I would be recommending to someone else that they should turn into focusing on the breath.
I'd be asking them to gently bring awareness to the moment. To try and gently notice the fear. To feel it. To acknowledge it. To allow it to work through them.
I needed to do this work myself.
So I started tentatively.
I focused on my breath.
I didn't set any goals of time or numbers of breaths.
I just brought awareness to it.
I soon started to notice that it was easier to recognise the sensations at my nostrils than in my chest. I stayed and watched again the moment's peace from the mental anguish.
As a thought interrupted, I allowed it.
Most times, in meditation, we're told to just note that we've had a thought and return to the breath. However, I needed to recognise what type of thoughts these were and I quickly realised that I had lots of 'what ifs'.
What if I go into hospital, who would look after so and so then who would do that?
What would happen to my clients?
What would happen to this that and the other?
I had lots of those types of thoughts. I was caught up in worry.
I needed to acknowledge these so that I knew what the landscape of my mind was looking like.
I needed to understand what this fear was. The one that was contributing to my difficulties, the mental and physical difficulties I was feeling right then.
Knowing that then allowed me to take some more control.
I could decide not to continue thinking about those things.
I could decide to stay here. There was nothing helpful in those thoughts about the future.
I could decide not to panic, so I could continue with the breathing.
I could rationalise the thoughts that could be rationalised later, within the mindful moments that I spent either watching the breath, or doing other things because sometimes the breath was not the best focus for me.
It was too scary. So I also used other focuses.
I used the sense of touch.
The softness of the bed linen.
The coolness of the bedside table.
The tingling inside my fingers.
The pressure at the base of my spine as I sat propped by pillows.
I used sound.
The sound, the soft click, click, click of the clock downstairs.
The creak of the plastic guttering as the sun warmed it.
The chirping of the birds on the green outside.
Having a variety of practices helped keep me curious and engaged and I think that was what the difference was. I realised I was becoming a scientist again.
I was discovering what was happening to someone emotionally, physically, sensually, and spiritually as they recovered from a potential Covid19 episode.
I watched myself doing this.
This was like a new purpose at this moment.
It kept me going.
It intrigued me.
It helped me grow stronger.
As I look back, I don't know whether I had Covid-19 or not.
It could have been.
It could have been something else.
It could have been an inflamed underlying condition.
It could have been the underlying condition and a lot of panic.
Whichever, it doesn't really matter to me right now.
What does matter is that I know I could face my fears full-on and come and out the other side, stronger and wiser. And that is something to be really grateful for.
If you resonate with any of this story or you would like to know more about how to use meditation, any of the other techniques that I teach,
Please do get in touch via my website, evolve-psychotherapy.co.uk
With hope and healing