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Mindfulness During COVID-19

Coping with COVID-19 -

Information Resource

Table of Contents
1. Practice Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) During COVID-19 Times
2. Practice Self-Compassion during COVID-19 Times
3. Mindfulness Apps


1. Practice Mindfulness-Based

Stress Reduction (MBSR)

During COVID-19 Times


What is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

Prelude:Watch Jon Kabat-Zinn's Video on Sounds True:  Why Mindfulness Matters—and Why It Might Matter to You!  He provides you a reason why embracing Mindfulness at this point in your life is so valuable and important.


Mindfulness is: awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a sustained and particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and -non-judgmentally.


Meditation is any way in which you engage in: Systematically regulating your attention and energy. Thereby influencing and possibly transforming the quality of your experience in the service of realizing the full range of your humanity and your relationship to others and the world.

There are two Forms of Meditation in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and there are two complementary ways to do this: Formally: Formally means engaging in making some time every day to practice with the guided meditations. Informally: Informally means letting the practice spill over into every aspect of your waking life in an uncontrived and natural way. These two modes of embodied practice go hand in hand and support each other, and ultimately become one seamless whole, which we could call living with awareness or wakefulness.


So what is the practice of mindfulness? It is the very intention to practice with consistency and gentleness — whether you feel like it or not on any given day and is a powerful and healing discipline. Without such motivation, especially at the beginning, it is difficult for mindfulness to take root and go beyond being a mere concept or script, no matter how attractive it might be to you philosophically. While mindfulness and the current high levels of public and scientific interest in it may indeed appear to some to be much ado about nothing it is much more accurate to describe it as much ado about what might seem like almost nothing that turns out to be just about everything. As you practice Mindfulness you are going to experience firsthand that “almost nothing.” It contains a whole universe of life-enhancing possibilities.


Mindfulness as a practice provides endless opportunities: it cultivates greater intimacy with your own mind and taps into and develops your deep interior resources for learning, growing, healing, and potentially for transforming your understanding of who you are and how you might live more wisely and with greater well-being, meaning, and happiness in this world.


All of this is so needed during this time of the COVID-19 crisis.


(Source: Jon Kabat-Zinn (2016). Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present moment-and your life. Sounds True, Inc: Boulder, Colorado, p. 1-4)


To learn more about MBSR use these resources on www.coping.us


Introduction to MBSR at:

http://coping.us/mindfulnessneurobiology/introtombsr.html


MBSR Train the Trainer Program at: 

http://coping.us/mindfulnessneurobiology/mbsrtrainthetrainer.html


Tools for Mindfulness, Meditation, Stress Management and

Sleep Enhancement at:

http://coping.us/mindfulnessneurobiology/mindfulnesstools.html


John Kabet-Zinn's Apps

JKZ Series 1, 2 & 3: Jon Kabet-Zinn's Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Apps:

JKZ Series 1, JKZ Series 2 and JKZ Series 3. Each of the three volumes of Jon Kabet-Zinn's Meditations are available at the Apple Apps store. Each volume can be downloaded to your

devices for easier availability. Each App costs $10.00.

JKZ Series 1: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/jkz-series1/id700402554
JKZ Series 2: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/jkz-series2/id700523885
JKZ Series 3: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/jkz-series3/id700524071


There is a list of other mindfulness apps at the bottom of this page. Have a look if you want to get going with mindfulness right away.
Cultivating  Mindfulness at this Critical Time
Daily Practices and Meditations with Jon Kabat-Zinn
These Daily Video Messages from Jon Kabat-Zinn began on March 25, 2020

The first was: Not Losing our Minds and Hearts When We Most Need Them: Mindfulness, Healing and Wisdom in at Time of COVID-19

To get to all these Messages go to: http://www.wisdom2conference.com/live


2. Practice Mindful Self-Compassion

during this COVID-19 Time


Compassion and Loving Kindness

Compassion is to “sympathize” or “to feel with” especially to feel the pain of others. Compassion is defined as the wish or impulse to alleviate suffering in another living being-which is different than just to “feel with” the other. If the suffering is within yourself, you can call this self-compassion. Compassion arises out of the foundation of a general well-wishing and benevolence toward all living beings-this is called loving-kindness. Compassion arises out of loving kindness as a natural response to suffering or pain so needed now with COVID-19.

Three Components of Self-Compassion


1. Self-kindness: Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self- criticism. Self-compassionate people recognize that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing life difficulties are inevitable, so they tend to be gentle with themselves when confronted with painful experiences, rather than getting angry when life falls short of set ideals. People cannot always be or get exactly what they want. When this reality is denied or fought against, suffering increases in the form of stress, frustration, and self-criticism. When this reality is accepted with sympathy and kindness, greater emotional equanimity is experienced.

 

2. Common humanity: Frustration at not having things exactly as we want them is often

accompanied by an irrational but pervasive sense of isolation — as if “I” am the only person suffering or making mistakes — but all humans suffer. The very definition of being “human” means that one is mortal, vulnerable, and imperfect. Therefore, self-compassion involves recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience — something that we all go through, rather than being something that happens to “me” alone. It also means recognizing that personal thoughts, feelings and actions are impacted by “external” factors, such as parenting history, culture, and genetic and environmental conditions, as well as the behavior and expectations of others. Many aspects of ourselves and the circumstances of our lives are not of our choosing but instead stem from innumerable factors (genetic and/or environmental) over which we have little control. By recognizing our essential interdependence, therefore, failings and life’s difficulties do not have to be taken so personally but can be acknowledged with nonjudgmental compassion and understanding.

 

3. Mindfulness: Self-compassion also requires taking a balanced approach to our negative

emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. This equilibrated stance stems from the process of relating personal experiences to those of others who are also suffering, thus putting our own situation into a larger perspective. It also stems from the willingness to observe our negative thoughts and emotions with openness and clarity, so that they are held in mindful awareness. Mindfulness is a nonjudgmental, receptive mind-state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them. We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time. Mindfulness requires that we not be “over-identified” with thoughts and feelings, so that we are caught up and swept away by negative reactivity.


NOTE: For the Introduction to MBSR's Self-Compassion Handout Click Here
Practice Mindful Self-Compassion during COVID-19 Times
During our COVID-19 Times: Self-Compassion in difficult times with Kristin Neff, July 21, 2020 at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoqSvlakeSQ

Self-Compasion in the Midst of a Pandemic (Recording of live online meeting with Mindful Self-Compassion co-founders Kristin Neff and Chris Germer, April 15, 2020 at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC3I_FAM2FE

Self-Compassion Break in the Era of COVID-19 by Chris Germer April 3, 2020 at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v76a5o5X5cQ

Mindful Self-Compassion Meditation for Caregivers at this COVID-19 time:
Self-Compassion for Caregivers at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ9wGfwE-YE&t=6s

Ten Self-Compassion Practices for COVID-19


The following 10 ideas are fully explored in the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion at: https://centerformsc.org/10-self-compassion-practices-for-covid-19/


1. Take a Self-Compassion Break - Be mindful, Recognize our Common Humanity, we are all going through this, and Self-Kindness which is an antidote to fear

2. Soothing Tough - Hug yourself or place your hand on your heart

3. Giving and Receiving Compassion - stay in compassionate connection with others by following our breath - breathing compassion in for ourselves and out for others.

4. Being with Difficult Emotions  - Labeling our difficult feelings while we're feeling it calms the body, find the emotion in the body anchors the experience

5. Soles of the Feet - When we feel overwhelmed, it may be helpful to anchor our awareness in the sensations of our feet on the floor. We then redirect our attention from our thought to the point of contact between our body and the earth, helping to ground and settle ourselves

6. Affectionate Breathing - Use soothing breathing to feel caressed by the gentle rocking motion of the breath in a way that is calming and soothing

7. Self-Compassion Daily Life - Ask each this question: How do I care for myself already? And then do it be it: listen to music, read a book, dance, or call on zoom your family or friends

8. Compassion Body Scan - Be compassionate to our body when we are scanning it for signs of the COVID-19 in our own bodies which is a way to befriend our bodies.

9. Core Values - Remaining connected to our core values and finding ways to stay true to them in the midst of disruption is an act of self-care.

10. Savoring and Gratitude - Joy is close a hand if we give ourselves permission to enjoy the simple things we still have in thid time of isolation and social distancing. Savoring a nice small mean is just one way to do this. Gratitude is another way to cultivate joy by noticing small things the enrich our lives that in the past we tended to overlook such as running water, morning sunlight, etc, etc.


NOTE: I am ever grateful to my Friend Coralis who shared this article with me for our Tips Sheet

3 Ways to Cultivate Self-Compassion During these COVID-19 Times

By: Charles Allen, LMHC


Many people are brought up to always be kind to others. But how many of us were taught to be kind to ourselves? Self-compassion, or self-love, can often seem like a foreign concept, particularly to those raised in an abusive or unloving home. Self-compassion and self-love are not to be confused with arrogance or conceit, which are usually indicators of a lack of self-love. Self-compassion has nothing to do with faux superiority and everything to do with being kind and gentle with oneself. It allows us to treat ourselves as we do our greatest loved ones. Instead of harshly judging ourselves for any personal shortcomings, we can instead give ourselves unconditional love and acceptance.

 

Why is Self-Compassion Important?

Self-compassion helps us recognize the difference between making a bad choice and being a bad person. It also helps us have greater connections with others and less depression, anxiety, and fear of failure which is greatly needed at this time of the COVID-19 crisis. A lack of self-compassion can take a toll on our personal relationships. How we treat ourselves is typically an indicator of how we let others treat us. The less love and compassion we have for ourselves the more likely we end up in abusive and dysfunctional relationships. But, when we have self-compassion, we are less likely to depend on others to validate our self-worth or “complete us.”

 

3 ways to practice self-compassion during these trying times


1. Treat Yourself as You Would a Small Child

You would never treat a small child the way you may sometimes treat yourself. You wouldn’t call a child “stupid” for making a poor decision. And you certainly wouldn’t tell them they are unlovable and “will wind up alone forever.” It may be hard treating yourself with such kindness in the beginning because you are not used to it. But in those moments, decide to treat yourself as you would a child and much


2. Practice Mindfulness

Self-criticism is a mental habit. In order to replace self-criticism with self-compassion, we must practice mindfulness. When you find yourself caught up in that negative noise and mind chatter, stop, take a deep breath, and refocus your thoughts on something more positive about yourself. What qualities do you like about yourself? What have you done recently that you feel proud about? It can be anything, “I am always on time,” or, “I have been taking all the COVID-19 safety measures to heart.” When you do find yourself having negative thoughts, DO NOT chastise yourself for having them. Thank those negative thoughts and tell them you no longer need them, then send them on their way to make room for positivity which is so greatly needed at this time in all of our lives.


3. Give Yourself Permission to Be Human

At the end of the day, self-compassion is about being okay with our own humanity. It’s important to recognize that being human means being flawed, and that’s okay. You and the rest of the world have imperfections in common. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and accept yourself, warts and all. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much lighter and happier you will feel during these extremely stressful times dealing with COVID-19.

 

NOTE: You can read his full Blog at: https://charlesallencounseling.com/3-ways-to-cultivate-more-self-compassion/

Also, he recommends you read up on the research on the benefits of self-compassion at:

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/5ff2/fb8ad4606ef9b3a62c2547113935c9bc1f14.pdf

HEART The Five Essentials of Total Health Integration During Times of Crisis

By Gray Otis and Sandi Williams


Have you ever wondered what it means to have total health and wellness? Nearly everyone who works in the fields of medicine and psychology now recognize that our physical health is also dependent on our mental and emotional well-being as well as the quality of our relationships. We call this health integration, which closely relates to Self-Compassion. So, how can we develop improved health integration?


The five essentials of total health integration create the acronym, “HEART.”


1. Health — physical wellness based on the principles of healthy living. Consider how you are taking care of yourself. Our health depends on getting adequate sleep, drinking enough water, and eating well. Also, it is important to stay active. Walking is the best all-around exercise and you can do that in your home. Research has shown that the routine of daily activity reduces stress.


2. Emotions — emotional balance and enjoyment through self-understanding. Know how to take care of yourself emotionally. Deep-breathing, enjoyable music, meditation, playing with children’s toys such as blocks, doing a puzzle, etc. These individual activities help us destress because they reduce anxiety.


3. Awareness — conscious use of our mental abilities. Stay active and use your mind creatively. Make time to learn something new such as taking an online course, reading an entertaining book, expanding your knowledge about a hobby, etc. Awareness engagement creates mental health dividends.


4. Relationships — caring and satisfying connections with others. For everyone, conversation is the most common means to stay connected. It is good to have at least five people that we can talk with including family members, friends, colleagues, and others. We should try to have positive conversations about topics other than our problems. Face-to-face conversations in real time are helpful through the use of Zoom, Skype, Google Duo, FaceTime, etc.


5. Transcendence — enrichment through inspiring and uplifting influences. This is a good time to focus on uplifting endeavors. Any activity that is elevating, inspiring, or enriching will buoy us. Yoga, enjoying art and music, or appreciating nature can be transcendent. Even though we cannot attend religious services, we can be enriched by prayerfulness, reading uplifting books, watching positive online presentations, etc.


Health integration is fundamental because it incorporates the five essentials of physical wellness and emotional well-being. Each of these essentials impacts the other four. Together they regulate our overall health. When these essentials are primarily constructive, we become more resilient, develop richer relationships, and reinforce positive beliefs about ourselves. In order to be healthy and well-adjusted, we cannot afford to overlook any of these requirements.


NOTE: You can read the complete article publshed on April 9, 2020 at: https://www.deseret.com/opinion/2020/4/9/21209900/mental-health-crisis-covid-19-pandemic-safety-economic-shutdown-how-to-stay-healthy

Gray and Sandi are both counselors in Utah and they along with me were co-authors of

Key Core Beliefs: Unlocking the HEART of Happiness & Health.

3. Mindfulness Apps

Insight Timer - Meditation App (cost free)

Learn to meditate on Insight Timer to help calm the mind, reduce anxiety, manage stress, sleep deeply and improve happiness. At: 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/zen-timer-meditation-timer/

id337472899?mt=8

 

Guided Mind (cost: free)

Relax and get guided through meditations on a variety of topics dealing with the stresses and challenges of day-to-day life. At:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/guided-mind-guided-imagery/

id672076838?mt=8

 

Mindfulness - Everyday guided meditations (cost: free)

Science-backed audios for everyone from entrepreneurs to stay at home moms.

Use Mindfulness to quiet the chatter in your brain and to achieve clarity.

Come back anytime you need an extra dose of serenity. At:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mindfulness-everyday-guided-

meditations/id826468170?mt=8

 

The Mindfulness App – meditate (cost: free)

Start your journey to a more relaxed and healthier state of mind with The

Mindfulness App. Whether you are just starting out or experienced in

meditation, The Mindfulness App will help you to become more present

in your daily life. At: 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-mindfulness-app-meditate/

id417071430?mt=8

 

Mind Timer - A Simple Timer for Insight Meditation (cost: free)

Mind Timer is a simple app that keeps track of the time while you meditate. At: 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mind-timer-a-simple-timer-for-insight-meditation/

id901569488?mt=8

 

Aura: Calm Anxiety & Sleep - Mindfulness Meditation Daily (cost: free)

Reduce stress & anxiety, improve focus, and sleep better using daily mindfulness

meditations, life coaching, stories, and music. All personalized to you based

on your mood. At:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/aura-calm-anxiety-sleep/id1114223104?mt=8

 

Take a Break! - Meditations for Stress Relief (cost: free)

Take a break now and let your stress melt away! You can enjoy the deep relaxation,

stress relief and benefits of meditation now with this app by Meditation Oasis™.

Featuring two popular meditations from the the Meditation Oasis podcast, the app

gives you the option to listen with or without music or nature sounds. You can

also listen to the relaxing music and nature sounds alone. At: 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/take-a-break-meditations-for-stress-

relief/id453857236?mt=8

 

Calm (cost: free)

Calm Body sessions are 10 minute guided video lessons on mindful movement and

gentle stretching. Lessons include "Morning Wakeup", "Afternoon Reset", "Back Care"

and "Evening Wind Down". Addition programs on the app include: Calm Masterclass,

Breathe Bubble, Scenes selector, Calm Body, and your Profile. At:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/calm/id571800810?mt=8

 

Headspace: Meditation Breathe, sleep, relax & focus (cost: free)

Headspace is the simple way to reframe stress. Sleep trouble? Meditation creates

the ideal conditions for a good night’s rest. Relax with guided meditations and

mindfulness techniques that bring calm, wellness and balance to your life in just

a few minutes a day. At:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/headspace-meditation/id493145008?mt=8

 

Stop, Breathe & Think - Meditation for Calm & Sleep (cost: free)

Meditation & mindfulness to help you feel strong, connected and inspired

through life’s ups and downs. At:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/stop-breathe-think/id778848692?mt=8

 

Happify: for Stress & Worry - Activities, Games & Meditation (cost: free)

How you feel matters. Whether you're feeling stressed, anxious, depressed,

or you're dealing with constant negative thoughts, Happify brings you effective

tools and programs to take control of your emotional wellbeing. At:

 https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/happify-for-stress-worry/id730601963?mt=8

 

Simple Habit - Meditation (cost: free)

Simple Habit is the best meditation app for busy people. Meditate for just 5

minutes/day to reduce stress, improve focus, sleep better, relax faster,

breathe easier, and more. At:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/simple-habit-meditation/id1093360165?mt=8

 

Meditation Rx - Relief for Patients & Families (cost: $2.99)

Find relief from the stress of serious illness with the Meditation Rx app.

Whether you are ill or are supporting a loved one through an illness,

you will find guided meditations especially designed to suit your needs.

The app helps you to deal with the stresses of being ill, being in a medical

setting, undergoing difficult procedures, hearing bad news and more. At:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/meditation-rx-relief-for-patients-families/

id1165851703?mt=8

 

At Ease Anxiety & Worry Relief (cost: $2.99)

The Meditation Oasis® At Ease app has a unique approach to relieving

anxiety and worry, by combining voice-guided breathing meditations,

exercises and journaling. At Ease is intended to make deep and lasting

change rather than applying a temporary “band aid”. Most people will

experience immediate relief using the guided breathing meditations,

but the long term benefit of At Ease will come from using the breathing, exercises and journaling regularly over time. At:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/at-ease-anxiety-worry-relief/id453042967?mt=12