The mental health crisis unfolding against the back drop of the pandemic is a story of its own. The worries of people are vast and steeped with layers of anxiety, numbness, stress, lack of control and the unknown. Feelings of joy, optimism and aha moments are also swirled in this emotional cauldron. Anger too.
Something I’ve struggled with when writing pieces to help support emotional health and relationships during this pandemic is how to be helpful while honoring everyone’s experience. Many are relatively comfortable while sheltering in place as they weather the storm and have the “luxury” of time to practice self-care or contemplate silver linings. But others are in serious crisis wondering how they are going to pay for food to feed their families or living in logistically challenging circumstances.
I read something that spoke to me and I’d like to share it, by an unknown author.
We are not in the same boat.
I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa.
For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, of re-connection, easy in flip flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial & family crisis.
For some that live alone they’re facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest & time with their mother, father, sons & daughters.
With the $600 weekly increase in unemployment some are bringing in more money to their households than they were working. Others are working more hours for less money due to pay cuts or loss in sales.
Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter while others were concerned if there would be enough bread, milk and eggs for the weekend.
Some want to go back to work because they don’t qualify for unemployment and are running out of money. Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.
Some are home spending 2-3 hours/day helping their child with online schooling while others are spending 2-3 hours/day to educate their children on top of a 10-12 hour workday.
Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it. Others don’t believe this is a big deal.
Some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020. Others say the worst is yet to come.
So, friends, we are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.
Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, actually seeing.
We are all on different ships during this storm experiencing a very different journey.
With such vastly different experiences, there is something we all have. Our breath. Mindfulness research has shown that intentional breathing can reduce anxiety by teaching your brain and body to relax. It seems now maybe more than ever, a mindfulness practice can be provide solace and respite from our collective angst.
It’s really just breathing with more focus and intention. That being said, it may feel strange and even difficult. Many report frustration that they can’t do it “right” because they struggle to stop the chatter in their minds. Mindfulness meditation asks that you sit and focus on your breath, to notice your thoughts and let them pass by with no judgment as you re-focus on your breath.
Below is a 10-minute guided meditation by Dr. Elisha Goldstein, PhD is co-founder of The Center for Mindful Living in West Los Angeles, author and speaker who “synthesizes the pearls of traditional psychotherapy with a progressive integration of mindfulness to achieve mental and emotional healing.”
If you have tried mindfulness meditation and feel comfortable sitting for a bit longer, here is a 25-minute guided meditation called “Nourish in Place” which was created during this pandemic.
I love the idea that we are in the same storm but not the same boat as it allows us all to be “in this together” while honoring our unique logistical and emotional experiences, some vastly more challenging than others.
Dr. Goldstein is currently offering free membership to The Mindful Living Collective, an abundant resource with a mindful training library, weekly live events and meditations as well as the opportunity to connect with others to share and learn as you wish.
If a mindfulness practice is not for you, may find the resources and self-care routines that resonate so you can find calm in this storm.