The Covid-19 Pandemic is triggering more worried brains than we have ever seen. We are in crisis. It is a time for each of us to learn and practice some very simple mindfulness practices to prevent our own burnout.
Activating our inborn creative resilience will empower us to navigate the wave of the virus and regulate our brain’s stress response. Our mind can turn off the body’s freeze-fight-flight response and activate the brain/mind’s calm-connect-creativity power.
This is the beginning of a new, creative era in human history where we can literally evolve long-term changes in our global village—species tribalism.
The Creativity Machine and Resilience
Our brains are creativity machines built to adapt in new ways for survival. We can activate the creativity brain state with some simple practices—daydreaming and meditation. With mindful effort we can refocus our attention from stress-driven ‘doing’ (convergent brain-state) to mindfully calm ‘being’ (divergent brain-state). Learning to take time to ‘be’ in a daydream is a natural antidote to stress.
In this divergent brain state, attention is turned inward. Many neural networks communicate with each other, like a town hall meeting where feelings, perceptions, memories, and imagery are synchronized. The imagination and problem-solving spring from this brain state. Many of us experience this while taking a shower or watching the river flow. Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity is an example of scientific creativity emerging while daydreaming.
Creativity is a private, personal experience. It is often non-conscious. Creative experiences can lead to new ideas and behaviors. If we cultivate and respect the power of creativity as a natural antidote to stress, we benefit in numerous ways.
Being mindfully present when we do everyday things like brushing your teeth, or cooking opens the mind to novelty and serious fun. The daydreaming brain can refresh our ‘stuck’ problem solving abilities and reboot our perspective.
Social distancing and quarantine
We are all spending time indoors. It is the perfect opportunity to reframe the feelings of being prisoner. We can choose to create this time as a retreat into ourselves. Given the deadly consequences that may occur to those we know, it is a time for spiritual reflection. Gratitude for life, for our body, our mind, and those we love deepens our ability to enjoy one day at a time. During reflections, the creative brain empowers our mind’s story of personal meaning. A deepening respect for our lives can motivate changes in attitudes and behaviors.
Nature’s great teaching
Nature provides us with life, consciousness, and love. She is a great teacher. The novel coronavirus, a natural life-form struggling to survive, brings a great teaching to us all—the fact of impermanence. When our mortality is so dramatically present, fragile, and palpable, we can awake to the sacred gift of life. Sharing the gift with others opens our minds to relax in the fact of our impermanence and cherish each breath. The great gift of consciousness is that we can enjoy being alive, no matter how long we have.
Connecting and amplifying meaning
We have an opportunity to improve our tech skills in connecting with each other creatively. We may evolve from self-centered chatter, and meaningless social media, to more compassionate communication. Inspiring each other with positive experiences can make your day.
As a city dweller, I rarely hear birdsong. My sister sent me a video from rural Texas so I could watch a herd of cows grazing and listen to them chewing to a chorus of sparrows chattering—it made my day!