As COVID-19 spread like wildfire across the globe, so did the fear. Each day, thousands of people were fighting for their lives or taking their last breath. Healthcare workers were risking their own lives trying to save others’. News about the pandemic flooded the media. Shelter-in-place orders were issued, and schools and businesses shut down. Social distancing and wearing masks became an act of compassion to protect each other. And just like that, life as we knew it changed.
During the weeks of isolation, I started to feel claustrophobic, anxious and caged inside my own home. I was in a constant state of worry as my mind conjured up negative fear-based stories about the uncertainty. Soon, those negative thoughts started to consume my mind and the depression crept in. What used to bring me joy was no longer available to me. I had taken the day-to-day experiences of life for granted. I was no longer able to enjoy simple pleasures like eating out or going to a local coffee shop with friends. Even the places I had visited to release stress, like my local yoga studio, had also closed their doors. I slowly came to the realization that there was nowhere to go.
That’s when I decided to turn to my meditation practice to go inward. I rolled out my yoga mat, closed my eyes, put my hand over my heart, and started taking deep breaths. As I settled into my body, an overwhelming sense of peace and calm flowed through my being. I felt the warm sensation of light energy coursing through my veins. I felt lighter, freer, and uplifted. There was a profound sense of stillness within me. I was exactly where I needed to be. I was safe.
This lesson was reinforced by the online mind-body skills group I was participating in through the Center for Mind-Body Medicine. Shifting my perception and implementing the stress-reducing techniques, allowed me to move through this pandemic with more grace and ease. I was able to connect with myself, live in the present moment, stay more centered, and grounded. I also felt deeply supported by the community as we shared our experiences of the hardships and suffering of this pandemic. Quickly our mantra became “All is well.”
The simple act of breathing can be a reminder that this life is a precious gift–and that everything is temporary. I have found that joy resides deep within the very core of my being and that even amidst the chaos, it is always present and available to me. I learned that I could either continue to allow the fear to consume me or choose to turn those fear-based patterns into more loving and positive thoughts. While most of us feel like we don’t have a choice, the truth is we can all consciously decide where we want to live: in fear or in gratitude?
Whatever you are going through at this moment, however, this pandemic has affected you, or wherever you are in your journey, I invite you to turn inward and breathe with me. Let us collectively breathe through this global pandemic together, filled with love and peace in our hearts.
Breath by Breath we stay connected.
Breath by breath we push.
And we keep pushing forward.
Breath by Breath we love.
With the power of intention,
We fly with grace in our hearts,
Breath by Breath.
Special thanks to my mentor Dr. Noshene Ranjbar, M.D. Assistant Professor at University of Arizona Department of Psychiatry for her support and guidance for writing this piece.
Special thanks to The Center for Mind-Body Medicine and my instructor, Dr. Rita Anita Linger. If interested in learning more about the online mind-body skills support groups mentioned in this article. Please visit www.cmbm.org