As things change by the day we are thinking of our family here and abroad and the wellness community as a whole as many of our friends are studio owners, yoga teachers and practitioners-our "sangha". The Thich Nat Hanh Foundation defines a sangha as "a local community of mindfulness practitioners who gather to meditate, to share their joys and difficulties, and to encourage each other on the path of practice". This experience has heightened our awareness of ways to remain connected to our sangha.
With a background in social work, I have been pondering the importance of mental health during this experience. How to best help those who need social connection on a daily basis to continue in their recovery, those who are in need of urgent behavioral health or who may be living with anxiety. I wanted to take the opportunity to encourage everyone to keep reaching out to one another. We have made a specific effort to connect to friends and family who live alone, are older or may be immune compromised. We have also done a few group FaceTime calls with family, it felt so comforting just to see familiar faces.
Here are a few resources which may be helpful to you, your friends/family or neighbors at this time:
Search for free or reduced cost services like medical care, food and other resources in your community using Aunt Bertha, a free-to-use online platform that makes it easy for anyone in the US to find and apply for social services:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline-The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals:
Also, some things that have helped our family cope:
The outdoors-we took a picnic to the park yesterday and it felt warm and upbeat because there were many other people there soaking up the sun and getting some fresh air. Today we took a long leisurely walk downtown...due to our slow pace we discovered an urban garden that we didn't know about as well as a pop up dog park!
Tim Ferriss recently had Jack Kornfield, Buddhist monk and mindfulness praticitioner, on his show to focus on "How to Find Peace Amidst COVID-19, How to Cultivate Calm in Chaos" and we found it calming:
We have been having little dance parties to shake off some of the nerves and cabin fever-"Budding Trees" by Nakho & Medicine for the People is so uplifting:
And some beautiful words that I found particularly soothing:
Pandemic by Lynn Ungar
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love—
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.