Mindfulness: Calm is not separate from the storm
By Kathleen Beck-Coon, MD

The trauma being experienced by health care providers is not a single event. On a cognitive level, we recognize how thoughtful pondering of possible future decisions can turn from a focused, time-limited effort into endlessly looping worry.

But it’s not simply rehashing the past and worrying about the future that stirs up a stress response. There is real loss, real pain, real heartbreak, real exhaustion right now. Denying or pretending that this is not part of our reality isn’t healthy and, more pragmatically, it doesn’t work.

But continually thinking, talking, and reading about COVID-19 may not be the balm that is needed in this storm of stress. What is the means to stay rooted in what matters to us and not be chronically hijacked by fear or despair?

Finding a port of safety in the storm, where our natural capacity to know vibrancy and joy can also show up, calls for turning toward the present moment, one moment at a time, and seeing what is called for now. Whether experiencing joy, grief, fear, or connection, your compassion and wisdom are already present.

How could it be otherwise? Whether it is the wisdom of turning to a place that is settled within us or exhaling into presence to meet the exigency of the moment, mindfulness allows knowing what is needed. Nothing to go get, nothing to feign or manufacture. Compassion and wisdom are who you are, and loving yourself is the same love you offer others. Unembellished by why things are as they are, how we wish it would be different or fear it will be, mindfully pausing allows meeting the reality of this moment with more ease in the love and wisdom that is already here.

Listen to the mindfulness meditation (audio) >>