How to Practice Mindfulness During A Crisis

The brutal deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the 5 Dallas police officers left me numb. What I saw on the videos was pure cowardice. Violet acts of when you mix negligence with perceived power. It shook up my world. As a mother, how could I explain to my child the unexplainable without putting fear into her heart? This feeling of dread followed me from the car to the office, into my home, and as I slept. Why couldn’t I shake it? I desperately wanted to run and hide but my emotions got the best of me. Like many, most of my professional work exists online and social spaces. Without disconnection from traumatic events, we leave ourselves open to the Mean World Syndrome, which leaves some people to think of the world as an intimidating and unforgiving place. It’s natural to feel unrest after traumatic stress. During times of trauma, we need to take time for ourselves and create moments of peace. We can achieve this through mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness is understanding your current thoughts without shame. It's being totally present in the now and fully aware of what is going on. As a result, you are able to acknowledge your feelings and pay homage to them, rather than cancel them out. Mindfulness reduces stress and negative emotions.

 

Try practicing Mindfulness Meditation: Take 3 minutes (or more), away from others, close your eyes and relax. Focus on breathing, in through your nose and out through your mouth. While meditating, think of the issue at hand, NAME THAT FEAR! In this quiet space confront it and know that you are in control. You can choose to chant or not. I like to use affirmations to affirm my thoughts. Here’s one I like to use:

 

I acknowledge my feelings and pay homage to them. I understand that all feelings that reflect fear can be replaced with ones of light. 

 

You can choose to make up your own affirmation. This can allow you to focus on the present and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Don’t have the time? During a bathroom break or lunch break in your car, give yourself those few minutes of self-care. Another way of practicing mindfulness is through visualization. Envision the world how you would like to see it. Is it inclusive and respectful of all? Is the fragility of life coupled with compassion?

 

Your job is not to make others feel comfortable, but to accept what is real for you. You have no bearings on how other people feel. The only control you have is on your emotions and how you choose to let them affect your life. Be mindful of what you put out into the universe consciously and unconsciously, because that is what determines the outcome.

 

Remember, we don’t grow in comfort. We grow from the uncomfortable situations that mold and stretch us with every experience. Your test is not to hide from these experiences, but to figure out ways to allow them to empower you, and in exchange empower others. With all these social injustices we must rise to the occasion, and use our platforms to raise awareness, start a conversation, mobilize, and most importantly promote peace. No growth will come from hate. It cancels out any good intentions. 

 

-@AyanaIman