Mindfulness During the COVID-19 Movement Order
by Ko Teik Yen
Mindfulness during the COVID-19 Lockdown
The Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia was preceded by a flurry of errands as we prepared our households and ourselves to spend two weeks in self-isolation to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.
We are now a few days into the MCO and acclimatising in our new routines. As the dust begins to settle, we may question: what do we do next? How are we going to spend the next week (perhaps even longer) at home with little to no distraction?
During the lockdown, some of us may feel guilty, unproductive and restless. We scroll through our social media, trying to keep abreast of the last news surrounding COVID-19 and the implications for our health, our jobs and our country. We grapple with a sense of uneasiness: the feeling that we can’t do anything in the face of a widespread tragedy. Perhaps, there may be a deeper sense of restlessness without obvious reasons.
Now, more than ever, it is important for us to practice mindfulness and be more present with ourselves.
We are out of practice with being in the moment. Before the Movement Control Order, we were locked into our routines of work, errands, school runs and social gatherings. This time in isolation is giving us a opportunity to go back to basics and explore another way of being; which is simply to be here in the now and begin to notice those little wonders around us that we tend to overlook in our rush to be productive, be punctual and be social. Rushing from one moment to another.
Stop reading this article for a moment. Notice what you can see outside your window. Can you hear the birds chirping? Open a window. Can you feel the freshness in the air? Close your eyes and ground yourself in your senses. Notice what you can hear and smell. Learn how to be present in the moment called now.
A Step by Step Guide
In the beginning, you may become aware of a deep sense of exhaustion/tiredness. Without the franticness of your day to day life, your body is recognising that it can take a break. Are you willing to give yourself the rest that your body craves?
In this period of rest and stillness, you can learn how to listen to the deepest parts of yourself. What values are important to you? We are preoccupied with how we are going to get through this virus. We should also be asking ourselves why we want to get through it: who are we staying safe for? What do we really want in our life? When faced with the brevity of life, what do we want to be remembered for?
Learn to embrace this present moment. Ask yourself: what is the best way to take care of yourself now? Perhaps you want to finish reading the book that you bought a few years ago or watch that movie you had no time to catch in the cinemas. You can exercise, play games, make art, cook, meditate, sing, and dance. Whatever you are doing, go with the flow of the moment. Be present. Open your heart to the moment. Feel it. Sense it.
Without distractions, some of us may find that we are meeting our shadows within – the ones that we are avoiding or unwilling to face. We may feel sadness or anger or fear. That’s fine. By recognising these emotions, you are healing. You are connecting to parts of yourself that you may have been repressing or running from. Sit with the feeling. Give yourself the time you need. Know that this too shall pass.
When we ground ourselves in the moment and start living mindfully, we begin to see the world for what it is rather than the worst case scenarios. We start to cultivate the courage to face the most vulnerable part of ourselves. We gain inner strength and resilience.
We can view this time as opportunity to evaluate our priorities and make new choices. Though times are bleak, the Movement Control Order is also a testament to what we can do when we all work together #flattenthecurve. When this dark period has passed, we will come together having had that time to heal, and our community will be better for it.
This is a good time to practice gratitude if you have access to shelter, clean drinkable water, and healthy, nutritious food. There are many of us that are finding it difficult to keep food on the table. If you are in the position, it is important time to support local businesses.
We are also grateful for our frontliners: the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, medical suppor staff, police and law enforcement officers, cleaning and maintenance staff, and those who work in the retail lines who leave their families at home to protect us and keep the community together.
Please stay at home and take care of yourself. That is the best way we can show our support to our front-liners.
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why we call it the present.”
Ko Teik Yen is a practising clinical hypnotherapist and Mindfulness based Therapist at The Mind Faculty, a mental health therapy clinic in Mon't Kiara. He helps client deal with s with stress, anxiety and depression on daily basis. He is also the author of the book, “Parenting 2.0 – Empowering Moms and Dads in raising responsible, respectful, resilient and resourceful children in the digital age.” He is the Senior Lecturer and lectures regularly at London College of Clinical Hypnosis and accredited Mindfulness Teacher for UK Breathworks.