Invisible Illness
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Invisible Illness

The Importance of Mindfulness Meditation During and After Pandemic

A global pandemic of this scale is inevitable. I urge you to meditate. Here’s why…

Science, health and socio-economic experts are predicting how the pandemic will end. While they debate over how things are going to play out, it’s time that we check-in on our own mental health and wellbeing, as our lives are being altered by the pandemic.

According Dr. Nadine Burke Harris a California Surgeon General, mental illness if left unchecked will cause biological damages that could affect the way our bodies and brains function. It could affect a child’s brain development too. Children who are in the early stages of childhood development are the most vulnerable.

Self-care and mindful meditation are the best antidote recommended
by health and medical experts like Dr. Nadine to build mental strength and
improve your overall mental wellbeing during and after pandemic.

Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness as the word suggests, is a quality we already have. It is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are, what we are doing and what’s going on around us.

When we are mindful, we gain insight and awareness through observing our own mind, and increase our attention to others’ wellbeing. Mindfulness meditation can help increase that level of awareness. In addition, this practice can help develop other health benefits and good habits as follow.

1. Better sleep
We can appreciate this all-important benefit of mindfulness meditation. Research has shown that there is significant improvement in sleep quality. Participants who meditated fell asleep sooner and stayed asleep longer.
They are able to relax their body more easily, releasing tension and placing them in a peaceful state in which they are more likely to fall asleep.

2. Reduces stress
The pandemic can exacerbate our stress levels. Learning how to control or minimize these effects of stress on body and mind is important in overall health and wellbeing. A study have found that focusing on the present through mindfulness meditation can reduce the level of cortisol, the stress hormone.

3. Enhances self-awareness
Mindfulness meditation if practiced consistently allows you to observe the power of your presence and how your mind works. You will be able to observe the moment-to-moment movement of your emotions without being dictated by it. Through this observation, you are able to understand yourself better and how you relate to those around you.

4. Improves emotional health
As you gain greater awareness of yourself and your own thought habits, you will be able to develop the emotional and mental strength needed to deal with life challenges and problems skillfully. This helps prevent depression, reduces anxiety such as phobias, paranoid thoughts, obsessive-compulsive behaviors and panic attacks.

5. Improves your immune system
According to Eckhart Tolle author of the book Power of Now, mindfulness meditation is powerful form of self-healing. As you meditate, you will bring more consciousness into your body, and the more consciousness you bring into the body, the stronger the immune system becomes. Your psychic immune system is also greatly enhanced, protecting you from the negative mental-emotional force field of others, which are highly contagious.

6. Improves and lengthens attention span
Studies have shown that in as little as four days of mindfulness meditation
can help improve your ability to stay focused on a task longer. It also helps reduce fatigue, which is most needed now as we are plagued by constant distraction and worrying caused by the pandemic.

7. Helps fight addictions
The mental discipline developed through meditation can help increase your willpower. Thus, giving you better self-control and awareness of the triggers of addictive behaviours such as craving, craving-related stress and binge eating.

8. Reduces age-related memory loss
The improved focus and attention you gain can also help increase memory and mental clarity. These benefits can help fight age-related memory loss. A study has found that there is partial improvement from memory loss in patients with dementia and reduced depression among those caring for a family member with dementia.

9. Helps control chronic pain
Managing chronic pain in a healthier way has been the focus of much current medical research. A larger study that looked into the effects of habitual meditation in 3,500 participants found that meditation was associated with decreased complaints of chronic or intermittent pain. The study suggests that meditation can diminish the perception of pain in the brain. This may help treat chronic pain when used as a supplement to medical care or physical therapy.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), a therapy that combines mindfulness meditation and yoga, has been found to result in significant improvements in managing pain and anxiety, in wellbeing and ability to participate in daily activities.

10. Improves relationships
In an excerpt from a chapter of Eckhart Tolle’s book Power of Now (and I believe this is true because I’ve been applying some of his meditation techniques), he explains that consistent practice of mindfulness meditation will intensify your presence ever more deeply into the Now moment and away from the mental noise. Your mind quiets down and loses it’s compulsion to judge based on ego. The moment that judgement stops, you have made room for love, joy and peace. You will be more accepting of yourself and others, allowing relationships to flourish.

Additionally, more positive feelings starts to develop, increasing your ability to show more compassion towards yourself and others, improve social anxiety, reduce marriage conflict and anger.

How to practice mindfulness meditation?

By spending just 5 to 10 minutes of meditation daily, I find myself feeling much calmer mentally and emotionally after every session. There’s infinite love, peace, joy and satisfaction that comes from deep within. I’ve also come to understand the nature of unhappiness and sufferings. These are among the experiences gained from practicing mindfulness meditation since 2003.

I share with you here, the basic technique I use that’s easy to begin.

  1. Find a quiet space
  2. Sit up straight
  3. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and relax
  4. Focus your attention on your breathing
  5. Follow the breath with your attention as it moves in and out of your body
  6. Be present.

If thoughts come, do not try to push them away or judge them. Just welcome them into your mind and observe those thoughts with introspective wisdom.

You will also begin to notice that your thoughts come and go, like the coming and going of the clouds in the sky. But underneath it all, you will realize your true nature. It’s unchanged, remains completely pure like the sky itself.

Empower others — towards better mental health

While writing this article, I was also doing some research about the psychological impacts of quarantine and prolonged social isolation. The data and information I found can only be summarized in one word — alarming!

My findings

Since the lockdown began in March, Malaysia recorded more than 45% of calls related to mental health and emotional issues. They flood the COVID-19 helpline set up by the ministry of health, and domestic violence cases spiked during lockdown.

In the UK alone, the stress of social isolation, job insecurity, relationship breakdown and bereavement have put a heavy toll on the mental wellbeing of adults. They are showing symptoms of serious mood disorders such as mania and depression, triggered by significant stress associated with the pandemic.

A recent cross-sectional study of 1,257 healthcare workers in 34 hospitals across multiple regions of China found that 70% of Covid-19 healthcare workers reported experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress especially women nurses. Besides the virus, working on the front-line exposes them to a higher risk of developing unfavourable mental illness that may require psychological support and interventions.

There’s a monumental task ahead in dealing with another health crisis post Covid-19. The pandemic is causing people to experience a decline in mental health and in great magnitude.

Make an impact in small & big ways

This is a global crisis that has brought about unprecedented challenges. It’s in times like this that we need to be part of the solution and not the problem.

The practice of mindfulness meditation gives us an opportunity to see glimpses of our own wisdom, giving us non-judgmental attention to the details of our experience i.e; being mindful. When we are mindful, we show up for our lives. And if something needs to be addressed, we are present enough to understand what needs to be done.

Equipped with this knowledge and wisdom, let’s encourage others to build mental strength through mindfulness meditation. It’s the least we can do to help the people we care about stay strong during and after pandemic.

Mental health awareness

I’m pleased to share with you some inspiring artwork related to mental health and wellbeing, created and contributed by creatives from different backgrounds. We creatives have a knack for expressing ourselves artistically and have a fair share of experiencing mental breakdowns.

But regardless of who we are, I believe we all have the fundamental nature as human beings to do great things. We could turn hardships into opportunities, in our own creative ways.

Thank you all who have contributed a piece of your art, your story, and to the rest who have read my article.

Untitled artwork by Constance Wong, Malaysia
“This illustration is to convey that letting go is part of the process of moving on. If you hold on (or hide) your fears, your grief, a strained relationship or anything that’s holding you back, it’s difficult to move on or to heal. Letting go is not the same as giving up.”

Gao Jie Portrait Drawing by Evelyn M.Y.F, Malaysia
“Gao Jie, portrayed by Hong Kong actress, Janice Man, tells the story of how the character from a TV series overcame hardships within her own family and grew to become the most outstanding jewellery designer of her time. It was during this time, Gao Jie lost her grandfather who doted her the most during her period of growth. Everyone has things they hold on to dearly in life, especially the people we love. When they are gone, it feels as though our hearts got ripped apart. But she overcame them with her strong willpower. She thrived through her most hardest endeavours to become successful.”

Depression by Barbara Muscuso, Italy
“This is me with my personal monster: depression. I immersed myself in the dark and let the darkness envelop me completely, turning my back on the aids, turning into someone I was not and starting to ignore the real Barbara inside of me who screamed and pressed to go back to breathing. Sometimes it is enough to turn to look at the light: ask for help, tear the stitches and let our true personality come back to see the daylight. If you feel immersed in the dark, ask for help from people close to you and let them help you embrace the light again. Ask for support from professionals: psychologists and psychiatrists are concrete aids that can get you out of the abyss and give you hope again. Be happy: your life is special, you are special. You can defeat the monster.”

Isolation Mind, photo 1 and 2 by Arun Kapur, UK
“My photography work was inspired by my time in isolation. How we can truly capture our magic in creativity and express! It is so important to heal your mind and love yourself!”

Voices in My Head by Kenneth Lim, Malaysia
“I drew this when I was stressed and depressed in college. Drawing is a way for me to express and represent my feelings to people.”

Aaarrrrhggggh!!!!! by Stan C.H. Lee, Malaysia
“This could be a cry of pain, anxiety or ecstasy. Mental health questions arises when you can’t tell which is which.”

Self care by Jessica Phang, Malaysia
“Sometimes the best gift to ourselves is self care and self love. A pat on the shoulder or a deep breath is much needed to calm the fuzziness or frustrations in our brains.”

The Silent Invitation by Aziz Gattoufi, Tunisia
“The silent invitation is a series of sketches done after hearing a lot of my friends’ stories and their experience being locked down, every sketch represent a different person and reflect a different facets of a person’s mind.”

Precious Time by Sean Oh, South Korea
“Sometimes we forget the power of meditation. I visualized how precious it is.”



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Hazel Lee

I’m a digital designer and creative entrepreneur. Founded YDJ to inspire and empower creatives. That’s how I make an impact.