Be Mindful Says Denis McBrinn And Banish Uncertainty

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County Down man Denis McBrinn is a specialist in mindfullness. Below is a feature he has written by him on how we can take a positive mental approach in these very difficult times as our society is under pressure with coronavirus.

Everyone needs to read this and if necessary re-orientate their thinking to a healthier and positive position. The massive surge in self-proclaimed ‘expert’ advice from a wide range of sources is accelerating the level of anxiety in our society. Some people need to desist from this, others need to follow official and expert advice, and read only bone fide media information and news briefs.

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County Down man Denis McBrinn, a specialist in mindfullness, discusses how we can reduce anxiety levels and maintain a positive perspective on life.

“Worry is like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere.”

Events such as the coronavirus epidemic remind us about the uncertainty in life.
All life is fragile and each day is a journey into the unknown, giving rise to fear and anxiety.
Things unseen and unknown will always have an enormous impact on our lives.
But we seldom think about influences beyond the reach of our senses and understanding. 
Yet, they are always present.
Deadly viruses, like coronavirus, are not visible to the human eye and until recently it was unknown to us.
There is no feeling that can take over our lives more suddenly or completely than fear.
And understandably, there is much fear and worry about the current uncertainty and disruption.
There is panic about having enough food and supplies and concerns about how best to cope.
Fear is entirely natural and shouldn’t be denied, especially in these uncertain times,
Fear has evolved, in our brains, as  a threat-detection system to help us survive.
It is like a “warning” light that appears on our car’s dashboard.
It alerts us to take action and address issues, while proceeding  with caution towards our destination.

Therefore, in times of crisis, the first step is to acknowledge and validate your fear, by personalising it.
Talk and reason with your fear as if it was a friend or colleague.
Establish an assertive, adult working relationship with the voice of fear.
Assure Fear that you recognise and value the important role it plays in your survival.  
But also recognise, fear can be a terrible liability when left to its’ own devices.
It often gets carried away and instead of motivating, it ends up terrifying us!
Fear never really goes away and wants to control and dominate.
It is always there, looking out, to keep us safe and helping to motivate us.
But if we allow fear to run the show, we end up in a state of panic.
Our challenge is learning how to use fear instead of allowing fear to use us.
Fear will hold us prisoner, but hope and courage can set us free.

Step two is to accept that many things are beyond our control and bad things happen. 
The mystery of suffering is beyond our understanding. In the words of Paul Simon: “God only knows. God has a plan.The information is unavailable to mortal man“. 
Accepting things we cannot change is difficult, but acceptance is needed for us to move forward.
Acceptance does not mean resignation or that the situation won’t change or can’t be changed.
Although we cannot change what has happened, we can choose how we respond.
Rather than wringing our hands in despair, it is better to wash them carefully and often!
Acceptance allows us to heal, recover and grow from whatever life throws at us.

Step 3, in coping during uncertain times, is showing resilience and adapting to changed circumstances.
Facing up to difficulty with resilience is one of the most defining attributes of the human spirit.
We need resilience to survive the storms of life.
It is the quality that enables us to grow through adversity and become stronger.
Resilience is an inner quality that we can only develop during difficult times.
It is impossible to become resilient without challenge or when everything is going our way.
Unfortunately, resilience cannot be ordered online.
Uncertain times present the ideal opportunity for us to develop a resilient mind-set, not the good times.
History proves we are immensely resilient. Our survival instincts are very strong.
Bad things happen, That’s the way it is.
But we are also designed to bounce back and become stronger. 

REFLECTION.

A practical exercise on how to relax and be mindful.

Sit down in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed and close your eyes.
Let go of any feelings of tension in your neck and shoulders.
Set the timer on your phone for three minutes.
Bring your awareness to your breathing.Take a few, slow, deep, breaths.
And then, when you’re ready, connect with the silence within.
Bring to mind a person or place that brings you feelings of serenity.
Breathe in peace and calm. Breathe out worries and fear.
Bring to mind an opportunity you might have to face fear with courage.
Breathe in peace and calm. Breathe out worries and fear.
Bring to mind a wise choice you could make to help someone at this time.
Breathe in peace and calm. Breathe out worries and fear.
Bring to mind some of things you are most grateful for.
Now imagine holding a big red balloon of all your current fears and anxieties. 
Imagine letting go and watch the balloon being carried away by hope and courage.
Welcome the sensation of release and freedom as it fades away and out of sight.
Breathe in peace and calm. Breathe out worries and fear.
As you gently breathe in and out, allow feelings of self-compassion to fill your heart.
When the timer goes, open your eyes and feel empowered. 

 “You can’t afford the luxury of a negative thought.”

In all matters relating to health, it is especially important to guard against negative thoughts.

Try to keep your thoughts as positive as possible.If that proves too difficult, at least keep thoughts neutral.What you really must avoid is speaking negatively. It is always easier to be more negative than positive.

The universal laws of attraction seem to favour what we don’t want, especially when we are unwell. The scientific evidence is overwhelming

“Negative Talk Costs Lives”. Be careful not to wallow in your anxieties or obsess over them. Simply take a minute to remind yourself that it’s okay to feel, however you feel. This helps to lower stress and prepare you to take action.Even if we feel helpless, it doesn’t mean we have to sink into despair. One of the best ways to counteract the feeling of helplessness is to be helpful to others.If you’re at home watching your third hour of coronavirus coverage, try shutting off the tube for a bit. You could think of how you might help people who are worse of than yourself.

Some of the people getting hit hardest by the virus seem to be the elderly. If you have elderly neighbors, friends, or family, consider how you might be useful or helpful to them. Even a simple phone call could assure an older person who maybe feeling especially isolated or lonely. 

Health care professionals are making heroic efforts to help us, while putting their own health at risk. They are working extremely long hours in very demanding circumstances. If you know someone who’s in healthcare, consider just reaching out to ask if you can help somehow.

There are countless examples of how we might be helpful to others during a difficult time like this. There are always opportunities and positives in new and uncertain situations, if we can adapt.For example, self-isolation might give us more time to ourselves for self-reflection and self-compassion.

Why not create the opportunity to take stock of what’s really important and consider your life’s purpose? The most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves – it is the basis of relations with others. The door to self-awareness opens inward.

How well do you know yourself? Knowledge is power. Clarity is power.Having clarity around what is important to us really helps when it comes to making decisions in a crisis.Give yourself some quiet time alone, to ask yourself some questions. What are you really passionate about? When do you feel most alive? What brings you fulfillment?

How well do you live your values? What do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?Clarifying important values helps us take responsibility and we feel calmer.

Right now could be a good time to self-nurture, learn a new skill  or develop an interest.Apparently Shakespeare wrote King Lear while in quarantine for the Bubonic plague.

And during the great plague of London,1665, Isaac Newton then a student at Cambridge used the quarantine to develop calculus as well as theories on light and optics. And in the autumn of that same year, there was the famous apple tree outside his study window!

During uncertain times and crises, we need to stay informed. But stay on guard against fake news that will alarm and panic us from behaving responsibly.

Social distancing does not have to mean social isolation.Whether by high tech means or through simple phone calls, stay in touch with family and friends.Keep things in perspective and don’t allow fear to take control. 

Begin to know hope.Hope grows from believing that our difficulty is temporary and can be changed.Hope keeps the situation in perspective and is focused on finding a way forward.Hope does for our lives what spring does for the cherry trees.May you stay safe and healthy. Keep Calm and Carry on.Be Mindful every Moment of Your Life. 

Stay safe and well folks!

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