Q: These are tough times. How can I deal with opposing feelings about the pandemic, like anger and happiness or relief and anxiety, at the same time? How can I make space for both?
Dr. Aparna Kumar, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner here to answer.
Many of us are struggling right now. How can we be happy about vaccination rates in the U.S. when our siblings in Brazil or India are seeing a huge spike in cases and deaths? Or how can I be happy when I am troubled by the injustices in the world.
To help us deal with this, we can draw on the concept of equanimity from mindfulness and meditation practices. In equanimity, we train our minds to equally value all thoughts and feelings. We give them equal weight and in turn, this allows our mind to be still and powerful. We accept the emotions that come our way, greet them, and let them go. This doesn’t imply that we are passive to the thoughts and feelings, but we understand that emotions like anger (typically labelled as negative) are not repressed, rather they are ones that we can accept, move to action, or just let go. Check out the example below to illustrate these principles.
🌊 1. I imagine that my mind is a river.
😡 2. An angry thought comes to me about unequal distribution of wealth. I see that thought. I allow it to absorb as a little ripple in the water.
🤗 3. I then have a happy thought. I greet it and consider the notion of seeing my grandparents for the first time in a year. I allow that thought to join the river of the mind like another small ripple in the ocean.
🏊 4. When the thoughts pass, the mind remains flowing, just like the river.
🧑🤝🧑 5. By doing this, we remove the labels of good or bad thoughts. There are only thoughts.
⚖️ 6. This allows us to take action when needed, to maintain balance in our daily life without letting each feeling or thought overwhelm us, and to acknowledge that all thoughts and feelings have equal value.
Try it out. And let us know how it works for you. We will be here supporting you as you sort thorough these difficult emotions.
Stay safe. Stay sane. Together.
Those Nerdy Girls