Apr 15, 2020 8:00 AM

Author: Trinh Mai


Mindfulness is a practice of paying attention to present moment experiences with curiosity and compassion.

In this time of COVID-19, many of us have experienced a loss of control, a great sense of vulnerability for ourselves and others, and a whirlwind of challenging emotions, including fear, guilt, and grief. With so many unknowns, we are left with no choice other than to live in the present moment, one day at a time, which isn’t so easy.

Mindfulness is a practice of paying attention to present moment experiences with curiosity and compassion. In doing so, we learn to collaborate with our lives and be with our experiences, rather than resisting or fighting them. This is not giving up; rather, it is being able to engage with what’s happening without minimizing or catastrophizing, without being in denial or being overwhelmed. 

Benefits of Mindfulness

  • Health. According to research, regular mindfulness can play an important role in managing anxiety and reducing stress. As a complement to standard medical and psychological treatments, mindfulness can relieve pain and symptoms of numerous conditions including high blood pressure, depression, and addiction.

  • Cognitive and Emotional Regulation. Mindfulness has been shown to promote stronger focus, memory, and problem solving, functions that are impacted negatively by stressful and traumatic conditions. Regular mindfulness practice improves the brain’s capacity for decision making and emotional regulation.

  • Joy. Mindfulness cultivates agility and flexibility in attention, allowing us to more easily tune in to pleasant experiences that are always present even during a pandemic: spring blossoms, blue skies, laughter and love. Similar to skiing or mountain biking, when facing life’s uncertainties, it’s helpful to focus on where we want to go rather than ruminating on the potential dangers.

Mindfulness Practices

Short practices such as these provide a taste of introductory practices that cultivate mindfulness awareness.

  • Awareness of breath. Regular practice of this meditation cultivates awareness, concentration, and calmness. Try it now.
  • Body scan. This practice is an invitation to check in with the body to cultivate flexible attention and presence. Try it now.
  • Everyday mindfulness. This practice involves tuning in to the senses and bringing curious, caring attention to routine activities such as eating, driving, or hugging a loved one. Try it now.
  • S.T.O.P. This informal mindfulness practice provides the mind and nervous system with needed breaks, allows us to check in with ourselves, and supports us in moving through the day with awareness. Try it now or read more about it here.

More Information

Classes offered through local clinics, wellness centers, and community organizations can help you to develop mindfulness skills and incorporate practice into your everyday life.

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Trinh Mai

Wellness & Integrative Health

Trinh Mai is a clinical social worker (LCSW) and a mindfulness educator for the Office of Wellness & Integrative Health and the Resiliency Center, University of Utah Health. She is a qualified MBSR teacher through the UMASS Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society and has received training in other evidenced-based mindfulness modalities like MORE and Yoga Nidra. Trinh conducts classes and presentations on mindfulness and well-being for university faculty, staff, patients and community partners. Prior to this position, Trinh served as faculty in the College of Social Work at the University of Utah for 13 years.

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