Holding Focus During Stay-at-Home

Deepak Chopra, MD, February 10, 2021


With a record number of people either in lockdown or working from home, the incidence of depression and anxiety has sharply risen. Relationships are frayed, and in the face of these conditions, people are often reacting badly to their current situation.

There are coping behaviors that can help, and one of the best is focused awareness. Normally you focus your mind when you are working or playing a game like chess with a strong mental component. No one can fill an entire day this way, so what happens next? The easiest thing is to turn to distractions like binge-watching TV or surfing the Internet.

The problem is that adding more hours of distraction does not refresh the mind but quite the opposite. If you watch TV for more than an hour, how do you feel mentally? The tendency is to feel sluggish and dull. This is a symptom of passive attention. Focused attention sharpens your mind; passive attention dulls it.

A dull mind is more prone to depression and worry. At the very least dullness breeds more dullness. But we can take a tip from folk wisdom. When someone is grieving, the standard advice from family and friends is to keep busy. The wisdom behind this advice is that grief is self-healing. It cannot be sped up. The healing takes place in the subconscious. The grieving person waits until the healing response has done its work, which normally takes six months. In the meantime, sinking into grief does not help, so it is sound advice to keep the mind active while the healing response is left in peace to do its work.

Every day works the same way. When you have a negative experience, your mind automatically resets itself and goes back into balance. This rebalancing can take a minute, an hour, or more. While it is going on, it does no good to dwell on feeling angry or sad, bored or discontented, depressed or anxious. You are only working against the healing response.

Here is where focus helps. I am not referring to focusing on a job or hobby. As we saw, you cannot be actively focused all day. but there is another kind of focus, inner focus, that speeds up rebalancing and resetting your mind. The process is known as centering. I have mentioned it before, but here is a refresher.

How to Center Yourself

  1. As soon as you notice that you are distracted, find a quiet place where you can be alone.
  2. Sit with eyes closed and take a few deep breaths or sighs.
  3. Place your attention in the center of your chest in the region of the heart.
  4. Continue to breathe normally for a few minutes until you feel calm and centered once more.

The trick is repetition. You need to center yourself as many times a day, or an hour, as you need. Need is indicated by feeling bored, sad, anxious, angry, or dull. During stay-at-home the need will arise much more often than during normal life.

The state of inner focus is where your mind naturally wants to be. It is the resting place from which all mental activity springs. It is also the mind’s natural entry point into meditation and contemplation. In other words, you want to be there whenever your mind is not actively engaged. Besides nipping sadness, anger, anxiety, and fear in the bud, inner focus refreshes your mind, giving you the chance to be interested in the next situation you find yourself in.

There are other awareness skills that everyone can benefit from, such as increased attention span, paying close attention, and finding empathy with another person. They all begin with being centered, however, so this is the best skill you can learn and begin to practice right away.

Coronavirus Resource Guide: Latest News, Facts, and Myths

Entering the Next Phase of COVID-19

Coronavirus continues to threaten the health and safety of everyone, and remains the biggest danger we face. Only by being conscious of this fact can you continue to do your part in saving countless lives, including your own and your loved ones, as we settle into the new normal. Here are some of the most important things that you need to remember at all times. 

Stay Vigilant

As restrictions lift, people are re-experiencing the world anew. With the virus unresolved, always take necessary precautions venturing outside.

Protect Your Home

As you spend more and more time outside, these measures help ensure that COVID-19 never sets foot inside your home.

  • Cleaning your house regularly and thoroughly is a must in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
  • You’ll want to have a protocol of sorts before entering your home so COVID-19 stays outside, such as disinfecting your shoes.
  • When in doubt, consider splurging on a cleaning service to deep-clean and disinfect your home; this costs most homeowners $167.

Maintain Optimum Health

Of course, good health is still your best line of defense against COVID-19. Staying fit and maintaining ample nutrition will help you ward off infection and ensure the odds are stacked in your favor.

Hopefully the threat of COVID-19 will go away any day now, but until that day comes, few things are more important than constant vigilance. The fight continues, so do your part to ensure that you end up on the winning side.

Sensory Self-Care is all about helping to calm your mind

Sensory self-care is all about helping to calm your mind.  It also helps to boost mood and energy.

When you are able to tune into the details of the sensations all around you,

it’s easier to live in the present moment. And when you’re in the present, you can

more effectively let go of resentments related to the past or anxieties about the future. When you think about practicing sensory self-care, consider all of your senses: touch, smell, sound, and sight. Most people are more responsive to one than the others, so ask yourself what that sense might be for you.

In the teachings of Ayurvedic medicine (the sister science of yoga and oldest continuously practiced form of medicine in the world [2-5000 years old])  Prana or life force comes into our systems through our senses.  In yoga you will typically hear instructors saying that the breath is prana –  and to a certain degree that is true –  but in absolute truth – Prana simply rides in on the breath.  It is what gives us a sense of aliveness and well being.  But prana also enters our bodies and minds through each of our senses – : touch, smell, sound, sight and even taste.

Think about the things you do that make you feel happy and energized – fully alive.  As you do – refine your thinking to identify the senses that are in play during that activity.

For example – you may feel most alive in the garden.  Smelling the flowers, feeling the dirt in your hands and under your nails, taking in the sights the colors, shapes and natural beauty, perhaps listening to the birds nearby and if your garden grows edible plants – perhaps the taste of the fruits of your labors – fresh and flavorful.  That sense of aliveness you feel is prana riding in through all of your senses.

It’s not necessary to find activities that activate every sense.  But recognizing the life giving gift of prana in the simplest of activities can increase a sense of happiness and well being – 

The following examples of sensory self-care involve at least one sense, but often more.

Sensory Self-Care Ideas

  1. Cuddling up under a soft blanket.
  2. Going to the countryside and focusing on the smell of the air.
  3. Watching the flames of a candle or a fire.
  4. Feeling the water on your skin during a hot bath or shower.
  5. Focusing on the movements of your own breathing (/and-breathe/).
  6. Lying down and listening to music with your eyes closed.
  7. Sitting in the heat of the afternoon sun.
  8. Having a small square of the most delicious chocolate.
  9. Walking barefoot in the grass.
  10. Having a massage with essential oils.
  11. Holding a pet in your arms.