The uncertainty of COVID-19 brings stress, anxiety, and unanswered questions. How much longer will we be under quarantine? When will treatments be developed and approved? Will we return to school in the fall? While no definitive answers exist, a solution does within our virtual community to alleviate this stress: Virtual Mindfulness.
Led by Sixth Former Chris Tsetsekos and Associate Director of College Counseling Ms. Heather Stinson, the Mindfulness Club has moved from the second floor of Severinghaus Library to the computer screen. It offers time to meditate and relax at the beginning and end of the week before the virtual day starts.
With mindfulness going virtual, it becomes more accessible to all members of the community who want to spend time focusing on their breathing.
“It’s much easier for students to join the virtual mindfulness sessions compared to when we were at Haverford,” Tsetsekos said. “Students had to come earlier in the morning, and I know some students had to commute.”
“I think it’s very important for everyone to take care of their mental health at this time because of how many changes we’re having, especially with social distancing.”Chris Tsetsekos ’20
For many, mindfulness practices are all the more crucial during these unprecedented times, and Tsetsekos hopes for more members of the community to join.
“I think it’s very important for everyone to take care of their mental health at this time because of how many changes we’re having, especially with social distancing,” Tsetsekos said.
Ms. Stinson, who normally leads the virtual practices, likes to implement an assortment of techniques to further enhance the meditative experience, as it connects the breathing to the body and to the mind.
“Moving practices allow us to connect breath with body movements, and closely aligns with the practices of yoga. But focusing on movement can also be applied to almost any action, such as stretching, walking, and running,” Ms. Stinson said. “[These approaches] enable you to connect your mind with the experiences of your body.”
Similarly to Tsetsekos, Ms. Stinson values the connectivity virtual mindfulness provides, giving us the opportunity to link our emotions with our breathing and find tranquility.
“Connecting with emotions during an uncertain time is important. In order to be healthy, we need to acknowledge how we’re feeling, and mindfulness helps with that,” Ms. Stinson said. “Constant stress and worry can take its toll on people; using tools we have at our disposal—like breath—can offer an accessible solution.”
Alongside the leaders of the club, members of the community have expressed their gratitude for a place to hone their breathing and relax their minds.
Sixth Former Connor Brala frequently attends the virtual mindfulness sessions. Brala, like the rest of us, continues to adjust to our new schedules for virtual classes and addresses the importance of mindfulness to maximize his learning opportunities.
“[Virtual learning is] something you have to get used to, so I think mindfulness in the morning is a good way to get locked in and to get focused for the rest of the day,” Brala said.
“Mindfulness helps me not only calm my mind, but it also helps me tune into what I’m feeling…It gives me just a few minutes out of the day to stop and breathe, and it literally makes all the difference.”Spanish Teacher and Fourth Form Dean MS. Brooke Kenna
Spanish teacher and Fourth Form Dean Ms. Brooke Kenna conveyed similar ideas to Brala, explaining the significance of mindfulness to help her maintain organization between her classes and thoughts.
“I know I am guilty of always thinking about what’s next: something to grade, a meeting, catching up with a friend or family member with whom I haven’t spoken. Now especially with everything happening in the world, it’s really easy to get caught up in the uncertainty and to let anxiety get the upper hand,” Ms. Kenna said. “Mindfulness helps me not only calm my mind, but it also helps me tune into what I’m feeling…It gives me just a few minutes out of the day to stop and breathe, and it literally makes all the difference.”