LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Almost two years into the coronavirus pandemic, many people still report being overwhelmed. The uncertainties associated with COVID-19 paired with the stressors of everyday life can become overwhelming.
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is working to teach people about mindfulness, which has been shown to help people find calm, make better decisions, and appreciate their lives more.
Dr. Puru Thapa, a psychiatrist and founding director of the UAMS Mindfulness Program.
“So many people say ‘Dr. Thapa, I don't think this is for me. My mind is too restless. I can't sit still,’” he said. “And the answer to that is: you're right.”
According to Dr. Thapa, mindfulness is a skill. If you cultivate it and practice it, then you will get better.
“The practice of mindfulness is simply observing what is arising in us, our sensations, feelings, emotions, and thoughts in a kind of nonjudgmental way,” Thapa said. “Some days, your mind is going to be very busy. Other days, it's going to be calm. That's the goal is being present with your experience right here, right now with kindness, without judgment.”
Every day, Thapa and his team are working to help people tap into that idea. The Mindfulness Program offers free mindfulness meditation sessions on Zoom Monday through Friday at noon.
“If you want to take a moment during a busy day or a stressful day and join a group of other individually like-minded individuals to kind of just slow down and just be more in the present, It can be very helpful and calming,” Thapa said.
With that in mind, he said mindfulness is not a cure for all of life's problems.
“It's not one of those emergency things you use when you're in a high level of stress,” he said. “This is a practice you have to cultivate.”
Anyone interested in attending the mindfulness program’s free meditation sessions can email UAMSMindfulnessProgram@uams.edu.
UAMS offers a mindfulness-based stress reduction program and KORU mindfulness course for a fee.