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OPINION: We all need some mindfulness right now

Play our part and help each other, says KCLR Live presenter

I spied a mindfulness book on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s desk today when he was on a call with the Chinese PM. I think we all need a bit of mindfulness right now.

If you had have asked me in my early 20s about yoga, deep breathing or meditation, I would’ve scoffed and gone back to work immediately.

We all need to mind each other more than ever before, and there’s also a greater need to mind ourselves too.

The video from inside a hospital emergency department in Northern Italy haunts me.

The thoughts of a husband having to say goodbye to his beloved wife on Facetime is the scenario I play over in my mind sometimes when I can’t sleep.

A family member on the frontline texted me yesterday to say she’d made her will.

Despite the worry, the fear and the unknown about when Covid-19 will leave us, there is still beauty.

The singing from apartment balconies was like nourishment for our souls in stark contrast with Sky News footage from hospitals.

The community mobilising itself to help older people is inspiring. Fear An Phoist is helping out, Gardaí are dropping prescriptions to those cocooning.

It’s given me so much hope about the future and what our society can achieve when we all work together with a common goal.

Right now, we need to find solutions, organise ourselves to prepare for the surge. There are some who are firefighting right now and we need to be here to support them.

I cannot imagine the mammy guilt for a healthcare worker who kisses their child’s forehead before heading to a 12-hour shift in a busy hospital or nursing home.

What happens if you bring the virus home? One nurse revealed that is her greatest fear to me, particularly when she couldn’t wear her own PPE and none was available.

I remember when I first saw a story coming down the wires about a virus in Wuhan, China. It didn’t dawn on me then that we could be facing a pandemic.

The days that followed are all a blur now. Things moved so fast and soon I found myself in a haze of news gathering.

Reaching out to relatives abroad, friends of friends, Carlow and Kilkenny locals on the other side of the world, to send me WhatsApp voice messages and videos of where they were – all in a desperate attempt to find out what happens next.

Joe Ryan in Foshan, south China, got back in touch with me after his Kilkenny mother connected us.

It is by focusing on people like Joe that I get strength, positivity and hope for our listeners.

When he first contacted me he had been self-isolating for two months but told me the restrictions were starting to ease off.

He cautioned that the first two weeks were the “hardest” during the lockdown.

Most of us can now understand what he meant. He explained the slogans on social media, “Seal a city, protect a nation”.

In the early days, he also went to bed reading news reports and woke up to the same as numbers of confirmed cases rocketed daily.

However, Joe changed his perspective as he had no control over his situation. He began to do things he had previously complained of never having the time to do.

He said: “My suggestions for those in Ireland now is to stay at home if possible. Think of it as Christmas, maybe put up the tree again?

“Stay in as much as you can, try not to read every report there is, accept that you don’t need to know everything about the virus. The less you go out, the less risk there is to you.”

Today, life in Foshan is getting back to normal.

Joe’s words give me great hope when he says “the beginning is the scariest part… China is proof that it can be done.

“People need to play their part and take it seriously.

“In time you’ll all be raging you’re back to work and school again!”

*** Eimear Ní Bhraonáin is the presenter of KCLR Live, the weekday talk show from 10am-12noon.