No matter how our life is disrupted by COVID-19, we’re all navigating an abrupt new normal. In the midst of social distancing, it can be easy to feel alone. And watching the grim statistics around the coronavirus, it’s understandable to fear for ourselves, the well-being of our loved ones — and the future of the world.
One powerful way to feel less alone, more connected, and resilient is through prayer. “It’s amazing how simply stopping for a moment and trusting that you can ask for help can make a difference,” Agapi Stassinopoulos, an author, inspirational speaker, and Thrive Global facilitator who has written extensively on the topic, tells Thrive. “People typically associate prayer with religion, but it’s really an internal request for help and a moment of gratitude. It is the golden bridge between us, our worldly human self, and the wise, loving intelligence in us. This golden bridge is available to us 24-7.”
Prayer can also foster an inner sense of security and boost resilience. Studies show that people who pray may be less likely to experience anxiety-related disorders, and more likely to respond in a more balanced way to distressing situations. It’s important to note that it is not limited to any kind of religious doctrine — and there are many ways to pray.
Even if you don’t pray regularly, now is the perfect time to experiment. Here are five simple ways to start:
Find a peaceful place
It could be in your bedroom or a quiet park — praying works wherever you do it. Spiritual teachers often suggest praying in nature, if that’s possible. Choose somewhere that’s a sanctuary for you. As Stassinopoulos suggests, one way to begin is to “take your hands and place them on your heart and your belly, and start to pay attention to your breath.”
Say thank you
Thank you is the briefest prayer, and it works. Taking a moment to express your gratitude — to God, a higher power, to nature, to our interconnectedness — whatever resonates — without expecting anything in return can elicit feelings of trust and peace.
Pray for yourself
It may sound selfish, but taking care of our own physical and mental well-being helps us to stay strong for ourselves and for our loved ones. Ask for anything you need, for health, strength, or the resilience to handle whatever is in front of you.
Pray for others
Pray for friends, family members, and first responders who are on the front line of the pandemic right now. You can ask for the health and happiness of people you know — as well as those you don’t know. It doesn’t take long to send loving, supportive thoughts to anyone, whatever you believe.
Pray for those who you feel have done wrong
Praying for people (or leaders) who have hurt you or others can be healing too, because you can find yourself letting go of anger or resentment you might be harboring. Leaning into compassion can be therapeutic as well.
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