Dr. Nitin Ron is a pediatrician and neonatologist and loves high altitude hiking and mountaineering. He is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Assistant Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at NYP Brooklyn Methodist Hospital(affiliated with Weill Cornell Medical College) and has been in practice for over two decades, having done his Fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine from Brown University, Rhode Island, where his research field was neonatal neuroscience.
He is Chairman of the Physician Health Committee, has given 3 TEDx talks, and has been leading a research project in the Himalayas, including the Mt. Everest region, involving ultrasound of the eye(optic nerve) and the body, and neurocognitive function studies, to predict mountain sickness. His research also involves studying the effect of meditation and pranayama in acclimatizing the body to high altitude. He has recently co-authored a book with his father, titled ‘Science of Pranayam: Achievement of Positive Health & Inner Power’ which has been accepted for publication by an affiliate of McGraw Hill Publishing.
He has been an invited speaker at the National Institute of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, as well as at numerous national and international conferences and has conducted several workshops on this topic. He was an invited inaugural speaker at the International Science and Film Festival, NYC, 2016 (where he spoke on the neuroscience of mindfulness and meditation), and has led several workshops on this topic in New York City as well as internationally, the latest one being ‘A Mindful Society’ conference in Toronto in May 2019, where he led a workshop on preventing burnout.
We previously covered Dr. Ron’s work in the article, This Doctor Believes Love and Kindness are a Crucial Part of Healing and had the great pleasure of traveling with him to Tibet (LISTEN: Euphomet Episode 011 “Sacred Mountain”).
We felt he would be a great ally to offer some loving-kindness to help keep our spirits up during a time of fear.
Below, please see Dr. Ron’s suggestions on how to stay mindful during fearful times!
10 Ways to Stay Mindful During Fearful Times According to Dr. Nitin Ron
A wise man during a talk a few days ago expressed it very nicely, paraphrasing an ancient Indian text written over millennia B.C.E.
Whenever a crisis comes at you, in this case, the coronavirus pandemic, we are hit with two arrows.
The first arrow is the actual crisis itself, but the second arrow is the pain and suffering we go through because of our response to it.
The first arrow needs to be faced using science and our current recommendations for preventing COVID-19, including isolation, social distancing care and concern for others and other CDC recommendations.
I came up with 10 points, through my experience of talking to anxious patients, many of them worried mothers, their partners, friends, and relatives, regarding alleviating anxiety and utilizing the time we have at home in a positive and constructive way.
Hopefully, these pointers will help us face the second arrow, and alleviate and mitigate its effects!
1. Exercise is actually one of the best ways to reduce stress and foster mindfulness. The mind is so focused on the exercise that we automatically block out other thoughts.
2. Reduce cell phone use. Unless it is necessary for a work or family emergency, refrain from checking your phone unnecessarily — especially during the night.
3. Stay in touch with positive-minded friends. Surrounding ourselves (virtually, at the moment!) with like-minded, positive, enthusiastic people elevates the brain’s dopamine and endorphin levels.
4. Enjoying art and music can foster mindfulness and creativity. Lots of virtual art tours (See: 12 World-Class Museums You Can Visit Online) are now available online due to museum closure.
5. Avoid checking and re-checking the news every few minutes. This will just increase negativity and panic. Designate 3-4 times a day that one would need to browse quickly for major news. Many of us habitually go online frequently, and it’s much more positive and productive to browse inspiring TED talk or similar content when we do that!
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor Frankl
6. Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, spoke about the space “between stimulus and response.” Being mindful helps us appreciate this gap and respond out of love, compassion, and understanding.
7. When we feel angry or agitated, take one minute to take slow, deep breaths. I recommend buying a one-minute hourglass and watching the sand fall and breathing slowly. Everyone can take just one minute out of their workday and make a big difference.
8. Regular practice of yoga, including pranayam (regulated breathing) helps to bolster immunity and increase lung capacity.
9. Take time out to help others, and be of reassurance, holding space through love and compassion, also remembering that this journey needs to begin with self-love.
10. Lastly, simply take the time out to meditate at least 10 minutes daily. Meditation is easily available everywhere-we don’t have to change into gym clothes to do it-we can sit up in bed and before our foot even touches the ground, sit and meditate. There are a number of great apps available for download, many of them free, for some really nice guided meditations.
I love Tolkien’s quote from ‘Fellowship of the Ring’: “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
I am very much hoping that this problem will achieve its peak and then die away soon, it is so important for us to stay very strong and positive during all of this, and to be a source of encouragement and love to those around us who are so anxious and worried, with good reason. Stay safe and positive, my dear friends.
We are in this together and have every hope we will emerge from this stronger and wiser if we face this situation with strength and determination.
Finally, I am very excited that the book my dad and I wrote, Pranayam-Breathing Techniques for Health, Healing and Tranquility, is now available on Amazon India and Flipkart India!
Hopefully, in the next couple of weeks, it should be available in the United States as a downloadable e-book.
This is a labor of love of 5 years, distilling over 5 decades of my dad‘s wisdom and experience in yoga and meditation.
My dad is an internationally renowned expert on Yoga, Pranayam and Meditation, and an atomic scientist.
He is currently visiting the US from India and is mentioned in TED talks and Wikipedia. I provide the medical background to this with up-to-date references! It also has beautiful drawings from a well-known artist from Australia so it is a coming together of people from 3 continents to make this magic happen!