COPING WITH COVID-19: Contemplative Practice and Mindfulness
September 10, 2020
The COVID-19 crisis continues to impact the Princeton Theological Seminary community. To help us navigate this season, experienced counselors in the Seminary community are providing guidance on simple methods you can use to reduce anxiety and stress. We hope you find comfort and hope as you read about tips, techniques, and testimonies from members of our campus and alumni community.
This week’s reflection is offered by Sarah Yang Mumma, a counselor and licensed clinical social worker.
At the start of the global pandemic, I had the opportunity to participate in a four-week online contemplative practice course offered through Mennonite Central Committee. My faith roots stem, in part, from anabaptist traditions and I welcomed the opportunity to reach inwards and upwards for peace during such turbulent times. My wish is to share two of the practices I enjoyed the most as well as offer mediation’s connections to emotional healing.
The Jesus Prayer
This is by far the most simple and accessible contemplative practice I have encountered. Amidst the quiet and the chaos of the day, morning, noon, and night, feel free to pray “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I recognize that this could perhaps hook into some uncomfortable feelings for some people, depending on faith experiences and associations with the word sinner. In a recent conversation with my five-year-old son, I translated this prayer to mean “Amazing Jesus Christ, God’s beloved Son, be kind and gentle to me, someone who hurts, makes mistakes, and needs you.” I believe the essence of this prayer is the recognition of God’s presence and love for us.
Prayer of Awareness
This prayer was written by Dr. Marlene Kropf, Associate Professor Emerita in Spiritual Formation and Worship at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. It may be found on the Peace and Justice Support Network website. I found the prayer helpful in generating mindful introspection at the end of the day and decided to create an audio recording. I have Dr. Kropf’s permission to share this with you all:
Working as a therapist for over 10 years, I’ve encountered depths of sadness, longing, grief, anxiety, and woundedness that are both humbling and connecting. My desire and call in life is to journey with others through the darkness as we seek light and healing. I found that mindful practices have helped a number of the folx I support. The regular practice of mindfulness has been shown to help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. We all know we need something to ground us during the state of our world right now. There are a number of ways to begin to engage in mindful practices, including the Prayer of Awareness. A number of the Office of Student Counseling counselors are equipped to support students in developing mindful practices. We welcome you to reach out if you are interested in exploring these options.
Sarah Yang Mumma is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and has been practicing for over ten years. Mumma received her MSSW from Columbia University and completed three years of post-graduate training in psychodynamic psychotherapy. She is also trained in EMDR, an evidence-based trauma intervention, and integrates its techniques into therapy as appropriate. Mumma is currently a PhD Candidate at Smith College School for Social Work and was an intern at a psychotherapy practice in Philadelphia that focuses on serving LGBTQ populations. In counseling, Mumma strives to create space where students may explore their inner landscapes and make sense of themselves in their relationships and larger social contexts. She has experience working with a wide range of presenting concerns including depression, anxiety, trauma, complex identity, immigration, and loss. Mumma has been described as kind, patient, inquisitive, and discerning. Mumma moved to Princeton in 2015 for her spouse to attend Princeton Theological Seminary. She is mixed race Asian and white and originally from Taiwan.
“One of the biggest lessons I learned was how to be charitable to views other than my own. Christian charity was shown to me, not just in the readings for class, but from the professors, and the Seminary community.”