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Vaccine is to virus pandemic, as Attention is to mental pandemic

By Duncan Cheung

“Overwhelmed, confused, and scared” will likely win the 2020 global contest of top-grossing feelings, and the year isn’t even halfway done yet.

The majority of the world is currently going through loss and grief of every kind. Before we know it, this coronial generation will all transition to the New Normal with a mental health pandemic characterized by symptoms common in depression, PTSD, and anxiety disorders. A growing number of public health researchers are already forecasting an increase in suicide and crime rates. We are just beginning to climb the curve of this mental health pandemic, how do we flatten it?

With attention. That’s how. Before every archer releases their arrow, is a moment of singular focus and absolute attention; a quieting of the mind that connects action with outcome. At the heart of every life-changing counseling session, is a moment of profound connection cultivated by the synergy of two people’s attention. When a respected leader addresses their audience – be it the Queen of England or His Holiness the Dalai Lama – it is the sharing of mutual attention that forever imprints hearts and minds with timeless wisdom. Attention travels at every scale, cuts across every political or religious divide, permeates all stubborn, jaded minds, and opens connections with those who are willing.

Will it work? Honestly, the optimist in me is still in denial, not unlike how I behaved at the beginning of COVID-19. The pragmatist in me is too busy fighting with my petulant inner child, not unlike my trying to balance work-from-home with home-schooling. Thankfully, the problem-solver in me is still on caffeine jitters, ready to listen, learn, connect, and solve.

You have my attention.

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