On Tuesday, May 26th Newsweek published a new op-ed by Garrison Institute CEO Jonathan Wiesner, which underscores the importance of finding virtual sanctuary during the pandemic.
In this thoughtful reflection, Jonathan draws on both his experience leading the Garrison Institute in finding contemplative-based solutions to pressing social and environmental problems as well as his perspective as the chair emeritus of the International Rescue Committee, which works with frontline aid workers in developing countries.
Two months into the pandemic, Americans’ mental health is fraying, both for those quarantining at home and for workers on the front lines. Support systems have moved largely online as psychologists, social workers, places of worship, retreat centers, and meditation groups reinvent themselves. Finding ways to offer their services virtually, they tapped into a big, unmet demand. People naturally miss their communities and want to reconnect somehow, but there’s also something deeper going on.
There is an emerging term for the phenomenon: virtual sanctuary.
Jonathan explains that with physical sanctuaries less accessible, there’s evidence of a growing hunger for virtual sanctuary. There has also been a related explosion in supply and demand of online meditation tools. Similar tools are emerging for those on the front lines of the pandemic, like hospital workers, social workers, even humanitarian aid workers.