Faith can help you remember that you are larger than your vision loss, prayer often happens naturally at times of crisis, and repeating inspiring words or reading sacred texts can keep torrential thoughts in check.

You may already have found an online, radio or TV worship service you enjoy. Many Christian churches offered online services for Easter and if you haven’t found one you like yet, this week is a good time to search. There are local and national services that could support and comfort you during this difficult and maybe lonely time.

Lutheran churches have local services online, The Presbyterian Church has national online services on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening, Baptist Churches have a “Live Church Schedule,” the Episcopal Church has daily services from the National Cathedral, and there is Catholic daily celebration of mass in English, (Spanish on Sundays,) on the Catholic TV channel. There are more Christian denominations with local support such as one UU Church which offers kids programs, office hours, meditation groups, counseling, and Tai Chi classes. Then there is ) sacred music including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, (video at top of post.)

More information on this website Access to Worship.

Passover continues this week, and a family Seder was probably impossible , but I hope you have calls and video chats with friends and family to have closeness and comfort. For muslims there are online Friday prayers and sermons from some big city mosques including Atlanta and Houston, but there is generally fewer online offerings. Hinduism seems to have its online presence in India with worship services at different temples. Other international services include Zoom for Quakers at the Woodbrook Conference Meeting for Worship in the UK, and of course there’s the Pope’s Easter service on YouTube.

Then there is meditation, which may be faith-based or secular. Watching your mind and learning to distance yourself from your thoughts can also be practiced by noticing what’s going on in your body and feelings as well as what’s around you moment by moment—a practice known as “mindfulness.” Being aware of your senses and your surroundings is particularly important in vision loss. In his memoir A Whole New Life, the poet Reynolds Price discovered “the gift of meditative calm and grip on my own mind” as a way of dealing with incessant pain.

Meditation and mindfulness (which are similar but not the same) can be learned alone, but a class or course is very useful. When there is some opening up of non-urgent care in your area, you could enquire from your local health care provider whether there is a meditation class related to stress reduction or pain management.

As well as the contemplative elements of Christianity, Zen Buddhism centers on meditation as does Vedantathe a meditative teaching pre-dating Hinduism, and there are many online teachers. You may be vulnerable just now, so do be careful. There are some scoundrels out there! It’s smart to make enquiries and get recommendations before you try something new and definitely before you hand over money.

Going out to exercise is restricted or off-limits for now. It’s particularly important to find other ways to clear your mind and llift your spirits. When we can all go out again, it’s good to walk briskly and take some deep breaths on a safe sidewalk near your home. Meanwhile there are exercise classes which have a meditative element, such as yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi and there are plenty of YouTube practitioners to follow for now. When your area opens up again it is valuable to attend a class with a teacher who can watch you and check your posture, so you don’t damage yourself. Try to find a small group—less than ten participants—with a teacher who is willing to offer extra help now and then.

Alternatively you can practice mindfulness with a breathing meditation: You notice each breath as it enters your nose, or as your diaphragm rises and falls. Or you can focus on your knees and feet as you exercise on a stationary bike, or on your shoulders and arms as you lift weights.

These tips are adapted from Chapter 3 of my new Book When You Can’t Believe Your Eyes: Vision Loss and Personal Recovery available on NLS Talking Books, Bookshare and Google Play Books as an eBook/AudioBook. You can purchase a copy from my book page. Or apply for a free copy of the eBook.

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