“Healthy Brain, Healthy Mind” Series

Chapman University’s Director of Contemplative Practices and Well-being
Advances Strategies for Coping
During Crisis and Uncertainty.

Navigating change is never easy. Whether it’s a health scare, personal loss, or financial hardship, it’s natural to experience anxiety, grief, and a lack of feeling in control. But the current COVID-19 crisis is in a league of its own. The unexpected disruption to our accustomed routine can feel overwhelming and unrelenting. Worst of all, the change is hitting every part of our life—all at once.

In times of crisis and uncertainty, we can instinctively revert to our primal “Survival Brain”—the innate biological “fight-or-flight response” for seeking safety, security and stability. Our Survival Brain abhors change; it craves certitude. Thanks to our Survival Brain, we have evolved to “be adaptive” in order to solve problems in an unstable environment. But, left unchecked and rampant the Survival Brain can also make us “be reactive” under stressful and threatening situations that fuel chaos and confusion.

As students in my Chapman “Happiness” course discover, we don’t have to be imprisoned by our Survival Brain. In fact, brain science and timeless spiritual wisdom both teach us a valuable lesson: When your outside world feels out of control, learn to control your inside world. The concept of “neuroplasticity” reveals how we have the ability to rewire and retrain the brain to be more adaptive to change. Contemplative practices, such as meditation or mindful breathing, empower us to be less reactive to uncertainty. Together, science and spirituality provide solutions for coping with crisis.

Below are the 4Cs—applied strategies drawn from both science and spirituality—to help us be adaptive, not reactive in these challenging times of change and uncertainty. 

The 4Cs to “Be Adaptive, Not Reactive”


Boost your immunity through sleep, diet, exercise, and meditation.

View your health holistically—brain, body, and being. Avoid sugar and processed foods, as they increase inflammation and suppress your immunity to disease. When feelings of anxiety or panic pops up, stop and take ten, slow, deep breaths. Science affirms that doing so will regulate your body’s “stress-response” system, strengthen your immune system, and increase resilience.


Sacrifices can be heroic and patriotic.

We all will be required to make sacrifices and alter our way of life. If you’re required to self-isolate or have to cancel a trip, wedding, or graduation, remember that it’s for the ultimate welfare of society. Reframe your sacrifices as altruistic acts of civic responsibility, of religious duty, and of patriotism for the greater good. If your kids are upset over scrapped vacations, birthdays, or family gatherings, call them “heroes” for their courage in understanding how their sacrifices help society.


We need each other.

Times of crisis expose how we are far more interconnected and interdependent than we realize. If you’re required to implement “physical distancing,” it doesn’t equate to “social distancing and disconnecting”. Show up for one another. Message the people you care about. Check in on a long-lost friend, family members, and your elderly neighbors.

Have your kids make and send a video to grandparents they can’t visit.


Practice proper “emotional and mental hygiene”

Know it’s okay to acknowledge your fears, anxieties, and concerns. Your emotions are real, so honor what you feel. Practicing emotional and spiritual self-care can equally help you feel calm, centered, and in control. Listen compassionately. Practice empathy. Be gentle to yourself. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Kindness is key. Remember that fear is not the final word

Watch the “highlights” from this week’s webinar:

BE ADAPTIVE, NOT REACTIVE TO CHANGE (Ep. 1) "Healthy Brain, Healthy Mind" Podcast

Dr. Jay Kumar (Director of Contemplative Practices & Well-being at Chapman University) shares science-based strategies and spiritual wisdom to promote emotional and mental wellbeing during COVID-19. Learn to how you can adjust to the challenges and disruption caused from remote working/learning during change and uncertainty. The "Healthy Brain, Healthy Mind" series is part of the new CHAPMAN HOPE initiative by Fish Interfaith Center at Chapman University. Watch the full version of this episode and enjoy more videos at

Posted by Fish Interfaith Center at Chapman University on Wednesday, May 6, 2020

“Healthy Brain, Healthy Mind”
Every Thursday 3-4pm PST starting Apr. 16, 2020
Join Zoom Meeting

Upcoming webinar topics:

Apr. 16 “Be Adaptive, Not Reactive” – employ behavioral strategies to help you adjust to the challenges and disruption caused from remote working/learning.

Apr. 23 “How to Cope When You’re Cooped In” – discover cognitive-based techniques for you to manage work, family, and life while “self-isolating”.

Apr. 30 “Reaching Out While Remote Working” – utilize technology and other innovative ways to stay socially connected with your colleagues and friends while physically distancing.

May 7 “Tips for Calm in Times of COVID” – learn meditation practices for staying calm, centered, and focused during your day.

May 14 “Practicing Proper Mental Hygiene” – apply strategies from science and wisdom from spirituality into your daily routine for maintaining a healthy brain, a healthy mind, and a healthy outlook on life.

More to come…


The “Healthy Brain, Healthy Mind” webinar series is one of the many online resources that are part of the new virtual platform CHAPMAN HOPE

Follow our Fish Blog for regular reflections by the Fish Interfaith Center staff. Please reach out to the Fish Interfaith Center and avail yourself to the valuable resources at CHAPMAN HOPE. As our Chapman community collectively adjusts to this new normal together, the Fish Interfaith Center is here for you—always.

Learn more at or contact

Connect with us on social media:

Facebook @FishInterfaithCenter
Instagram @FishInterfaithCenter
Twitter @CU_Interfaith

Hashtags #ChapmanHope #ChapmanCalm

Stay Calm. Stay Safe. Stay Healthy.

Dr. Jay Kumar
Director of Contemplative Practices & Wellbeing