Each and every person on this planet right now is having his/her own unique experience due to the social distancing enforced to restrict the transmission of COVID-19. Humans have always been social animals. If you are suddenly made to detach from society, it is but natural to have a lot of questions, confusions, frustrations and quite a bit of answers too. Few people who always preferred to keep to themselves, continue to do so. Therefore, this change does not affect them much as they are naturally inclined towards being on their own. For some the quarantine has presented itself as a golden opportunity to spend time with their loved ones and why not, it was about time the focus shifted towards their personal life. But for many, it is quite hard to accept the social distancing, especially for those who were used to being with others always. This is especially the case with those who are working in a city away from their families and are used to being with colleagues or friends during leisure. So now we have identified three sets of people: (a) Ones who are staying alone, not much difference from their usual life (b) Ones who are currently with their loved ones, happy to be spending time with them (c) Ones who miss the company of friends/colleagues/family. Of course, apart from these groups there are people who are going out to work even now, or those who are fighting for basic survival. However, in a general sense, we belong to either one of the three cases mentioned.
One thing to observe here is that, identifying that you are not in a critical situation like many who don’t even know whether they would get their next meal or not, should in itself bring a lot of comfort. But we humans need more than just basic survival tools, once we get that we need some more and there is no end for the chain of desires. This has been the habit pattern since the beginning of human civilization. Now all of a sudden, we are limited. We are made to adjust in our usual ways of living. We are made to be at one place, made to follow the guidelines, made to sustain on limited resources. Probably the only thing that is unlimited is the use of internet depending on the extent of internet connection you have. Here is where the problem arises.
The mind that is used to indulging and over-indulging, now has unlimited internet to play with and nowhere else to go. Before the great virus, we could always go out, meet with people or eat our favourite food and we would feel amazing afterwards. This was the idea of “relaxing” after a long day’s work. It could be from spending time at bars, restaurants, parks, gym, talking with people etc., took our mind off mundane activities. We had ways of escaping from our own thoughts and find an outlet for our energy. Now that those are not options, we are automatically resorting to digital socializing. Yes, it works to keep connected with the friends, family and colleagues and is absolutely necessary to an extent to get over the feeling of “loneliness”. But again, it is the same escape mechanism that the brain is coming up with, to avoid facing our own thoughts. It has become so natural for us to not face our own thoughts that the mind comes up with a hundred different tasks that you could do even when living with all these restrictions. Is it not something that we should be questioning ourselves about? why is it so hard for us to face our own thoughts? These thoughts that come up are the very thoughts that needs to be dealt with. Sometimes just observing the thoughts help, and sometimes acting towards it will help. Everyone will have certain supressed thoughts or pending work that needs resolving. If there is nothing, then it is still a good idea to make it a part of our daily routines to set aside some time to focus on oneself.
One important way of observing thoughts is by meditating on the thought process. Pranayama (breath control) acts as a stepping stone for meditation and Asana (Postures) for the practice of Pranayama. Practices of Asana, Pranayama and Meditation are sure-shot methods of bringing calmness to the
mind, steadiness to the body. There are thousands of online tools available to guide us through these practices depending on our personal ability and interest. Once we are familiar with the practice, it is highly suggested that these practices are done on our own as self-practice (without any external aid) to reap the benefits to their fullest. If circumstances do not allow or if tools are unavailable, a simpler yet effective way is to start writing. Maintaining a journal to jot down our thoughts might come in handy at these times and can act as an excellent way to clear up the cluttered mind. Practicing any of these techniques can work like magic to bring about calmness to the mind as it works as a perfect release tool.
Let us execute these ideas keeping in mind that it is OK not to be perfect while we practice yoga or when we put down our thoughts to paper, as they are, without making any adjustments. These adjustments come from a place of self-judgement, especially in the era of wanting to “share” with the world what we are up to. Let us, for a moment forget that internet and “sharing” exist. Now, imagine you are doing all/any of these practices only for yourself, with no one watching you- This in fact is the reality! When using social media, we get stuck in a spiral and become addicted. All we have to do is to notice it and make tiny changes in our day-to-day activities that minimizes the usage of internet. Yoga philosophy propagates that the highest level of bliss is to be free from the “Vrittis” (modifications) of the mind. The usage of internet in the current situation is in fact, opposite to this, where the modifications of mind are only multiplied.
It is ironic that this message is being shared via the medium of internet. However, it is important to notice whether this tool is being used for our progress or for our destruction. Let us be mindful of what we feed the mind. Check out the next article for more suggestions on the things that can be done for maintaining a calm mind, whether you are alone or with others. Remember, true happiness is born only from a calm and serene self. Only when we ourselves are content, can we make the people around us happy. So, let us start dedicating some time for ourselves and utilize this precious time for self-discovery, contemplation and recharge.
Hoping this message reaches you in good health,
Hari om tat sat
Article by- Sindhu