Or should I say, how to stay sane in 2021?
Because I must admit things are pretty crazy right now!
You and me, both are hurting.
The unsurmountable doubt of what will happen next… will this ever be alright?
Overwhelming state of affairs… the people in power ditching you just when they were supposed to be there for you.
The crippling feeling of helplessness, no longer in control of your own life, or the life of those you love.
And worse yet, the daunting struggle you must go through to even find an ounce of oxygen so you can recover in peace.
This is not easy by any definition…
But as they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
We hardly have a choice, see.
Unless we decide to lose ourselves in our tears, which I pray my friend is not the choice you are making right now.
Without further ado then, let me share with you how to stay calm in 2021 when crazy seems to be the norm.
#1 Be mindful of the Only Constant
First things first.
Take a quick look at the life you have spent till now. It was not always the same.
As a kid, you lived with your parents, then you grew up and moved away from home. It was difficult to learn to stay on your own, but eventually, you did.
Some of you did not have parents to take care of you, but as you grew up you found your grounding in your own self, in a loved one, or in a bigger life purpose.
Some of you suffered the loss of a loved one and thought you will never be able to live without them, but then you did, and you thrived!
A safe assumption to make then would be that life will not be the same as it is right now with COVID 19.
From the Spanish Flu that infected one-third of the entire human population and took up to 50 million lives, to the worst global famines in human history when the ash in the air from Volcanic Eruptions blocked the sunlight – we always bounce back.
It is true for an individual’s life as well as for everything the world has been through.
Change is the only constant my friend, and COVID is no exception.
So do what you can to your best, and stay calm by being aware of this constant.
#2 Do not let the TV anchor decide what you eat today!
Yes, you heard that right.
One of the foundations of health as per Ayurveda is ‘diet’, and Yogic Science recognizes that food is not just what you eat through your mouth, but also what you take in through all the senses.
Your senses are the gateway to the outer world.
Whatever you see, hear, smell, touch & taste – leaves an impression on your mind. Not only does it leave an impression on your mind, but on a deeper level, it defines you and makes your life what it is.
These positive and negative impressions reside in your subconscious mind and it is nearly impossible to control their effect in your life unless you are spiritually accomplished.
Therefore, the simplest way to keep your life in your own hands is to limit negative impressions as much as you can – of all the 5 senses.
In this specific case, in a bid to remaining calm while the pandemic goes on, avoid watching news stories about the Virus all day long.
They obviously include horrible, sad, and all kinds of overwhelming events. Media in today’s world is more dramatic than factual, especially when it comes to stories that keep running from morning till night – spicing it up becomes a part of the job.
Instead, choose your News by logging on to an online news source, once or maximum twice a day for the latest updates and important news. Preferably follow sources that you know to be dependable for a long time.
#3 Learn to Live with your Mind
Someone enlightened once said that all of us need to practice a mind training discipline, else we will not be able to live with our minds after some time in our lives.
Forget COVID 19, an unprecedented pandemic, mental illnesses were already rampant in the pre-COVID era.
Is it hard to guess that the psychological pressures of a global pandemic will only add to these?
Your new challenges include –
- Uncertainty and added pressure in all areas – relationships, work, and being alive itself
- Repayment of debts with either whittled income sources or no sources at all
- Spending more time than ever with your own mind, instead of keeping it busy in the Cinema hall, a shopping spree, a get-together or simply in a busy office day.
NOW is THE time to commit yourself to practice a mind training discipline every single day.
Some time-tested disciplines are Focusing on an external object that is carefully selected, Focusing on the breath, or Repeating a special Sound.
If you are already facing a mental challenge, these techniques hold equally good.
Please note though that, unlike the popular notion, wrong Dharana (prelude to meditation, which we today call meditation) practices do have a side-effect.
Therefore, only start a practice in consultation and supervision of a qualified Yoga or Meditation Teacher initially. There are many online options available from independent teachers as well as institutes.
#4 Stop Crying about the Past and Redefine ‘Normal’
When will it all get back to normal?
Isn’t this the question screaming in your mind right now?
Surely, you are not alone, it is screaming in my mind and in the mind of more than half the world population right now.
But do we really want the old normal back?
Hasn’t living in clustered cities like Delhi and Mumbai and even New York, where we do not have enough space to breathe clean air, taken a toll on us?
In the words of Governor Andrew Cuomo, ‘Density and number of foreign visitors made New York, an ideal breeding ground for infectious disease.’
The ease with which we can mindlessly travel from one corner of the world to another spread the disease in the first place.
I worked in the travel industry for 12 years, and travel has always been my soul calling, but what I saw on my travels to destinations like Venice, Florence, Bangkok, Bali, and many more, broke my heart!
Overtourism at its peak literally killing the very reason Tourism exists in the first place.
We have been suffering from FOMO long before we started suffering from Corona. And FOMO did not just rip us off our lives, but also off our intelligence and sensitivity.
The friends you long to visit now were sitting in front of you some time back and you were busy on Instagram.
We always exhibit the tendency of ignoring our present, including our body and mind, the environment around us, natural resources like water, family, and friends.
No, we cannot and should not have the old normal. It is time to take up responsibility and build a new normal, a more mindful one with whatever we have at this moment in time.
We need to learn to appreciate what we have at any given moment, whether it is pre or post-COVID.
#5 Stop underestimating the power of Prayer
You may be an atheist, not believing in a creator or a God. I too was, for the most part of my childhood and the whole of my 20s.
However, I realized in moments of abject helplessness like when my grandmother was critically ill, or the moment I realized someone had cheated me with my hard-earned life savings, I could not help but ask for it!
Who was I asking it from?
Doesn’t matter. What matters, is it taught me to be humble. I experienced humbleness in all its glory, I lived it.
We all experience moments in our lives where we have no control.
Moments of uncertainty like COVID 19 where a bigger scheme of things is un-understandable.
Such are the moments that make us humble. They make us realize that there may not be a creator, but there definitely is an immense amount of intelligence going around in the creation.
How else can a virus that is smaller than one cell of our body make you come down on your knees?
From a seemingly non-significant micro-organism to immeasurable galaxies – intelligence is everywhere. Intelligence that all the science together has not been able to replicate in the form of life.
It is time therefore, we stop underestimating the power of prayer that includes submission to a greater possibility. Do not bother giving it a name, it does not need one.
Pray for yourself, for your family and friends, and for the well-being of all life.
In India we say, when nothing works, prayer does.
Remember, When the going gets tough, the tough get going?
Point is, ‘Getting going’ does not just mean pushing yourself to an extent you break.
It also means to be mindful, make conscious choices, adapt, redefine, and surrender.
And so there you have it, the 5 things you need to do to keep yourself calm in 2021 –
- Remember Change is the only constant
- Consciously pick what you take in through all your senses including news
- Learn and Practice a Mind Training Discipline
- Redefine the normal instead of waiting for an old one
- Pray for yourself and others
What are some techniques that you are already using to keep calm in 2021? Share with me here.