In these times we are hearing some unusual phrases and receiving some unusual advice, such as “social distancing!” “use pranams, namaste instead of hugs and embraces!”, “do not travel” “stay at home, work from home!”, “public health responsibility”.
If we are not going shopping, entertaining ourselves outside, not rushing about, what are we going to do? Can we live with ourselves? Can we really follow the Yogic lifestyle “simple living, high thinking” that we have talked about? How do we rethink our priorities? How can we go on appreciating life in face of this changing world around us?
How do we face the Virus outbreak positively and healthily, as yogis and yoginis, as healthy members of our society, helping to maintain a healthy environment?
Here are a few reminders from the Yogic teachings:
1. The connection between breath and prana.
The more we breathe, the more prana (life energy) we have. Prana is stored up and used when needed. We should not stop breathing practices out of fear of the virus. Kapalabhati cleanses your lungs. Choose places in nature to do your breathing exercises.
2. Besides breathing, you can increase your prana (life force) many ways. You can live a pranic-debt-free life, accumulate prana instead of spending.
The key is to turn to Mother Nature and reconnect with Her. Live in nature, get prana from:
- the earth (walking on earth instead of driving, contemplating the mountains and trees, doing “forest bathing”, gardening),
- water (bathing in the ocean and streams, natural ponds, drinking fresh water),
- fire (being in sunshine a little daily, drinking warm water, eating warm food),
- air (do abdominal breathing to get double intake of oxygen and expel tension and fatigue through long exhalation) and
- ether (be in good space and good environment to support you. Pay attention to feeling of negativity in isolation as it leads to depression and addiction.)
3. Prana is connected with the mind, the emotions and thoughts.
Positive thinking makes you feel strong and energetic. Cultivate joy, appreciation, gratitude. Convert fears, anxieties to courage, faith, self-confidence and contentment. Write down and share five points of gratitude each day for mental health. For example, ”I am grateful for my health”, “I am grateful today for the fresh air I can breathe”, “I am grateful for the good food I have today”, “I am grateful for friends and family”, “I am grateful for this life at this time”.
4. Concentration of mind brings strength of mind and boost the immune system.
Keep yourself busy at home if you are not working. Catch up on the household chores or organization or cleaning. An idle mind is a devil’s workshop. Pay attention to obsession on negative thoughts. This is not proper practice of concentration which needs to be on positive thoughts.
5. Concentrate on positive and uplifting thoughts
Concentrate on sacred mantras such as OM, or uplifting objects like flowers, trees, blue sky, the movement of the breath in and out of our lungs. Stay away from distractions. Distractions bring viruses to the mind. Keep your mind strong and elevated. This supports your immune system.
6. Remedial measures and healing by specific mantras
Consciously repeat the sacred mantra “Om namah sivaya” . Lord Siva can drink poison and deal with the virus. The more you repeat a mantra, the better it is, as mantras work cumulatively, by repetition. Also download and play at low volume in your house, even at night, the well known “maha mrityunjaya” mantra for protection, healing and liberation Om Tryambakam… This will give you a positive and reassuring background of thought. If you know of someone who is sick, address the prayer to the person in your mind and send them the healing powers of the mantras by your chanting of this mantra, either 3 times, 9 times, 27 times, 54 times or 108 times.
7. Conquer your fears by affirming your inner strength
“Om Sri Durgayai Namah” or “Om Dum Durgayai Namah”. You can use a strong form of the mantra of Goddess Durga who is our own inner strength dwelling within us. This will remove the effect of Rahu in our confusing times (which brings fear and delusion). This continuous mantra repetition for at least 108 times, also seeing the form of the Goddess riding the lion with her 8 arms will bring calm and courage.
8. Remember “What you think is what you become”
Think of strength, you will become strong. Think of weakness, you will become weak. Think of disease, you will invite the disease. The reality you live in is the reality of your thoughts. You are the master of your destiny. If you cannot come up with positive thoughts yourself at this time, read books from the Masters. They will inspire you. Stop feeding yourself with social media news and stop feeding yourself with negative thoughts of others. Even if others are negative or anxious, remaining calm and strong will help them.
9. Remember the Vedantic teaching on Truth and Reality
Detach from your own feelings of worries and assert your true nature as powerful spirit, the disease-less Atman. Ultimately the world as we see it is unreal, because it is only what our mind is thinking and projecting out, a habit reinforced by countless repetition. You have had countless fears and traumas before and you will see now many reasons to be afraid again (you will a see snake when there is only an innocent rope because the idea of the snake and the fear of the snake is in your mind).
Wake up, bring the light of wisdom and see things as they are. Things are not so bad. The virus is not so terrible. Our own weakness and readiness to let go of our self-confidence and mastery is the problem. Do not waste energy in drama and worries. This is just a test how strong you are. Apply the yogic principles and be victorious!
10. Assert your healthy Self and know that you are the master of your body and mind. The internet world is not the only reality
The internet amplifies and distorts. There are a lot of “verbal delusions” and “likes and dislikes” surrounding you. These are the types of thoughts (vrittis) that will bring you pain. Fewer of these is better. If you want to keep yourself informed, browse the news from authoritative sources quickly and get back to your grounded self. Your body and mind are your instruments. Your health is in your hands. You are not a victim. Do what is necessary (Wash your hands, be prudent, limit desires and needs) and take care of your health with self-confidence.
11. This is a great opportunity for us to rethink our priorities
This is an opportunity to focus and change our lives by adopting new and good habits. You do not need much to be happy. Happiness is within when you calm down the mind. Let go of attachment to things the way they were.
12. Change our stressful lives by the practice of contentment
This is a great opportunity for you to spend time with yourself. Do more Yoga, not less. Do more meditation. Turn the mind inwards. Yoga helps you to be with yourself and have clarity. “Social distancing” is a great concept promoted by Yogis long ago. In the yogic context, it means not to depend on outside relationships for your happiness. Not to be needy and searching outside for happiness or support. Less social life, more inner life. Less thoughts, more peace. “Yoga chitta vritti nirodhah”
Namaste to yourself and others and find your strength within your own true Self. Love yourself! You will then find others as your heart opens. You are never alone. You are the essence of all. Connect to your wisdom heart. This is a good time to do it. The Universe is giving you this precious opportunity to do this.
This is a blessing in disguise. Turn inwards. Less travel, less movement. More opportunity to practice. More clarity. Instead of seeing this as depressing, see it as an opportunity to turn within and go straight to our own goal of happiness. Indeed, it is a blessing in disguise.
Practice the above step by step. If you need more guidance, we are here to support you.
Swami Sitaramananda, Acharya ISYVC