DR MANJUSHA COONJAN
Medical Doctor
Yoga & Meditation Therapist
Counselor
www.hapiyoga.org

The unexpected takes us off guard. We are disturbed. The time taken for dampening the influence of and adapting to the disturbance depends on our resilience, the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Like building a muscle, resilience is forged with time and dedication. Although preparation makes us stronger, more confident and more courageous, often we have learned our biggest lessons unprepared because we did not think of doing so in that field. This is why having an open mind has been advocated by psychologists, life coaches, etc. We know what we know or what we do not know but we do not know what we do not know and life brings the latter generously to us!

Now that we find ourselves in a lockdown with all our fears, anxieties, uncertainty, what to do? It is certainly not the time to go into deep painful therapy. Some symptomatic remedies are available until we get to the other side of this situation whence we will tackle the big chunk of the source of negativity. So for now, positivity is our antidote. The key is attention. Everything we give attention to is multiplied, amplified. It follows that in order to survive the crisis, we have to gear our focus away from any source of negativity towards positivity. It is difficult but an essential step even in spirituality.

For this purpose, three levels can be described:
1. Individual – We are automatically pushed into our inner world whenever our routine in the external world stops abruptly. What does our inner world contain? Imprints, memories of our past mainly and plans, wishes for our future. Now we do not want to go into the demons of the past without professional help. Attention is their food. The more we feed them, the more they will become stronger and invade our space. So, it is important not to give them attention; this means we have to direct our attention to something else whenever we find ourselves being pulled into the past.

 Furthermore, anything can be the trigger: the past, the present situation, or what we think about the future. The mechanism of it all is in the mind and the unit is the thought. A thought is the product of activity in the brain. It can be of different forms (words, pictures, sounds, etc.) and may or may not be activated by external or internal stimuli (memory, imagination). Thought processes lead to production of emotions in our body. An emotion is a complex state of feeling that results in physical and psychological changes that in turn influences thought and behavior. 
It goes without saying that positive emotions follow positive thoughts. How? Start saying good things on what is around you. For example, look at the wall in front of you. What do you see? Our old habit of negativity may say ‘I am imprisoned here’; can you change it into ‘I am protected here’? It does not matter that the negative statement came first. Transform it into a positive one and repeat it with a positive feeling. In this instance, feel secure and protected while repeating this sentence in your mind. As you go round in your daily tasks, keep bringing in positivity in this way. Practice will make it less difficult.
This brings us to how we can manage our fears and anxieties from this pandemic. Gear your attention away from them and anchor it in a positive statement that you will repeat. This is called an affirmation. In fact, instead of waiting for a negative event within to replace it with its antidote, create your affirmation and keep repeating it throughout the day with a strong positive feeling infused. An example is ‘I am secure and protected; all my needs are taken care of.’ Some may add ‘I am secure and protected; all my needs are taken care of by the Universe.’ Or instead of the Universe, you may insert ‘Mother Nature’ or the God you believe in. The aim is to produce a real feeling of security and protection within yourself.
The mind may say that this is not true, you are fooling yourself, etc. Don’t get into the mind games. It is your old way of behaving or your old self resisting change. Of course, you should do all that is required as best as you can to improve your state, that is to cater for your basic needs. There are many activities that you can do in confinement: read, write, draw, paint, cook, sing, dance, etc. Now that you have time, think of what you always wished to do and get ready for it, even if it is an activity that needs specific facilities like learning classical dance, just imitate the movements as much as you can; do research on it and learn more about it so that as soon as the lockdown is over, you can go to a professional and train seriously. Act responsibly and don’t forget that our health system is already overloaded and it is not the right time to try dangerous feats on your own.
2. Close relationships – Connect or reconnect with empathetic and understanding people who can help you get through the present adversity. Avoid communicating with hysteric, panic-stricken people who are triggering more negativity. You can try to reassure them if you feel strong enough. Besides, you can seize this chance for strengthening close relationships by thanking people who have helped and given you support in your life. There is power in gratitude. You can mend broken relationships IF you feel the desire and the strength for it. Don’t force yourself to forgive.
3. Humanity – Others. We are all related to each other. Humanity is a big family. Help as per your capacity. The world is the legacy we are passing on to the next generation. Pass on empathy, generosity, love, care, values, principles and ethics. Maybe you have never had the opportunity or time to help others. There is no need to think about big projects. Simply asking your neighbours if they are alright; maybe sharing some powdered milk or rice or flour. These little acts add to the level of humanness we would like to have as a community which cares for each other.
Positivity with humility is a necessary step for a better world. This pandemic is giving us the opportunity to grow from sense-gratification towards inner and outer transformation. Let’s take hold of this chance to think, analyse, understand, plan, act (if possible) on how to be more constructive as an individual and help to bring more positivity in our present world.