6 Simple Sutras to Stay Calm and Centred
One little virus has taken the whole wide world by storm and thrown lives all over the world askance. Countries all over the world are grappling with lockdown, economic crisis and deepening uncertainty. We are in uncharted waters. Not since the Great Depression has the world collectively experienced such unprecedented events. And each of us has our own set of worries, anxieties, fears ranging from health, jobs, bills, monetary worries to a general sense of foreboding over an uncertain future. And while we are all doing our best to work from home, maintain social distancing, quarantine when needed and engage in activities to keep gainfully occupied, there are times when the dark clouds of gloom and doom descend slowly over us and before we know it, we are tightly in its grip.
Here I share six simple daily practices that could be hugely helpful in maintaining calm and equilibrium.
Integrate these into your daily routine to derive the maximum benefit.
1.Engage with the past
Close your eyes. Go back to your earliest memory. The time you fell as a child, that spanking you got, that important test that you flunked, the precious possession that you once lost, that full-fledged spat with your best friend, that match you lost. At the time it seemed the end of the world, didn’t it? Hasn’t life moved on since then? Don’t you now laugh over it.
“You fell. You hurt. You grieved. You moped. And then magically one day you Healed”
In the process you also emerged stronger, sensitive to others and more appreciative of life. If you could do it as a child, there is a stronger reason to do it with more aplomb now.
2. Down Memory Lane
This is a twist to the previous exercise. Take out your old albums and leaf through them. Recall all your happy moments, the people, places, the memories, sounds, smells. Call your friends, reconnect with old friends and rekindle old memories, laugh over silly incidents. Talk with your grandparents and parents. Ask them to narrate stories from their childhood, adulthood. Tell them to recount stories of their difficult times and how they overcame them. Every generation has its own share of horrid times and listening to them helps us to bring perspective to our situation.
“If we threw our problems into a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.”
Tip: This can be a great bonding exercise for the family where generations can bond over shared stories. Engage your children. Just as we have photo albums, create your family’s own story-book with stories of ancestors, lifestyle, personalities, inspirational stories, family tree. Your family’s personal repertoire of stories.
3. Become Mindful
One of the most beautiful practises, Mindfulness, is just being totally and simply present to the present. We spend varying amounts of time either occupied with the past or with the future. In uncertain times like the current one, it is common to have regrets about investments we didn’t make, money we didn’t save etc. The list is endless. The future quite naturally takes up a lot of mind space as well. The practise of mindfulness helps us to stay securely anchored in the present being grateful and enjoying what is.
One way to cultivate mindfulness is through mindful eating. While having your meal today, observe your food closely. Take in the colours, textures, patterns with your eyes and next, feel it with your fingers. Next, close your eyes, put the food in your mouth and feel the food with your tongue.See how your tongue reacts to your food. The taste buds will kick into action and start categorising the food- sweet, sour, salty, bitter, spicy, hard, soft, cold, moist etc. Let it. Eventually it will cease. When one starts eating mindfully, only the requisite quantity is consumed, curbing the tendency to put on weight as a by product of over eating. But these are only good side- effects. The beauty is in the calmness and serenity that it brings to your mind.
Slowly extend your Mindfulness to other activities. For that period of time , your mind is unavailable to worries and negativity. Half the battle won!! Yippeee!!!
“The present moment is your biggest present. Be available to it”
4. Reconnect with Mother Nature
Mother Nature is the biggest and most unconditional healer. She gives unending solace to all who seek her lap. Rejuvenate your relationship with her. Lose yourself in the beauty of a leaf, flower. Those who already have a garden, this is a great time to de-weed, learn some composting techniques, grow some microgreens, learn about indoor plants, photograph your garden, enhance your garden with the help of DIY pots and knick-knack. The choices are endless.
Tip: Involve your children, elders in this activity. A garden can teach many things to children - the virtue of patience and surrender being the most important.
There is a famous heart-touching O. Henry short story called “The Last Leaf” about a girl Johnsy, afflicted with pneumonia who has lost all her will to live and has mentally connected her fate to an ivy creeper on a wall outside her window. Her friend gets a talented, albeit run- down artist to draw a leaf. It is a rainy night and the sight of a new leaf -on the otherwise bare creeper- in the morning serves as the most poignant sight for her sore-with-illness eyes. It puts her back on the road to recovery. It is a different story that the artist who draws the painting dies but not before creating his final masterpiece.
Nature itself is the best physician— Hippocrates
5. Talk It Out
Underrated but still the most cathartic is to connect with another human on a deeper level and voice out your thoughts. This could be to a loved one, your family, your well-wishers, someone that you could trust, a true friend or even a counsellor.
Unburdening your pent-up thoughts, worries, fears, insecurities - no matter how silly or insignificant they may seem - can lighten your system. Most times, it can be extremely reassuring to hear another human voice and a source of great solace and strength. Do not deprive yourself by keeping your feelings to yourself and crowding your head with the heavyweight of your feelings.
You might also be unwittingly helping another when you express. Express and be a sounding board for others as well.
Word of caution: Ensure social distancing while connecting and social bonding.
“Talk. Release. Lighten.”
6.Pen Your Thoughts
Whenever a negative thought in any of its many tricky incarnations – worry, fear, anxiety, anger, helplessness- flits across your mind, as is extremely likely in times like this, pen it down. One simple, effective way to deal with it is to maintain a journal. A Journal is your very own personal, non-judgemental space.
For example, start writing down your worries. The mind is always scared of the unknown. Writing thoughts down makes them tangible and gives much needed clarity. Ramble on. Add different section
- What would your parents suggest?
- What would your friends suggest?
- What suggestion would your famous superhero /icon give in such a situation
- One year from now, would the worry mean anything at all?
This exercise can be a source of wonderful insights and a relaxed mind.
“Writing is a balm to the soul”.
When life gets too complex and complicated, go back to the basics and seek strength and solace in the simple.Using these 6 sutras create your own ocean of calm. Practise and see which resonates most with you. And then when the worry clouds begin to make an appearance, immediately employ the sutra that works best for you.The journey ahead is long and uncertain and calmness is both a trusted ally and a key weapon.