Trying times bring out our ability to endure, prevail, and emerge stronger, kinder and wiser. The second Covid wave is a critical challenge for humanity. This is the time to invoke the valor in us, stand together and overcome the crisis once more.
Various epidemics, wars, pandemics and natural disasters have challenged the human race before and they keep coming, testing our ability to survive. There was the 1897 plague that took many lives. The Kalinga war which left many people dead, transformed Ashoka’s life and made him turn towards ahimsa. Similarly, when the Buddha encountered an old person and a dead body, many questions about the truth of life arose in his mind. Spiritual contemplation increases inner power. When we see death all around, our mind is forced to rise above the small worries that keep it occupied every day. It draws our attention to the truth of life.
And what is the truth of life? There is something inside us that never changes, which never disappears, which never perishes. It is eternal. We need to pay attention to that element. When we do that, we will get the strength to handle the problem that we are seeing all around.
Otherwise, when the mind is broken, the heart is broken from within, then the person is unable to do anything. Inner strength can be attained through meditation, knowledge and knowing the truth of life. A strong mind can carry a weak body. But a weak mind may not be able to carry even a strong body.
The escalating global health crisis has once again reinforced the urgent need for equipping our inner self-defence mechanisms. We need to make sure we are getting sufficient sleep, some exercise, and we are meditating. Stress, panic and anxiety are known to weaken the immune system. Making asanas, pranayam and meditation an integral part of daily life can change not just one’s physical chemistry, but also calm the mind and make it resilient and centred.
We need to pay attention to people’s mental health too. They have to be assured that they are not without help. They are often unable to express if they are feeling low or anxious and they plummet into depression and aggression. We need to help raise their prana level.
Prana or Chi, the subtle life force energy, is directly related to the state of our mind. When the prana is high, you will notice that there is a feeling of expansion and well-being. When the prana level becomes low, for example, when someone has insulted you or you are depressed, there is a feeling of contraction or shrinkage. Prana can be increased through meditation. Breathing exercises also increase prana and bring about a sense of well-being, as do music and dancing.
Prana 或气，是直接关联心智状态的精微生命能量。Prana高时，你感觉扩张和美好。Prana低时，比如说有人羞辱或忧郁时，你感觉收缩。你可以透过静心提升Prana。呼吸法, 音乐和舞蹈也能提升Prana, 并带来美好的感受。
There is no vacation from wisdom and discipline. Availing of vaccines is a must. It is also necessary to cultivate hygienic habits and a disciplined lifestyle to stem the spread of this highly contagious virus. Following all prescribed protocols is our foremost responsibility to keep ourselves and our loved ones, safe.
Our traditional way of joining hands in greeting and the emphasis of Patanjali Yoga Sutras on shaucha, cleanliness, reiterate these norms too. The first niyama, personal ethics, of yoga is about shaucha. It advocates purity and cleanliness as a key foundation for yogic life. In its deeper sense, shaucha also includes avoiding unnecessary physical contact. The self-discipline of eating healthy and chemical or toxin-free food, which keeps us clean from within, is complementary to shaucha. It also includes the discipline to sleep enough, stay active, and to meditate — anything that leads to purification of our body and mind.
Until we defeat the virus, let us stay indoors, avoid travelling and going to public gatherings or community feasts. Use this time to practise silence and go inwards. By meditating, you get peace of mind and self-confidence. We need self-confidence to face the worst and most painful of situations.