How to stay sane and positive during uncertain times
The Corona virus, or COVID-19, is a world pandemic and serious business. Economic depressions, economic downturn, natural disasters and other catastrophes can easily put many of us into states of depression and rolling fits of anxiety, unable to effectively cope.
Whether you are dealing with a difficult situation in your own personal life or events which affect a region, or the world, here are some ways to get through difficult times:
Give back and get good karma
Even when your own life is rife with trouble, giving back to others is something many of us can do during difficult times. Donating shelf-stable items to food shelves (even when you are out of toilet paper), volunteering your time to help elderly and vulnerable people in need such as with shopping or errands are great ways to give back to your community. It doesn’t mean you have to have a website or start a nonprofit. Think out of the box like supporting or assisting the unemployed with their own efforts to improve their skills or find a job. Can you help a small business owner keep their concern afloat? Think donating your skills and talents.
In this way, we don’t just give to others because we want something back though the old adage of “you get what you give” applies here. Karma is a Sanskirt word which means “action.” The law of karma or the law of cause and effect says that a good deed will be rewarded with a good deed or good results. It may not come back in the same form or area of your life but it will likely return to you. Likewise, bad actions are often paid back with bad results or consequences of those actions.
The ancient Hindu text, the Bhagavad Gita, identifies three actions one can take according to intention:
- Selfless actions are aligned with noble intentions without attachment to outcome, known as sātvika, done in the mode of goodness. With such noble intention, one gains liberation and inner peace.
- The second kind of actions are ego-based, when one is motivated by a search for a pleasurable outcome, known as rājasī. These ego-based actions are performed in the mode of passion, aiming for pleasure and attachment and bonding is suggested here.
- The third kind of action is careless actions performed without regard for the harm that could follow, known as tāmasī. These careless actions are taken in the mode of ignorance, and the results are often the downfall of the body, mind and soul.
So consider your intent when you give. When you give or take action which is aligned to your selfless nature, you are ultimately supporting your own good karma.
Accept what you can and let go
It’s possible to stay psychologically strong during COVID-19 or other difficult times, bringing opportunities for growth. The first step is acceptance which goes a long way in helping you control the fear you may be feeling about a situation beyond your control.
Accepting a difficult situation is one of the hardest things which many of us will do. Running toward fear and resistance, toward fight-or-fight stress mode, blocks the energy of the situation, literally fighting it. Resistance only furthers to build up a dam that may not be so solidly built when your fears are realized. Don’t resist what is troubling you. Don’t brace for the worst; lean into it instead.
Acceptance and letting go are closely associated. Letting go facilitates acceptance because as you release the dam so to speak, you are no longer resisting the situation itself. You are helping to release the control which the difficult situation has over your emotions and feelings. Indeed, difficult experiences invite us to be greater than the experiences which attempt to pull us down. It’s in these difficult times that blessings can be found in staying strong.
Where acceptance and letting go leads to is transcendence—rising above it—or higher consciousness. Transcendence takes practice, in times of goodness, and in times of pain, so that when we need it, we are ready and our heart rate will remain calm and we will be present and in the moment.
For more on acceptance, see our blog, “4 Big Ways to Manifest What you Want.”
Letting go means you can still have an emotional stake or strong feelings toward the situation or outcome but it also suggests the process of becoming more accepting of it. For more on how to let go, see our blog, “4 Big Ways to Let go and Find Peace.”
Meditate regularly and adopt a mantra
One central path to achieve transcendence is mediation, the benefits of which are well documented. Meditation is known to bring mental clarity and peace of mind. Brain studies of regular meditators revealed lower cortisol levels in their brains, which breeds resilience in a person and bringing them insights, suggests Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury in “5 Health Benefits of Daily Meditation According to Science” at PositivePsychology.com. Even short, daily meditation sessions of ten minutes a day offer you opportunity to build greater resiliency, bypassing bouts with fight-or-flight stress and anxiety.
No technical skills are really required for how to meditate. It is okay to allow your mind to wander during meditation. Mantras—words or sound repeated to aid in concentration—are great tools to do this and can make your meditation practice more effective.
Humming or saying a mantra is a powerful way to effect a more desirable state based on your own intent. A mantra, a Sanskrit word, is an instrumental sound linked to thought and intention: man means “mind” or “to think” and tra means to “protect” or “liberate.” As such, mantras are tools which free your mind. Choose a mantra you want to work with based on your intent and what literally resonates or rings true to you. Author Jeff Davis writes in The Journey from the Center to the Page (Gotham Books, 2004) that a mantra “is a charged combination of sacred sounds and syllables that shape energy.”
Mantras are spoken to “quiet the habitual fluctuations of our consciousness and then steer consciousness toward its source in the self,” notes Richard Rosen in “Intro to Chanting, Mantra and Japa,” in the Yoga Journal.
Even the seemingly simple mantra of om, from the Hindu word for God, can be repeated over and over, taking you on a journey of deepening consciousness and greater awareness. Om, a basic mantra, known as aum in Sanskrit, is considered the primordial seed of the universe, or the “universe’s essential sound,” according to Davis. Om can take the mediator through four states of being through the waking world (where you “wake up” in the first journey of om), dream world, sleeping world, and finally to the fourth world of bliss, or joy-filled amazement.
Finding the silver living
Stress from difficult situations which cause negative emotions can have positive results with transcendence or raised consciousness one of the most powerful. Many studies indicate that people who experience great trauma or difficulties report greater resilience, deeper or improved relationships and more positive emotions such as gratitude.