At the time of writing this article, we have just about reached the halfway mark of India’s lockdown period to fight the coronavirus. It has been a tough period for everyone, even for someone like me who has lived in self-imposed isolation for nearly 25 years! But on all accounts, this is truly a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ event which, hopefully, will never occur again. Different individuals have used different mechanisms to cope with being locked-up at home for 21 days:
- Some people have made practical changes to their daily routines. For instance, I took the help of YouTube videos to learn calisthenics as a substitute for going to the gym
- Others have taken up a hobby which had always been on the backburner due to lack of time
- People are streaming films and TV shows on Netflix, catching up on movies or engaging in other forms of entertainment during the quarantine period
- And many people continue working from home every day, including yours truly
Despite the gloomy mood and prevailing uncertainty, I made a decision right at the beginning of the lockdown on March 25 – I would use this period to heal myself. Now, before you think this is going to me a sermon on spirituality, let me assure you it is not. By the time you finish reading the article, you will perhaps understand what I meant by ‘healing yourself.’
We spend too much of our time wondering what others think about us, including our physical looks, what we are wearing, where we are socializing, etc., etc. For once in our entire lives, a situation has presented itself where we can spend time with the one person we tend to ignore the most – ourselves. And that is what I mean by healing: it is the process of knowing yourself better and discovering activities or pursuits which make you truly happy. I discovered so much about myself in the last 10 days so I thought of sharing it with the larger community.
I would like to add an important caveat here: Some people may have a disability or other compulsion due to which they may not identify with some (or all) of these activities. Like I mentioned above, many others (including me) continue working from home. There is absolutely no intention to hurt anyone or make them feel miserable; on the contrary, I only want to spread a message of positivity through this article.
So ditch the dating apps for a few days and do something different. Here are some things I did (and will continue doing) during the quarantine period to heal myself:
ACTIVITY 1: Appreciate Nature’s many beautiful sides
Have you seen the clear blue skies? Taken a deep breath of the clean air? Heard the birds chirping and seen them flying about in complete freedom? Marveled at the light breeze which is free from pollutants and noxious fumes? Seen the clouds floating by lazily? I even saw the moon at 1.30 in the afternoon. For me, there is no bigger healing than admiring Nature’s many beautiful sides, and there is no better time to do this than now. During my self-isolation, I have been visited by parrots, mynas, even a hot-headed monkey (!) and seen peacocks dancing in the forest surrounding my apartments. The sunsets have never looked more beautiful, and the air has never felt crisper. Listen to the birds – they are telling you something. Find out what it is!
(The photo collage comprises photos taken by me at home over the last 10 days)
ACTIVITY 2: Listen to healing music
I have always relied on music to lift me up on a rainy day, but I made immense use of music to connect with myself during the lockdown. And it really worked in lifting up my spirits. In Maya Angelou’s words, “Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” Of course, I listened to some specific types of music to achieve such a feeling, and I will encourage others to do so as well. Here is a list of some healing music which is now part of my daily routine. Some of these songs start very slowly so please listen them till the end to appreciate their healing power. Also, their effect is best understood if you use headphones or external speakers.
(Please note: This music has nothing to do with religion or faith. I find it very healing and therapeutic. There is no intention to offend anyone or hurt their religious beliefs.)
- Akaal [Ajeet Kaur featuring Trevor Hall]
This song was introduced to me by my dearest friend, and I will always be grateful to her for it since it has been my steadfast companion during this very lonely time.
- Kiss the Earth (La Luna) [Ajeet Kaur: Live in Amsterdam]
There will be very few people who will not have tears in their eyes after watching/listening to this blissful rendition by Ajeet Kaur and her fellow musicians.
- Mul Mantra – Ek Ong Kar [Snatam Kaur]
This sacred and extremely well-known mantra is rendered by Snatam Kaur in a hauntingly beautiful voice. Listen to it and understand the healing power of music.
- Jai Radha Madhav, Jai Kunj Bihari [Deva Premal]
This beautiful chant is a celebration of the love between Radha and Krishna. It has just four lines (an abridged version of longer, more popular versions) but that is its beauty. It is simply ethereal.
- Ave Maria (Performed by Mirusia and André Rieu’s Johann Strauss Orchestra)
The music for this Catholic prayer was composed as Ellens dritter Gesang (Ellen’s Third Song) by Franz Schubert in 1825 while the text is derived from The Lady of the Lake, an 1810 poem by Sir Walter Scott. There are many versions of this extremely well-known prayer, but this particular one is my favorite.
- Sarvesham Svastir Bhavatu (Peace Mantra) [Tina Turner, Regula Curti & Dechen Shak-Dagsay]
The immensely talented Tina Turner renders this mantra accompanied by Children Beyond, a group comprising 30 children from different nations and cultures. This song is part of their second album and features hymns/mantras from Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and Sikhism.
ACTIVITY 3: Cook something for yourself (and others if you are not living alone)
“Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.” (Craig Claiborne)
Cooking is therapeutic. It indeed is. It doesn’t matter if you are a good cook or not. At least try to rustle up something for yourself (and others, in case you are living with family, a partner or friends). If, like me, you have always loved cooking, then it should not be a problem. If not, there is no harm in falling in love with something new! And technology has made it so much easier to pick up tips and get your hand on recipes, both Indian and international, easy and difficult.
(Caveat: This is a time to eat and live frugally. I am in no way suggesting that food should be wasted, especially given the fact that lakhs of migrant workers and other sections of society have no food to eat. This post is about keeping everyone motivated, especially if someone is living alone or does not have a partner/family). Check out the cooking I have done since March 25!
ACTIVITY 4: Write a daily chronicle
This again is an activity which my dear friend (who I have written about above) suggested that I do on a daily basis. Her reasoning was that months, even years later, when we remember this difficult time, we will have something tangible to serve as a memory. For me, writing a daily chronicle has been a very healing process. I try to record every small detail, right from what I cooked, how long I exercised, all the people I spoke to on the phone or via video calls, and a highlight of the day (if there was one) even under such restricted circumstances.
ACTIVITY 5: Incorporate some form of exercise (if possible)
There is nothing more rejuvenating than some form of physical exercise. And rejuvenation is healing. If it is possible in your specific situation, some form of exercise should be incorporated in your daily routine. And a schedule should be adhered to as religiously as will be done in a gym, yoga, aerobics or Zumba class. Here again, technology has made it so much easier to get useful tips and various exercise techniques to keep yourself fit. As I mentioned earlier, I learnt basic calisthenics workouts from YouTube. And I ensure that I adhere to a daily schedule. After finishing my home workout, I chant Om or just close my eyes for 15 minutes while listening to healing music. Not only is it a wonderful start to the day, doing this regularly has kept me energized and motivated.
So there you have it – some simple and practical tips to heal yourself during the quarantine period. And this healing does not need to stop after April 14. It can become a part of our daily lives. Stay safe and take care! Important things to remember: #socialdistancing and #washyourhands.