If we cannot go outside, let’s go within. There is a little story about a young porcupine, which highlights this very important aspect of our human family, and how we face this current challenge together. It all started with a family group of porcupines, which is known as a prickle. One young member of the porcupine family was fed up because he kept getting pricked by the quills of the other family members. So, one day he decided to go it alone, but as soon as he stepped away from the group he found himself to be almost freezing to death! At that moment, he realized he couldn’t do without his family, so he rushed back inside the prickle, not caring about how uncomfortable all the quills were. The fight against any external challenge is better faced together; to stand united is more likely to bring success.
The pandemic has forced most of us to stay at home. We read in the news that there are conflicts between spouses, between children and parents, and between elders and the other family members. Since when have the quills in our families become so prickly? Perhaps nature is giving us an opportunity to slow down, spend time with each other, and build stronger emotional bonds than we have done in a long while, because of our too busy lives.
Why is it that in this increasingly global world, where even a virus has no respect for national boundaries, we find ourselves to be lonelier than ever? When was the joy of solitude and silence replaced with sadness and anxiety of loneliness? Divorce, alienation and separation have increased so much, so perhaps by staying at home we may have time to reflect and come out emotionally stronger — with stronger bonds of friendship, with more love for our spouses, and higher respect for the wonder and curiosity our children hold for the new world that is facing them. It is at times like this that we realise the importance of family.
In earlier generations, a child’s education began at home, and this went on for some time before the child was sent out into the world to learn new skills. How to engage children? First, read books with them. Read a chapter aloud together, understand it, and engage in discussion. If you complete one book a week, that’s over 50 books a year, and 500 books in ten years. Now is a good time to work on our lifestyle choices. I’m not against Internet-based technologies, and while some of you may have the tolerance levels to use them for long periods, why engage with them all the time? We have an opportunity to remember how to live without constant radiation and screen time.
Find opportunities to reach out to others in simple ways. Whether it is bonding over a song, meditating together, watching a movie, sitting down to meals, or sharing jokes, for it is no secret that liveliness, joy, and humour dissolve pain.
While it is difficult not to be pulled down by the suffering that is all around us, there is no need to give up or sink into a black hole of negativity about the state of the world. Instead, we can choose to remain prayerful. Our prayers will join with the echoes of the prayers of others, creating a resonance and an egregore everywhere. And when we focus on our inner purity, it will help to dissolve the negative thought pollution that is around us.
This is not to deny the severity of the situation. It would be foolish to stay in denial and we must increasingly accept reality and act accordingly. The more we are able to accept, the better we will adapt ourselves for the future.
Simple habits, such as saving groceries, will sustain us for an extended period. We can also try fasting. While housebound, we may not need to eat so much food anyway. It is wise to also be careful about finances and not indulge in panic buying. We can help our elders and those who are less fortunate. Let us remember to be kind, and volunteer for work that needs doing, while always remembering to maintain social distancing.
There are so many small tasks that generally we do not find time for, and we can now get done, like organising the clutter around the house. We can connect to our inner artist through writing, drawing, painting, dancing, singing, cooking new dishes, sewing clothes for loved ones, etc. It is easy to be lazy and waste time at home, but why not use this opportunity to create healthy lifestyle habits, such as home-cooked meals, five minutes of relaxing breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga asanas to stay fit? Also, spend time with your loved ones, and learn some new skills either online or at home. These things can go a long way in finding a deeper sense of satisfaction and inner fulfillment. The importance of creating discipline and a routine, even in these times of lock-down, will be so beneficial. Try it for yourself. Experiment with lifestyle choices.
Simple and very effective use of our time is to become experts in our Heartfulness practices. Taking refuge from the external crisis can lead to a very positive step of taking refuge in our hearts. The heart is a sacred place, and it offers us a doorway to the vast inner universe, a place of wonder and wisdom. Through the wisdom of the heart, we can live simply, heartfully, and joyfully. Heartfulness practices offer a sort of protection in our energetic structure, which is important for balance, even if it is not a remedy for everything.
Practice for yourself. Practice for your loved ones. Practice for humanity. Practice for the universe. We have an opportunity to spend our time for the benefit of all.
— Kamlesh D Patel is the fourth spiritual guide in the Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga meditation.