Struggling to deal with this pandemic?
Free insights and tools to safeguard mental health and strengthen your mind during the COVID-19 crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic evokes stress and anxiety. To help you maintain a positive state of mind throughout this crisis, I’ve created a step-by-step toolkit and practice that will safeguard your sanity and strengthen your mind.
My approach requires you to take action in practicing the tools I share. Passively reading and watching the videos won’t get you where you want to be. These tools are powerful when you apply them in your life in the ways that I suggest. It’s up to you: Do you have the desire to transform the way you’re feeling?
Simple, practical step-by-step actions to safeguard mental health and strengthen your mind during the COVID-19 crisis:
Step 1: Take charge of your mind
A global pandemic awakens countless emotions. Such emotions are usually not positive. Prolonged indulgence in them only leads to a downward spiral of consciousness. Therefore, the top priority in a crisis is to get our mind in order.
Understand that awareness and the mind are two separate things and that you can control where your awareness goes.
For years, I have emphasized the importance of learning about the mind and how it works. During a crisis, our minds can either be an asset to us or create a living hell that imprisons us. Unless we learn to harness our awareness and direct it where we want it to go, we are left at the mercy of our environment. And if the environment is in chaos, our minds will also be in chaos. Sadly, most people have little understanding or control of their awareness and therefore allow the environment to dictate where their awareness goes and hence their state of mind.
My TEDx talk, Unwavering Focus, provides you with concise and clear insights about the inner workings of the mind. It also provides you with the tools needed to harness awareness within the mind. By using these tools, you can prevent your awareness from wallowing in fear, worry, anxiety or stress. Even if you’ve seen it before, I highly recommend that you watch it again now. During this crisis, you will gain new insights from what I share.
Step 2: An opportunity for change
Do something. Don’t do nothing. Propel yourself into the right frame of mind by accomplishing simple tasks.
Get your energy moving. Clear out clutter. Accomplish small tasks and easy wins to propel your awareness to an uplifted state of mind.
As cities around the world enforce quarantines and many people are encouraged or mandated to stay home, it’s crucial to view this situation as an opportunity rather than a burden. Yes, these are challenging times, but if we can shift our perspective, we will transform how we approach what is happening.
If you are healthy and confined to your home, then rethink this time as a wonderful—if unexpected—opportunity for change and growth. There are countless things you can accomplish during this time, but as I previously stated: It’s imperative to start with your mind. Get yourself into the right frame of mind. You can’t leverage this time for change and growth if your mind is a mess.
Make a plan. If you will be homebound for two weeks or more, ask yourself how you can maximize this opportunity to create change and growth in your life.
If that sounds too daunting, start with a simpler question: “What is something that I’ve been meaning to do but haven’t yet had time to do?” It could be reading a book, taking an online course, learning a new skill, or focusing on personal development.
How about cleaning out the clutter in your home? That’s a simple task that many of us could tackle. Find that messy closet, cabinet or room and start beautifying it.
The worst thing you can do to yourself right now is to sit and do absolutely nothing. I’ll share why this is so detrimental to mental health, especially at a time like this, in an upcoming post.
Make a list of three things you’ve been wanting to do but have not yet done. Then, get them done over the next two weeks. Can you commit to doing this?
Step 3: Shifting perspective with a simple morning practice
Routines calm the instinctive mind which is the state of mind that experiences fear. Create a morning gratitude practice. As opposed to focusing on what we don’t have, the practice of gratitude allows us to see the abundance of what we do have.
Shift your perspective on both the current crisis and life overall by adopting an attitude of gratitude.
During this quarantine, which millions of us around the world are experiencing together, it is vitally important to maintain our mental health―along with our physical health.
Routines are one of the best practices that you can create at a time like this. Routines calm the instinctive mind which is the state of mind that experiences fear. When confined to the house for days or weeks, the first thing you want to do is create a routine for yourself.
One beneficial activity to incorporate into your morning routine is the practice of expressing gratitude.
My guru, Gurudeva Subramuniyaswami, once said, “Gratitude and appreciation are the key virtues for a better life. They are the spell that is cast to dissolve hatred, hurt and sadness, the medicine which heals subjective states of mind, restoring self-respect, confidence, and security.”
When we develop a sense of gratitude for what we have, it changes our entire perspective on how we view life. As opposed to noticing everything we don’t have, we notice the abundance of everything we do have. A gratitude practice dramatically changes our mindset, allowing us to view everything from a higher consciousness. This empowers us to make better decisions in handling the current situation that we all face.
I would love for you to join me in a 31-day gratitude practice so that we can all maintain an elevated consciousness. Every morning, write down three things that you’re grateful for. In expressing gratitude, be specific.
You can use the Dandapani app to help you with this practice. It is FREE to download on the App Store or Play Store. Within the app, there is a daily journal that contains a daily gratitude practice. You can use this, if you like, to do this practice with me. The app has a built-in feature that allows you to download your daily gratitude notes if you ever need to do so.
Would you like to share your daily gratitude with the world to inspire others to adopt this practice? Take a screenshot of the Dandapani app journal page, tag me, and share it on Instagram. I’ll reshare it on my Instagram Stories. Let’s help others realize the countless things we can all be grateful for and simultaneously help others elevate their consciousness.
So, how did you do with the assignment from Step 2? Did you make a list of three things you’ve been wanting to accomplish? Did you get them done?
As part of my commitment to doing what I say I will do, I’ve cleaned and reorganized my extensive spice cabinet (I like to cook), my clothes cupboard and our family shoe and coat closet.
Create a 31-day gratitude practice. Invite one other person to join you in this practice.
Step 4: It’s time you made a difference
There is a tendency to focus on the inconvenience of the quarantine. Overcome this tendency with intentional actions that uplift others in the community. By making a difference in someone else’s life, we uplift both that person and our own consciousness.
Be a positive force during this pandemic. Find ways to serve others each day. Create a routine for doing so daily.
We’ve received a wonderful response to our invitation to start a 31-day gratitude practice with us. Thank you to those who have started your practice and are sharing your daily gratitude with me on Instagram. You are inspiring me―and others―to do the same.
As I said in Step 3, gratitude uplifts our consciousness and helps us to view life from a renewed perspective. I’ve read so many posts from people complaining about being stuck at home during this mandatory quarantine. Trust me: That is the least of their problems!
When I adopt a perspective of gratitude, I think to myself how blessed I am to even have a home. That I have clean running water, electricity, food, a family that loves me, internet access, and countless other modern conveniences. I view this enforced quarantine as an opportunity rather than a burden. I get to spend more time with my loved ones. I get to pause and reflect on the direction of my life. The direction of my business. With so much to be thankful for, the last thing I want to do is complain.
When we think only of “me, myself and I,” we may react to the current situation in a negative way. It can seem like a massive inconvenience to our regular schedule. We forget that there are countless brave souls out there, risking their lives in selfless service to save lives while we sit at home being self-centered, selfish, ungrateful bums!
Don’t be that person!
The world has enough of them, and you don’t need to be one of them.
Shift your awareness to the area of the mind encompassing gratitude with a daily gratitude practice.
Then, ask yourself, “How can I make a positive difference? How can I help others? How can I serve?”
There are always ways to help if you truly want to do so.
Here are five simple actions to help others:
- Send a text message or call the people you love, and check in with them. If you send a text message, please―please!―use words instead of emojis. Be detailed and specific as you ask how they are handling this crisis. Yesterday, I set aside 75 minutes and reached out to dozens of friends around the world to check in on them and share words of support.
- Check in with neighbors or the elderly in your neighborhood, and see if anyone needs help.
- Offer moral support or lend an ear to those who may be feeling more fearful about the situation, especially those in high-risk categories for this virus, including the elderly.
- Volunteer. In offering your help, always share what skills you have. Don’t just say, “I would like to help.” You can say, “I have programming skills. Can I help you with your website,” or, “I’m good researching and editing. Can I help you with your project?” Also, specify what you’re offering, such as, “I would like to help by going grocery shopping for you,” or, “I bought extra soap/tissues/pasta and want to share some with you.”
- Send a thank-you card to your local hospital with a loving note thanking all of the health care workers. If you have children, ask them to decorate the card.
Don’t limit yourself to these ideas. The main take-aways of these examples are:
- Shift your focus from yourself to others.
- Ask yourself, “How can I serve others and make a difference?”
- When you uplift others, you uplift yourself
Be a positive force during this pandemic. You can make a difference if you choose to.
Each day, make it a point to uplift one person and serve selflessly in some way.
Step 5: Dealing with Fear and Worry
During a crisis, it is natural to feel and experience fear. By understanding the mind and understanding what fear is, we can significantly reduce how much fear we experience each day. Step 5 shares with you two practices to deal with fear and worry.
Use your understanding of awareness and the mind, plus the practice of affirmation, to mitigate your feelings of fear and worry.
During this global pandemic, it is natural to feel and experience fear. I’d like to share with you two practices that will help you mitigate any fear that you may be experiencing.
Let’s start by understanding what fear is. Fear, like worry, is a result of awareness going into the future, creating something that has not happened, and returning to the present and fearing it. (For those of you who want to understand awareness and the mind better, see Step 1 above.)
Fear is one of the worst areas of the mind to live in, and it is the doorway to all lower emotions.
The fear area of the mind is extremely magnetic. It is part of the instinctive area of the mind and is tied to our physical body and senses. Prying awareness away from this area of the mind when it lingers there requires a tremendous amount of willpower. That is one of the many reasons why I focus so much on the importance of developing willpower. We need to use our willpower to move awareness out of the fear area of the mind and into more uplifting areas of the mind.
If you find your awareness going into the future and creating a scenario that causes you to feel fear, then grab hold of your awareness with determination and bring it back to the present.
If the fear you see in your mind has a strong possibility of manifesting, then find solutions to prevent that situation from happening. But by all means, do not let your awareness go back to that area of the mind, re-enact that scenario in your mind again, and come back to the present and continue to experience fear. Use your indomitable willpower to hold awareness in the here and now.
That is your first exercise to work on repeatedly throughout the day.
The second exercise I want you to implement to mitigate fear is repeating an affirmation that my guru, Gurudeva Subramuniyaswami, taught me. Every morning as soon as you wake up, sit on the edge of your bed with your spine straight and affirm to yourself, “I am alright, right now.” Close your eyes, bring your awareness back to the present, and repeat this affirmation three times. Feel yourself being completely secure in the eternity of the moment.
Repeat this affirmation at night right before you go to sleep in the exact same way that I have prescribed it.
And, if at any time during the day you experience awareness going into the future in an unwholesome way, gently and lovingly bring it back to the present and affirm to yourself, “I am alright, right now.”
Please put these tools into practice. They are powerful when you commit to performing them, but won’t benefit you if you don’t actively practice them.
Perform both of the exercises described above each day.
Step 6: How to deal with emotions
There are so many of us around the world that are experiencing intense emotions as a result of this pandemic. Many have lost loved ones and friends, and know people who are ill from being infected by this virus. My heart goes out to you for your loss and pain.
Emotions such as fear, sadness, anger and more are quite common these days. It’s ok and natural to experience them but we can choose if we want to live with these emotions or not. Having the right tools to deal with these emotions is essential.
A little over two decades ago when I first joined my guru’s monastery and began training with him, he taught me an ancient Hindu practice called the Vasana Daha Tantra. These Sanskrit words mean the following. Vasana are deep seated subconscious tendencies that shape one’s attitudes and motivations, daha means to burn and tantra is a method or practice.
This practice involves writing down on a piece of paper any unresolved emotional experiences you may have in your subconscious or any emotion that you are experiencing which you would like to get rid of. Once you have written it down, crumple the paper and burn it in any ordinary fire.
In this video I go into detail on how the Vasana Daha Tantra works.
Your homework: I would like you to experience the Vasana Daha Tantra practice for yourself. Pick one unresolved emotional experience from the past or an intense emotion that you are experiencing now and write it down and burn it.
I know from years of personal experience that when properly done this practice is life-changing. I will be forever grateful to my guru for having taught me this.