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Spirituality and moving through Despair

With a sense of despair surrounding us, we’ve come at the cross path of balancing the inner and outer self; a thought that has recently crossed many minds. Over time our lives have remained a whirlpool of ends and beginnings of endless mundane activities. Many decisions remained on hold as we waited for a halt in our busy selves. The Coronavirus disease halted our lives in the most unexpected way presenting unprecedented health challenges across societies and nations. The COVID experience has caused us to reflect on quality of life, the health of well-being and, just as important, the end of life. Many in the present times have been recipients of grief, loneliness, isolation, loss and helplessness. During this time, spiritual care forms a vital component of holistic health management, especially in terms of coping, coming to terms with illness, suffering and ultimately death. The relationship with the transcendent or sacred has a strong influence on a people’s beliefs, attitudes, emotions and behaviour.

Since a long time ago, religions have attempted to provide behavioural pieces of advice in times of crisis to help humankind spiritually. Be it the conversation between Arjun, the great warrior and Krishna, as described in Gita or the four noble truths of Buddhism by Siddhartha Gautama to alleviate human suffering; they have served as reminders of the omnipresent nature of conflicts and sufferings. They emphasise how one needs to know to suffer and bestows upon us learnings and lessons to aid these difficult times. Falling back to these teachings and reinterpreting them in the present day has provided a fresher and more optimistic outlook to many.

In crisis such as the pandemic, Amidst covid, we all seek out a community; a support system that makes us feel connected. Just saying and knowing ‘we are in it together isn't enough; we need an experience of togetherness, of belongingness. Religion holds different values for all, some see it as a means to be part of something larger than themselves, some as a way of looking at the world, and some as their safe space, shelter and solace. This can happen through prayer, meditation, religious meetings, listening to spiritual music or even walking outside. Religious rituals and rites of passage can help people acknowledge that something momentous is taking place. These events often mark the beginning of something, as is the case with weddings, or the end of something, as is the case with funerals. Interestingly, some faiths also recognise ends and beginning as cycles rather than a straight line; thus, seeing weddings as an end to their old selves (moving from Brahmacharya to Grihastha) or seeing death as the beginning of another long journey. These beliefs help guide and sustain people through life’s most difficult transitions.

Spirituality means being one with yourself. Connecting with yourself means allowing yourself to repair and heal from the damages, accepting and loving yourself for who you are, and also allowing growth within. Meditating and rejuvenating by reorganizing your mindset towards life and adopting growth-oriented belief systems help greatly in strengthening your bond with yourself. Sitting in the same place each day, watching virtual platforms take over your life can be unsettling, disorienting and scary. When every day feels the same, it causes a weird sensation of time speeding up and slowing down all at once. In these seemingly endless times of uncertainty, spirituality allows one to plan life with compassion. It alters the way you perceive things, changing problems into challenges, and frustration/ disappointment into acceptance. A small but noticeable change in your habits occurs and allows you to be better than yesterday. Spirituality brings about inner peace. It gives you the path to acknowledge your strength, persist in times of great grief and sorrows and integrate loss into a more resilient, yet kinder you. Spirituality brings about humility; an end to the human need for control, allowing you to recognise the myriad of things that do not work as we want them to. It brings acceptance of loss, of disappointments. And it also brings with it, hope, for a stronger, more compassionate version of yourself, to whom the world is not as desolate as it was yesterday. The grounding established helps aim for goals even when they seem to be far away in the persisting affairs of the world. In essence, spirituality keeps your feet so grounded that when you think the world underneath you is being snatched away, you know you have the strength to make it through. The lesson spirituality gives is not of the infallible nature of humans, rather, it tells us tales of wonders faith and perseverance bring about.

As a personal author’s note, we’d like to conclude by saying that these are tough, volatile times. If you’ve delayed certain goals because of the pandemic, do not beat yourself up. Recognise the sudden shift in your world that happened and allow yourself some reflection into what holds you back. Think about how you can overcome the feeling of vulnerability by doing something else. If you’re panicking thinking that ‘you are behind’, remember, you are not in a race. There is no pace that is appropriately fast, it’s all fine. Your feelings are justified. You’re allowed to express your feelings, and you also owe it to yourself to move past them sometimes. A cruel yet relieving truth of life is impermanence; life moves on and so will you. Hence, don’t be stagnant, instead, rethink your goals, tune your mind with optimism and ideas which keep you focused, give yourself space to acknowledge all feelings and thoughts, positive and negative and recognise slowly, you control them. Let your goals remain yours alone and not defined by anyone else.

By just hearing yourself and changing small habits are the baby steps towards being spiritual. It’s not easy and surely takes time and change might not happen as quickly as you think it should. Let it take time! Adapting to the new normal might be exasperating at first and that’s fine. But having a correct attitude in such a crucial time can help you hone your goals later.

- Shagun and Tanishka

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