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Representative Image

Ravi Valluri shows how you can make most of the ongoing lockdown to attain mental and physical well-being and become a better version of yourself

There was Bubonic plague and then it was followed by the Spanish Flu aeons later which claimed millions of lives across the globe. In fact, Spanish Flu resulted in the loss of more human lives than the two World Wars put together. Such was the catastrophe. Today an invisible microorganism which originated from Wuhan in China has locked down nations. Lives have been lost and day by day numbers are spiralling.

Further, economic activity has hit rock bottom. Is it an apocalypse? Today a pandemic has swept across the globe and afflicted people in every corner. In a globalised, inter-connected world, humans have now to resort to social distancing and work from home; isn’t this the ultimate irony?

This is the price humanity pays as COVID-19. Indians are bracing now the third lockdown and the country has been divided into red, orange, and green zones depending on the severity of the pestilence and the impact on lives and affliction on people. Shops, work centres, malls, educational institutions, transportation services are at a virtual standstill. We are slowly limping back to normalcy as we stare at lockdown 3.0.

The technique of lockdown involving the masses was also employed by the Mahatma during the Civil Disobedience Movement. It was an absolute shut down across swathes of the land when Satyagraha, prayer and non-violence and non-cooperation were deployed as tools against fiendish forces represented by the British. The novel method shook the very foundations of the British suzerainty.

These were political stratagems to combat the demonic powers of foreign occupation. Today, humans through self-imposed home-exile and social distancing have developed a stratagem to grapple with this vicious virus which has assumed an octopus-like grip over humanity, even as no vaccine is visible on the horizon.

Wuhan in China is the epicentre of this global pandemic, and the pathogen has spread at lightning speed across the globe. Plagues and other epidemics have struck humanity with ferocity in the past as well; the Great Plague in Europe and parts of Central Asia in the 14th century and the smallpox epidemic in Mexico in 1520 being two well-known examples and of course the Spanish Flu.

In these times of adversity for human beings, nature is finally getting a chance to breathe freely. Reports say that streams in Venice see large numbers of dolphins, fish, and swans, which had all but vanished. The airport at Tel Aviv witnessed Egyptian birds walk across like mannequin air hostesses, baboons in Singapore has been found straddling the streets and seems to obey the regimented laws of the city-state.

This ought to teach us to live in harmony with other species. But this is possible only if humans are not caught in the vortex of self-aggrandisement and acquisition. The silk-stocking and upmarket individuals necessarily need to eschew their habit of avarice and contribute towards sharing, caring, and expressing unalloyed love.

The USA may have reduced funding to WHO, but the ultra-rich across the globe can contribute towards poverty alleviation, medical services, protecting the environment and reducing pollution levels through tempering their wants and desires. As we slowly begin to operate from the sanctuary of our dwelling places, humans need to differentiate between loneliness and solitude. Loneliness will make us mental wrecks. We will not be joyous and loving but grumble and develop antagonistic attitudes.

This loneliness needs to be transfigured and metamorphosed into solitude. Solitude is a state of becoming antarmukhi; a state of being in harmony with the outer world while looking deep within in order to suffuse the mind with efficacious thoughts and draw on our inner reservoirs of energy. Spending time at home, we also need to develop our immune system; this must be given immediate priority.

There are solutions aplenty. Eschew white sugar totally. Apparently even one tablespoon reduces immunity levels by half. To remain fit one can, tend to the greenery in our balconies or garden, do plenty of yoga (what about 108 sets of Suryanamaskars), spot jogging etc. This is the time to pray, fast and meditate. Pranayama and deep breathing techniques help expel toxins from the body and act as immunity boosters.

When the country first shut down to combat the ailment on 22 March, people re-discovered yoga, pranayama and observe deep silence. In that silence, Indians cogitated on the sound of the Universe, the Soham Swarup of this majestic creation and a state of ‘thoughtlessness’. So, in the times of this pandemic savour the solitude. Take deep breaths and clear your mind of the shroud of cacophonous fear. Wherever you are, just relax, rejuvenate your mind and body, connect with your families, learn new skill sets and crafts... and discover the YOU in the silence.

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