UN says the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on global mental health is “already extremely concerning”. A large number of the population are experiencing stress, anxiety, or great sadness difficult to cope with. The pandemic has turned life upside down around the world with many workers losing their jobs, economies plummeting and parents worried about reopening schools.
The situation is serious enough to panic global financial markets concerned about the effects on economies of changing work patterns and limited access to resources. This COVID-19 situation is a “perfect storm” to give rise to uncertainty, stemming from anxiety and loss, possibly leading to depression.” says Dr. Shekhar Saxena of the Harvard School of Public Health. Loneliness or isolation is the top contributing factor to mental health issues.
In this global problem, we need spiritual practices to lessen the impact of fear and uncertainty which can help us deal with the associated stress, accept what we cannot change, and build up our resilience. Google searches related to spirituality skyrocketed in multiple countries in correspondence with the biggest Covid-19 spikes.
As mental health problems are increasing rapidly, people should practice spiritual practices that include meditation, mindfulness, prayer, contemplation of sacred texts, etc. During this time of extraordinary disruption and anxiety, meditation can be helpful to use the coming lockdown days as an opportunity to deepen our spiritual and intellectual practices. Different types of spiritual practices are there including somatic, psychological, social, etc.
Traditionally, spirituality is referred to as a religious process of re-formation which “aims to recover the original shape of the shape of a man. Modern usages tend to refer it to the deepest values and meanings by which people live as personal growth, religious experience, and encounter with inner dimension. Modern spirituality envisions an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being. There are aspects of life and human experience which go beyond a pure materialist view of the world. Major influences on spirituality include Swami Vivekananda and D.T Suzuki who popularized the idea of enlightenment.
Spiritual experiences can include being connected to a larger reality yielding a more comprehensive self-joining with other individuals with nature, with the divine realm or cosmos. This coronavirus situation has enhanced the appeal of faith and the notion of some greater power. In our country individuals especially those aged between 20 and 35 are the major ones suffering from mental illness because of the pandemic. Mindful yoga and meditation can help improve the structure and the function of the body which supports the process of healing.
It makes individuals gracious, optimistic, compassionate, and self-actualized. It relieves stress and inspired peace. Embracing our fear, accepting uncertainty, nourishing positive emotions, taking a respite from negativity, accepting the situation, connecting through prayer and exercising our compassion prove to help practice spirituality. Anyone who needs help in terms of counseling, they should actually be encouraged, supported, and financed in doing that.
Today’s life is full of stress therefore, meditation through spirituality will help to have a different experience each day leading to a happier and healthier life.
(Chaube is currently studying at Kathmandu University School of Management (KUSOM))