Published: 25th July 2020
Think less, think right: Sister Shivani on how to ease mental health woes during the pandemic
Sister Shivani was in conversation with Prabhu Chawla and Kaveree Bamzai during E-Expressions
These are testing times. While on one hand the COVID-19 pandemic is claiming lives, the mental health of everyone around the globe has also being affected adversely. In order to build our emotional resilience while dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, we need to have a cool and positive mind, said Sister Shivani, better known as Brahma Kumari Shivani, who is a teacher in the Brahma Kumaris spiritual movement in India.
But the skill to learn is how to build emotional resilience and Sister Shivani said that we can get there by consuming less information. "Two-three decades ago, there was lesser content consumption. What we consume has a direct impact on our minds, our emotional diet is what we watch, read and listen to. Earlier we used to consume content from parents, teachers, newspapers, good books — less content, good quality, protected era as far as content consumption is concerned. Now with 24/7 television, social media, digital OTT platforms even children are consuming content at every click and nobody is checking. Even during COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown had we consumed less information, it would have been better," she added.
Thinking less is the key. "To make our minds more powerful, we need to think less and think right. Even before COVID-19, we have been living a life of emotional dependence. When the global crisis came, we said together that fear and anxiety is normal. As a society, the message we were giving was that these times are normal, these are tough times and that fear and anxiety is normal. But it is not and our emotional and mental health is in our control. With one crisis we cannot handle another," she said during E-Expressions conducted by The New Indian Express. She was in conversation with Editorial Director of TNIE Prabhu Chawla and Senior Journalist Kaveree Bamzai.
There has been a significant rise in anxiety but people don't want to go to the therapist in the fear of stepping out of the house due to COVID pandemic. Sister Shivani said that we need to slow down our thoughts and take one day at a time. "Many people complain of overthinking, their number of thoughts is way too much and thus the speed is high. If one goes on thinking about the problems then their thoughts will be too many. Some people are saying this year is over, we won't be able to do anything right, but we need to deal with this slowly. The outer crisis will be managed, we need to take care of our minds first," she added.
Staying on top of our game is all we want but lately it has not been possible. But how do we energies ourselves every single day? "We should not use phones after waking up, work communication should also not be the first thing in the morning. The first hour is the time to energise the mind. One could practise meditation, yoga, read some spiritual books. Content consumption of high vibration is good in the mornings, it is termed as a good emotional diet like we would eat a good breakfast for the physical body. I would also suggest we don't read a newspaper in the first hour. The last hour is also equally important, there is a right time for everything. We should try to sleep by 10 pm, two hours before sleeping disconnect from work, slow down the mind. Earlier we used to chat with family to disconnect our minds from work but now we have technology so we will even look at the last email before closing our eyes," she suggested. "Sleep deprivation is a major issue in the world right now. So, whatever we do before lying down, it should have a soothing effect, mind should slow down. During the day too, we can use our minds efficiently. What we call it here is the traffic control of the mind — after every hour we pause for a minute — soothing music plays, high vibration thoughts that charges your mind at that point to help us go through the day, " added Sister.
She advises everyone to not react, and instead respond to any kind of situation. "The others don't hold the remote control to our mind, my behaviour I will choose. We can be surrounded by 100 people but we can choose how to respond, not everyone responds to the same situation similarly. They have chosen to get angry at something, they can't make me choose the same reaction. We should live a life of awareness," she said.
She also suggested ways to detoxify our mind in terms of content consumption. "What you consume and how much should be regulated. The addiction to waiting for people's approval has had a negative impact on people. Everybody is happy but me- dependency on people's approval is not good for our mind. Social media was made to connect with people but it depends on us how we use what we get," she said.
Last but definitely not the least is gratitude and the important part it plays in all our lives, "Connecting to the self, to objects not just with people, relation with time is equally important too. To show gratitude towards what we have every day also helps us to keep our minds healthy and energised."