Make the most of Lockdown

We have spent so many of our years busy being busy. We have been living that ‘treadmill’ life.

UK is now officially in lockdown.

We have been given an opportunity to come together as one, to save lives and save our NHS. At the same time, we have been given an opportunity to focus on being human, to breathe and to heal.

There is so much we can achieve during this lockdown period – trust this coming from a girl who has been confined to a room for 14 days!

Here are a few things that we can all focus on doing:

⁃ Spend time with those in our household

⁃ Connect with friends/family we may not have spoken to for a while, via text/phone call

⁃ Meditation

⁃ Prayer

⁃ Reading books

⁃ Do an online course

⁃ Learn a new language

⁃ Indoor workouts

⁃ Journal

⁃ Breathing exercises

⁃ Going on solo walks (currently UK is allowing for outdoor exercise once daily)

⁃ Cook together as family

⁃ Watching ‘feel-good’ movies/shows

⁃ Practice skin and hair care routines

⁃ Have games night with your household

⁃ Spend some time studying

⁃ Eat healthily

⁃ Practice gratitude daily verbally or in our journals; we have so much to be grateful for even in such crisis situations

⁃ Goal-setting

⁃ Limit our time online and increase our time offline

⁃ Go through our daily tasks at home slowly and mindfully; be present

Ultimately let’s use this lockdown period to focus on being human.

It’s time for us to enjoy our time at home. It’s time for us to be grateful for everything/everyone we have. It’s time for us to shower ourselves and others with love.

And guess what, we are saving lives and our healthcare system at the same time!

Take off your social mask

We all have a social mask. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all do. Most of us even have our social mask so well defined so we can rally it out on our CVs, LinkedIn profiles, social media bios, or when someone asks the golden ‘Tell me about yourself’ question.

Want to hear mine?

‘I am a 26 year old Sri Lankan Tamil girl, born and brought up in the UK. I am currently working as a junior doctor for the NHS. I am also a Bharathanatyam and Bhangra dancer. I am a dance choreographer, events organiser and blogger. Above all, I am a daughter, sister, lover and friend.’

Fancy right?!

In the last 2 weeks that I have had to self-isolate, I have reflected a lot. During these two weeks, I was not any of what I described above. I was a human being in bed, confined to one room, taking regular paracetamol to bring my fever down, rubbing Vicks onto my chest and nose to aid my breathing; I hadn’t showered in days; I was not eating. Ultimately I was an unwell human being. That’s all.

I looked at myself as a human being. That is what I am. I am a human being. We all are the same. We are all human beings, trying to survive in a world that so desperately wants us to have a definition for ourselves.

This desperation is what pushes us to make decisions, say things, build stories that may not be hundred percent true to who we truly are, and what we have achieved. Why? Because we want to fit in. We want to feel validated. We want to feel like we have a purpose.

This forms part of the reason that I bid Instagram farewell. We are all so tuned into to thinking so two-dimensionally. We are all looking at ourselves through social masks, rather than as human beings. I found it all so fake and untrue. I found myself moulding into this 2D person. I saw people lie about their lives so openly, for attention. I was scared I was falling into this trap. The funny thing is, if we all used such technology as mere human beings, it probably would not be as exciting as it is. I needed a break from such superficiality. I needed a break from mindless scrolling. I need a break from creating dance content just to create a ‘buzz’.

It was a really hard decision. I have been going back and forth on this decision for at least a year now. I was scared of deactivating my Instagram accounts because I was scared that I would no longer be defined as a dancer, because I did not have an Instagram page that said I was one. It made me realise how much I was relying on social masks to define myself. That is when I told myself, enough is enough.

Socially I am living a life that every girl/boy my age could only dream of. Spiritually, emotionally and mentally, I was losing myself to social conditioning. I decided to snap out of it and here I am. Thank you to social distancing, self-isolation and self-reflection.

Self-Isolation AKA Self-Reflection

Last week I came down with a very nasty flu. I was feverish, lost my appetite, could not talk, had a runny nose, terrible cough and did not shower for days on end.

You can imagine how run-down and helpless I felt. I spent months working so hard to balance medicine, dance, travel, dance competition preparation, family and friends. I was ready to go back to work when I became bed-ridden. My boyfriend had to come and pick me up from Shrewsbury and drive me back to my parents house in London, because they were scared of what would happen to me if I stayed alone with no one to look after me and feed me food in a timely manner.

With the recent Corona Virus pandemic, my work place told me very firmly that I had to self-isolate for 14 days! 14 days!! When I found this out, I was overwhelmed. I was grateful to be at home but I started becoming so anxious about not going into work. I felt purposeless. I got so scared. I started overthinking what would happen with my medical training if I took this much time off. I started worrying about being bored at home. I was having an emotional and mental breakdown.

I started to spend more time procrastinating on social media, aimlessly browsing through Instagram, much more frequently than normal. This led to me becoming more and more anxious about the lack of activity I was doing. I felt like everyone was accomplishing things, and I was merely lying in bed, isolated from the world, and recovering from a basic flu.

Corona Virus (Covid-19) is what the whole world is talking about at the moment. Within the last two weeks, circumstances have changed from focusing on self-hygiene advice to quarantine/national exams being cancelled/schools and businesses closing. Therefore, when I was told to stay indoors, as a doctor I completely understood why I had to isolate. Nonetheless I felt guilty. I felt guilty for staying indoors isolating myself, when I felt obliged to help out the NHS and just do my job.

To think that the whole world population, known for our ‘busy’ lives, is now forced to stay at home and stay connected to our family during such vulnerable times, baffles me.

The world works in mysterious ways.

Everything happens for a reason.

I started to realise that reason when during the last two weeks. I deactivated my Instagram account. I started journaling again. I started reading again. I started engaging in positive actions which helped my overall physical and mental well-being. During this time of self-isolation, I started to self-reflect. I also started to reflect on worldly and spiritual matters.

Every single measure taken by us is to protect humanity. We may be divided by our faiths, cultures, social classes, but we are all living one common purpose right now – I do not how many of us actually realise it. For the first time since the day I remember, we as a world population are living as one. We are all living so purposefully to protect and save humanity. It is amazing what we are all accomplishing as humanity. I wish for such unity and love in all our decisions for our future, even after corona virus has died down (which I firmly believe it will).

Maybe there is a hidden message with such a pandemic. Maybe God is trying to tell us something. Maybe God is telling us to focus on what is so important. Unity. Love. Happiness.

One hard good-bye

So this weekend, after ages, I drank quite a bit of alcohol. I got drunk to an extent that I was vomiting and passed out. I can’t remember the last part of the night. All I remember next was waking up in my friend’s flat.

I honestly have not got that drunk in ages! I have actively been staying away from alcohol for some time. I drink small amounts when I go out for meals, but that is about it.

Honestly, this experience has been an eye-opener (no pun intended). I feel embarrassed, and that feeling of what could’ve happened when I was completely out of it, gives me anxiety. I’m getting mini-panics every time I think about what others would’ve thought about me. I know these thoughts of what others think do not define the person I am, but I cannot help it can I?

I just thought to write about my thoughts and feelings. In the past 2 days, I have been doing a lot of self-reflection about what I want out of life. Alcohol is not on that list anymore. Having fun with alcohol is definitely not a priority for me. I have realized that I have so much to achieve and accomplish, and alcohol is proving to be a hindrance to that. It is slowing me down. Most importantly, it is the biggest barrier to my current spiritual growth.

I am not against alcohol at all and I will definitely have a glass of wine socially with a meal. However, drinking to get drunk and have fun is definitely not me. I’ve been there, done that. I’m turning into a different person, and I’m proud of this self-reflection and awareness of my spiritual, emotional and physical needs.

Him & I

My boyfriend and I went through a rough patch recently. Living 200 miles apart, working so hard on our individual goals and ambitions, working on completely different shift patterns, on top of trying to schedule in some social time for ourselves and each other. IT IS SO DAMN HARD.

I’m grateful that we never let our difficulties get the best of us. We always try to work as a team on our problems. It’s never me against him. It is us against the problem.

Recently I taught him about Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages. We discussed what we wanted. The conversation was such a spiritually enlightening and eye-opening experience . It is crazy that what we both want is ‘Quality Time’ with each other, more than anything else. The irony is that we are so busy building our individual dreams we do not have the time to spend quality time together. We talked about this and I’m glad we are always able to have such conversations and come up with solutions. The world truly does work in mysterious ways and I’m grateful that I have chosen him to experience life with.

I feel motivated to be a better version of myself every moment I spend with him. Yes it is going to be tough, but when we both know we are working so hard for our future, it makes it all the more worth it.

No one told me it would be this hard

It is so difficult to focus on this present moment when I was programmed all my life to think about the: ‘what if’, ‘what next’, ‘how will it’.

I sat down to meditate today and I really struggled to hone in on the Now. I had a flood of thoughts about what I had to do next, and what I had to do tomorrow. I felt like I was physically fighting my way against thinking these thoughts which drained more of my energy.

Accept it. Don’t resist it. What I had learnt today is my thoughts do not define me. I cannot start judging myself for not being present. Actually thinking those thoughts was my present. The more I resisted, the more I hated myself for resisting. I just have to accept that that is what my mind is thinking of at this moment, be at peace with it and continue. I believe that slowly that will help to calm my mind down.

I can see that this journey to awareness and presence is going to be a long one, but I know I will get there eventually.

Silencing the thoughts

Today I practiced 12 minutes of uninterrupted silent meditation.

I initially put a timer on for 15 minutes, and aimed to continue meditating for all 15 minutes. However, my thoughts started to waver and when I opened my eyes to check the timer, 12 minutes had passed. I gave myself the credit for the 12 minutes I had practiced for, and stopped there for the day.

My ability to quieten my thoughts has improved significantly since the first time I sat in silence. This time round, I focused so much on my breathing and its rhythm, that I mentally could not divert my attention to anything else. Nonetheless, during the 12 minutes, I had visions flash before my eyes amplifying my feelings of anxiety and fear (related to my current orthopaedic job I completed a few days ago), my feelings of jealously towards certain individuals I have come across, my feelings of confusion regarding how people may be judging me.

Therefore, I wanted to take this space to reflect on all three feelings.

1) My current job on orthopaedics gave me so much anxiety and every day I walked into work with the fear of what I may have screwed up at work, what I may have missed, what someone would say to me regarding any small thing I would have done. I was not myself. When I finished my last every orthopaedic shift on Monday, I felt a sense of relief. I felt like I could breathe and be myself again. Nonetheless, when I was meditating today, I had a flood of that anxiety creep up on me. It is going to take me time to get over those negative emotions I felt during that job, but I know I will get over it.

2) I have become quite obsessive over some individuals, especially some women (and on some occasions, men) on social media. I have somewhat started to develop some kind of jealously over their lives. I do think this has stemmed from my own insecurities about myself. When I can feel these emotions take over me, I always take time to remind myself of the good person I am at my core and the person I am becoming. Therefore, now every time I feel jealous or insecure over someone, especially on social media, I actually like their post, comment something positive and/or send them a prayer. This has really helped with my sanity and it has reminded me how important it is to be kind and send nothing but love. I am not going to judge myself over my negative feelings, but I am going to work to turn that negativity into something positive for myself and all those I may have been feeling that negativity towards.

3) Today is the 27th November. Today marks Maaveerar Naal – a day when Sri Lankans Tamils come together and commemorate the lives lost during the Sri Lankan civil war, especially the lives of the innocent Tamils. This is also the same day that several members of the Tamil youth start posting and sharing remembrance posts on their social media pages. I was feeling the pressure to share my own respects to the innocent lives lost, and I also felt as if I would be judged if I did not post something. At the end of the day, I did not do anything; I did not see what purpose it was going to serve an image for the sake of following a crowd. I instead took the time to reflect on what I could do to make sure the lives lost were not in vain. I instead took the time to reflect on how I can stand out as a Tamil girl and ensure Tamils across the globe would also feel proud and motivated to carry on the Tamil culture and language for the generations to come. That is me paying respect to the lives lost. That is me finding the Maaveeran (Brave Soldier) within me. That is me falling in love with my Tamil culture yet again.

Silent meditation is really helping me break down and evaluate my thoughts. This is how I am going to silence my thoughts as well. Rather than judging myself for the thoughts I have, I have decided to analyse the thoughts that I am focused on and write about it to you. It is slowly giving me control over my thoughts, which is what I have always wanted. It is a work in progress but I am on this journey to healing my soul. Join me on this infinite journey of soul healing as well.

Distracted by the ‘Ping’

I was sat in ten minutes of silent meditation, before heading off to my night shift. I forgot to put my phone on silent. Although at the time I was annoyed at myself for this, I was glad that it happened the way it did.

My phone ‘pinged’ four times during the ten minutes. I did not once open my eyes. I tried my level best to consciously ignore it (the irony!). However, every time my phone pinged, I noticed a shift in my spiritual energy. My concentration diminished. My focus wavered. I mean, I have already been fighting against my uncontrollable series of thoughts, which is why I have started practicing silent meditation; but the phone going off every few minutes made me realise how my brain is programmed to respond to notifications. A small portion of my concentration is taken away from me every time this happens.

We do not realise how toxic our gadgets can be to our mental and spiritual growth. A simple thing like receiving notifications actually has a massive impact on our ability to be present and focus on the activity at hand. This explains why we struggle so much with mental health – we are unable to align ourselves to one state of being at any one time.

What have I learnt? Well, my mental health is important to me. For me to remain focused and present, I need to actively shut down all possible distractions. I need to learn to ‘Say No To The Ping’. This is going to be tough journey for me because I am physically attached to my phone and I have been using it as a way of diverting my mind away from my present moment negative thoughts, without realizing I am only making my situation worse. I do not know how I am going to break free from the distractions, but I know I am, and that thought alone is enough to make a start.

Silence

Today I decided to embark on the next stage of spiritual practice. The practice of silence.

I had one hour left until my night shift started. I therefore decided to sit down for 15 minutes in silence. After years of reading spiritual texts, today I decided to practice the first of many principles.

Remaining in silence was scary. I had to face all my thoughts. I became aware of how crowded my mind is with thoughts, predominantly about the future. Within the first minute of sitting in silence, I started crying. I became aware of my pent-up negative energy breaking down in the form tears. I focused on that one tear drop which rolled out of my right eye, down my right cheek, all the way down my neck, finally being soaked up by my jumper.

After the initial bout of crying, I started to calm down. I was still overwhelmed by how much I thought about the future. All my thoughts were about the ‘what ifs’, ‘what next’. I tried to calm my mind down by focusing on deep inhalation and exhalation. I managed to achieve around 20 to 30 percent stillness overall. Still got a long way to go!

What amazed me was how I got into the hang of sitting with myself in complete silence. I did not realize time fly by. I have gained the awareness that my state of constant anxiety is because of my thoughts about the future. By constantly practicing silence, and eventually meditation, I hope to calm those thoughts down, in order to create a space of stillness – the canvas for my creative growth and spiritual enlightenment.

How to start on a spiritual journey?

We are spiritual beings, already on a spiritual path. Our souls are united to the universe as one. Therefore, we do not need to search elsewhere to begin a spiritual journey. Our spiritual journey begins in the here, and now. We need to become aware and conscious of our thoughts, desires, feelings and emotions.

We live in a world right now where we love to talk and read about spirituality, thinking that this alone will grant us the right to call ourselves spiritually enlightened. The truth is that the desire to consciously embark on a spiritual journey must come from within. Books, podcasts may inspire us. That’s great, but to act on it is another story. Spirituality is an internal process, that cannot be confined to the limitations of words on a page, images/videos on social media. It is an inner awakening that occurs.