Faith & Daily Rituals: My Spiritual Anchors for COVID-19 Times

Oil Lamp 2 - Tanya Kaul

Image credit: Oil Lamp by Tanya Kaul

This pandemic has disrupted much of our day-to-day lives. Poet and author Rinchin Tiku shares the daily rituals for spiritual well-being from within her own faith that help anchor her days in positivity. Perhaps they might help you too?

Humanity has come to a pause, and no one knows how long this will last. We are scared of what lies ahead, and therefore, we in our own ways are trying to cope with and navigate this global pandemic. While some people are able to sail through these times with hope in their hearts, others are getting more anxious as the days pass by.

As I write this article, I am working from home full-time, am nine months pregnant, and have been in lockdown for over three months. But I write this post with a huge sense of hope and optimism which I carry within me in these tough times, and would love to extend this strength to those who need it.

When life puts us in difficult situations, we need to hook ourselves to an anchor – an anchor that can help us stay strong and positive, and eventually help to break the barriers of fear and hopelessness. For me, those anchors are faith and spirituality. I have been able to maintain a sense of calm, optimism, and hope with an unwavering belief in what I call the higher consciousness, and what you may choose to call God. 

It is through the call of this consciousness that I feel inspired to share some of the things that I’ve been doing every day that have kept me going in these times, especially when I am bringing a new life into this world. It is my hope that as you read through it, you too derive the most positive benefits from it. Here they are:

a) Daily acceptance exercise

I start everyday by fully accepting that this whole COVID-19 situation is something beyond my control. I cannot change what is happening in the world, but I can accept the things the way they are, and do whatever I can to not aggravate the situation. This means taking all the necessary measures to protect myself and the community around me by not being careless.

In Hindu dharma, the concept of karma requires you to be absolutely present in the moment, without brooding over what happened, or fearing what will happen in the future. This moment-to-moment living ensures that you are absolutely conscious of your every move, and are doing whatever you do with utmost devotion, without getting anxious about the results. This daily acceptance helps me control my fears and start my day with a huge sense of respect for the time that I have.

b) Gratitude exercise

I live in a constant state of gratitude every day. I wake up being thankful that I am alive, I am healthy, and so are the people around me. I am thankful that I have food to sustain myself, I have avenues for good health and hygiene. As I go about my day, I am constantly thanking the higher consciousness for everything that has been bestowed upon me. In these times, a lot of us are feeling miserable for being locked up in homes, and not being able to meet with friends and family, about certain cancelled plans, and events, and more. But if you begin living in a constant state of gratitude, you will realise that you will be in a much calmer state than you are when you are only seeing what is absent in your life in these times.

Gratitude is one of the highest virtues in Hindu dharma, and it is something which is universal. Living with gratitude increases your joy quotient day by day, and you ultimately reach a stage where you are blissful every moment of your life.

c) Rituals to feel calm

Rituals set a sense of discipline in life and also help you further anchor your faith. I follow simple rituals every day that help me spend some time feeling at one with the higher consciousness. Every morning and evening, I light an earthen lamp in front of the small altar that I have at home. I then spend a few minutes simply sitting there, staring into the light, while meditating upon my spiritual guru, and then spend some time chanting a few mantras. This gives me immense strength and brings a lot of positivity in my thoughts.

In many religions, rituals have meaning and significance of which we are sometimes unaware. Upon deeper reflection, you might even realise that rituals share many themes across religions. Rituals, whether religious or not, have also been scientifically proven to impact you positively. Try to pick any ritual that you like and do it with discipline every day. You might be surprised by how your life improves.

c) Conscious breathing

I would not call it meditating, but every day, I spend some 30 minutes breathing consciously. Here is how I do it: I close my eyes and then close one nostril, and gently breathe in through the other nostril. The breathing is slow, gentle, deliberate, and deep. I then exhale from the other nostril, with the same ease and gentleness, and repeat the exercise for 30 minutes. The breath has to be so gentle that if you imagine a feather placed under your nose, it shouldn’t flutter once you breathe out. If you try this exercise, you will realise that you immediately feel focussed and centred on your breath. And once you are done, you might even feel an extreme sense of peace.

In Hinduism, breath is considered to be a joining string between our human consciousness and the super consciousness. Therefore, there is always a huge emphasis on breathing during meditation as well. Starting your day with these simple exercises can give you tremendous physical and mental health benefits, and eventually elevate your consciousness, should you choose to pursue that path.

d) Listening to positive chants

I have replaced all my music collection with spiritual chants, especially while I am working. I keep some of my favourite chants on a low volume as I start working. Not only does it help me concentrate more, but it also creates positive vibes in the whole house. My favourite chants are some from the ancient Hindu scriptures. You can choose any, based on the faith that you follow. If you do this for a few days, you might observe that you generally feel positive throughout the day and become more and more productive as the days pass. 

Chants are powerful because they are based on certain resonance and frequencies that activate our neurons, producing positive brain waves. Hence, the chants that many religions encourage, may help reinforce this positive effect in our minds. 

e) Exclusive time to turn inwards

One gift from this COVID-19 situation is some little extra time that I have been saving from not having to commute to work. I therefore like to spend some time turning inwards. 

It is usually done after my morning ritual of lighting the earthen lamp. I close my eyes and think about one thing that I could change about myself. It could be something very simple. I then think of what I can do that day to take a step towards this improvement. I silently mull over how I can change certain things about myself to become a better person each day. It gives me a sense of renewal and a push for self-improvement, and helps me keep my mind off the unnecessary buzz and distraction around me.

I have benefited tremendously from these exercises. Not only do these give me strength to stay positive and strong, but they have also given me the opportunity to share these benefits with my near and dear ones. It is my prayer and wish that these practices benefit you too.

Lastly, I would like to share a prayer for the universe with you all. May we all soon emerge out of this situation.

Aum Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah
Sarve Santu Nir-Aamayaah
Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu
Maa Kashcid-Duhkha-Bhaag-Bhavet
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih

Meaning:

Aum, may all sentient beings become happy,
May all of them be healthy anD FREE from illness,
May all of them see what is auspicious,
May no ONE suffer in any WAY,
Aum, peace, peace, peace.

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