Combatting Covid Stress With Yoga, Meditation

Depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, affecting more than 340 million people. Experts say that India is on the brink of a mental health epidemic. According to a study by the Indian Psychiatry Association, more than 50% Indians have reported mental health issues. A report by the WHO revealed that 7.5% of the Indian population suffers from some form of mental disorder. Recently, a young actor in Bollywood and a Telugu actress have taken the extreme step of ending their lives. Their tragic deaths brought forth numerous discussions on the circumstances surrounding such radical steps and the trauma caused to those around them. Self-harm or suicide is one of the most stigmatised topics in India. We read every day in newspapers and watch on TVs that due to unbearable stress in this Covid-19 time, people have died by suicide. Many more are reeling under the ills of anxiety, stress and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Some incidents in life may have disastrous effects on our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. During these trying times, cultivating the principles of a meditative state through insightful practices may serve as a helpful strategy. In these testing times, Yoga, meditation and spirituality will be of great help.

Meditation is nothing but a mind without agitation. It's deeper than the deepest sleep, because in meditation, you transcend all desires. This brings coolness to the mind. It is like servicing the entire body-mind complex. Meditation is letting go of all anger from the past, present and future. Bhagavan Sri Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, "You cannot get into yoga or meditation unless you drop the desires or hankerings in you". Meditation is a complete pause of all cognitive activities. One should practice it for 30 minutes a day. It works like medicine. Scientific research has substantiated that meditation can help in producing more "happiness" hormones like Dopamine, Serotonin and Endorphins. As we are surrounded by Covid-19, we should keep our immune system strong. It is directly related to the health of our mind and body. A peaceful mind is necessary for a strong immune system. Meditation helps us in this. Recently, our chess champion Koneru Hampi revealed that she practices meditation for the sake of concentration.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that coronavirus could be defeated by strengthening the respiratory system by practising yoga exercises like Pranayama. It strengthens our immune system. "Yoga" literally means "union", a union of mind and body. If you practice it, It will purify both mind and body. Sessions of yoga can ease depressive symptoms in people with other mental health issues, according to a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Kota, a city located in Rajasthan, is India's biggest educational hub for coaching institutes with over 2 lakh students from all over the country. It's also branded by media as the Killer City or Suicide Capital of India due to the high number of student suicides. The National Crime Records Bureau reported that "The Art of Living" started Yoga classes there and more than 80,000 students were positively impacted by the campaign. They were taught Sudarshan Kriya and meditation.

Swamy Vivekananda says, "Spirituality is the science of the soul. Accumulate power in silence and become a dynamo of spirituality." Religion and spirituality may not be completely different things, but they are not exactly the same thing. A spirituality seeker need not be religious. Spirituality means that for every problem, there is a solution. Spirituality is about seeking a meaningful connection with something bigger than ourselves.

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Every person is an embodiment of bliss and joy. Be thankful that you have been bestowed with the qualities that you have. When you understand this basic truth, problems will start to look surmountable. There are six Vikaras in every human being, i.e. Lust, anger, greed, entanglement, arrogance and jealousy. If you nourish these Vikaras, they change from one impurity to another and keep multiplying inside you. Understand that sin is not your nature. Sin is just the wrinkle in the cloth. It needs proper ironing. Meditation, Yoga and spirituality help you keep distance from these Vikaras.

Your brain cannot operate efficiently under stress, so keep yourself calm. One must understand that handling stress is something which must be inculcated at a very young age. While Yoga, meditation and spirituality are definitely tools to handle stress, it is also essential that counselling be made easily available to all sections of the population. Timely counselling has been known to have averted many a crisis. This can be done both physically and online. A healthy mind in a health body should be our motto.

(Vijayasai Reddy is Parliamentary Party Leader and National General Secretary of YSRCP.)

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