These are testing times. No one ever imagined the year 2020 to start on such a declensional note, inexorably pushing us to towards a very uncertain and execrable future. The ongoing pandemic has deracinated the strictures of societal harmony, painting our daily lives with fear, mistrust, anxiety and uncertainty.  In the face of this unique crisis the best we can do is to allay our apprehensions and keep ourselves healthy, both mentally and physically. Mind is a very fickle entity and we need to be careful about the ingress of thoughts and emotions that deluge our sentience. An enfilade of negative feed on a consistent basis can lead to hopelessness and create unremitting stress that can upset our body’s hormone system, diminish the brain chemicals required for happiness and wreck our immune system. To overcome this we need to build an emotional resilience and broaden our perspective of the world with effulgent positivity. Might sound complex but it’s actually not!

January 21st, 2012. I still remember the day. I had to take a CT scan due to recurrent upset stomach and abdominal discomfort. The scan revealed an intestinal collapse and the radiologist (@ Fortis) directed me to an oncologist for further investigation. My whole world came to a standstill on hearing this and I felt energy ebbing from my body.  Next day I met a Gastroenterologist at Manipal hospital (in Bangalore, India), for a second opinion, and he immediately subjected me to a colonoscopy examination and construed that the findings point to a “very enlarged” lymph node ( medical term = lymphadenopathy) in my small intestine which was “misbehaving” at that point in time. I had 2 options, either to undergo a biopsy which would require a lateral incision to be made on my stomach and be prepared to deal with a host of post surgery complications OR wait for 6 months ( with medications) and redo the tests. I chose the latter and thus started my days of paranoid delusion and hypochondriacal episodes.  Some days I would feel an intense pain and a burning sensation just beside my navel, on other days I would feel a bulge in my stomach. I was terrified to sleep and on most days was tottering in the middle of the night in a somnambulic delirium.

It was pathetic and my family was getting increasingly worried about my emotional state. I was mostly holed up inside the house as a conspicuous maudlin, ever jittery and panicky. Then everything changed one fine morning. I decided to go for a walk, early morning, and what I experienced was quite exhilarating and exalted my sense of well being. On coming back I mused over what made me feel so good? The answer was quite revelatory. I never thought about anything else during my walk. My mind was blank and the body fixated only on taking the next step forward. In short the nebulous negativities emblazoned in my mind were pushed to oblivion, giving a glimmer of hope and happiness. I then realised that it is of utmost importance to keep my mind and body busy with a cornucopia of good thoughts and deeds. My walks became more frequent and I even started learning Tai Chi (a mild Chinese martial arts form, often described as meditation in motion, and known for balancing the Yin and Yang {opposing forces in our body} and mind- body coordination). I found a new leash of life and happily held on to it. 

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Six months passed and I redid the tests. The scan showed no lymphadenopathy (no surprises there!). Maybe the medicines worked or maybe the changes that I brought into my life did the trick. But I didn’t care, because for a change I felt really good. I felt a perceptible change in the way I was dealing with life as such.

Earlier even an innocuous call (during school time) from my son’s school used to catapult my BP, thinking about the worst case scenarios. But now I have learnt to consciously avoid such negative thoughts and stay positive, as far as possible.

At times of stress, distress and physical and mental agony we can always fall back on certain things that we are endowed with. First and foremost our family. Nothing can beat their love and affection which often act as a perfect panacea to our embittered self.  The books, movies and music that you go back to, again and again, as it brings a smile to your face. Your exercise regime (both physical and mental),  arguably the ideal catharsis to your mind, body and soul. People often say not to fall into routines as it “belittles” your creativity and your expressive self. But personally, I feel, it is important to have a routine. It is essential to have a fixed “bed time” and a “wake time”. It is also vital to indulge in some sort of physical activity on a regular basis that boosts our morale and release “dopamine” the ‘feel good’ hormones in our body. It is again important to overcome our negativity bias, as we are ‘wired’ to defend threat and loss in life and hence often tend to prefer bad over good. It is important to concede the good aspects of life. People who count their blessings, rather can crib about their misgivings, are found to be healthier and happier. As it’s often said “it is not the joy that makes us grateful, but the gratitude that makes us joyful”.

Are you are feeling grouchy, grumpy, angry, desolate or unhappy? Then stop whatever you are doing right now and take a positive breath, imagine it filling your belly, suffusing your entire body with light, love and a healing energy. Feel yourself fill with brightness of joy. As you exhale picture all the inequities and negative thoughts like anger, anxiety etc leaving your body, rendering you bright and shining. Repeat till you feel a discernable positive change overriding your evanescent negative thoughts………..It actually helps!

Stay positive and rest assured you will be healthy!