Mid Week Musings

As India and the world pass through one of the worst public health crises in history, we sincerely hope and pray this finds you and your loved ones safe. This is unquestionably one of the most difficult times most of us have ever seen, and our hearts go out to those whose lives have been devastated by this pandemic.

How do we maintain our emotional equilibrium during times like these? Here are four things that might help:
 
1. Accept what you are feeling: It is normal to feel unsettled and anxious at a time like this. Many of us tend to feel somewhat guilty that we are not as ‘strong’ as we would like to be, but real strength often has little to do with our emotions in the moment.
 
“It is OK not to feel OK” when things are difficult. Strong emotions can be daunting and feel overwhelming, but as psychologists point out, observing emotions, naming them and talking about them with a trusted friend, counsellor or loved one is perhaps one of the best ways of working through them. Once you observe, name and talk about an overwhelming emotion, it will loosen its grip on you and you will feel much more in control of things.
 
2. Take positive actions, however small: As someone once said very wisely, “If you are going through hell, keep going.” Sometimes all we can do is put one foot in front of another, but that is enough. We don’t need to know the whole future, all we need to know is the next thing that needs to be done, and then do it. Emotions tend to follow behaviour, and positive actions, however small, can help us to feel surprisingly calmer and stronger. If we keep moving forward, we will eventually ‘come out of hell’.
 
3. Be there for others: It’s not easy to know what to say to someone who is grieving or in deep crisis. But it is always possible to be there for others in ways that mean something to them. One of the best ways to truly be there for others is simply by being genuinely available to listen to them. The ability to listen with the intent to understand and not judge is the most precious gift we can give another. Being there for others in their hour of need is, many times, the best way of helping ourselves, too.  
 
4. Remember, even this will pass: Former President of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Martin Seligman, points out that far too often, we tend to think of our problems as being permanent and pervasive. It is important to remember that however permanent this crisis may look, it will pass. And though the virus looks pervasive and omnipresent, it is not. We are certainly going through the worst of it at the moment but its spread will lessen and the calamity will eventually end.
 
As author E.B. White (1899 – 1985) once wrote to a discouraged young man…
 
Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society – things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. … Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. … Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.”
 
With warm regards,
 
Janaki and Mahesh
Midweek Musings
Mid Week Musings

Apollo 13 is a movie worth watching. Or, if you have already seen it, worth watching again.

The movie, starring Tom Hanks and Ed Harris, tells the story of NASA’s aborted moon mission in 1970. An explosion in the spaceship’s oxygen tanks put the astronauts’ lives in danger, forcing the crew to try to make their way back to earth again without landing on the moon.

The tag line for the movie is, “Houston, we have a problem.” It’s a good line for a movie blurb and captures the danger and the drama in the situation well.

Apollo 13

 

But the line that truly turned the situation around was a question that NASA Mission Control Director, Gene Kraz, asked right after the explosion in the oxygen tanks:  

 “What have we got in that ship that’s still good?”

That is perhaps the best question to ask at a time when everything has gone overwhelmingly wrong!

Focusing only on the enormity and unexpectedness of disaster can paralyse us into despair and inaction. But identifying and focusing on what is still working and within our control empowers us to find solutions – sometimes in the most unexpected ways!

By asking, “What have we got in that ship that’s good?” Mission Control and the Apollo 13 astronauts figured out a way to keep everyone on board alive by building makeshift CO2 filters using containers and duct tape aboard the ship that managed to expel carbon dioxide from the ship and get the astronauts back safely to earth.

Apollo 13’s astronauts survived because Mission Control asked the right question. Perhaps this is a good time to ask ourselves similar questions: 

  • What do we have in our lives that is still good? 
  • What is still working that we can build on, regardless of what has gone wrong? 
  • What are our strengths? 
  • What is the next thing we can do? 

Focusing on finding answers to those questions can help us find the strength and solutions we need in difficult and trying times.

Regards,

Janaki and Mahesh

for Team Anahat

Mid Week Musings

Welcome to ‘Midweek Musings’.

Life doesn’t seem to be getting any easier for anyone. As the world battles with yet another wave of the pandemic, it is vital that we each do what we can to keep ourselves healthy and strong, not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well. We hope that ‘Midweek Musings’ from Anahat will serve as your mid-week shot of strength and inspiration.

It is easy to feel like a victim of circumstance in these times of uncertainty and difficulty. As humans we have a pre-disposition to focus on negative experiences. A great day may have little emotional effect on the next day. If, on the other hand, we have a bad day, the experience can last for days. Research tells us that focusing on the negatives in a situation is an evolutionary response designed to protect us. But it is important to remember that doing so habitually can also land us in a state of cynicism, hopelessness and eventual stagnation.

It is during times like these that it helps to remember the words of Viktor E. Frankl, the Austrian psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust and went on to give an account of his struggle for survival in his powerful book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. When asked how he managed to choose his own attitude in circumstances that easily qualify as some of the worst that the modern era has known, Frankl gave a simple but profound answer:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

By recognising that there is, indeed, a space between stimulus and response, and then consciously choosing our response to what is happening around us, we put ourselves back in the ‘driver’s seat’ of our lives. Frankl said that he forced himself to appreciate sunsets even through the barbed wire.

Let us awaken to the beauty around us, even in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty we are currently experiencing.

What beauty is calling out to you now?

We would love to hear from you.

Have a good week!

Janaki and Mahesh
for Team Anahat