Life

Relax – Don’t shoot that Second Arrow!!

With the 21-day nationwide lockdown, all Indians are facing the current crisis of self-quarantine.

It is India’s attempt to control the spread of coronavirus by limiting the number of people becoming carriers.

This novel situation limits your choices of action, but your choices of thought are not limited.

You still can find solace in your logical thinking or be swept away with the anxiety of the future.

The thoughts you choose have the power to hurt you or to heal you. These can be scary times, but we are resilient!

You may have some level of fear about this new way of living. That’s just normal human nature. But if your brain gets hijacked by this fear then it can have a negative effect on your immunity. Research shows that stress hormones make you more susceptible to virus and also increase the time it takes to recover from it. Here the focus is to fight the external enemy or situation and not the virus attacking the body within. This way you make yourself less immune because of your inability to correctly distinguish between the actual and virtual threat.

The Second Arrow

The negative stressful fear-based thinking is akin to the Second Arrow of the Buddhist parable. According to this story, a great warrior was accidentally hit in the left foot by an arrow and felt tremendous pain. Outraged and angry the warrior took another arrow and shot it into the exact same spot and fell down screaming in pain. The second arrow not just doubled the pain but made it at least ten times more intense. What an unreasonable warrior, right? Who would ever do such a stupid thing? Well everyone does it!

Here the first arrow stands for an actual bad event and the second arrow represents your negative reaction to this bad event. Staying at home is the unwelcome first arrow for almost everyone. But the second arrow comes in the form of negative thoughts like “I’m going to be alone forever. I could get sick. I could die. My loved ones could die. My 21 days are ruined. The economy could crash. I could lose all the money I have in the market. I could go broke. I could die of starvation. I want this all to go away NOW”. The second arrow may take the form of judgment – Why has the Prime Minister become a dictator? Or fear – What if the virus doesn’t go away? Or anger – I hate that I’m quarantined. I don’t deserve this!

Most of life’s suffering is caused by such second arrows rather than first arrows. In other words, with negative thinking, you now have two enemies; the virus named “corona” and the virus named your “mind”. And it’s the mind’s fear, negativity, and habit of always looking for what’s wrong or what could go wrong that may be poisoning your life right now. While the first arrow is unavoidable and undoubtedly painful, the real suffering stems from self-inflicted second and third arrows, which you have control over.

Often, you even shoot the third and fourth arrows, e.g. when you get afraid about being fearful, frustrated about being annoyed or depressed about being stressed. The third arrow hits you when you feel bad for feeling anxious or thinking certain thoughts like “Why am I feeling so upset? I shouldn’t feel it” or “What kind of horrible person am I for thinking about such worst-case scenarios?” These
negative thoughts increase the stress of the actual event, by ten times or even more.

Moral of the story – RELAX! Life will hit you with arrows. Don’t hit yourself with another one in the same exact spot.

RELAX here is an acronym for Restrict, Exercise, Learn, Accept and Xpect the Best!

RELAX

R – RESTRICT
Restrict your movement. Follow the guidelines and stay at home. This isn’t fear. This is action. This is “doing” the right thing. And you can “do” all this with a positive and peaceful attitude. Also, restrict the time spent in constantly reading and watching the news about Coronavirus. Instead, read and listen to inspiring and positive things. Whatever you focus on grows; there is a world beyond Covid-19!

There is no denying that humanity is living in the times of Corona but yet you must RELAX. Although relaxing seems like a daunting task you would be surprised to know about the benefits of a relaxed mindset. Having a calm mind with positive thoughts will spark off positive emotions, which then inspires you to take constructive actions and in turn create vibrant energy around you.

E – Exercise
Exercise and stay strong. This virus apparently preys on the weaker ones. Don’t be one of those, exercise and gain your energy to deal with this pandemic and what lies ahead. Experiment with Yoga or infinity walking which can be done at home to strengthen your immune system. Also, exercise healthy eating habits with plant-based diets, vitamin C rich and immunity-boosting foods like citrus fruits, bell peppers, garlic, ginger and green leafy vegetables if possible. Sleep enough too!

L – Learn
Learn new skills, cooking, painting, knitting or even a new indoor game to keep your mind positively occupied. You can learn a new language or read new books to sharpen your minds. Some of you will have your profession changed through all of this. So hit the ground running and get ahead of the curve on what you need to know.

A – Accept
Accepting the coronavirus situation doesn’t mean that you like, appreciate or enjoy the things you’re accepting. Acceptance isn’t the same as resignation. To accept here means to acknowledge things as they truly are right now without judging or trying to fight them. Counting on your blessings and journaling helps you accept better. Get out any anxiety that may be clouding your heads and hearts out and into the daylight by writing it down. When you write it down, it isn’t as scary.

X –Xpect the Best
Visualize yourself and others as being alive and healthy, emerging on the other side of this to becoming an even better version. Affirmations, meditations, prayers and deep breathing techniques help in relaxing the monkey mind to help you expect the best possible outcome. Silently pray for yourself and others or do loving-kindness meditation for the people hardest hit during the pandemic or visualize the bright light at the end of this dark tunnel of coronavirus.

To sum it up in the words of Zig Ziglar – “Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes”.