Training the Mind to react with Love and
By Barry Rathner, Clinical Psychologist
The Coronavirus is trying to teach all of us many lessons. One of them is especially applicable to India—a mecca of spirituality facing especial challenges today with respect to material and physical issues.
Why? Not only can some mental conditions/disturbances be directly correlated to physical problems, but, moreover, the alleviation of physical problems of and in themselves can improve mental states.
There are aspects of atmosphere over which we have less control. Others are within the realm of purview and responsibility.
This is not a time for philosophic syllogisms but for practical, useful survival tools. In foxholes, there are no atheists, it has been said (a bit controversially). The point is let us investigate solutions to today’s challenges free of preconceived dogma.
When patients enter therapy, they are seeking relief, insight and support. Yajnya and Tapa directly benefit us by the introduction of TOOLS for relief and support. The Fivefold Path of Vedas constitute a platform of a way of living. The tools are so simple (and non-controversial) that they may be used universally without regard to religion, nationality or political affiliation.
It is not difficult to see the connections of each tool to issues of the mind, including (especially) psychotherapy.
Yajnya: first step and the foremost one, directly effects atmosphere which then transposes those effects to Prana, hence, mind.
Daan: helps us reduce attachments to material objects—a great source of difficulty and trouble during Covid-19 lockdowns. The viral video of the 7-year-old girl in tears of grief when told the family could not go to McDonalds or KFC epitomises our individual and collective angst at our having to modify our daily routines—everything from being unable to go to gyms (or cinemas or bars or bowling alleys or churches or temples) to not socialising with our fellows. And when will my favourite type of potato chip return to store shelves? The shipping disturbances are cramping our lifestyles and stomachs.
Tapa: Were we able to see and appreciate the immense value in ‘burning’ the samskaras—old impressions on our minds—we would be less hesitant to engage in simple disciplines with the full cooperation of our minds and intellects. Control over our senses certainly is strengthened by doing tapas. Or as the Rolling Stones so eloquently put it, “You can’t always get what you want (But if you try sometime you find, you get what you need.”
Karma: Worldwide reactions to Covid-19 display shocking disregard for the Law of Karma. How else can one describe the wanton disregard of medical and scientific opinions as to how to modify our routines and behaviour?
Those who claim adherence to various conspiracy theories or allow themselves to be politicised into, e.g., seeing the wearing of a mask to be akin to waving or not waving a flag, have lost the plot, are one card short of a full deck.
Roll the dice, if you will, but be fully aware that what goes around, comes around, and that the house always wins—sooner or later.
Swadhyaya: This is where the rubber meets the road, where push comes to shove, where the men are separated from the boys and the women from the girls.
This is the Fivefold Path for happy living on the planet. By practicing the Fivefold Path you become better members of your society, group, religion, community, etc.