Seeking, feeling, and staying positive amid Corona Outbreak (March, 2020)

Namaste Dear Hawan Group Members and My Dear Kids,


I would not start my message by saying “How are you?”. Everyone is home, adults are working while kids are attending school remotely. There is almost no contact (i.e., in person contact) with anyone outside. Kids cannot meet their friends and adults cannot meet their colleagues. Irrespective of one’s age or background, the current situation is not something that anyone has dealt with – ever. Even a few months ago, no one could ever think of a situation like this. Going through this experience is also espousing mixed feelings. It is not a surprise if this experience makes someone feel caged in or restricted. But, it is the life challenges and tough times that bring forth the true character of human personality.


As you know, we will not be meeting for the monthly hawans for the next couple of months, but that does not mean we cannot meet virtually. Yes, we will host and attend the hawan virtually. We will share more information on the tools to be used for this purpose.


As for the assignment, the topic of this month’s assignment is to reflect on the current experience. I would request you to focus on three categories:

– One, what positive lessons/values you see in the current experience;

– Two, what techniques you find to be useful in coping with the current situation;

– Three, your reflection on how connected and interdependent the world and our actions are.


As such, this stay-at-home experience has given us ample time to reflect on many things. Looking at the situation superficially may make us depressed or feel pity, but, as we have talked about and learnt before, every situation has at least two angles. Today, let’s look at it from the angle of learning and drawing positive values from it.


We may wish to distinguish ourselves based upon our education, wealth, or position; but, the virus does not care about it. It does not care whether one is from a royal or an ordinary family, rich or poor; or, famous or unknown. It teaches us that we are more equal than we ever bothered to comprehend.


For ages, humans have placed birds and animals in cages. Some of those animals stay confined for their whole lives – without enjoying a single day of freedom. Now, staying inside home – even for a few days – is making us realize the importance of freedom that we enjoyed our whole life without giving any credit to it.


History is filled with the incidences of epidemics and pandemics that ravaged humanity. There were at least half a dozen episodes of plague where villages, cities, and sometimes large parts of countries were devastated. The oldest recorded plague took place 5000 years ago. Today, we have resources to deal with it; but, it is bewildering to even think about the kind of hardships our ancestors must have endured. Contemplating it makes us emotionally experience and connect with our own history.


Today, we are living in a world where technology is all around us – it is part and parcel of our daily lives. It is so close that often we miss to see its value. Be it constant connectivity, minute-by-minute news, remote education, weather forecast, or critical information sharing, we all are equipped with it. Apart from their general utility, the tools like smart phones, internet, entertainment on demand, social media are making it a lot easier to deal with the boredom that would otherwise have made it extremely difficult when staying at home for extended periods. Thinking about it makes us appreciate what we have rather than complaining about petty issues like slow internet or old phone models etc.


With busy life-styles, families hardly get time to spend with each other. It is not a surprise that people know more about others than their own families. This long and forced stay-at-home experience has given a once-in-lifetime opportunity to connect with family members at a level that was not possible before.


We all have a long list of to-do things. Be it learning a new skill, undertaking a project, reading a book, or pursuing some larger-than-life goals, we keep pushing them forward as other immediate and supposed “high priority” tasks always take precedence. Looking at what is happening around us makes us realize that life is not guaranteed to be as long as we may have subconsciously believed. It will help reset and rearrange our priorities.


We have always heard that the world is interconnected. Our thoughts, intentions, and actions impact others. One may have considered this to be a philosophical or religious principle. But, today, we can see this principle is as real as oneself. For instance, a simple act of unnecessarily going out in a crowded place will not only place oneself at risk but also subject a large population at risk. It teaches us to be a more responsible and considerate citizen.


The above are just a few of the positives; and I am sure you will be able to think of many more positive outcomes. As part of your assignment, please take the above ideas to kick start your thinking in a positive direction. Capture those brilliant thoughts as well as your positive experience. In addition, I am really looking forward to hearing what things are working for you to deal with the situation. You may have found a better way to deal with a situation than others; and your idea may inspire and help them.


Lastly, a humble request: at this stage, staying home is the only known and reliable course of action to fight with and curb the spread of Covid-19. Despite the challenges, please- and it is an earnest request – do not let the urge to go out or meet with your friends get the best of you.


Looking forward to meeting you virtually on this Sunday at the hawan.



Harsh Mendiratta