Given the covid-19 situation, we can easily admit that our mental health has taken a hit since everything is in flux currently. After all, we don’t know what will happen next and we’re far, far away from social interaction. It truly is a testing time for humanity but too much stress will only prove only detrimental.
Hence, it is extremely important for each one of us to train our minds to stay calm even during the most stressful situations that life throws at us. To learn that ever-elusive art, we talked to a practising Nichiren Daishonin Buddhist, Deepika Wadhwa, who meditates as well as chants on a daily basis.
Over the years, Deepika has found peace and calm of the mind, thanks to the practice. Here, she shares with us how she got introduced to the faith and how it has helped her tide over the most difficult times by staying calm.
Talking about how it changed her, she says…
“It is imperative to find a mechanism or way of life which can help us remain calm and composed, yet vigilant, in the face of adversary or hardships.”
“For me, being introduced by a close relative to the practice of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism was a turning point towards initiating my journey in becoming a better and more composed version of myself. It is indeed my good fortune that I encountered this practice and got exposed to the guidance and leadership of Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, my mentor, and teacher.”
But what made her take up the practice?
“I started my journey 18 years ago in May 2002 when I was detected with a tumour behind my brain which was as big as a walnut. I was living in constant fear, sadness, and anger. During these dark times, it was this practice that gave me a ray of hope, showing me once again how winter always turns into spring. I took to this practice just like fish takes to water for survival. Gradually, I started to realize that I needed to change my attitude towards my circumstances.”
Speaking about how faith helped her find peace of mind and positivity even in the bleakest of times, she says…
“I still remember that the first few fellow practitioners who came to visit me held a placard that said ‘The darker the night, the nearer the dawn. Never lose hope for the future.’
With these words stuck to the wall in my bedroom to see first thing in the morning, I took my baby steps in faith.”
So, has her practice helped her stay calm?
Deepika says, “At every instance of doubt or agony, I go back to the words of Dr Daisaku Ikeda who says that ‘the vast power of the universe is like a magnetic force. When we harbour dark, negative, or hurtful thoughts, negative energy is swiftly drawn to us. In contrast, when we live with bright, pure, positive and beautiful thoughts, great positive energy and good fortune are drawn to us.’”
How did practising and meditating help her mental health?
“This practice, which is a combination of faith, practice and study, supported by sincere chanting (nam myo ho renge kyo) has helped me over the course of time to gain immeasurable worth and dignity in my life.
Moreover, chanting has not just helped me focus on the issues I am grappling with but also on the immense good fortune I have received over my lifetime. Hence, I have become calm and composed as a person when in the middle of a turmoil or otherwise.”
How has the practice and chanting helped her deal with covid-19 stress?
“Currently, while dealing with a global catastrophic event, it is all the more important for me to concentrate on chanting with a clear goal of staying calm and focused so as to courageously deal with whatever may come my way.
When I chant, I visualize a better tomorrow where there is peace, security, and prosperity for all. This helps me stay in a positive frame of mind because I have attached my personal wishes with a larger goal of societal well-being.
So, when facing a difficult situation like this pandemic, I concentrate on chanting not just for my own calm and happiness, but also for others in order for them to find the courage to challenge their situation and become strong. And often, I have found that this wish for others has found a way back into my own life!”
So, feeling anxious and stressed due to coronavirus can harm us mentally but we need to take steps towards practising calm in order to emerge mentally stronger out of this.