From self-distancing to self-study

In response to the novel coronavirus that is currently spreading around the world, more than 90 countries have compulsory or recommended confinements, curfews, and quarantines. This means that more than half the world’s population has been asked to stay at home by their governments.

This isolation and lack of human contact are the roots of serious emotional and psychological distress, especially in those who live alone. Long periods of confinement can cause frustration, stress, anxiety, irritability… We feel that we lost a significant part of our freedom, we miss our loved ones and we fear to fall sick. These measures are forcing us to change our habits, slow down the pace of our daily lives and activities, and confronting us to our own company.

Even if nowadays social media is a very powerful tool to connect people located on opposite sides of the world in a matter of seconds, physical and social contact are still crucial for our mental health because most of us are used to interact with multiple people during the day. What should we do when all the voices around us are silent? We have an opportunity to listen to our inner voice.

Confinement is indeed giving us an opportunity to practice Swadhyaya. Swadhyaya is the fourth of Patanjali’s Niyamas and it is the concept of self-study. Now more than ever we have the chance to answer a lot of uncomfortable questions that we often choose to ignore and define who we are, our qualities and weaknesses, and the impact we have on others. Practicing self-study through meditation and pranayama during these difficult times is especially important in order to maintain a healthy relationship with ourselves and others.