And so it has been announced. a 21-day lockdown. Unprecedented in India, and anywhere else in the world. Reactions have varied, from support for the move, to criticism, to despair. After all, we are a generation that has largely seen growth and prosperity for most of our lives. Living conditions have arguably been more better now, than they ever were. We have got used to the comforts and convenience that we have in this day and age. Imagine just 15-20 years back – when we didn’t have the internet, no social media, no Amazon, just landlines and limited visual entertainment options, when travel was not as easy, when a purchase was not a convenient monthly EMI away…I would say that humanity has had it relatively easy these past 2-3 decades.
We haven’t met a challenge of such enormous proportions yet. It is natural to fear the unknown…
Today is Ugādi — the first day of Chaitrā māsā, or the beginning of the new year. Largely celebrated in South India (where I am from), Maharashtra (as Gudi Padwa), Sindh (as Cheti Chand), and Manipur (as Sajibu Nongma Pānba). It is also the start of Navaratri.
Unlike New Year’s day as per the Gregorian calendar, the start of a new year in Indian calendars is largely marked by ritualistic celebration — early morning bath, followed by prayers and visit to the nearby temple. Celebration is characterised by new clothes, sweets and social gathering.
Ugādi is a derivative of yuga-ādi, which means the dawn of a new age. So, in a way, the festival celebrates new beginnings.
And today is the first day of a 21-day lockdown. Do we despair…or is there an opportunity lurking in the shadows?
Studies have shown that it takes 21 days to form a habit. And we have exactly 21 days in hand. Forced to stay home, we can look at this as punishment, or a chance to start anew. Can we use this period constructively? There are so many things that we want to do, to read, to speak, to experience — and we haven’t, due to lack of time.
Well, here is your chance isn’t it? A good day to start, and a 21-day period to develop a habit.
Let’s start the day today by setting small goals for these 21 days. First, take a couple of minutes to relax your mind and body. You can try the deep breathing technique that I mentioned here. Then, gather your thoughts, and think about what it is in your life, that you want to change? What is it that you wanted to do, and never got the chance? What habit do you want to develop (or get rid of)?
You don’t need to set lofty goals here. Small steps work best. Setting an exercise routine, or developing a reading habit, having at least one meal a day mindfully (without any external distractions), starting a morning meditation practice…
The key here is to start. Just start. Don’t make elaborate plans yet. All you need to do is get going.
Once you do, keep at it. There is no excuse, now that you are locked down at home. Encourage yourself, visualise your results, and use a little willpower to make it a habit. Also involve your family — speak to them, tell them of your small goal, and they will also encourage you. Speaking it out loud helps you to create a deliverable, and makes your loved ones your pillars of encouragement, your cheerleaders. Return the love, and encourage them with their small goals too.
And in 21 days, you will be more than pleased with the outcome.
I have a little more to say, but let’s leave that for the evening? In the meanwhile, wish you a very happy Ugādi, and wish you the best in your goal-setting exercise!