5 Essential Life Lessons I Learned in the Lockdown

And why I'll never forget them

Let’s settle on one thing first: COVID-19 f*cked the world up.

It ruined families, threw people out of jobs, and plunged the growth of the countries.

But if we’re looking at the dark side of it, we should also consider what happened on the other side of the coin — or the bright side.

Now, more than ever, people are spending quality time with their families; they’re being more productive (thanks to working from home), and creativity is at its best.

And most importantly, the world has started to realize that fiddling up with the environment never ends well.

My daily routine before the lockdown was perhaps the most unproductive routine one could ever think of.

I used to share an apartment with my friends where we’d typically wake up at 9, have our breakfast, flunk the college every single day, and waste that time stuck to the screen of our phones.

Then we’d have lunch and sleep our asses off until it was the time for dinner. Crazy, right?

One could say that we were living the lockdown life even before it took place.

I had been living with my friends since the first time we met in the hostel.

So everything we did, we did it together.

There was hardly anyone who knew us outside the walls of our apartment, and our social life was not more than the animals in a zoo, the only difference being that we were willingly stuck in the cage around us.

Fast forward to March and the world’s strictest lockdown was imposed in India.

I flew to my parents’, who live in a small town surrounded by the beauty of nature, and that’s the place where I learned the most important lesson(s) of my life.

Meditation is the answer to a million problems

I’m not gonna lie. I never believed the zillion things I heard about meditation.

Comments like ‘it changed my life,’ or ‘it took me closer to myself,’ seemed rubbish to me.

I always thought that it was just a hoax they were creating so that the big companies could launch something new in the market.

But I’m glad to say that I was wrong.

I tried meditation, and trust me when I say this: I don’t think anything as good as meditation has ever happened to me. It not only brought me closer to myself, but also made me see the problems I was brushing away for quite a long time.

Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, recorded the brain waves of stressed-out people.

He found that after eight weeks of meditation there was a pronounced shift in the activity of the left frontal lobe.

In other words, meditation made the stressed-out people calmer and happier than before.

Apart from numerous other benefits, what I love about meditation is that it helps people by tapping into the deepest corners of their body.

It brings out the suppressed emotions and encourages us to feel them, which, in turn, brings us closer to ourselves.

Not only I felt the gratitude oozing out of me, but there were moments when I even cried while meditating, which is how you feel things and let go of everything that’s been holding you back.

Life changes only when we want it to

Imagine waking up in a bed, spending the whole day either fiddling through your phone or having food on the same bed, and then going back to sleep only to do the same things the next day.

Welcome to my life before COVID-19 (Yes! You read that right)

I don’t think anyone has ever been as unproductive as I was before the lockdown was imposed. So maybe this lesson only applies to me.

The way I was ruining my life by skipping classes, refusing to reach out of my comfort zone, not meeting with people outside of my circle was not just affecting my mind, but my writing skills were also degrading.

As I hardly went out of my room, whatever little poetry I wrote seemed to follow the same pattern during that time. Gosh! How much I despise that.

With the lockdown, I gradually started changing my routine.

Firstly, I joined online fitness classes, then after a few days, I started waking up at 5 in the morning, and then did something I’d never done before — enrolled in a guided meditation program.

It was a huge step for me.

Tumbling your life and molding it in a completely different direction isn’t an easy thing. But it’s worth it.

Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, tried to figure out how long it takes to form a habit.

In her study, she found that it takes 66 days before a new behavior becomes automatic.

Although breaking out of one’s routine can be challenging, but everything is possible with a clear mindset and consistency.

Remember that consistency is the key here.

Going to the gym for two days a week and doing a heavy workout won’t give you the muscles you need, but taking it slowly and with a series of repetitions for several months definitely will.

Don’t you think it would’ve been better if this newsletter came right inside your email? Well, Subscribe to it and I’ll make sure that next time it does ;)

Survival doesn’t ask for much

If it weren’t for the pandemic, I wouldn’t have imagined my life without going to the cafés, visiting the shopping malls, or even going to my favorite barbershop.

As no one could go out of their homes, I realized that these things weren’t half as important as I thought they were.

It’s crazy how most of the things we’ve become accustomed to are not an essential part of our lives.

Just like every other species, human beings have only a few needs when it comes to survival.

The important stuff like healthy food, clean water, and lovely surrounding accompanied by the roof over our heads is all we need to stay alive.

Funny, how the billion-dollar companies confuse us between the things we need and the things we want.

Having the latest iPhone, or the newly launched model of Tesla isn’t something we need; it is something we want. And there’s a whole lot of difference between wanting something and needing it.

Thankfully our well-being isn’t in any way attached to the possession of products.

Studies suggest that spending money on experiences makes people happier than spending it on material items.

In the end, family is all you need

Thanks to the second most popular festival of India (or probably first), I was grateful enough to rush to my home a few days before the lockdown was announced.

There’s hardly any festival that our family doesn’t celebrate together. As the tradition went, my father had asked me to pay a visit for the celebration of Holi; which is a festival of colours, just in case you don’t know.

More than ten million people returned to their homes traveling on foot when the lockdown was imposed in my country.

Why would they be traveling as far as 300 miles on foot if it wasn’t for their families?

I know that I can’t be in their shoes, but I also know that nothing (and I mean nothing) can ever meet the satisfaction we have when we’re close to our family members.

It doesn’t matter if you have a million friends out there, but you can’t just walk up to their door when a pandemic is eating the world up.

Or to say it clearly, friends might be useful for having fun or to get the most out of life, but it is our family that we need when we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Nothing is permanent

Every single person has realized this. And I’m sorry to repeat it, but nothing is permanent. Not the job you’re so proud of, not the stocks you’ve bought, or not even your own life.

COVID doesn’t discriminate between any gender, caste, race, or anything for that matter. If it strikes, it just strikes.

And with a substantial increase in fatalities every day, we can only hope to stay alive until it goes away.

It’s worth noting how we think of human beings as the most developed species or the ones who have the world in their hands until a disease strikes and shows us the actual value of human life.

Now is the time that we start appreciating the things around us, including the people in our lives (or even those who aren’t), the nature we’re gifted with, and the beautiful mornings that welcome us when we open our eyes.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. - Mahatma Gandhi

This pandemic has proved that there’s no certainty about the future. If life is anywhere, it’s here, at this very moment.

P.S.- If you liked this, mind if I entertain you with a 1-minute poem that I didn’t share on Instagram? You can read it here.