You’ve packed your “Go” bag and are ready with a three-day supply of food, water, flashlights, batteries, chargers, first aid kit and other essentials to survive an impending disaster. But are you prepared internally for any eventuality?
Most of the time, our preparations are physical, says Dr. Jojo Sescon, Chief of Clinic at the Sta. Ana Hospital in Manila. What about our being? Are we ready with our spiritual backpacks? asks this obstetrician-gynecologist, who is also a student of Raja Yoga meditation.
Some say one can never really and adequately prepare for a disaster. But for Dr. Sescon, preparedness is a mindset. How you react to day-to-day situations is a barometer of how you will react when a catastrophe strikes. And for him, preparedness is now.
The doctor says our daily life is composed of mini-disasters. How we compose ourselves during those moments is a dry run of how we will react when an emergency takes place. “They both involve the same sets of emotions, like shock, irritability and anger, and consist of the same responses,” he explains. “The only difference is the packaging.”
The poor, for instance, are able to cope well with any disaster since crisis is an everyday thing for them, he says. There is the thrice-a-day crisis of what food to put on the table (if there is a table at all), or where to spend the night (if they are driven away from the pavement of a bank office or from under the trees in a park). For them, disasters are really opportunities.
But for those blissfully ignorant of such crises or discomforts, preparedness is something for which they have to conduct a drill. Coping with crisis is something they’ve most likely taken for granted, or worse, dismissed as negative thinking.
So if being prepared includes being internally prepared, what does a spiritual survival kit contain? Tolerance, cooperation, detachment, discernment and letting go are only some of the qualities that Dr. Sescon says one should acquire to survive a catastrophe.
To what extent do we get irritated or angry every day? How cooperative are we with everyone during a crisis situation? Are we able to detach ourselves from a situation, our relationships, our possessions? Can we discern our needs from our desires and let go of non-essentials? If you have only one life to save, would it be your parent’s, your partner’s or your child’s?
In times of disaster, the rich and the poor are alike, says Sescon. “You can’t go to the bank for a withdrawal,” he quips.
What you can do now is to deposit in a “spiritual bank” good things that you do over a long period of time. These “charitable acts will be useful in times of disaster,” the doctor says.
Other essential items in a spiritual survival kit are prayers, and an attitude of gratitude that we are still alive.
Jonathan Batangan, a manager of a private insurance firm, who also embraces the philosophy of spiritual preparedness for disaster, shares tips on how one can equip oneself for any untoward events:
Have moments of silence during the day to give positive thoughts to nature.
Practice meditation to promote inner stability, mental clarity and calmness, which are needed in a crisis.
Send good wishes and pure feelings to those who suffer from calamities. The power of thoughts can help to ease their suffering.
Mentally rehearse how you will respond to a crisis situation such as a disaster. This will give you an idea on how you will react to a similar situation if it actually happens.
“It is extremely important to develop a stable mind through the practice of concentration and positive thinking over time,” says the Green House Project booklet prepared by the Mindanao Commission on Women and Women in Peace.
“A stable and calm mind during a crisis situation can spell the difference between life and death,” the booklet adds.
“With calmness, one is able to clearly assess circumstances, intuitively determine contingent actions, quickly make decisions and even help others into survival and safety.”
The advice comes last in a series of tips on saving energy, saving money, saving earth and saving yourself. •
Dr. Jojo Sescon will run a program designed for men on “Coping with Disasters: Cultivating Spirituality in Times of Calamities” on September 15, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The program is designed by men for men, to help them rediscover and cultivate both spiritual and physical preparedness in times of disaster. Venue is the Brahma Kumaris Meditation Center at 7464 Bagtikan corner Sacred Heart, San Antonio Village, Makati City. Only 20 persons will be accommodated. First come first served. For reservations, call (02)890-7960 and 0927-2808363. Light dinner will be served.