New York, NY: Isolation due to COVID-19 has reshaped the face of humanity. While the world faces great uncertainty with the coronavirus’ strength waxing and waning, the “new normal” has included extended periods of lockdown. With restrictions tied to the coronavirus outbreak leaving millions confined to their homes, everyone is feeling the effects of extended periods of quarantine on the body and mind. One major outcome of sustained solitude is being stuck in loneliness. Human beings are inherently social creatures, and the experience of loneliness can cause profound damage, including impairments in well-being, productivity, creativity, focus, as well as psychological harms and shortened life-spans.
In this context, a timely discussion by an experts’ panel organized virtually by GOPIO-Manhattan on “Alone But Not Lonely – Living In The Reality Of New Normal” on Friday, April 16th, 2021, was attended by hundreds of participants from around the world and broadcast live via Facebook.
The panel of experts included: Dr. Lipi Roy, an internal medicine physician board certified in addiction medicine as well as an MSNBC and NBC News Medical Contributor; Dr. Shuvendu Sen, a pioneer in multiple collaborations leading to superior Institutional performances, has been credited for adopting dynamic and innovative measures to foster higher productivity, employment, and education; Dr. Taruna Chakravorty, a Visiting Professor at Hans Raj College in New Delhi, India, where she teaches Spanish; and, Dr. Arnab Ghosh, physician-scientist is a medical oncologist who specializes in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, with focus of research being making tumor immunotherapy more effective. During a lively and inspiring discussion they shared their wisdom thoughts with anecdotes and real life experiences.
Dr. Lipi Roy, who is a sought-after, charismatic speaker and media personality with mission to educate and empower the public to make healthy decisions through addiction awareness, nutrition, and mindfulness, said, “The past year been very difficult as the Covid pandemic has affected us in unique and universal ways.” Stating that most people have been “isolated from routine life, the pandemic has affected our normal ways of life.” Recalling how a year ago in April 2020, everything was shut down, with Streets empty, turning out crowded cities into Ghost town, “It’s been a very tough year for all of us. Many of us had to start collecting unemployment benefits, which is a new experience for many. This pandemic has been devastating. And it was a tough go for most of us in many ways,” she added.
Dr. Roy reminded the audience that “We are all social beings. We thrive on social connections. This need transcends all barriers universally.” While admitting that “Pandemic has affected people differently.” Dr. Roy pointed out: “There are tools within each of us that we can use. We have ways to connect with people. Practicing Meditation, deep breathing. Watching comedies, and talking to people” are effective ways to combat loneliness, Dr. Roy said and added, “Love is the biggest game changer.”
In his address, Dr. Shuvendu Sen, an Ambassador of the New Jersey Re-entry Commission, who contributes to the behavioral and medical health of the formerly incarcerated female population, and a best-selling author of the book, Why Buddha Never Had Alzheimer’s: A Holistic Treatment Approach through Meditation, Yoga and the Arts, thanked GOPIO for its contributions to enhance Indian values and for the many accomplishments. Dr. Sen reminded the audience that “This is not the first time it has happened. The world has experienced similar calamities, changing our well structures lifestyles. We have seen it time and time again. However, whenever we have been hurt, humanity is tremendously powerful to resurface from the dust.”
While so many of us have experienced the feelings of doom during the pandemic, we have had the HOPE that humanity will come out of that even stronger, Dr. Sen said. Sharing his own personal experiences, Dr. Sen said, My hope came not from scriptures, but from my patients whom I treat every-day. They showed me the Strength of humanity. They gave me hope through their personal stories, which have been very compelling and moving.” Stating that his “mission is to use holistic medicine, using one’s inner strength, Dr. Sen said, “This is an opportunity to regain our strength and to rediscover ourselves. We need to appreciate the goodness and the strength in ourselves.”
Dr. Sen shared about how physician burn out and public distrust have impacted his life. He admitted that when the pandemic broke out, there were uncertainties of the treatment modalities. At the beginning of the pandemic, physicians were fearing for their own lives and were unable to support and help patients. “You have to take care of yourself first before taking care of others.” He stressed the need for “Friendship, fellowship and honesty.” Dr. Sen concluded by saying, “We have every reason is to be optimistic. Optimism is the opium” for a better more fulfilling life, he said. He mentioned about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline available to all in the USA that one can call 1 (800) 273 TALK (8255) and talk to a person and get the help they need.
Dr. Taruna Chakravorty, wife of former Consul General in New York, Ambassador Sandeep Chakravorty, a life coach, motivational speaker and healer, said, she loves to work with people of all ages, helping them to live their lives happily and joyously. Her mantra is “The human spirit is meant to soar the skies in joyful abandon, free from fear, full of love and compassion.” Dr. Chakravorty shared her knowledge about this state of being which is not elusive after all. Her mantra is “Happiness is yours to experience and is well within the reach of us all.”
“We forget to be grateful for the many things that we have in our lives,” Dr. Chakravorty said. “Our sense of gratitude builds positivity within us. There is no need looking for something outwards, but look inwards,” she said and the way to the inward journey is through “Meditation that leads to inner sense of peace.” According to her, when we can give to others, and when we can do something good to others, and when are instrumental in giving love and compassion to others, we find that inner peace and joy. “The more you give, the more you receive,” she said.
Dr. Chakravorty shared about her own personal story of she and her family transitioning from New York to Delhi during the pandemic and how it has impacted her family. In the face of losing one’s dear ones in life and the many challenges, especially while living in a virtual world and the many anxious moments in life we face, Dr. Chakravorty stressed the importance “to look inward rather than outward, by prating the techniques in mediation. Experience for yourself about the brilliance of how meditation impacts us.
Be conscious of what make you happy and uplifts you. And you can impact and help all around you. It is in our hands and we need to make the decision. Being happy is a conscious choice.” she stressed.
Dr. Arnab Ghosh, whose goal is to develop strategies in preclinical models and translate them into clinical studies, was instrumental in putting together the panelists. Dr. Ghosh said, The objective of the discussion is “Sharing knowledge and empowering the community, while learning how the pandemic t has impacted the community. And the focus is on people’s life stories and how they have been personally impacted.” He suggested that “doing simple things like wearing masks and distancing and learning how one behavior affects me and the society at large. We are all in this together. Science has given us the hope.”
There were several video presentations by people as to how they have been impacted by Covid and how they have coped with the pandemic. Dr. Asha Samant, the International Coordinator of GOPIO in her introduction shared about the series of panel discussions the GOPIO Manhattan Chapter has initiated with the objective of educating the public.
Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of GOPIO International reminded the audience who for over a year, we are homebound. He said, Vaccination gives us hope. He commended the US government for the great roll out of the vaccination. “We are grateful to Dr. Ghosh, who has become a great assets to the Chapter.” He thanked GOPIO-Manhattan VP Dr. Vimal Goyle and Dr. Asha Samant and the GOPIO Manhattan leadership, especially Shivender Sofat, GOPIO Manhattan President.
Dr. Goyle thanked the panelists and participants to the timely and very important discussion on COVID and on ways to live the new reality after Covid pandemic has impacted all. GOPIO-Manhattan Exec. VP Dr. Rajasekhar Vangapaty concluded the session, Mr. Sofat shared about some of the initiatives by the Chapter in the recent past, especially the political and community engagement, supporting the student population and Community Feeding every month organized by the Chapter. He urged the community to support the initiative by being a volunteer and or a sponsor. Dr. Vimal Goyal proposed vote of thanks.
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