New Delhi: Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in northern India since he fled from Tibet after a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule, said that he believes this global pandemic COVID-19 ‘will change’ China.

‘‘I am always praying for one billion Chinese people to see – they should enjoy more freedom and more religious freedom and practice study. You see a friendly sort of feeling here, that gives me more inner peace.’’ He added that he believes the coronavirus ‘‘will change basic human nature”.

Dalai Lama said that US President Donald Trump’s expression of 'America First' made him feel 'a little uncomfortable'. He considers the US to be the “leading nation of the free world,” and with that comes an opportunity to be a leader in reaching out and being kinder to other people and other countries, regardless of position or socio-economic status.

“If you think only of America and isolate yourself, then sometimes you feel… lonely. Whether you’re this neighbour or that neighbour, if you feel a little bit of distrust or fear, then you will never be happy. It's unrealistic,’’ he continued, adding that we are social animals and each individual depends on their neighbour. Now is the time to have ‘‘no feeling of oneness and to come closer’’ to each other.

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Encouraging people to practice compassion towards one another and to 'decay' their own ‘selfish interests’ to build a community, His Holiness in an interview with ABC News, said, ‘‘Taking care of others is actually taking care of yourself. To just take care of yourself is narrow, foolish, short-sighted. As much as you love yourself...you should take care of others more.’’ The interview, which was conducted remotely over video, was set up through The Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

In his simple advice in navigating COVID-19 isolation, his holiness said that he has spent the past few months in isolation in order to protect himself. ‘‘Usually I am giving some lecture and some teaching, from time to time, now I no longer have that opportunity,’’ said the Tibetan spiritual leader.

For those who are struggling with being in isolation or having a hard time managing the anxiety that goes along with adjusting to life around a global pandemic and restrictions, the Dalai Lama suggested meditating early morning. Even if in the beginning it starts with a 1-second mediation, he said, work your way up to 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes.

While in isolation, Dalai Lama said he watches television for an hour or two, sometimes reads and practices meditation through online courses for 4 or 5 hours a day. ‘‘Very helpful,’’ he said. In addition, he shared videos of animals and how it has been a source of relaxation for him.

“Sometimes the animals, tigers or leopards, can be a little bit uncomfortable. But deers and similar animals are very peaceful,” he said. “I found myself looking at animals… you appreciate this in your life.”

Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist and the founder of The Centre for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, has collaborated with Dalai Lama for years on research studying the impact meditation can have on the human brain. Even as a spiritual leader, His Holiness believes it's important to have scientific research into meditation.

The novel coronavirus has so far killed more than 345,000 people worldwide. The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 1.6 million diagnosed cases and more than 1,00,000 deaths.

Over 5.4 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with the disease, which is caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Centre for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations' outbreaks. The first known case of COVID-19 was detected in Wuhan, China, in December last year.