October 10, 2020
One of the biggest challenges the world is currently facing is mental health. There is a sense of anxiety, depression, and uncertainty in society. Though we will inch closer to finding a solution for COVID-19, it will take longer for the fear to subside. On this World Mental Health Day, let’s take a step back and shift our awareness on these six crucial aspects of mental well-being.
Wisdom: Begin with knowing the mind
Gurudev calls this the ‘art of living’ where people are taught about the interlinking between life, breath, and emotions. It is important that we learn and teach our children, and families about consciousness, and the different tendencies of the mind. We need to educate our people to be happy with themselves and friendly with others and wean from the complex psychological gymnastics of the mind. If we are unhappy, we can never be friendly; and if we are unfriendly, we can never be happy.
If we are unhappy, we can never be friendly; and if we are unfriendly, we can never be happy. Click To Tweet
Meditation: Giving the mind the deepest rest
Do you know there is a state of the mind that gives us a deeper rest than even sleep? We are generally aware of the three states of consciousness – waking, dreaming, and sleeping.
There is some activity as our body recuperates and grows in sleep. It is the fourth state, which is devoid of activity which results in very low metabolism. Through meditation, it is possible to go deeper into this fourth state and get the deepest rest.
The fourth state of consciousness, where one is neither waking, nor dreaming, nor sleeping is responsible for giving rest deeper than sleep. Click To Tweet
Breath: It improves mental well-being
The mind is like a slate. When we keep writing on the slate, again and again, without erasing, nothing is legible. Our mind becomes like that when we are unable to let go and cleanse it. We all have memories but when we are stuck with one memory that is called trauma.
The mind is like a slate. When we keep writing on the slate, again and again, without erasing, nothing is legible. Click To Tweet
According to shastra (ancient scriptures), pranayamas (breathwork) greatly help. Prana has a direct connection with the state of the mind. For every emotion, there is a definite rhythm in the breath. Unfortunately, people have ignored the dimension of breath. Breath is very vital for clarity in thinking, perception, behavior, attitude, as well as removing deep-seated impressions and misconceptions. It is a tangible instrument that helps move on.
Yoga: Altering the mind’s tendencies
Yoga leads to a cessation of the modulations of the mind. “Drashtuh swarupe avasthanam” – with the practice of yoga, one abides in one’s true nature (consciousness), the seer. A person becomes miserable when the seer and scenery are confused. Yoga helps in developing discrimination (viveka) – a much-needed tool in everyday living. Through a deeper and more holistic understanding of life, living becomes more effortless.
A person becomes miserable when the seer and scenery are confused. Yoga helps in developing discrimination (viveka). Click To Tweet
Awareness: A way to being steady
We have four inner faculties of consciousness – mind, memory, intellect, ego, or the sense of awareness that ‘I am’. Being aware of these inner faculties makes an individual more mindful of his/her actions.
Often people say something unknowingly and regret later. Awareness looks within. Is there an inferiority or superiority complex in my behavior? Am I in a victim or culprit consciousness? What is bothering me? Am I reacting or am I acting with consciousness? These are the things that create awareness.
Art: The artist in you can heal
Consciousness is a bridge between the heart and the mind. While science is the matter of the head, art is the matter of the heart. Combining these two extremities of our consciousness – science, and art – helps us live a fuller and happier life. Art is an outlet for our emotions, even for those emotions which are stuck and not expressed properly. Art – be it painting or music or dance – all help to regain the natural balance in life.
Art is an outlet for our emotions, even for those emotions which are stuck and not expressed properly. Click To Tweet
These simple concepts offer therapeutic insights into our mind, and emotions. When understood and inculcated in our daily living, these insights have the power to bring subtle shifts in us. Resilience, courage, steadiness, optimism, and inner peace are some of the outcomes.
This article is an excerpt from Gurudev’s address at a panel discussion on mental health. You can watch the full talk here, Transdisciplinary Paradigms – Conversation with Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar