Mental Health – An Ayurvedic Perspective
Ayurvedic Treatment for Mental Health
Whenever we talk about being healthy, it is not only the physical health that we consider. We classify health in four categories: physical health, mental health, social health and spiritual health.
Mental health refers to an individual’s gestures and how he behaves with other human beings. People with weak mental health hesitate to express themselves in front of others and do not mingle with people easily.
Let us learn more on this topic from our Ayurvedic expert, Dr. Parmeshwar Arora. We welcome you on our show Dr. Arora.
Q. We have already discussed physical health and spiritual health on our show. Today, please tell our viewers that what a person can do to maintain his/her mental health?
Talking in terms of Ayurveda, even if a person is physically healthy it can’t be said that he is completely healthy. This is because our health has four dimensions. Health is comprised of mental health, physical health, social health and spiritual health and each one of these individually contributes to 25% of one’s total health. If a person is physically healthy but his mental, social and spiritual health is compromised then he would not enjoy good health and in other words he would fail when it comes about enjoying total health. So one needs to pay attention in all four dimensions so that his physical health is maintained and at the same time his mental, social and spiritual health also remains maintained. Even if a person attains 20% health in each dimension and thus 80% of total health then I would say that he/she would lead a happy and healthy life.
Coming to mental health, we can maintain our mental health by adopting the following 5 points: 1) pursue realistic goals. Our goals in life should be based on very realistic grounds and according to our own capabilities (or might) 2) limit the physical desires. These days we follow our physical desires endlessly or in other words, there is no end when it comes to wanting to achieve physical desires. We need to put a limit on this. 3) avoid criticism 4) find your stress as well as stresser (giver of stress) i.e. we need to find those things which gets us into mental stress and accordingly change our physical and emotional reactions against the stress and the stresser. 3) stop making effort to change others. Someone who adopts these five points will be able to maintain his mental balance and remain mentally healthy.
Q. I would like to ask you here that how exactly we should perceive mental health so that we remain healthy? Just now you mentioned stress, so how can we avoid stress? There should be a way to avoid it, right?
We often see that we are upset or frustrated about something and we just keep being so for quite a long time. There could be a person or a situation which keeps troubling us and we continue to get troubled by it. Somehow, I feel that one thing which is lacking is contemplation. I don’t understand that why is it that we don’t contemplate. We should try to figure out that what is the cause of our stress, whether it is a person or a situation. Once we have figured it out, we should find out a better way of reacting to it, both physically and emotionally. You would agree that once the cause is known it becomes very simple to deal with the problem. I will give you a very simple example here. Just try to relate it with your schooldays where your peers used to tease you over something. You would have noticed that the more you used to get upset the more they would tease you but the moment you had decided that you are not going to get affected anymore or react to their attempts of teasing, they would gradually stop teasing you. Your stress would eventually have gone completely. So, we should take two steps: firstly identify the stress and the giver of the stress and secondly limit your reaction against it, for sometime. If you do not show a reaction and the other person gets a message that his teasing is having no affect on you, he would automatically stop teasing or troubling you.
Q. This was such a beautiful explanation of the fourth point. Now, please explain the fifth point also.
See, we often make useless attempts to change others. We almost use our entire positive energy in this futile attempt. We should get rid of this tendency. We often see that most of the fights between husbands and wives are because both of them want the other to change according to him/her. While husband wants to run the house on his terms the wife wants him to understand her point of view and react accordingly. But practically speaking, this is just not possible. Nobody can change anyone because everyone has a basic nature and a specific way of working which nobody else can change. When we repeatedly try to change someone and put in a lot of effort and energy but the other person does not change then it gives rise to a sense of negativity and vulnerability in us. It somehow disturbs or mental balance. I would like to urge our viewers that never ever try to change others because it is very difficult to ascertain that who is right and who is not. So it is always good to have a flexible attitude. There should be such an understanding that sometimes we agree to others and sometimes others agree to us. That’s the best way out.
Q. Moving on to the social health, please tell us what exactly do we mean by it and how can we attain a good social health?
Irrespective of whether it is our home or workplace, somehow we are frustrated with the people around us. For whatever reasons, the society which should be a savior appears like a predator to us. Somehow the feeling sets in that our neighbors are jealous of us and want to trouble us and perhaps all our problems are because of them. Similarly, at workplace our colleagues seem to be causing trouble for us. If such is the scenario, it means that you are not healthy, socially.
Q. What can we do to maintain our social health?
Anyone who wants to maintain his/her social health, should follow five points: 1) Develop a co-operative or helping approach 2) Be polite and soft-spoken 3) always notice good qualities in others rather than pointing at their flaws 4) Be a good listener i.e. develop listening skills 5) do not impose your views on others.
Developing helping attitude: Today we live in such an atmosphere that we don’t even know who our neighbors are. Sometimes, if we get to know that there has been a mishap in the neighborhood or sometimes if we feel that probably our neighbors need help and we go and offer our help to them, this gesture helps in creating closeness. There are two things- give and take. Generally we follow the attitude of receiving before giving but we should actually learn to give first. Trust me, if you are giving it today, you will surely receive it back and that too, with interest. Your giving attitude is ultimately going to benefit you. Thus, believe in the greatness of giving. By giving or helping, you are actually arranging a helper for yourself and the society is gradually becoming your savior.
Being polite and soft-spoken: Human mind is a bit weird in the sense that if we forcefully ask it to do something, it starts resisting it or starts acting against it. For example if you go to a person and ask for something rightfully i.e. in a commanding way, the other person feels miffed and is likely to give you a hard time. Rather than this, if you ask for the same thing politely, the same person would go out of the way to help you. So that’s the difference. Forcefully you can get your work done at times but while you have got your work done, you have created a sort of enemy for yourself who would always be in a lookout to settle his grudge against you. Next time also, when you would go to him he would try to find faults in your work. So, while being polite builds up a good relationship between you and others, being forceful keeps you deprived of such an advantage.