Spiritual Well-Being And Mental Health
Discussing the connection between spiritual well-being and mental health and exploring practices that promote both
Spiritual well-being alludes to the sense of wellness that comes from self-awareness, self-realization, from realizing the meaning and purpose of life, from living a spiritual life. It comes from embracing spirituality, the science of the spirit. When we turn to living spiritually and as we evolve on our spiritual journey towards the goal of Enlightenment and Moksha, we experience a transformation, and ultimately a metamorphosis because we realize the truth about life, about ourselves, about God. We live with acceptance and surrender, with love, compassion, with positive emotions. We realize that we are not the body, mind and ego but the Soul. That we are all manifestations of the Divine. The world is an illusion. We realize that the world is a show and we are all actors who come and go. The only reality is the Supreme Immortal Power we call God. Realization of the truth sets us free from misery and suffering. It empowers us to live with peace and bliss.
Mental health refers to the health of the mind. If a person is happy, positive, it indicates mental wellness. Unfortunately, in today’s rushed world, we live hurried, burdened lives. We are so obsessed with becoming an ace in the material race that we get lost in a maze. The result — we suffer from anxiety, stress, depression. We think success is happiness and we confuse pleasure with happiness. We become slaves of the mind. We want more and more. The mind constantly yearns and yells for something or the other. We live with differences, with anger, hate, vengeance and jealousy. With so much negativity, mental health is bound to suffer.
That is why mental health is closely related to spiritual well-being. Spiritual well-being ushers in positive emotions. It leads us to peace and bliss. It fosters a sense of oneness with people because we realize that we are not different from each other. We are all one - the Divine Soul, a part of God. God is nameless, formless, beginningless, endless, birthless, deathless. God is a power that is everywhere, in everything. We go beyond the skin to loving the Soul within. We realize that suffering is because of our Karma and we rejoice when confronted with challenges or problems because we know that our negative Karma is being negated. Spirituality therefore changes the way we look at everything. Material pursuits no longer interest us. We know that nothing belongs to us. We live with contentment and fulfilment, with love.
Therefore, spiritual well-being has a direct bearing on one’s mental health. And there are many practices that promote both mental health and spiritual well-being.
One of the primary practices is meditation. Meditation is about silencing the mind. It is about making the mind still, thoughtless. The mind is a thought factory. It produces 50 thoughts a minute, which can amount to an astonishing 50,000 thoughts a day. It is this onslaught of thoughts that makes us stressed and exhausted, that destroys our mental health. We have to bring down the Mental Thought Rate (MTR) from 50 thoughts a minute to one thought per minute. For this, we have to watch each thought as it comes like we would watch fish swim in the ocean, one by one. We have to become the observer. When we start watching our thoughts, the monkey mind becomes conscious and stops jumping around; it becomes a monk. When the mind becomes still, we experience peace. Peace is the foundation of happiness. In this state of thoughtlessness or consciousness, the intellect is activated which helps us make the right decisions. It is in this state that a spiritual seeker can be enlightened.
Prayer is another practice that can be beneficial. Prayer is a two way communication with God. It strengthens faith and makes us stronger, resilient, confident, courageous. While prayer in spirituality is more about seeking the grace of God to attain Moksha, as a practice, it promotes mental well-being.
Going on retreats or breaks from the chaos of our daily lives is another practice that can help. Spiritual seekers spend time in solitude to evolve in their spiritual journey. But for a common man, a retreat will bring peace and happiness. We must spend time in solitude, with nature. Nature, as an enlightened being will know, like everything else, is a manifestation of the Divine. Retreats can help us not only relax but also introspect and contemplate life and this results in a conscious, constant union with the Divine.
We should try connecting and interacting with a Guru, a spiritual mentor who often by guiding us spiritually, guides us in life too. We can spend more time with spiritually inclined people. Or at least with cheerful, happy, positive people. Please note that there’s a difference between frivolousness and positivity.
Another practice we can follow is Yoga. However, Yoga, as the world understands, is not true Yoga. Yoga is not just about asanas or physical exercises, pranayama or breathing techniques. Of course, these contribute to mental well-being but Yoga is much more than that. It is about being in union with God. We can be in Yoga or union with the Divine through Dhyana Yoga or meditation, Bhakti Yoga or devotion, Karma Yoga or action, Gyana Yoga or education, Prema Yoga or the Yoga of Divine manifestation. If we remain connected with God, we will be peaceful and blissful.
These practices will promote both spiritual well-being and mental health. The sooner we incorporate spirituality into our our lives, the happier we will be.
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