Nature’s Approach in Healing the Mind: An Indian Perspective
A knowledge of history becomes important in learning about how concepts about mental health are seated deep in our roots itself. Mental health in India is a very ancient ideology, as seen in many old scriptures from the Upanishads to the Vedas. Because psychology has evolved as a western concept, it has mostly been associated with the west and its evolutionary line whereas the eastern concepts about psychology do not have a place and therefore are always on the downside.
The Indian concept of psychology deals with the mind “more from within than from without” as seen in our holy scriptures such as the Vedas and the Upanishads. The Vedanta philosophy fashions Aatman or soul as the main focus of human existence that control our body and mind. It believes in being your own therapist in modern terms. This ideology puts a great amount of focus on introspection and other introspective methods to control one’s mind by being in harmony with their soul.
Some of the ways in which our ancient scriptures describe taking care of mental health are through mantras for prayers that bring positive thoughts to our mind thereby cleansing it from negativity, which is known as psychotherapy in modern language. The Vedas even have interventions for mental disorders ranging from psychosis, epilepsy, sleep disorder and aggression through “Bheshaj” or herbal medication. Just like how in Ayurveda the treatments for any physical illness are available in nature itself, there are herbal medications for mental health issues such as insomnia, stress, anxiety, etc. also available in nature itself.
Ashwagandha is one such herbal medicine that helps in stress and anxiety relief, attention and memory improvement and improving depressive symptoms. Other mental health interventions according to the Vedas are prayers to the almighty what we know as psychotherapy now, along with precautionary techniques such as “Yam” and “Niyam” which are methods of behavioural control and “Asan” and “Pranayam” which are yoga techniques for staying physically active for a healthy mind.
Ayurveda which is a very old Indian system of medicine and healing describes complete health as the perfect balance of body, mind and soul. It has its own unique identity as the most ancient method of healing in India. It is surprising that the Indian concept of Ayurveda which is so old, not only looks at physical health but also gives a comprehensive knowledge about spiritual, mental and social health, ideas that evolved much later in western sciences. Even Ayurveda elaborates on ways to intervene with mental health disorders, one of which is, Satwawajay Chikitsa which is mentioned in the Charaksamhita and is the new concept of psychotherapy in Ayurveda. It refers to the mind's control for correct behaviour through spiritual knowledge, philosophy, fortitude, remembrance and concentration.
Psychotherapy in India has been concealed with social structures and norms, religious practices, customs, myths and rituals because India has always been such a diverse nation which has seam an infinite number of cultures. That is why it gets difficult to universally accept the Indian approach to psychotherapy. The most famous and widely accepted form of psychotherapy from India is yoga. Yoga releases deep-seated, chronic stress, anxiety and depression from the mind by grounding the person and helping them connect with their spirituality. Different Asanas in yoga help unlock chakras in our body for better focus, and functioning, relieving muscle tension created by stress as well as increasing energy levels.
Meditation is another form of psychotherapy that is a relaxation technique to observe meaningful silence and rid the mind of any thoughts. Meditation helps you settle into a deep rest, enhances creativity and helps reconnect with your rejuvenated self. Meditation also improves our intuition power because it rids us of unnecessary thoughts and fears, it activates what is known as the ‘third eye’. The third eye or Agya Chakra is seated right between our eyebrows and is the intuitive power that we all have. It is believed that there are seven energy centres in our body where the nerves meet and the ‘third eye’ or ‘agya chakra’ is seated right between our eyebrows. Intuition in children is very high because they are devoid of any materialistic pleasures and are very innocent at their age. Intuitive power can be strengthened through deep meditation. In the Modern context, intuition is basically your gut feeling that you get before making a decision. Whether it is a bad decision or a good one, you already know it. Intuition and anxious thoughts are different in the sense that, intuition is a momentary gut feeling that you suddenly get but anxiety results from a lot of overthinking. If you constantly overthink and dismiss your intuition then your intuitive power starts to fade.
Psychotherapy has been incorporated into mysticism, yoga, Buddhism, Ayurveda, Unani tradition, and allopathic tradition. The Mahabharata is an excellent textbook of psychopathology, and the Gita is an excellent treatise on psychotherapy. Gita frees a person from guilt sense within its framework, resolves repression, and supplies energy and morale by forcing a person to dig deeper still within himself and develop insight into how it works. Instead of a western notion of wellness based on a separate individual, the Indian approach to psychology appears to have a concept of health based on the individual as a personality, sociocultural, and cosmic whole. Indian society is a sharing society. Mental illness is viewed as both an integral part of the community and a responsibility of the community. Well-being is based on a holistic ideology in which there is no separation between mind, body, and society. Alternative health intervention includes diet, massage, and rituals that frequently involve family members. As a result, patients expect more from treatment than traditional Western medicine.
The Indian approach to psychology, therefore, does not believe in allopathic medication for the treatment of mental illness but believes that the power to heal one’s mind is within themselves by getting in touch with their spirituality and determining their purpose in life. It is reality-based and does not infuse the body with chemical medications to suppress disorders rather rids the mind of illness permanently by taking a more holistic approach to mental health.
Leave a Reply