Some tips for improving mental health
It is conspicuous, that problems with the mind are increasing. Several years back, I had a friend with mental issues. That was something uncommon for me to experience. Now, it is very common. Perhaps the most common ailment to observe around is depression.
I could affirm now that “spirituality” at this time, is about dealing with the mind.
Notice that I say “at this time.” It hasn’t always been like that.
A mind out of control is a demon. A controlled mind is a “saint” waiting to “sin”. Many times, medication becomes that artificial control.
It is interesting how Science does not know the cause of many of these diseases of the mind. Nevertheless, there is “treatment.” It is a game of dice.
Genetics is a factor. The environment is another. Our ability to cope with different pressures in society is yet another.
Chemical imbalances due to genetics is a small percentage at this time. However the influence of the environment and our own coping mechanisms, are something that we could become aware of, to improve our mental health.
It is almost a year now since I have moved permanently from the USA (I lived there for 30 years) to Lima, Peru. Sound in all forms (noise) is used in Lima violently: From car horns, to megaphones, loud parties and noisy public events, etc. It is evident that individuals will be mentally affected from that. Life in a big city like Lima, is not a relaxing “walk in the park”; nevertheless; most individuals are completely unaware of the consequences. We have done that to ourselves under the label of “progress.” Economically, Lima has progressed enormously, however; when there is no conscience of the environment; our health will pay the price. Lima, is just a small example of so many third world cities around the world in similar conditions.
The most “civilized” environments have their toll on mental health as well. The USA as I recall, was famous for the feeling of isolation and the excessive use of “technology” under the motto of “time is money.” That sort of stress will definitely impact our mental health specially since there is a growing population migrating, looking to live “better” in those “civilized” places. We are living out of balance.
What to “do”?
When a person is sensitive, aware, the answer arrives right away. The number one priority for mental health is to BE in Nature as much as possible. As far as I am concerned, there is no way around it. It is even funny to put it in that way, for a “normal” person should feel eager to BE in Nature, but that is not the case for many who feel “happy” around concrete buildings and a TV or… a computer and a cell phone for even background noise. Most are terrified by silence as absence of sounds.
We may need to be closer to water in all forms: Oceans, lakes, rivers, even swimming pools if all else fails, for water cleanses our energetic field. Exercise is a priority, for the mind is closely related with the body; and the body was meant to move. That is a “reasonable” reason.
Finally, our diets need improvement. An orange vs. a “Coke”. Observe all of those foods created by man. Those are not natural. Those are not “bad” either. Their consumption needs some reduction. Do you drink plain water? Don’t like the taste of it? Some serious “therapy” is needed to fix that.
Here some words of advise:
1) Move. Do not stay in the same room for long periods of time. The collective consciousness surrounds all city environments at this time. The “vibe” is of stress, anxiety, sadness. Many times, we do not realize that we are affected by those “vibes.” We believe that it is “I” who feels in a certain way. We could even label that as “my depression.”
2) Have “snack” times of Nature. Go to a park and walk barefooted in the grass if possible, or sit down and watch the birds and smell the flowers… Won’t cost you a thing!
3) Have daily “Me” times. It is very important to enjoy time by yourself, not doing a thing, or rather; not thinking about a thing. For that, we need to PLAY. A playful person, is a person in balance.
4)Entertain the mind: Watching movies, tv, etc. is that. However, we are not aware that those means are only entertainment. We typically get suck into it.
5) Once we get a sense of balance, we will naturally “practice” the “3 S” of healthy living: Sun, Sleep and Sex. Typically we over do or under do those. The mind goes to extremes easily for it does not know the “middle way.” Never too much of the “3 S.” Find your own balance.
6) Learn to feel from the heart. Deep feelings will take you out of the mind.
7) Appreciate Life as “it is”. We focus on negativity forgetting that every coin has 2 sides no matter what. Appreciation will bring us into balance.
To live in the world of “no-mind” does not mean not to have thoughts. It means to live in the heart center. Although, many “experts” recommend exercises or techniques to “achieve” that; in my experience; the change happens after we have gone through the full experience of knowing the mind.
That full experience means, experiencing the “ups and downs.” However, the most important advice that I could give based on my own experience is that any inner work to dissolve “blockages” or “inner traumas” to open up to Life, is without a doubt; the most important aspect in “spirituality” that a seeker will need to face; for that will bring the experience of “no-mind” (heart center) and then our overworked mind, will have a chance to rest and perhaps observe the world under a new, fresh perspective.
Without a doubt, that is a sign of mental health.
The power of relaxation
When we live in the mind, we will rely on information.
Why do we do this?
Because we want to make sure that we are “right” when we encounter something that we don’t know about.
For example, how many hours do we need to sleep at night?
What the expert says? What is the information? What can I google about it?
How much cardio exercise do we need to be lean? How many times a week do we need to have sex to be “normal”?
What are the right kind of foods to eat? What is the proper form to breathe? How do we meditate?
All of those questions are only looking for informative answers, so the mind can be satisfied; but at the same time, it tells how much UNAWARENESS there is. We are disconnected with ourselves.
A what moment, to drink a bottle of soda became more important than to drink plain water? We are disconnected and heavily conditioned, but we thrive in being “right.” However it is not “being right” but just following the accepted information.
When to be “right” is the sole purpose of living Life, we cannot relax and without relaxation our mental health and physical well-being are at stake.
Relaxation is not something that we “learn.” It is something that we “fall into” like “falling in love.” There is no DOING, it happens as we provide or nourish the proper environment. Then, it happens. It is KNOWN.
For instance, to have a busy schedule of people to see and places to go, is in fashion. We need to have something to DO, even though it may be meaningless, still that will offer us a sense that we are part of things by escaping from ourselves.
One activity after another offers no room for relaxation.
In our society, we believe that to relax means to sit in front of the TV.
That will give the illusion of relaxation, because our minds can forget about the self and its problems to deal with Life.
That is not it.
Relaxation implies ample time to observe the self, to explore it and to BE comfortable with ourselves.
What are the benefits?
Conscious living. That is not a small thing!
We function much better when relaxed. Conscious movement is part of it, in this way we could avoid hurting ourselves.
When we are relaxed, we could deal with other people in a peaceful manner, because we ARE peaceful. That is without trying to be peaceful, without “practicing” peace.
Eating and sleeping have great benefits for the self, when we are relaxed.
The gist of sexuality resides in utmost relaxation: That gives the time and space to explore, to feel and to enjoy the sensations; which in turn will give more relaxation, what stops this from happening is our own mind full of conditioning.
A relaxed individual enjoys mental health.
Anyone wants to learn how to relax? Anyone wants to “practice” it?
That cannot be possible for relaxation is a state of BEING and it is not a 2 hour daily practice, although; try it at home, experience the “practice” then there is knowing.
But, how do we start? By DOING NOTHING.
That creates the space, the environment for SOMETHING to happen naturally: Relaxation.
For how long? When Can I go back to my busy life?
RELAX. Take it easy. The answers will come to you not through informative words, but through experience.
Comment by reader on Duality and non-duality
Who is “the one” who is beyond duality, and experiences “non duality”? It is too a “separate thing/consciousness” isn’t it, or just a role? Check it… A “thing” that is conscious or not conscious of himself, that says or does not say “I”, is still of a separate discrete existence. Try biting your tongue, and experience how that extreme pain “is just a role”, playing through you. You will see how much you exist…even though to experience that pain is – “just a role after all” 🙂
Thank you for your comment. Avyakt7 wanted to put your comment here for the “benefit of all.”
Non duality is not an “experience” as when you “experience” duality.
In your understanding of non-duality, you are coming from your intellectual mind, your mental reasoning to get to certain conclusions. With that “tool” all there will be left are just concepts to mentally “understand.” If avyakt7 could put this issue in different words to be understood, “I “ would.
This is about observing it in “yourself.”
Try tickling your feet. Would this experience show you “how much you exist”? Why this pleasurable experience should be different from biting your tongue?
Non duality is not about not feeling pain or pleasure. It is about going beyond those dualities by fully accepting them as what they are: “experiences” without the labeling in our minds.
The issue is the mind. When we feel pleasure we would like to experience that again, we look forward to that experience again and in that selection, we reject experiencing pain. This is not intellectual. See it in yourself.
On the other hand when there is pain, we typically reject it. This does not mean that I don’t have to do anything to lessen it, such as taking medicine. We reject it in our minds as undesirable, then we create a psychological trauma on that experience which will increase into further rejection, fear.
Look at a 5-year-old baby. He can cry at one moment and laugh 2 minutes later with the same intensity. The baby is not thinking about the “painful experience,” or “holding grudges” against someone; otherwise he wouldn’t be able to laugh right away. He is not thinking about a “role” being played. That is to live in non-duality.
If the baby could reason about all the moments he already fell off while trying to walk, he wouldn’t be able to walk quickly for fear of crying when he hits the ground over and over in his attempt to walk… Being reasonable about the “future” of trying to learn to walk would be detrimental.
According to the interpretation of the Bible by some, Jesus/Christ knew beforehand that he was going to be crucified.
However, he lived life until that experience happened. He knew that Judas Iscariot was going to betray him; nevertheless; Jesus/ Christ lived life without grudges against him. He suffered when the time came and not in anticipation of knowing something. He was living in the moment, in non-duality.
Remembering the past
Remembering the past is a “past time” for most individuals. When we observe our minds going into the past to re-live those moments, we could observe that our emotions will change, with that our mood will change and our outlook towards life, the experience of living the moment, will change as well.
Nothing wrong with remembering the past; what is important to recognize is how our emotions will change our experience of “now.”
Those emotions, whether elation or sadness are just ghosts. They no longer exist, nevertheless, our emotions are timeless.
A factual past becomes a hurtful psychological past. That psychological past has a charge of emotions, which will affect our present.
For example, some will remember a loved one who left, several times a day for many months. When this condition is beyond our control, this becomes a mental disease.
It is a chronic depression.
The solution does not reside on “not thinking” about things, or to have the “self control” not to think, to avoid this condition. Most will recur into further pain by doping themselves to avoid remembering.
The issue resides in our inability to understand the emotion underneath. Thinking about that loved one is merely showing that emotions need to be expressed. Thoughts are the vehicle for that expression.
The key element then is to find which is the emotion which needs to be understood, which neediness is being expressed by our rejection of the present, that is why we go into a recurrent past.
For example, the “9/11” episode. Many will gather today to remember that event. What will those individuals be remembering?
That is the key element to know. If it is about the sadness and pain of losing a loved one, if it is about maintaining the fire of revenge in their hearts; they are actually opening a wound that needs to be healed to “move on” in life.
“Move on,” means to transform that anger into acceptance. That is to have openness to life again. The obstacle in moving forward is resentment.
For a spiritual aware individual, revenge does not accomplish anything but the certainty to experience further suffering. Life has its own ways. There is no one who can escape the reaction caused by his or her own activity.
What you do unto others, you truly do it to yourself. That is why the teaching is: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”
On the other hand, to gather and to remember the contributions of every human being who met their last breath in that event, brings a different attitude. It will not be about suffering anymore, but about appreciation, about recognizing the unique qualities and roles that every person plays in life.
It is in this way, when the past dissolves in the past; and our present brings a different fragrance. For once a hurtful situation is transformed into the flower of acceptance and openness, then there is the opportunity for that flower to blossom in life and to share that beauty without ‘trying to.’
That is the best way to give, to teach and to live a human life.
Loss and grief
Tammy had a beautiful daughter, Brandy who was completing her second year of college. Tammy made all sorts of efforts to give Brandy the opportunity to go to college.
Brandy was a happy-go-lucky person. She had many friends due to her prompt smile, beauty and friendly attitude. Her future was bright. For Thanksgiving, Brandy traveled with her boyfriend, Fred to visit his relatives in Canada. They were driving at night through the mountains near a lake. It was freezing cold.
Another car driver hit the couple, and their car effortlessly slipped through the icy mountain into the frozen water. Brandy and Fred met their death there. No one knows what happened with the hit and run car.
When Tammy knew about this, she was devastated. Tammy was angry. She had so much anger towards that person who hit her daughter’s car, but she couldn’t make a picture in her mind of that person; so her anger went towards God, towards life and towards every hit and run driver who was caught.
Psychologists could describe Tammy’s experience as being “normal,” under the circumstances. As a matter of fact; there is a “5 stage mourning process” which is usually described as: 1. Denial and isolation, 2. Anger, 2. Bargaining, 4. Depression and 5. Acceptance.
Tammy started the process in anger and hopefully, she will be able to reach acceptance at one point in her life.
In spirituality, acceptance is the first and only step. Acceptance is something to be aware of and thus, practice every day at every moment.
I could share many beliefs as to why we need to accept things as they are; but a belief will not help if we face a life experience similar to Tammy’s.
Whether we believe in predestination or in bad luck or karma or in the “will of God,” all of those things will not change the most important item in this experience; that is how much this is affecting me.
Life is a gift. Acceptance of situations means to accept the gift. Any rejection means to reject life and thus, to slowly die.
The strength to accept a moment of grief is not gained after living a “normal” life of wanting and getting things “my way.” A life of “fight” to get things done. It is a slow process of acceptance, to let things be, to allow things to happen and to continue smiling for the gift of life is not something to possess, but something to enjoy and share.
The flower blossoms and then dies. Timing among flowers will be different. That is life. If I am appreciating that gift of life, there is no space for attachment to a particular flower. If I am attached, then there cannot be appreciation.
The butterfly is meant to fly. It comes and it goes. It has the freedom of life. If I close my hand to keep that butterfly with me; its freedom will not be acknowledged.
The 5 stages of loss and grief are nothing else but to learn to open that silly grip towards life, to learn to open our clenched fingers little by little: first is denial then anger, then depression, etc. until the open hand is seen and truly enjoyed. That is acceptance. The hand is now ready to feel and to let go. Ready to appreciate the gift of life.
The outside of the inside
“As it is inside, it is outside.”
We could get lost in that phrase intellectually or just mechanically repeat it without knowing its “real” meaning through observation of the self.
Using the intellectual abilities of the mind, we could infer that there is no difference between the outside and the inside after considering the phrase. It is the same. Thus, the division between “outer” and “inner” is fictitious.
This is the conclusion of a logical, reasonable mind; what is typically called an “intelligent” mind. Nevertheless; the true meaning of the phrase “as it is inside, it is outside,” will not be known. Without experience of this phrase at a level beyond the mind, there will be only information.
The “job” of a spiritual person sooner or later will be to “get out “ of the mind. That is to be free from the mind. Not to think in intellectual terms anymore, in duality. Here is where “not thinking,” can only be understood by those who have experienced being out of the rational mind. For the rest, “not thinking” means blindly following someone.
To “get out of the mind” is not something that happens through force, through will power. It happens through awareness.
Wisdom does not reside in thinking. Knowing is not thinking and this knowing is not related with finding out the square root of 666; but something even greater: To know how to live life without stress, with harmony; in balance. This is the first and ultimate knowledge.
To experience ourselves without the hindrance of the mind is to liberate ourselves of a heavy weight.
That lightness appears only when the thoughts related with our own “movie mind” ceases to play.
The easiest way to experience this state is to become lighter of any unnecessary responsibilities, to be able to enjoy a whole day by yourself without a thing to do. Nothing to do. Nothing to take care of. Can you afford that? 🙂
When there is nothing to think about, a walk in the park is refreshing. Then, we could enjoy the scenery and being part of it. While walking, we could be observing different faces, attitudes and behaviors from people, without taking that in as: “Why that person did not say hello to me?” Why that person did not smile back at me?” The mind is not there to take thoughts into the “me” “center of the universe;” thus the feeling of lightness appears and then that episode of liberation from the internal movie of the mind will be cherished… only if we realize that magical moment of liberation, that is; if we are aware. Awake.
The Spiritual “Method.”
Greater consciousness. Greater awareness. That is the aim of any “true” spiritual path.
This awareness is not “collective” awareness. It is numberwise. Every individual will be awakening at different levels. Therefore, a spiritual path cannot be generalized as the only “method” which will fit everyone. “One size fits all,” may work in the physical realm but certainly it is not the case in spirituality.
Everything has a method. But that method changes according to the individual, that is why the “Guru” system came into an existence. There are teachings given to all but within that, there is a specific teaching for someone according to his level. To recognize the disciple’s capacity was the task of the master, teacher or guru.
Nowadays as everything is for the masses; religions and spiritual teachings have been made as “one size fits all,” for it is easier to put together a book or a CD or DVD with methods to be sold. If for an uncertain reason the method does not work, then the student is at fault; for these methods are “proven to be correct, sacred and holy.”
One the one hand, it is very important to follow a particular method which the spiritual aspirant trusts, have firm faith and feels comfortable with. If the disciple follows that method with this frame of mind, he will do his best and will reach a realization. On the other hand, if the disciple creates a dependency in the method as a reassurance that whatever he has obtained in his spiritual life is due to a particular practice or method, then that student will be stuck. Growth will finish.
A method is just a way to take someone into further realizations, into a different consciousness. True improvement will happen when a person is able to get to that level of consciousness without a method.
Spirituality is like having a piece of candy. The method will instruct someone on how to open the wrapping paper out of the candy, what to expect after that, what is the best time to eat the candy, what are the properties of that candy, etc.
This method could be surrounded by devotional practices such as bowing down to the candy 5 times before opening it, or offering the candy to God before doing anything, etc. Those are the devotional practices introduced to give a method certain sacredness, certain importance. That is fine.
Nevertheless, to be able to taste that candy in the consciousness taught by the method, will give us the right time to let the method go away.
Attachment to a method will not bring further progress, for there will not be openness to experience something else other than a learned method for fear of losing what has been experienced so far.
It is true that it requires a very special individual to follow wholeheartedly a particular method to gain greater awareness; but at the same time; it takes a different kind of person to let the method go away when it has served its purpose.
Spiritual growth happens when we realize that everything has a purpose and when we are able to know its “right” time.