Emotional health is as important as physical health but there’s very little awareness about it in our present world. We understand physical diseases a lot better than the ailments of the mind. As a result, we tend to dismiss emotional concerns in ourselves as well as others. In this blog, I’ll share how we can use Ayurveda to stay strong in the body as well as mind.
Why we have emotional issues: Ayurveda Answers
Ayurveda considers the suppression of emotions as one of the leading causes of psychological issues. If we try to suppress emotions like anger, fear, jealousy, they may become dormant for a while. Still, sooner or later, they will erupt. And they will explode with great force. It’s very destructive, but it finally gives you that *emotional release*. As that’s what you need to be finally free of that particular feeling.
So, Ayurveda says, do not suppress as you’ll end up releasing your emotions violently without any control. Instead, it is better to manage and process them with awareness and control.
Ayurveda recommends the following guidelines for better emotional and mental health
1) Staying positive through life
Focus more on developing positive emotions than fighting negative ones. For example, if anger is your problem, join a team sport where you have to treat everyone equally with respect. In the same way, people who suffer from lust can channel that energy towards devotional activities or Bhakti. Ayurveda texts recommend this and so does Sage Patanjali in his Yoga Sutra 2.33. In this verse, he encourages the practitioner to take the opposite viewpoint or perspective (Pratipaksha Bhavnam) when improper thoughts bother him or her. By cultivating the opposite feeling or value we reframe our world view and rewire the brain. This helps us battle negativity and improves our thinking pattern.
2) Learning to express our emotions
You can find other ways to express your emotions in a more controlled manner. Writing them down is a great practice – it’s is also very therapeutic and cathartic. The process of writing helps us become more aware of our emotions and word by word we can process them and let them out for good. And who knows, you may come up with a book by the end of it 😊. So express your emotions with creative pursuits which can include writing or art or music or sculpting, anything that soothes you. Remember that what works for someone else may not work for you – there’ll be something that you will intuitively align with, find that and that’s what will work.
3) Using mindfulness tools
Practicing pranayama, meditation, mantra chanting, visualization exercises, and even merely praying are great ways to calm down our emotions without suppressing them. All of these activities are called “healers of the mind”.
- Pranayama helps us by calming our nervous system and initiating the relaxation response – deep belly breathing, in particular, is very effective for anxiety.
- Meditation helps us still the mind and find some precious moments to connect with our subconscious. A lot of answers and solutions are actually within us if we just take the time to look deeper and contemplate. There’s a reason dreams often lead to new discoveries or inventions. We do not access certain parts of the brain as we get stuck in oft-repeated patterns unable to think outside the box. Meditation helps break these chains and empowers us giving us clarity of thought and perception.
- Mantra Chanting is a form of sound healing, just like music can be therapeutic and can make plants grow healthier, so can sound vibrations have a healing effect on our body and mind. Most ancient mantras are set to specific meters and chanting them in rhythm creates a soothing impact. The breathing pattern required to chant some mantras also makes chanting a form of pranayama practice.
- Visualization is a powerful practice that has been talked about by mystics and scientists equally. If you can visualize it you can achieve it. Visualizing happiness, love, and peace is a great way to cleanse the system and develop a positive frame of mind.
4) Reading spiritual philosophy
Spiritual books can be great healers in themselves. I personally found my life transformed with the reading of the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. If you like the story format then Mahabharata is a wonderful epic and a lot of answers to life’s problems can be found in its pages. In fact, there’s so much knowledge and information in that one epic that a popular saying goes – if it does not exist in Mahabharata, it does not exist anywhere. Philosophy and Mythology both are powerful tools to improve self-awareness.
These were a few methods recommended by Ayurveda and these are good habits to inculcate so we can stay in good shape physically and mentally. There are also other systematic ways to address our emotional issues, such as in counseling or therapy for which you would need to consult an expert. Remember that emotions need to be released. If you try to suppress them, they will either create physical health issues or get spontaneously released. Or both may happen. Neither is a suitable option.
So, work on processing them, one by one, till you’re no longer the victim of these thoughts but a warrior who is successful in rising above the trials and tribulations of life.
To read a more detailed Ayurvedic perspective on better emotional and mental health you can read my blog here. It will help give a more individualized perspective on the weaknesses and strengths of different doshas and what can be done to address their unique problems.