Healing the Mind.
What exactly does that mean?
Today many of us are familiar with the various psychiatric medications to help our minds feel better. It’s hard to escape all the advertising on billboards, tv, magazines and internet.
Feeling down? Try Abilify.
Feeling anxious? Xanax can help!
Feeling manic? Try Latuda, or Lamictal, or… you get the picture.
There is nothing wrong with taking these medications when they are called for and prescribed by trained and responsible psychiatrists.
Addiction, bipolar, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia… not many people freely admit they are struggling with these mental disorders. Unlike ALS, seen as predominantly physical condition, an ice-bucket challenge is not happening for mental diseases.
And yet, more and more people are suffering. Perhaps we have not asked the question..is there another way to approach healing our minds?
It can’t be that the only option is taking a pill, hoping it helps address our symptoms and hoping the side effects are bearable. Many are now aware of alternative healing methods in general, but there is very little awareness that there are also alternative treatments specifically geared towards the mind.
A 5000 year old science of life (and sister science of yoga), Ayurveda teaches us that healing our mind is something we all can achieve, by being mindful of the foods we put in our body, the mental foods we put in our mind, and educating ourselves on right lifestyle.
I have shared this science with many people through my health practice, and very often the reaction I get is “it can’t be that simple… just changing the foods I eat and my lifestyle and I won’t be depressed, or I won’t be anxious?”
The ones who are willing to give it a try and commit to at least of month of simple changes, ALWAYS come back and say they do feel surprisingly better.
Ayurveda is very clear that we are what we eat. Our food gets digested and becomes part of our blood, part of our plasma, and eventually, part of our consciousness. If that food we are eating is not nourishing (ie, full of chemicals, old food, a lot of meat, etc), then we are not going to be able to transform it into something that enhances our mental clarity.
If the food we eat is not balancing to our particular body/mind type, known as doshas in ayurveda, then again, it will not serve to keep our minds in balance either.
If we listen to disturbing music, watch violent movies, and take in the negative messages our culture keeps delivering, it will not affect our mind in a positive way. Interestingly, this seems so logical, and yet it is so hard to escape what is constantly being put in our field of vision. We have to employ some consciousness as we go about our daily lives, and pay attention to how what we read, watch or listen impacts us.
Pushing ourselves too hard, or not enough, rushing through meals, not having a routine, not taking time to “breathe”, many of these things create imbalance, and leave our minds untethered to our true nature. It requires some form of discipline to tune in to who we really are. Whether it is meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, going for walks, a bike ride… we need some time to tune in with ourselves – to find our center and find that healthy balance for both body and mind.
Ultimately, they feed each other.
We are our body, our mind and our spirit, and all must be tended to if we want to know who we really are.
I’ve always had a keen interest in the mind, and what makes it tick.
I want to know what is happening when, seemingly out of the blue, we become filled with anxiety or depression, and can’t figure out the reason why.
I want us, as a culture, to be as aware of the herb ashwagandha as we are of xanax. This was the inspiration for my first documentary “Healing the Mind: the synthesis of ayurveda and western psychiatry”. Western Psychiatry is here to stay, at least during our lifetime, so how to bring another level of healing into this modality? My own experience with the full range of ayurvedic treatments and disciplines has had a tremendous impact on me and my family.
Over and over, I see our young adult community being steered into, and yes, settling for psychiatric medication or their own forms of self-medicating with alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and heroin. But what I have also found, in my own experience with this community, is that they are so very open to other ways to “heal” and feel better.
They are often so surprised to hear about an herb that might possibly work as well as xanax, without the debilitating side affects and addictive qualities, or that the simple request of asking them to go to sleep a little earlier, leaving their laptop and cell phone in another room (just try it for one week!) and they will feel better.
Empowering our young adult culture to grow into a group of people who know how to heal themselves, and can pass it down to the next generation… this is a goal.
Yoga, meditation, lifestyle, foods… could it be this simple?
Ayurveda says yes it can.
We need to educate and saturate the media with this information.
Let’s go mainstream.
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