Mental Health and Yoga

This week marks International Mental Health Week

 
As many of you know I am a vivid advocate of Yoga for dancers and all people. For me it is the “mother” of all psychology’s as it addresses not only the body but ultimately the mind and our influence on it. Neurologists and psychologists (Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius “Buddha’s Brain”) for example study yoga techniques today and explain/support the “tools” ancient yogis have written down already 3000+ years ago (Patanjalis “Yoga Sutra”).
Sadhguru (and his Isha Foundation) is one of the worlds most prominent advocates of  yoga science today, with over 10 million volunteers worldwide. Just lately he made headlines with his bike ride to “Explore Spiritual America”. In the following article Sadhguru addresses mental health and Yoga for us.
 

Sadhguru: “Every year, 800,000 people are committing suicide in this world. This is more than all the crime murders and war deaths put together. This means that every forty seconds, one person is taking their own life. It is just that only when someone that you know dies or when someone who is popular or significant in our society dies, everyone sits up.

What Causes Suicidal Thoughts?

Why would a human being want to take their own life? Some may be committing suicide because of their life situations, but a whole lot of people are committing suicide because of their psychological situations.

We have not inculcated anything in our education system which tells us how to handle our physiology and psychological structure. Most human beings have not been taught how to handle their own intelligence. If you had half the brain that you have, you would have no mental ailments. Now, you have a certain level of intelligence but neither have you been through a training nor do you live in a social situation where you are taught how to use your intelligence towards your wellbeing. So your own intelligence is turning against you. It looks so hopeless as if there is simply no way out of it. This leads to people committing suicide.

That can easily be stopped if there is a proper system where, right from childhood, everyone is taught certain processes where they become blissful by their own nature, their experience of life is naturally pleasant. When they are blissful by their own nature, why would anyone take their own life? Why would anyone be depressed?

Getting Out of Depression

The word “depression” is not only clinical depression. If two things go wrong with your life today, you could be mildly depressed. I think a majority of people start getting depressed, at one time or the other, because of some life situation. But within a few hours they will talk themselves out of it. They will use some kind of inspiration – their love for someone, the nation, or something else that matters to them in their life – and work themselves out of it. Either you will talk yourself out of it or you will talk to your friend or family and they will talk you out of it; otherwise you will seek professional help.

If there was no way out of depression, why would a psychologist sit with you and talk to you for hours? Obviously, they know that they can talk you out of it. Otherwise there is chemical help. When it comes to chemistry, this human mechanism is the most sophisticated chemical factory on the planet. The question is only whether you a great manager or a lousy manager of this chemistry. Yoga is about becoming a very efficient manager of your own chemical factory.

Yoga for Mental Health

In the United States, the most affluent country where there is an enormous choice of nourishment and lifestyles, it is said that seventy percent of the population is on some kind of prescription medication. People are trying to manage their sanity and health by putting in chemicals from outside. But managing this complex chemical factory from the outside is very difficult. You could manage it from inside, but you must have access to your insides!

As you can engineer the outside, you can also engineer your interiority. As there is a science and technology for creating external comfort and convenience, there is a whole science and technology to create inner wellbeing. There are proper scientific steps as to how you can change the fundamental chemistry of who you are and create a chemistry of blissfulness. Once you create a chemistry of blissfulness, you are blissful by your own nature, not because of something else. Once you are joyous by your own nature, then the very dimension of your life, the very way you perceive and express yourself in the world will change. The very way you experience your life will change naturally.

Yoga has many methods through which you can create the right kind of chemistry, where being peaceful and joyous comes naturally to you. There is no doubt that millions of people have benefited from it. We have enough experiential data that we know it works, but now blood markers are being studied and we are seeing that even genetic dispositions are changing by Yogic practices. These clearly show that you not only can prevent these psychological ailments by doing the right practices, but you can come also out of it if you do it the right way.”

Thank you Sadhguru and the Isha Foundation 

Contributor
Brigitt Mayer is the author of the award winning book "Ballroom Icons", and chief archivist for the Dance History project.
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