Mental health has finally gained the necessary focus so that other, more open and visionary approaches can offer their techniques, experience and results in improving the quality of the vibration of the mind of each of us.
Ayurveda is one of those holistic therapies that emerges with an alternative perspective for the healing of mental imbalances. The multi-faceted Ayurvedic approach to the mind aims to achieve swasta, that is, perfect health.
Keeping in mind that each individual has a different constitution, there are three aspects that are relevant to the observation of a person’s health:
– The nature of the individual
– The nature of the disease
– The nature of medicine
Only after understanding these factors is it possible to find a unique and specific therapeutic path. The process usually starts with the less invasive treatment, or chikitsa, in which the root causes of the imbalance are identified and removed through changes in daily routine, lifestyle and diet, then progressing to deeper treatments using strong herbs. and demanding body therapies such as Panchakarma, followed by rejuvenation and maintenance therapies, rasayana.
SEE ALSO: AYURVEDA TREAT AND AUTUMN CARE
The symptom tends to be treated with the antagonistic quality to what caused it, triggering the reestablishment of the psycho-emotional and physical balance of the system. After this period of internal cleansing and restructuring of the daily routine, the person’s inner field is prepared for more subtle and spiritual work.
Ayurveda and the Mind
The Ayurvedic model of the mind is derived from the Sankhya philosophy, one of the six main philosophical traditions of ancient India, which posits:
- Chitta – Conditioned Consciousness
- Buddhi – Intelligent Judgment
- Manas – Mind, capacity for imagination
- Ahamkara – Ego
In Ayurveda the three physical humours, or doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) are recognized, as well as the three mental humors, or the three Gunas (Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas). The sage Charaka describes the
- Tamas: inertia, dullness, darkness
- Rajas: impulse, desire, action
- Sattva: peace, clear, balance, stability
The first two humors are considered by Charaka to be imbalances, while the last is the natural state of the mind serene and undisturbed. The mind is also considered a channel, or route, through which consciousness flows. Its origin is in the physical heart, flowing throughout the body and ending in the five sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin).
Each person has a unique personality, a unique mind, or manasprakruti, which Ayurveda describes through the language of the five elements and the three gunas. Imbalances of the mind, or manasvikruti, are caused by the three bodily humors, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and the mental moods Rajas or Tamas.
The rise of mental illness
The origin of all mental illness tends to come from a lack of clarity (sattva) within the mind. This reflects the root cause of illness as a whole for Ayurveda, which realizes that at birth we forget our true nature as a spirit.
Three classic causes of mental illness are recognized:
- Prajnaparadha – Intellectual crime
- Asatmendriyartha samyoga – Misuse of the senses
- Parinama – Decay due to time and movement
These causes illustrate the intimate relationship between body, mind and spirit in Ayurveda. The first two causes are fundamental to the origin of mental illness. Intellectual crime results from unhealthy choices such as staying up late or eating unhealthy comfort foods. Serious mental illness that results from harm to oneself or others, such as cuts, anorexia nervosa, or physical abuse falls into this category.
The second cause, misuse of the senses, is described by Charaka as “of three categories, underuse, overuse, and misuse. It vitiates the doshas.” The sense organs are closely related to the mind. One of the most important issues today is the increasing exposure to media, and the increasing access and use of touchscreen devices. At the very least, these devices create distraction and alienation from the natural environment; at worst, excessive smartphone use is associated with sleep disturbances, increased stress and symptoms of depression. The yogic practice of pratyahar, or the withdrawal of the sense inward, is intended to correct imbalances of this nature.
Mental imbalances can also be caused by physical imbalances arising from the three pillars of health. Ayurveda recognizes the paramount importance of diet, sleep and the management of sexual energy, or brahamacharya. When the physical humors, or doshas, are out of balance, they can also be out of balance in the mind. Vata-type mental imbalances tend to exhibit more fear, worry, and anxiety. In the Pitta type, imbalance will express irritation, anger and violence. Kapha mental imbalances manifest as lethargy, apathy and melancholy.