How to cultivate a healthy mind
If you think you are crazy, relax: you are not alone. And if you live in the illusion of being mentally healthy, then sorry to break this up for you; your ego may suffer, but the reality is that you are not as safe as you might think. Let me tell you: you are also a bit crazy! Or, if it makes you feel better: we are all mentally ill, to some extent.
Mental health vs mental illness
Symptoms of mental illness are more widespread than is commonly believed and exist on a continuum of severity. It’s clearly overly simplistic to talk about the “mentally healthy” versus the “mentally ill”, as if people could be definitely assigned to one group or the other. It would probably be more helpful to think of these extremes on a spectrum of variation rather than definitive categories. The difference between a “mad person” and a “normal person” is just quantitative, not qualitative. It’s a matter of more or less.
Beware of so-called experts
I have personally suffered for many years from my own complex mind. So-called “experts” assigned me to various categories of mental illness and tried to enforce medication on me. Even though it was difficult and painful, I have always strenuously refused to take medication. I knew inside it would have been a no-way-back. The brain is such a sophisticated organ and science’s understanding of it is still very limited. So, I do not advice to interfere and play with the mind’s complex, fascinating and marvellous mechanism. I am extremely lucky in my life to have found the support of Osho, a modern Buddha who looks at the whole phenomenon of the mind in a different way.
Mind is the root cause of the problem
According to Osho the root cause of every mental suffering is the mind itself. It’s the ego and its attachments. On this point, Osho took the same approach of Buddha. And in fact, every truly enlightened being agrees on this. In Zen monasteries, they do not believe in mental illness and if someone manifests symptoms of mental disturbances, the prescription is more meditation. Osho used to make fun of Freud and the whole psychoanalysis just to show that it should not be taken seriously. He says that psychotherapy can help you adjust to society at best, but it doesn’t touch the root cause of suffering. Only meditation can help you with that. Meditation is not about making you suffer less, so you can keep working and functioning in society; it is about getting rid of the problem once and for all, so you can experience ultimate freedom and happiness. What meditation has to offer is so much more than just feeling a bit of relieve. In fact, unless you go beyond the mind, you are in trouble.
Neuroscience and the mental health
Neuroscientists discovered that the brain of people who have been diagnosed with mental conditions have particular structural and functional characteristics. They also discovered that meditation positively affects those exact regions. So clearly the potential benefits of meditation, are not be restricted to people diagnosed with mental illness. They apply to everyone suffering from the mind and its tendency to wander and overreact to events. So whether you suffer from a hyperactive mind which is simply out of control, or you suffer from “standard” stress, the medicine is the same: meditation.
My proven personal tips to improve your mental health
In addition to meditation, there are a number of lifestyle interventions you can implement to improve your mental health. I have experimented with many and found the following to be the most effective to achieve optimal health:
Nutrition – it’s now well researched that the intestine and the brain are strictly connected. So what you eat affects your mind. In fact, 70% of serotonin (the happy hormone) is produced in the gut. So eat real food and avid processed food.
Physical activity – by engaging in physical exercises, the energy shifts immediately from the mind back to the body and you will feel lighter and more relaxed, as well as stimulating the “happy chemicals”.
Cold exposure – a mounting body of evidence shows the beneficial effect of exposing your body to cold. To start simply take cold showers and you will immediately feel energised and positive.
Nature – just a simple walk in the park can do magic. Be outdoor as much as you can and hug a tree. Nature is your best healer.
Creativity - express yourself by doing something you love. It’s a wonderful way to transform energy from negative to positive and it gives pleasure and satisfaction.
The mind is a manifestation of the brain. So it’s part of the body. It belongs to the physical realm. Hence, by following a healthy lifestyle, you will feel good and more balanced. However, do not forget that meditation deals with what is beyond the physical plane. If just feeling good and “normally crazy” is not enough for you, then you are ready to go deeper into meditation. And Osho can guide you in this uncharted journey, where no map exists. Enjoy the journey and see you on the other shore.