A recent publication made by The Lancet demonstrates that 1 out of 5 people in conflict areas suffer from mental disorders. For many of us, this is not a surprise. It points out a very significant fact: mental health deterioration is a direct consequence of conflicts and war. Not saying that is the main cause, but conflicts and war are certainly a trigger of mental crisis and despair.
Bringing this information into our own reality, we can use it to observe how moments of threat and conflict are triggers of stress and imbalance in ourselves. And most of the time, as it occurs in the outer world too (if you are into numbers, check this link to see data from Global Health Observatory, WHO), we don´t pay enough attention and/or resources to attend the requirements of our psyche in times of peace, nor in times of turmoil.
Whether because of ignorance, business, or simply forgetfulness, we are not taking care properly of ourselves according to statistics. This leaves our mental health in a poor and precarious state, having to double our efforts to have a satisfactory life. Why does “a good life” has to be so demanding?
Two levels of Mental Health
There are two levels of mental health: psychiatric and the care of the sufferings from the lifestyle of our society and our own. Methods and techniques like meditation, contemplation, praying, psychotherapy, and even yoga, are tools and lifestyles of the second type of mental health.
In the ancient West, philosophers and sages observed what kind of lifestyle was more conducive to happiness. They shared their observations and practices with others in their time, and with us through texts. Not all of them, but many (Socrates, Aristotle, Epicurus, Epictetus, etc) looked for ways to develop a “good life”, a “happy life”, and a ” harmonious life”. And the key component of this life was wisdom. And this wisdom resided in our own mind.
“Let no one be slow to seek wisdom when he is young nor weary in the search of it when he has grown old. For no age is too early or too late for the health of the soul.” Epicurus
What to look for in our mental health?
We may agree today with the ancient sage and philosophers, including Buddha, about some specific ways in which we can free ourselves from suffering. By pursuing the following:
- The serenity of the spirit
- Inner Freedom
- Connection with reality (connection with others, the world, and nature)
The common way to reach such perfections in the ancient world (regardless of culture) was through meditation exercises. Ancient philosophers didn´t focus much on developing theories but rather on discovering spiritual practices that could allow us to experience a richer, healthier, and harmonious life.
Meditation is, then, the main tool used since ancient times to deal with individual and social suffering. It is the method that we, as humans, have been using throughout the years to sustain our mental health. And it´s still one of the most efficient, holistic, and universal ways to take care of our inner world and develop further our sense of belonging, wonder, connection with higher energies, and inner peace.
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking.” Marcus Aurelius
Although meditation alone is already amazing, developing a lifestyle that supports the practice – following the 5 acts of self-discipline for example – is the perfect combination for a great and sustainably healthy mind. This is an example of a lifestyle that we, as humans, have been cultivating throughout the years to sustain our mental health. This is not my opinion, this has been told over and over again for the last 2500 years. It is an ongoing echo. The constant advice. The truth that always comes back.
And a final tip, don´t believe what you can find here, go and try it for yourself ;).