By AiR – Atman in Ravi, Spiritual leader and Founder of AiR Institute of Realization and AiR Center of Enlightenment.
Spirituality can positively affect mental health, ease anxiety, stress and symptoms of depression. It can transform our life, change our perspective, how we view people, life, this world and God.
Spirituality is the science of the Spirit, the Soul, the Atman. The Soul is what gives us life. SOUL is a Spark Of Unique Life. It is that energy, that life force that gives us breath. Without it, there would be death. Spirituality reveals the truth. It leads us to self-realization. We realize that we are not this body or the mind. We are the Divine Spirit, the Soul, a part of God. We realize that God is not who we think God is — a person like us. God is nameless and formless; birthless and deathless; beginningless and endless. We realize that God is a power, an energy. God is SIP, the Supreme Immortal Power that manifests as us, as nature, the universe. Everything is God.
Faith in itself can help us through the most difficult of times. If we truly believe in God, if we trust God, we are less likely to be miserable. Spirituality, however, takes our faith beyond religion. It debunks the myths and superstitions we live with. It eliminates the darkness of ignorance so that we are in the light of the truth. It leads us to self-realization and God realization.
An important practice in spirituality that can help us improve our mental wellness is meditation. Meditation is all about stilling the mind. The mind is a monkey that jumps from thought to thought, like a monkey leaps from branch to branch. The mind can produce a thought practically every second which amounts to 50 thoughts a minute, and 50,000 thoughts per day. This is why we experience anxiety and stress, agitation and restlessness. In fact, it is the mind itself that steals our peace of mind. This over-activity of the mind, aggression of the mind leads to depression and suicidal thoughts. The way to control this constant bombardment of thoughts is by bringing down the Mental Thought Rate, the MTR, from 50 thoughts a minute to 40, 30, 20 and finally, one thought per minute. This quietens the mind. To do this, we have to observe the mind. Every time the mind wanders, we have to gently bring it back. We have to watch it, catch it and latch it. We have to become the witness, the observer. When we still the mind, we kill the mind. We stop the bombardment of thoughts by the mind. When there are no thoughts, there is no mind. And we feel peaceful. We are relaxed, not stressed or agitated. Peace is the foundation of happiness. If we are able to still our mind, stress and anxiety, depression will all disappear like mist in the morning sun.
Some other ways in which spirituality can help us with anxiety and depression are:
1. Spirituality helps us realize the futility of chasing material things. We realize that we come with nothing, we go with nothing. Nobody is ours. We learn to live with detached attachment. Nothing belongs to us. Thus, we step back from the material race that most of us are running every day. We no longer live with greed. We are content fulfilling our need. We are able to control our desires. Success, money or achievement can never be important to a person who is truly spiritual. The result? We live less hurried or competitive lives. Stress, anxiety become less and less for we realize what truly matters in life. Our goal is not gold but God. We evolve to live with dispassion and discipline. Consequently, there are no expectations, disappointments and misery. Negative Energy Poison, NEP, is replaced by Positive Energy Power, PEP. If one does have wealth, it is put to good use, for the benefit of humanity and not personal use or hoarding.
2. Spirituality helps us live with acceptance and surrender. We accept without protest, we do our best and in consciousness, surrender the rest to the Divine. We realize that whatever is happening in life is because of our own Karma. Instead of being miserable when faced with challenges or suffering, we rejoice. We know that our negative Karma is being negated. We also realize that everything is an illusion, a drama, the Leela of God. Nothing is real. We learn to enjoy the show. Nothing affects us. We remain peaceful and calm, no matter what. This eliminates anxiety and helps alleviate symptoms of depression.
3. Spirituality gives us a sense of purpose. It makes life meaningful. We realize that we are here for a reason. We realize that life is not meaningless and random. Spirituality reaffirms that there is a Power in charge of the world, of the universe. It helps us to connect with that Divine Power. We realize that each one of us is a Soul. We are all a part of this power. This fills us with peace and joy. We no longer struggle to make sense of this world. We realize that things are perfect.
4. Since we realize we are all one, a part of the Supreme Immortal Power we call God, there is a sense of oneness — with people, nature, with everything. We are never lonely. We are able to transcend feelings of anger and jealousy, hatred and vengeance, inferiority and superiority. We love one and all as manifestations of the Divine. With so much positivity, positive emotions, there is no room for anxiety or depression.
For those who evolve on the path of spirituality and attain the state of Enlightenment, it opens the doors to a life of everlasting peace, Divine Love and eternal happiness. It can lead us to experience the ultimate happiness — the state of SatChitAnanda – wherein we live in Consciousness of the Truth and experience Divine bliss, unknown to the common man.