“The result of virtuous activities in sattva is declared purity, the result in rajas is misery, and the result in tamas is nescience.” (BG 14:16)”
With the more development, comes more responsibilities, so more work pressure, more depression, more anxiety and more stress, relationship problems, alcohol and drug misuse, loss of loved ones, loss in business, poverty, suicidal thoughts and physical and emotional abuse are all variables that contribute to mental health disorders.
Last year, India and the United States of America agreed to work together to address mental health and provide the necessary support and treatment to people who are affected. The United States was receptive to incorporating Indian remedies such as Yoga and Ayurveda into its healthcare system.
Ayurveda can help with mental health issues. Mental health, according to Ayurveda, is a condition of balance between the tridoshas, sapta dhatus, sense organ(indriyas) and mind(mann). Grahachikitsa or bhootvidhya is one of Ayurveda's eight branches, which deals with psychology and psychiatry in order to help with mental health concerns, prevention and management.
In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the mind is compared to a monkey, jumping from tree to tree. The mind is always in a state of flux. We jump about from one idea to another, one desire to next. Our emotions keep on changing at every instant. All this contributes to our mental health, which in Ayurveda is controlled by threefold nature called as gunas, present in our body as well as outside in nature. These are sattva, rajas, tamas. In chinese, they call it yin yang, but gunas are deeper and more natural. These 3 make the whole creation, even present in 5 basic elements I.e., earth, water, fire, air and space (panchamahabhuta).
A famous Indian text of philosophy, Samkhyakarika describes, sattva as buoyant and illuminating, rajas as exciting and mobile and tamas as sluggish and obscuring. All these functions together for a single purpose like a lamp.
According to Acharya Sushruta,
SATTVIKA PURUSHA (PERSON) has kindness, tendency to forgive, truthfulness, righteousness, faith and belief in God. He possesses good knowledge, good memory, good retentive faculty of mind, who is intelligent and unattached to materialistic things, which in turn brings out joy, happiness, clarity of life and its goal.
RAJASIKA PURUSHA (PERSON) has restlessness, habit of roaming about, always crave for gratification and proudy nature. He is cruel, false, egoistic, impatient, which in turns brings out sadness, anger, anxiety and lack of satisfaction.
TAMASIKA PURUSHA (PERSON) has tendency of unrighteous activities, ignorance. He is delusional, dull, possess nihilistic attitude, sleeps a lot and inactive which brings out depression, sadness, hatred, anger and ability to do life destroying activities.
Ayurveda says, physiological constitution of our body (dehaprakriti) and our mind (mann) are corelated. Distribution of tridoshas in our body builds up our dehaprakriti and decides our sattvika, rajasika and tamasika nature. According to Sharangdhar, Vata dosha is Rajoguna dominant, Pitta dosha is Sattvaguna dominant and Kapha dosha is Tamoguna dominant. These gunas can change their dominance according to proportion of quality and quantity of sharira-gunas(guruvadi guna) present in a person, which makes kaphaprakrirti individual more sattvika in nature.
The balance of the Tridoshas might be thrown off by a disordered mental state. If not addressed, this disturbance can lead to a variety of long-term mental health and physical health issues.
How to treat Mental Health :
In Ayurveda, therapeutics for mental illness is divided into three general principles of management:
Sattvavajaya Chikitsa i.e., psychotherapy. It aims to control of mind, preventing it from doing wrong activities through knowledge (gyan), educating patient (vigyana), boosting confidence (dhairya), reviving memory (smruti) and detachment (Samadhi).
Daivyavyaprashrya Chikitsa i.e., spiritual therapy, comprises Chanting (mantra and hymns), wearing precious gems( manidharana), performing fire rituals (homas), taking vows (niyama) ,fasting (upavasa), atonements(prayaschita) and going on pilgrimages (yatra), use of sacred herbs, and other spiritual activities which can be given to patients after assessment of their faith, and culture.
Yuktivyaprashrya Chikitsa i.e., treatment through proper and logical use medicines. Some mental tonics can be used are- in single herb; brahmi, mandukaparni, shankhapushpi, ashwagandha, etc and medicated ghee and tablets; panchagavya ghrita, mahakalyanaka ghrita, brahmi vati, etc.
A holistic idea which can be drawn from these treatment principles is, Increasing Sattva and Decreasing Rajas and Tamas, more specifically tamas.
How to increase sattva and decrease tamas:
- Balanced diet: “you are what you eat”. In Bhagwad Gita, Lord Krishna has given qualities of sattvika, rajasika and tamasika food.
Sattvika food are light, clean, organic, fresh, adaptable to heart includes seasonal vegetables, fruits, nuts, ghee ,oils.
Rajasika food are spicy, pungent, sour ,salty, hot, also includes alcohol, tea and coffee.
Tamasika food is not fresh, have bad odour, tasteless, dense, heavy like red meat, eggs, stale food, etc. It fills us with wrong vibes and causes death. So avoid this and adopt sattvika food.
- Yoga and asana: If done carefully, yoga asana practice is naturally sattvic. Rajas can be reduced by Yoga Nidra, while tamas can be countered with a more heavy exercises.
- Regulation of breathe through pranayama: Use of exercises like bhastrika, kapalbhati, anuloma viloma pranayama, etc. diminishes anger and stress which increases our sattva.
- Adopting meditation techniques: It can be done by sitting peacefully or in moving state.
- Fasting: Fasting once in a week helps magically for your body as well as mind.
- Go to bed early and rise early: Maintain a proper sleep wake routine. Don’t sleep late at night and wake up late in morning.
- Avoid oversleeping: Try to sleep at right time and don’t keep sleeping out of laziness.
- Spend some time with nature: What we are inside our body is same as present in this nature. So try to harmonise with nature.
- Maintain a work and personal life balance: A proper balance between work and personal life can be done by a proper schedule.
- Spiritual practices: Religious and spiritual practices like chanting, worshipping, meditation, reading holy texts, etc. helps a lot to increase our sattva.
- Practising Ritucharya (seasonal regimen)- Following all the regimens of a particular season like food, vegetables, medicines, life schedule, etc not only helps to avoid diseases but also brings good health.
- Maintain Dinacharya and Ratricharya (day and night routine)- There are many dos and don’ts during whole day and night, we should follow them thoroughly.
- Achara rasayana and sadvritta paalan i.e., Good Behavioural Change: Acharya Charak says Person who has, good behaviour, truthfulness, peaceful relationship with people, lack of ego and proud, helpful nature, non violence, humbleness, refrain from harsh words, etc. gets all the properties of potent medicines (Rasayana). One should not indulge in greed, anger, grief, hatred and other bad emotions and be compassionate towards people.
- Balance your sex life: Sex life imparts a huge effect on mental health, for a healthy sex life talk to your partner about this.
- Associate yourself with Sattvika people: Keep distance from toxic people and environment and associate yourself with people who are already indulged in sattvika activities.
- Maintain hygiene: Bathe Daily, wear Clean clothes, clean your room and surrounding, fresh food, etc. keeps you happy and in turn increases sattva.
- Relaxation Therapy: Relax your mind and body.
- Choose sensory input wisely: Sense organs i.e., eyes, nose, ears, tongue and skin should be used wisely like don’t listen loud music, keep your skin hydrated, etc.
The idea is to gradually cultivate sattva in our daily lives is easily possible which will naturally lead to a life that is balanced, peaceful, pure, dedicated, clear, healthy and happy.
BE SATTVIKA, BE NATURAL.
Author| Dr. Monika Mittal
Published By: Ayurveda Store New Zealand | All Rights Reserved.
Shushruta Samhita Sharir Sthana 1, 4
Charak Samhita Sharir Sthana 4, Chikitsa Sthana 1
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Photography - Colton Sturgeon