Ayurveda describes a state of perfect health when there is a state of balance between body, mind, and soul. This balance is of an individual’s physical, emotional, and spiritual being. Ayurveda plays a very important role in maintaining the mental and social health of individuals.
Charaka, one of the greatest Ayurvedic scholars, mentions that the Mind controls the sense organs. Mind is essentially known as the chetas, the Sattva which helps to accomplish all types of goals a person may have. The mind has a deep connection with Sattva, Raja, and Tama which are three Gunas that are the properties of the mind, as mentioned by Charaka. The dominance of one or more of these Gunas is responsible for various personality traits of an individual
The main function of the mind is the perception of knowledge. It can be in any form, either as vision, smell, taste, touch, or sound. This perception is achieved by the physical sense organs present in the body, the eyes, nose, tongue, skin, and ears, respectively. In short, the mind controls the physical attributes as well as mental attributes, so having a perfect state of balance is essential to maintain overall wellbeing.
Mental disorders are described as a state of imbalance between the three Gunas of the mind. This imbalance leads to a disturbed state of mind causing alterations in the physical, emotional, and behavioral responses of the affected person.
Causes of mental health conditions:
- Dietary and lifestyle – intake of incompatible food items, heavy to digest, stale food regularly. Excessive consumption of alcohol, smoking, lack of physical activity, poor sleep quality, etc.
- Psychological – constant fear, stress from the personal and professional front, social anxiety, peer pressure, etc.
Common signs and symptoms:
- Panic attacks include migraine, elevated blood pressure, palpitations.
- Chronic fatigue
- Digestive issues such as constipation, acid reflux disease.
- Mood swings such as Temperament issues, depression
- Eating disorders such as overeating or not eating at all.
- Sleep deprivation
Management of Mental and Social health disorders:
Charaka has emphasized Sadvritta which is the code of conduct. Practicing Sadvritta will not only preserve health but will also help a person take control of their body, mind, and senses. Some key points regarding Sadvritta which can be applied in the modern-day and age are as follows:
- Respecting all types of religious, social beliefs and customs.
- Respecting and believing in humanity.
- Maintaining personal hygiene.
- Usage of respectful, subtle language while speaking.
- Learning to control anger, irritation, speaking loudly in unfavorable situations.
- Respecting and understanding all living beings.
- Food – Should be taken at the time of best hunger, after digestion of a previous meal, should be eaten with a pure sense of gratitude towards the chef and the Creator, and to be enjoyed as it is the source of energy.
- Natural urges should never be suppressed such as Hunger, Thirst, Flatulence, Urine and Stool, Yawing leading to sleep, Cough, Sneeze, etc.
- Balancing personal and professional life.
- Having good virtue in terms of honesty, truthfulness, and being a genuinely compassionate person.
Ayurveda has mentioned a few herbs which are useful to balance mental wellbeing. These herbs are known as Rasayana and are taken under Ayurvedic physician’s advice, after detoxification of the body. This detox can be physical in the form of Panchakarma, or in today’s times, it can be considered as a digital and social detox. One should practice mindfulness and Yoga which help in stabilizing the mind.
Useful Ayurvedic Herbs for Social Health:
The mind plays a particularly important role in maintaining overall health. It can perceive innumerable things at a time, yet it gives accurate transmission to each cell of the body. As a result, one can have clarity of understanding and gain knowledge effectively.
The objective of the mind is to grasp all the information which is being perceived. If the soil is healthy, only then the crop will yield good results. Similarly, if the mind is trained to be sharp and focused, instillation of good and positive thoughts is carried on regularly, continuous learning of good virtues and thoughts will surely boost a person’s intellect. This can be achieved effectively by practicing Yoga and Pranayama regularly.
Some of the best asanas and exercises for mental and social health are as follows:
- Balasana – A child’s pose helps to relax the mind, improves blood circulation and stamina, stretches the whole body.
- Shavasana– Corpse pose is the best pose in Yoga to improve sleep quality. This helps to cool down the body after exercises, calms the mind, and immensely improves sleep quality.
- Legs up the wall pose – This pose allows better lymphatic drainage thereby improving blood circulation, it is recommended for anxiety, depression, and varicose veins.
- A brisk walk outdoors in fresh air is highly recommended especially to those who have a sedentary desk job. This helps to reconnect with nature and reduces work-related stress.
- A glass of warm milk at night is also beneficial to induce sound sleep.
- Including Ghee in the diet is also helpful to improve mental wellbeing. Ghee is considered as the best adjuvant for absorption of Rasayana drugs. Charaka has mentioned Ghee itself to be a Rasayana for daily inclusion in diet.
- Consumption of fresh fruits, especially seasonal and local produce is recommended. Ayurveda has recommended fruits that boost the mood are Pomegranate and Mango.
- Staying hydrated and eating freshly made food are essential to regulating the body clock. Food has a close relationship with our mind and our mood affects the food we eat. Eating healthy and making the right food choices will help to maintain physical health too.
A poorly balanced mental health will lead to physical disturbances, for eg, Stress will lead to over-eating or not eating at all. Either way, both are harmful to the physical body. Similarly, lack of sleep at night will lead to drowsiness throughout the day, along with impairing digestion.
Thus, Charaka ultimately conveys a message that if mental health is stable, only then physical health shall be stable. One should always focus on having a holistic approach to gain long term good health which is inclusive of a healthy body, mind, and soul.