Thousands of years before the advent of modern medicine, Ayurveda taught humans that everything in nature is interconnected and interdependent and that human beings, blessed with a sound body, mind, and spirit, are inseparable from the natural world, are an integral part of the living, intelligent, and self-regulatory entirety.
Ayurveda teaches us that the way to create an alignment or “balance” between the mind and spirit is to look inward. It is to introspect and get in touch with the Self – that is the natural law according to Ayurveda. It happens to be the path of introspection that is often the most overlooked.
The Spiritual Lens of Ayurveda
If you prefer to use the spiritual lens to study the balance between our mind, body, and spirit, understand that Ayur, Sanskrit for life, is the union of the physical body, senses, mind, and spirit. It is known by dhatri, that which sustains, jivita, that which is life, nityaga, that which is in continuum, and Anubandha, that which is interdependent or that which acts as a link between the past life and the future life.
Our mind, body, and spirit are connected to the laws of nature. The practice of meditation helps to get in touch with the Self. The seat of intelligence is the Self as per nature. It is the key to knowing oneself. Knowing your own body and then taking it even a step further, your mind is the way to be attuned to your spirit.
Taking Care of Our Mental Health Through Ayurveda
Many of us realize the role that rest plays in our lives, and how important it is for recovery and balance.
Now, let’s take a look at different Ayurvedic tools that you can apply to your daily life to create a calm alignment for your body, mind, and soul. It is surprisingly easier to take care of our bodies than it is our minds! Different fields of medicine deal with diets, lifestyle changes, and exercise routines to ensure that the human body continues to function at an optimum level. However, it is easy to let mental health take the backseat, but it can also prove to be the most dangerous one!
When we eat warm and fresh food, we are not only feeding our body but also nourishing it. Similarly, kind words and generous deeds bring kindness in return while harsh words breed anger and resentment.
To ensure that we take care of our mental health and in turn our spiritual health, we must first understand what makes up the mind and how it connects to our soul.
The Three Aspects of the Mind
The three aspects of the mind can help us in understanding how the Atma or spirit, mind, and body are connected to each other and in turn the higher self.
Dhi: The ability to learn & acquire knowledge. It is a Sanskrit word that translates to understanding, reflection, or intellect. In the context of our discussion, it means the mind’s ability to learn or acquire knowledge.
Dhriti: The ability to process and retain information. Is a Sanskrit word that means “to act with determination.” It also means the quality of discernment, of knowing right from wrong. Dhriti is about getting in touch with your inner self and discerning whether a particular course of action or decision is right or wrong.
Smriti: The ability to recall or remember. Smriti is recollection in Sanskrit. Good memory can be seen in different aspects. It might be the knowledge of cause and effect or seeing similarity or even contrast. It could also contribute to high concentration powers, or the ability to practice a particular task for long hours. Attaining or acquiring information of the metaphysical kind and the ability to communicate an event or a story effectively so that someone else can comprehend the ongoing works is also the work of good smriti.
Smriti is impaired when there is an excess of rajas and tamas. Smriti or memory is the remembrance of things that are directly perceived, heard, or experienced earlier. One of the most complex processes carried out by the brain, memory is the one where information is encoded, stored, and retrieved. It has a prominent role in the perception of knowledge.
Smriti is more closely related to Buddhi (intellect) and Manas (mind). Memory is said to be the result of the collective action of Atma, Manas, and Buddhi. It is the recreation of past experiences by the synchronous firing of neurons that were involved in the original experience. Manas play an important role in the process of retention of knowledge and it also coordinates the external environment with the brain through the different Gyanendriyas or sense organs.
The capacity to multitask has been heralded as a sign of productivity. However, since we only have one mind, it can only connect with one sensory organ at a time. It is precisely why information from multiple sensory organs cannot be processed and translated to the Atma all at once.
Perceiving Your True Self
If you don’t clean the mirror in your house for some time, it will be covered in dust, and eventually, you will not be able to see your own self. Similarly, if your mind is disconnected from your soul, you will be unable to perceive your own true self.
According to Ayurveda, the mind is an irreplaceable part of life. It impacts the overall health of the body and soul. Increasingly, we’ve begun to observe that there is a rise in psychosomatic diseases because of high levels of stress. Emotional balance is perturbed wherein Dhi, Dhriti, Smriti are not functioning at an optimal level. When there is such an imbalance between the three pillars, the balance should only be restored with non-pharmacological treatment.
A simple quick-fix mentality will not suffice when it comes to lifestyle disorders. So we must understand how to better catch minor imbalances when they arise. The easiest way to do this is through present moment awareness. When we are aligned with the true nature of our being, we can live a life full of purpose, intention, and happiness.
Established in Yoga, O winner of wealth,
Perform actions having abandoned
Attachment and having become balanced in
Success and failure, for balance of mind is
(Bhagavad-Gita, II, 48)