Everything that was, is no more, at least to a certain degree. Our lives are changing, for most, with a lack of feeling in control. Political angst all over the globe is creating a general anxiety that has yet found a place of sanctuary and impermanence of our livelihoods. Our health is a constant trigger of uncertainty felt at the Core of our being.
And yet COVID-19 has bought light to a pre-existing and potent pandemic, as it roars to the surface of our beings and affects our core existence – our mental health. Our mental health is our emotional and psychological well-being in relationship to ourselves, others, and our environment.
A Journey in Self-Awareness
I am an actor, by profession, a longtime student of both Vedanta and Tibetan Buddhism, a Chopra-certified Primordial Sound Meditation teacher, and the co-founder of Never Alone, the mental health initiative of The Chopra Foundation. My 20-year background in Buddhist meditation techniques, along with a deep interest in non-dualism, Vedanta, and Primordial Sound Meditation has led me to my work at the Foundation.
The goal of all of the techniques we teach at the Foundation and Never Alone is freedom from suffering. I realized over the years that my experience of life depends on a very basic element and distinction: my mental hygiene and the pathway to self-awareness.
Freedom From Suffering
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, every 40 seconds someone died by suicide. The pandemic has shown a higher rate of usage of suicide hotlines by 300 percent. One cannot ignore that our mental health is at the center of it all. But what if we were to place our attention on the root of our mind? What if we were to free ourselves from ultimate suffering?
Consciousness is at the center of our being. It is the birth of our mind - images, feelings, sensations, and thoughts are born from this space that is not perceived, yet just is.
In a practical distinction, the need to be free of mind pollution, overriding worries, uncertainties of existence, we must experience our true self, our innate awareness. Our potential is infinite as we start nurturing the pathway to self-awareness. And in that sense mental well-being is essential to all aspects of our daily lives, a closer mental hygiene is key for our physical and social wellbeing, our careers and life purposes, our financial, and community relationships.
When one experiences a fertile clear mind, naturally healthy emotions such as joy, empathy, love, and compassion arise, connected to the flow of life and the flow of consciousness. And to the other extreme, anxiety, anger, guilt, humiliation, shame, and depression arises when disconnected from our true self.
From Depression to Joy
That’s why we started our first Freedom From Suffering meditation program on the Chopra App. We dive into the nature of suffering so we can start the journey to understanding the mechanism of existential human suffering, using reflective meditation techniques from the wisdom traditions, that are not only profound but simple.
From depression to joy to ultimate freedom. To become the human explorer of your own self is the key to liberation from cyclic suffering. Our first series is a four-part series and is just the beginning for those who want to dive into the nature of human existence.
The Never Alone Initiative
Never Alone, the mental well-being and suicide prevention initiative of The Chopra Foundation, explores the different dimensions of this ongoing global crisis by offering free practical tools for all so that nobody ever feels alone.
Our emotional AI chatbot PIWI is available 24/7 and is connected to a mental health support line.
The 2nd Annual Never Alone Global Mental Health Summit
Our 2nd Annual Global Mental Health Summit, to be held on May 21st, is a 10-hour live broadcast program featuring mental health experts, artists, thought leaders, scientists, and storytellers exploring the depths of our mental hygiene in order to reduce stigma by delivering practical tools and insights that we can map for our inner and outer journeys.
Our program starts with India as our spotlight to explore the diversity and complexity of mental health. As much as our mental health is a universal crisis, there is not one effective solution for this. We believe that a multiple holistic approach to the problem shall allow emergence to occur.
This year's overall arching theme is the necessity in establishing a new mental health culture, a new narrative.
Through our work at the Foundation, we have come to realize that a significant component of the solution to this silent tragic crisis can be attributed to reducing stigma by raising awareness and creating bridges of communication for all to recognize themselves in. The other main component of the work lies in developing and democratizing access to mental health solutions.
Our goal is to democratize access to mental hygiene tools by leveraging technology and providing ubiquitous access across all platforms and strata of society. We are currently deploying the Never Alone platform for access to curated mental wellbeing content which will be available on both the IOS and Android mobile platforms.
A Global Alliance: You Are the Solution
There is a huge amount of work that lies at the heart of our mission, but we know we are not alone, a global alliance is truly what is needed so that we can overcome this deep crisis. You are the solution and each and every one of us has a unique approach to mental being and resiliency.
The vision of the Chopra Foundation is to empower humanity for a more peaceful, just, sustainable, healthy, and joyful world, from personal transformation to global transformation.
As our founder, Deepak Chopra would say, “There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.”
Thank you for taking on this journey for reaching a critical mass for global transformation, I somehow, feel deeply anchored in an inner knowing, that our future generations shall find solace and freedom from suffering starting with us right here, right now.
We look forward to hosting you at our virtual online summit.
Register for our free event here.
Co-Founder of The Never Alone Initiative
Explore more tools to support emotional well-being with Freedom From Suffering: From Depression to Joy, a new four-part series with Gabriella Wright, available now on the Chopra App.