Nanak Dukhia Sab Sansaar Why Mental Health Is So Important ?
Mental Illnesses saw a great spike after covid and we have all seen the lack of awareness about mental health in our culture, only after lockdown we saw the rise in mental health campaigns online. Nobody talks about mental health much because it was seen as a taboo, but if we dig deeper in the roots of sikhi, gurbani also says a lot about this topic. Talking about ‘mann’ that is the mind; gurbani talks about how important it is to purify our mann just as we purify our body, which can be done by meditation or naam (the lord’s prayer)
Our guru says that meditation on naam is the food for our soul and that is how we recharge our mann (our mind) which is responsible for our thoughts, the storage of our emotions and our willpower to do things in life. Because if we don’t take care of our mind, it will get stuck in the infinite loop of ego (ahankaar), lust and desires (lobh) and unhealthy attachment (moh) which further deplete our inner resources, making a person feel sick by the mind and then the body.
ਜਾ ਕੋ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਬਹੁਤ ਬਹੁਤ ਦੇਿਹ ਵਿਆਪੇ ਰੋਗ ॥
When one is plagued by acute and excessive worry, disease inflicts the body.
Sickness to the body also starts with the mind because when we experience trauma, our body releases this stress hormone which makes us anxious and gets us into flight and fight response but when released too much, our body gets used to it, which is why it starts staying in a constant stress mode and when it stays like that for too long, it in turn results in physical illnesses like gut problems, fluctuating blood pressure, etc. So gurbani says that in order to stay away from physical and mental illness, we need to learn how to connect to the naam because it helps us gain adhiyatmak bal that is inner strength to live life and face obstacles gracefully. What we can do to keep ourselves sane: Sewa ( Service ) Sewa: Sewa means ‘service’. Doing Community service in a gurdwara or an NGO can help us meet new people and channel our stress into productive work by getting us out of our head andfocusing on helping others. It also releases feel good hormones because we feel we are making a difference in the society by doing something good. Simran ( Meditation ) Simran: Meditating on the naam of ‘waheguru’ for a few minutes everyday, and starting your day with it. When we mindfully meditate and focus on the present moment while doing so, it helps us get out of our thoughts and make us realise that we are in fact the control of our life. As guru sahib says,
ਜੈਸਾ ਸੇਵੈ ਤੈਸੋ ਹੋਇ ॥੪॥ one become just like the one he serves (as one thinks, so he becomes)
Gurbani Vichar Gurbani Vichar: Reading and understanding Gurbani can also deeply help us because when we learn how to really understand gurbani, we realize that the guru talks to us through gurbani. And the gurbani has a lot of ‘shabads’ that make us feel better about our self and restore the faith in the guru. Gurbani can deeply comfort us and provide us with answers, like the shabad.
ਨਾਨਕ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਮਿਤ ਕਰਹੁ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਤਿਸ ਹੀ ਹੇਇ ॥ O Nanak, dont be anxious; the lord will take care of you
Where Guru Nanak talks about why there is no need for us to worry or overthink because the lord is always looking out for us. Guru Nanak Dev Ji also said in his bani,
ਨਾਨਕ ਦੁਖੀਆ ਸਭੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥ O nanak, the whole world is suffering.
This is another perspective of life that Guru Nanak dev ji gives us, which says that the whole world in fact is suffering with some ‘dukh’ or the other and only when we live our life in a balanced way by inculcating ‘naam’ in our routine and meditating on it as well us taking care of our body, we stay away from the ‘vikaar’ (disorders) of the world. The Five ‘Vikaars’ being: Kam (lust) : when a person is immersed in sexual desires, the mental health of the person suffers.Krodh (rage or uncontrolled anger): too much anger is bad for health and a person should learn how to manage or control it in order to maintain mental peace. Lobh (Greed): worrying about and running after money can also be very stressful for a person and a person should approach the topic of money by being grounded. Moh (Attachment or emotional attachment ): when we attach ourselves with materialistic things and people, they give us pain which again affects our mental health so that should be kept in check. Ahankaar (ego): ‘I am’ what we think our identity is, also effects us. Guru sahib says that a person should be flexible to learn new things and have humility to accept his flaws if he wants to live a good life. Haumai or Ego Known as the virus of the mind is said to be one of the reasons which keep our minds in misery. When we work in therapy, we work on identifying and removing the false Ego Sense (Haumai) Which keeps a person stuck in the same cycles of overthinking. It is called Ego work in therapy. Like the Guru Ji says:
ਜਿਨ ਜਿਪਆ ਇਕ ਮਿਨ ਇਕ ਚਿਤ ਤਿਨ ਲਥਾ ਹਉਮੈ ਭਾਰੁ ॥ Those who have understood(hari or mool) ‘ek man ek chit’ or single mindedly, the burden of their egotism (haumai) has been removed from their mind. Here gurbani tells us to work on our self awareness and meditate on naam along with facing our insecurities and fears and seeing the reality of the world. Credits Manmeet Nagi : psychologist by profession, has a masters degree in psychology. Founder of Glow Inside Out Therapy, an organization which works towards providing trauma informed therapy and educating people about mental health. She is currently working in holistic healing organizations and exploring astrology.