Empowering Minds: Unveiling the Journey to Mental Well-being

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Aruna Narayan

Pune, 13th August 2023: The first question a renowned Tibetan Buddhist master asked everyone he met was “How is your mind?” Perhaps it is time for all of us to ask this question to everyone we meet and answer very honestly if we are asked the same.

Look at the mental health statistics. Close to 60-70 million people suffer from common and severe mental health disorders. India is the world’s suicide capital with over 2.6 lakhs cases of suicide every year. WHO statistics say that the average suicide rate is 10.9 per lakh people.

With the kind of stigma still associated with mental health in India, these statistics may be just be the tip of the iceberg. People suffer from moderate to severe mental stress. There are several challenges we face daily in our lives.

When the pace of external or material progress exceeds the development of inner knowledge, people suffer deep emotional conflicts without any internal method of dealing with them. An abundance of material items provides such a variety of external distractions that people lose the connection to their inner lives.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche in “The Joy of Living”

Overwhelming feelings, negative thinking can affect us deeply but sharing it seems difficult. There are several reasons why people do not discuss what is going on in their mind. What will people think? Will I be called weak because I cannot handle my mind? Why can’t I be like others who seemingly have a hold on themselves? Who will listen to me? Who can understand me? What do I do? Can what I feel actually change? I am in a hopeless situation and there is no way out are few of these questions that come to mind.

We do not think twice before going to a doctor if we are physically ill do we? Mental health awareness and mental well-being are equally if not more important than physical health. We have often seen that in similar circumstances, people respond/react differently. Why? The difference probably lies in the quality and nature of their mind or to put it more simply, it is the quality of their thoughts, feelings and emotions and whether they have an innate emotional and spiritual intelligence to deal with them effectively.

WHO says “Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”

There are many different factors that can affect one’s mental health. These need to be dealt with timely and effectively through a trained professional. All of us have the ability to be mentally healthy but life experiences such as trauma and abuse, our environment, lack of basic material necessities and emotional nurturing can play a significant role in our ability to respond to our challenges.

The Mental Health Awareness Program (MHAP) initiated by Anhad and Punekarnews is a giant step on this journey of becoming more aware and mindful of the state of our mind. MHAP’s vision is first, to make talking and discussing about mental health normal (just as normal as one would discuss about physical health). The larger vision is to offer a deeper knowledge about the working of the mind, our mental processes using a unique combination of psychology, ancient Indian wisdom techniques such as Vipassana (Vipashyana) meditation (vi- see the truth of reality, passana- to see) and offering a platform headed by empathetic listeners to talk to and share openly and fearlessly with.

We are all together on this journey of understanding with empathy and the sense of shared humanity.