In a world marked by conflicts and a ballooning mental health crisis, one pressing question beckons: Is there a way out of this?
The post-pandemic world continues to fluctuate between extremes of aggression and societal violence on one end and depression and suicidal tendencies on the other. Mental health and loneliness have become silent epidemics with estimated one in every three individuals in the world suffering from anxiety or depression.
With nearly two mass shootings per day and classroom violence becoming commonplace in the U.S., it makes one wonder if we are regressing to a barbaric age. In today’s virtual world where more and more people seem to be operating in silos, there is an increasing feeling of mistrust and isolation.
How did we even get here? Let’s look at life through the lens of these three fundamental aspects: Passion, Dispassion, and Compassion.
Passion is essential to achieve anything worthwhile. Without it, one could feel lost, unenthusiastic or even depressed. On the other hand, unbridled passion can lead to anxiety, fear of uncertainty and even insomnia.
While passion propels one into action, dispassion allows one to relax. Certain amount of dispassion is essential in order to feel sane, safe and to have a sound sleep. It broadens one’s vision and allows one to look at life from a bigger context, acknowledging the fact that people and situations are constantly changing. When one embraces this sense of impermanence, the world appears like a transit lounge. Both, modern scientists and ancient sages concur that the world is illusory in nature. This awareness makes individuals pause and reconsider the priorities of their life.
The third aspect is compassion which defines humanness. In absence of which, life appears dry and meaningless. While compassion towards others is essential, compassion towards one’s own self is equally important. It also creates an environment where people feel heard and included thus mitigating the adverse impact of loneliness.
When these aspects go out of balance, it induces stress and societal discord. This is the primary cause of today’s mental health crisis. Unfortunately, neither at home nor in school have we ever learned how to manage stress and emotions. Popular interventions such as therapy and medication are cosmetic at best as they don’t seem to offer a long-lasting solution. This calls for a fundamental rethink.
Breathwork and meditation hold the key to eliminating stress and restoring balance in all aspects of life. 42 years ago, when I first started to travel across America, yoga and meditation were colored with prejudice. While the stigma around these practices is waning, there is still a long way to go.
Our breath has many secrets that have not been explored fully. Each emotion corresponds to a distinct breathing pattern. If emotions can impact how we breathe, the reverse is also true. From ancient times, people have been using breath as a way to relax and strengthen their minds. A strong mind can carry a weak body. However, a weak mind cannot even support a strong body. Meditation helps individuals experience a rare state of outer dynamism and inner calm. It is no longer a luxury, but a modern-day necessity. Meditation and breathwork are not just cures but also preventive measures for maintaining mental and emotional well-being.
Even if one person in a family is disturbed, it affects the entire family. Inner peace is key to the peace in family, society and eventually in the entire nation.
Wars originate as a conflict in the mind of an individual. Perceived threat from others, breakdown of communication and lack of trust fuel discord, resulting in loss of sensitivity and sensibility. Thus, it is all the more necessary for people in positions of power to have inner calm and peace. This enables them to think better and act more effectively for the greater good of our planet.
In global discussions, peace and security are always mentioned in the same breath. However very little attention is given to peace education. It will serve the planet in the long run if governments could spend a fraction of their security budget on peace education and mental health towards creating a happy world.
A violence-free society, quiver-free breath, stress-free mind, inhibition-free intellect, trauma-free memory, and a sorrow-free soul is the birthright of every individual. My vision is to see a happier society. Some may say it's utopia but I’m confident that together we can make it a reality.
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