Why is Yoga Good for Mental Health?
Can Yoga benefit your mental health? Sadhguru answers a question about the rising incidence of mental illness around the world, and explains that this is happening because we are pulling out all the supports that were in place for people to stay psychologically healthy.
Q: Mental health issues like depression and anxiety seem to be rampant in many parts of the world now, including India. What is your take on this?Sadhguru: Being mentally ill is not a joke. It is a most painful thing. If you have physical ailments, you will get everyone’s compassion, but when you have a mental ailment, you will get laughter, unfortunately. This is because it is very difficult to make out when someone is sick and when someone is being stupid. This is the biggest problem for those who have someone in the family who is mentally disturbed. You do not know when they are making it up and when they are really suffering. You do not know when to be compassionate, when to be hard on them.
Human sanity is a very fragile thing. The line between sanity and insanity is so thin. If you push it every day, some day you will cross it. When you get angry, what is the expression that is used? “I am mad with you,” or, “I am mad right now.” You may enjoy that little bit of madness – you crossed the line, and it felt like some kind of freedom and power. But one day when you cannot cross back, that is when suffering begins. It is not like physical pain – it is immense suffering. I have been around people who have been mentally ill, trying to help them. No one should have it. But unfortunately it is becoming an epidemic in the world.
Why Mental Illness is on the Rise
It is happening on a large scale in Western societies. India is not going to be far behind. Urban societies in India will especially move in this direction because in many ways, urban India is more West than West. There are more people in denims here than in America!
Mental illnesses are growing like never before because we are pulling out all the supports that people have, but we are not replacing those supports with anything. If people become so conscious and capable within themselves, everything would be fine even if you pulled all the supports. But without giving that competence, if you just pull the supports, people will crack.
For a long time, we have been banking on a few things for our mental and emotional stability. But now, all these things are being taken away. One of these things is family. Family gives us a certain support – no matter what happened, there was always someone for you. Everyone else is with you when you do the right things. If you do the wrong things, they will distance themselves. Family was one bunch of people who were like a net for the circus that you did. Whichever way you fell, there was someone to hold you for some moments. But that net is gone for many people these days. Now, when you fall, you fall. Because of that, people are cracking up.
In Indian culture, there was a time in the tradition when thirty percent of the population were monks. Consciously, they chose to live without family, to live without support, to live without a home – homelessness not out of deprivation, but by choice. None of them ever had depression because they transcended the need for the net.
If you learned your trapeze bar act really well, you can do it without the net. But if you are not good at it, you better have a net, otherwise your head will crack. That is all that is happening. We are taking off the traditional support system that we had.
Another aspect is religion. Religion handled human psychological balance effortlessly. “God is with you, don’t worry.” This settled a whole lot of people. Do not underestimate the value of that. Today, people are trying to go to psychiatrists. India does not have enough psychiatrists for 1.3 billion people. No country does. And above all, they are very inefficient because they can take only one client at a time, and they need a lot of furniture! With all due respect, we must acknowledge this aspect of religion. It is very inexpensive mass psychiatry.
Q: It is definitely a crisis that plagues us, and some seek help. At times, the diagnosis is chemical imbalance and medication is given. You have spoken about finding that pleasantness from within. How can that help in such situations?
An Orchestra of Chemistry
Sadhguru: Human pleasantness can be looked at in many different ways. One simple way of looking at it is that every human experience has a chemical basis to it. What you call peace, joy, love, turmoil, tranquility, agony, ecstasy – everything has a chemical basis to it. Even health and ill health have a chemical basis. A physician’s job is to try and manage an orchestra of chemistry. Today, the entire pharmacology is just about trying to manage your health by using chemicals.
Even mental illness is largely being managed by chemical input from outside. But all the chemicals that you can think of on this planet are in some way already present in this body.
Yoga for Mental Health
Essentially, health means one level of pleasantness. If your body becomes pleasant, we call this health. If it becomes very pleasant, we call this pleasure. If your mind becomes pleasant, we call this peace. If it becomes very pleasant, we call this joy. If your emotions become pleasant, we call this love. If they become very pleasant, we call it compassion. If your very energies become pleasant, we call this bliss. If they become very pleasant, we call it ecstasy. If your surroundings become pleasant, we call this success.
We are trying to manage pleasantness by putting chemicals in. In the United States, it is said that seventy percent of the population is on some kind of prescription medication. In the most affluent country, where there is an enormous choice of nourishment and lifestyles, seventy percent are on prescription medication. You are trying to manage your sanity and health by putting chemicals from outside.
The human body is a very complex chemical factory. Managing it from the outside is very difficult. You could manage it from inside, but you must have access to your insides! Yoga gives you access to the very source of creation throbbing within you. There is an intelligence within you that can transform a rice grain or a banana or a piece of bread into a human being. With a piece of bread, you manufacture the most complex mechanism on the planet! If even a drop of this intelligence enters your daily life, you will live magically, not miserably.
What people are suffering is just their psychological drama. It is your drama but a very badly-directed drama. If you are suffering it, everyone around you must be suffering it too. If your drama is badly directed, only you can make it an enjoyable drama. What is happening in your mind is just your drama. You just have to become a better director, so that your drama happens your way. The world's drama may not happen your way because it is bigger than you, but at least what is happening in your head must happen your way. It is time to take charge of that.
As you can engineer the outside, you can also engineer your interiority. As there is a science and technology for creating external comfort and convenience, there is a whole science and technology to create inner wellbeing. There is a way to engineer your interiority. There are proper scientific steps as to how you can change the fundamental chemistry of who you are and create a chemistry of blissfulness. Once you create a chemistry of blissfulness, you are blissful by your own nature, not because of something else. This is being offered by us as Inner Engineering.
Inner Engineering Online Can Help You Come Out of Depression and Anxiety
Researchers at the University of Indiana, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Rutgers and Florida Universities have done a comprehensive study, which found that with just 90 days of Inner Engineering practice, the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) levels increase by 300%. It is an established fact that if BDNF is at a decreased level, it leads to anxiety, depression, Alzheimer's, emotional exhaustion and burnouts. So with Inner Engineering, people are able to come out of their depressive modes and anxiety situations.
The Inner Engineering process by itself involves the body, mind, emotion and energy. What we need to do with the body and energy, we will have to do it directly because that is a transmission, not a teaching. But what we do with mind and emotion is a kind of teaching. You can experience that online.
For most human beings, if the way they think and feel changes, you will see that there is a tremendous change in their life. If you can think of what you want, not compulsively about something else, you would naturally be blissful. If right now you can keep your emotions very pleasant, your home would be so pleasant. All the psychological and emotional benefits which naturally translate into social behavior are present in Inner Engineering Online. The energetic dimension and the physical aspect need to be done as a direct transmission. That will not be taught online because there are many implications to that. You have to learn the Shambhavi Mahamudra separately. But Inner Engineering Online will transform the way you think and feel.
Most human beings think that this itself is ultimate transformation. If someone can think and feel differently and they become pleasant human beings, people normally start saying, "He is a spiritual person, he is so wonderful." No, he is just a regular human being, others are still evolving! If a human being is conscious, thinks what he wants instead of thinking compulsively, and holds his emotion the way he wants, this is just a human being. This is not that he attained to something. He is just a human being. For those who cannot even think and feel the way they want, there is an evolutionary issue. This evolutionary issue can be handled with the Inner Engineering Online program.