Even the most conservative healthcare professionals in the world now accept the fact that our mental health is a huge factor in both the occurrence of chronic diseases and its recovery. Both experience and research have proven this beyond doubt. As the World Health Organisation has clearly stated 'there is no health without mental health'.
The increasing trend of various chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension and others can be seen to equate very clearly to the decline in our mental states. Today, factors like stress, anxiety, worry and depression are so much more prevalent and it is hardly surprising that the incidence of such chronic issues is on the rise.
Why is the mind so relevant to our health?
The answer lies in the long-understood fact that our mind creates our reality to a far greater extent than we appreciate. We understand that if we are in a good mood our day appears perfect or vice versa if not. We mostly do not understand how deep the relationship between our mind and our reality goes. This is something which most spiritual traditions have always understood and is now also becoming a scientific understanding as well. Spiritually and now within the field of quantum theory our minds and consciousness are literally creating our reality.
Physiologically, we also need to understand that negative emotions like fear, stress and anxiety are known to activate that part of our brain which initiates physical response like 'fight or flight' mode. By shutting down non-essential systems the body creates an instant trigger factor as a response. The most relevant system that gets shut down is the immune system which allows disease to begin and prevents the healing process.
Why does mental health deteriorate?
The single greatest issue affecting poor mental health is the increase in isolation and disconnection in our lives. As human beings, we are social creatures that need connection to others. We do not thrive when shutting ourselves off from society.
Today, people are more and more isolated. We used to live in communities, our children were raised not in a small family unit but with many people involved. Children used to play safely in our streets and be in and out of each other's houses. Our lives were so much more connected with others around us. Our free time would be spent in conversation, playing music, games and learning new hobbies with others.
This has now changed. We don't know even the names of our neighbours let alone anything else about them. We spend so much of our time in front of screens and this is deeply concerning. We have seen friends out having dinner and not speaking a word as everyone of them is staring into their mobile phones.
Another important point is the feeling of insecurity and distrust when meeting new people. Somehow nowadays, imbedded in our minds is a feeling that others are going to harm us in some way or another. Sadly, some media have played an active role in this misconception. As a result, we create barriers in our minds between ourselves and others reinforcing the disconnection and isolation.
Isn't it any wonder how badly our mental health is sufferings? It has affected us in more ways than we know.
How can we fix this mind-set crisis?
Firstly, we need to work with our mind-sets, let go of the wrong concepts, understand and be convinced that our mental state can be realigned. The other key factors are also the combination of knowledge and meditation.
Our 3-stage process is as follows:
(1) Cultivating awareness: This is achieved through a few simple practical methods:
(a) Simple meditation practices. One should establish a regular, ideally morning time to sit doing calm abiding meditation. As little as 15 minutes of this already brings huge benefits. The benefits of this enables the sense of presences, learning to control our thoughts and allowing space for positivity in our minds.
(b) This should be complimented with several short mindful breathing exercise breaks during the day. Simply stopping 4 or 5 times during the day and observing our breath for one minute of 10 breaths is enough to achieve this.
(c) Maintaining one's ethical balance of mental awareness and well-being. This is achieved through a no-malice approach to life.
(2) Working with our negative emotions: Simple meditation is not enough to maintain our practice if we allow our unhealthy state of mind to remain uncontrolled. We need to face up and deal with our emotions.
(a) There are many general ways to work with emotions. Taking control and not absorbing effect on our minds enhances our power of control.
(b) Also, each specific emotion has an antidote which we can use to reduce their influence. For example, everyday situations like traffic jams and illnesses can be simply overcome by adjusting the mind. Instead of becoming upset, use these moments to cultivate more patience and reflection.
(3) Cultivating healthy positive emotions: We must deal with the fundamental issue of disconnection in our lives. There are many ways to deal with this but as with anything else, the mind is where we must make a start. Addiction is an example where only a strong mind-set can create changes to overcome a persistent problem.
When thinking of the opposite to isolation and disconnection, love, compassion and wisdom comes to mind. They are the right antidotes to a lot of mental and emotional drawbacks. A systematic meditation process that works on developing these emotions more strongly within us is the perfect solution.
As the Latin saying goes, "mens sana in corpore sano" meaning "a healthy mind in a healthy body". We at Akesis Life believes that mental health and strong emotional support is a key healing factor in one's journey to optimum health.
Dr Chatchai Sribundit (M.D) and all at Akesis Life (www.akesisoncology.com), wish to make this year a healthy mind and body journey for all. Happy New Year!
Author: Akesis Life, Mental Health Department and Ezree Ebrahim, Business Development Consultant (Healthcare), Akesis Life by Absolute Health. For further information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Series Editor: Christopher F. Bruton, Executive Director, Dataconsult Ltd, email@example.com. Dataconsult's Thailand Regional Forum provides seminars and extensive documentation to update business on future trends in Thailand and in the Mekong Region.