By Dr. Bhaswati Bhattacharya
Ancient Bharatiya traditions place prime emphasis on development of manōbala (bala=strength, manas=the feeling/ emotional mind) for starting anything new. All successful Ayurvedic medical prescriptions quietly calculate all disease prognosis, personal power, and relationships based on the mental strength of each person. This is one reason why two people with the same disease get very different prescriptions in Ayurveda and why people with money but no mental strength loses their fortunes.
If it is so important, then why doesn’t mainstream society put more premiums on the development of manōbala?
The main reason for neglecting the profound importance of mental health and effective rituals of self-care is the lack of good teaching of personal power in our best schools, universities and through the media. Sports coaches, music teachers, and arts teachers were our earlier link to emotional development, but these are low priority today compared to exam prep.
Look at the best schooled people. They are trained to get high scores on logic and calculation, but rarely focus on critical thinking and analysis that involves the emotions and intuitive mind. Indians living successfully in the diaspora or in urban cities of India have embraced western, modern culture so fully that they have unwittingly adopted the lack of values that reflect the basics of being human.
Worst of all is the labeling of bhakta (blind Hindu follower) or Hindutva radical on anyone that supports ancient Indian rituals or cultural thinking that we all have the power of God within us, and we are unabashed worshippers of the endless (sanatana) cycles of nature.
Of all who denigrate ancient Bharatiya values, known as hinduphobia/hindumisia, the most common are educated, successful Indians in the diaspora and wealthy pockets of India. Why? They do not appreciate the connection between nature, adhyatmika, and the triad of power-money-success.
Here are few steps through which one can practice to enhance manōbala:
The first key to mental health is early morning breathwork. Conscious breathing techniques developed in yoga demonstrate how to develop connection between the conscious mind and the vagus nerve that controls the diaphragm. If you learn how to breathe properly, your 5 senses will become linked to your mind during your breathwork.
Proper breathing also eliminates toxins, changes our neurochemistry almost instantly, and increases our lung’s power and the immunity that resides within the respiratory tissues. Spending time in nature, in silence, during breathwork brings the mind back to its natural connection with the body’s perceptive elements.
While popular media and oppressive fear-based religions dispense shame and guilt around intimacy, equating it to sex, Bharatiya values stress the importance of safe touching and physical comfort among friends and a close-knit family. The environment where each member can grow amidst a feeling of safeness allows a child to develop inner vs. outer fears, connecting their senses with their intuition, and exercising the bioelectric heart. This connects all inputs of body, heart, senses and mind. When they get older, they can then distinguish the difference between intimacy and sexual pleasure.
Time in Nature
To heal, spend 30 minutes in an old grove of trees or a mountain area. Allow the mind to notice everything it can perceive. The powers of perception are honed when we walk quietly through nature, watching, listening, smelling, and feeling everything living around us. Regular hiking, activities, and a daily walk on natural earth are essential for reconnecting with the slow drone pulse of the earth.
Ancient Bharatiya wisemen placed constant emphasis on developing mental and emotional resilience using practical tools, handing them down generation to generation, uninterrupted. Yet these practical tools are ignored in favor of new psychiatry theories that eventually lead back to ancient Bharatiya wisdom!