Psychology and Ayurveda article 2
They say the most impossible thing in the world is to reach to the bottom of a human mind. It can be reached to infinity and you know nothing. Human is a complex combination of visible body , physical organs and invisible mind and emotions . Both have huge impact on each other. Mind has potential to improve the physical health and at the same time it can produce diseases in body. The same way physical health has influence on mind and mental health. Mistakes by the physical body punishes mind and mind can take the body on scary ride of illnesses. Modern science is yet to reveal many mysteries about mind and mental illness. Interestingly thousands of years ago Vedic science was studying this inseparable relation of body and mind. Atharva Veda is probably is the oldest literature mentioning the mental illness and its treatment. As the Vedas and other ancient science branches and literature evolved ,many evidence and observations had been documented ,some in spiritual perceptive and some based on health science. Ayurveda e.g., explains the complex chemistry of mind , emotions , behavior , habits, and its results on health. But for this do we really know what exactly mind is ? How it works? What are its properties ? Where exactly our mind is, in heart or brain? Hundreds of poets, philosophers, authors, sages and scientists have written uncountable lines on mind and ‘mind games. When we learned the concept of Mind in collage while studying Ayurveda it changed all of us in some or other way for sure. The way Ayurveda explains Mind and human health is simply astonishing. So, today introducing …Mind …featuring as Mind !
What is mind ?
According to the today’s science mind is something broad spectrum term which rules the functions and interactions between heart and brain. Mind is responsible for the personality, way of interactions, ability to learn, grasp, memorize and express things or concepts. Mind has expressions through emotions, behavior patterns, imaginations, religious aspects, spirituality and emotional relations with things or persons. It is not visible, but its existence can be understood through the wishes, sensory desires, and motor actions of person.
Ayurveda has described mind as word ‘Mana’ or ‘Manas’. The literal meaning of this Sanskrit word is to perceive the knowledge. So, Mind is something which has ability to understand and learn the things. Mind is said to be the supreme power as it has control on physical body as well as psychology of a being. It also has control over the functions related to brain and heart. All the sensory organs are functionally attached to the mind. Ayurveda puts a verse in which it says proof of existence of mind is existence of knowledge. Mana is seat for soul and is in inseparable accordance with brain.
Ok it is getting confusing for some of us. You must be thinking, What about properties or nature of mind? How exactly mind acts?
The first very beautiful property of mind described in Ayurveda is Ikatva(singleness) and Anutva/subtleness (microform like smallest unit atom). Due to subtleness of mind, it can understand only one type of knowledge at a time but on the other hand its Anutva that is its superfine micro nature can move mind from one sense organ to another within no time. I am sure many of you can relate to this theory as it happens with all of us many times. When we have our full attention in reading or writing or any other sense organ related activity, we cannot perceive what is going on around. Many times, we are literally not able to hear someone calling us or somebody passing by. This is singleness of mind. On the other hand, Mind is so micro and with no binding of physical structure, it can travel and visit as many places as possible and experiences subjects it wants that too within a few seconds. Remember the days when as students you used to look at blackboard with a deep serious face, but your mind used to have rides in may be in canteen, playground, or home or even with somebody else. This example best explains the very opposite and difficult to handle nature of the Mind. Now are these properties really matter for our health. Definitely , if mind focuses or lingers to a certain activity or thought for abnormal time it may lead to obsessive disorders. On the other hand, inability to concentrate on one thing in given time is observed in diseases like ADHD, Autism, anxiety etc. Insufficient presence of mind or absence of perception is seen in the cases of depression and some other mental illness too.
Mind has defined important functions in human body. Controlling of sense organs , self-restraint ,hypothesis, imagination, consideration ,direction and correlation are all under the control of mind. Self-control with respect to the sense organs and their demand, emotions , feelings, and their expression through behavior also performed by mind. We all know that every sense organ has its own object to feel. Taste – tongue, touch -skin, sound-ear ,Smell-nose etc. You will be amazed to know that our mind is unique invisible organ, and it has its own objects to feel and desire for. The description of Mana is a great contribution of Ayurveda in psychology field. Ayurveda describes these objects as
‘Chinty’ (things to think for , dos and don’ts etc.)Vicharya (things to analyze, discriminate, reasoning etc.)Uhya (to judge or guess the concept or things )Dhyeya( to decide goal/aim, to regularly plan and think rationally about it)Sankalp (object of imagination and determination to work for)
These are all the mind objects and its work of expertise. Now imagine any abnormality in above and your sanity gone. Yes ,Mind matters!
Where does my Mind reside in body ?
From centuries mind has been connected to heart and brain. Brain is the seat of mind because it is organ where multiple sensations are received ,analyzed, decoded, and acted for with the deceive power of mind. In Ayurveda some of the authors relate mind and heart together because heart is supposed to be the manifestation organ of various emotions like love, fear, shame etc. In mental illness Ayurveda texts relates mind to the organ brain again. Overall though the exact presence of mind is not a single place brain and heart are the major sites where it works. To your surprise our gut (stomach and intestine) too have hidden relationships with the mind. Many physical disorders like colitis, psoriasis can be diagnosed as a result psychological illness . Therefore, gut health, good digestion and appropriate diet does have influence on mind health too. Mind has control over the gut. In short mind with its Anu (micro) nature has ability to use various organs as its workstation.
This introduction of mind must have triggered the curiosity among you to know more about unheard, unread facts about mental health. The mind story continues. Stay tune to read, what happens when mind doesn’t mind at all !