In our world, there are different cultures and religions, and many of them have contrasting concepts and definitions, including that of the soul. Some consider the soul as equivalent to the spirit, whereas, others treat both as distinct and separate, but spiritual entities. While a few even nullify the concept of soul replacing it with pure energy, some go ahead and equate the soul with the mind and the emotions.
However, no matter what point of view you hold dear to yourself, I intend not to plunge into the controversy or debate on the philosophy of soul and spirit, but to just talk about how we can take better care of ourselves in order to live a better life.
For a healthy and balanced life we need to safeguard our body and mind from diseases. Modern medicine defines disease as an abnormal condition and disorder of physical structure or function of the body of an organism. Whereas the alternative forms of medicine like Reiki and Homoeopathy describe disease as a condition of the blockage or imbalance of spiritual energy that exists in our body.
On the other hand, a popular phrase “Diseases of the soul” also has been used in different cultures. Like our body that at times falls ill or becomes diseased, people since time immemorial have believed that it is also possible for our soul to suffer from diseases, and become impure. These people considered anger, hatred, jealousy, greed and the like vices as the diseases of the soul.
Actually, soul was considered and is still considered by many people as constituting the mind and the emotions. Therefore, diseases of the soul are, in fact, the diseases of the mind. Fundamentally, these diseases come into existence when the mind is not under control – and conversely, a controlled mind will never be diseased. An ancient quote even says out that the afflictions of the soul are worse than the diseases of the body, or the complications of the mind have serious implications on our body.
The Native Americans claimed that the psycho-spiritual diseases of the soul are caused by a mind-parasite called ‘wetiko’. It’s like a tape worm that hides in the dark ravens of the mind and gives birth to illusory thoughts, which change the thinking perspective of the person. This results in the wetiko starting to eat up the soul of that person, gradually piece by piece.
Every person has the wetiko in the form of greed, anger, jealousy, lying, and the other vices that sort of blind a person’s psyche and forces them to indulge in terrible acts while their wetiko-created illusion in the mind makes them believe they are right, and that the others are wrong.
It’s not only the Native Americans, but followers of all faiths and religions including Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and others believe that these vices are developed by the mind. These endanger the aspect of humanity, and makes the people suffer, including the ones who bear the vices and the ones who remain at the receiving ends of the infliction. The religions formed many principles or laws to be observed by their followers defining the right kind of thoughts, behaviors, and actions that may help them hold the diseases of the soul at bay, and keep them mentally healthy.
It is no surprise that the ancient scriptures to heal the diseases of the soul are still relevant in the present times, and their teachings resonate with the findings of the modern discipline that studies the mind, Psychology. Psychology is the branch of modern science that studies and treats the soul, or at least that is what it literally started with. Mental health has attained prime importance in today’s world where life has become fast-paced, artificial, selfish, and directionless under the influence of wetiko, as the Native Americans would say.
It was found in a study conducted by researchers with the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1996 that among the leading causes of disability, the psychiatric disorders topped the list with mental illnesses depression, alcohol and drug addiction, and suicide due to excessive stress. These are in fact the diseases of the soul that we need to be wary about in the modern times.
While these psychological symptoms might be termed as diseases of the soul by some, the psychologists view these mental illnesses as a combination of biological, genetic, social, and cultural effects. These factors induce complex chemical events causing abnormal brain function, which can be reverted to its original state with help of medications over a period, to so as to say, heal the diseases of the soul.
As whenever the state of our body is imbalanced or it is diseased, we analyze the symptoms, identify the disease, choose a treatment method, take prescribed medicines and lead a disciplinary life. Similarly, we follow the same treatment model when our soul or mind is hurt or diseased. But prevention is the best cure and it is better to lead a peaceful and happy life to keep the diseases of the soul at bay. The ancient Indian medicine system of Ayurveda is known as a holistic way of living, which exactly does that.
According to Ayurveda, a total harmony and balance of body and mind is prevalent in everybody at the time of birth. Further it states that the stress and anxiety are developed due to the physiological imbalances in the body, which lead to psychological and emotional problems, causing illnesses like depression, alcohol and drug addiction, and suicide. Ayurveda finds that the individual’s improper diet, stressful life, and incorrect lifestyle as also responsible for suffering from negative feelings arising out of resultant stress and anxiety.
Instead of treating the symptoms, Ayurveda rather chooses to treat the cause. The addictions of drinking alcohol or taking drugs are symptoms, which are caused by the underlying mental tension or stress. The toxins produced in the mind or the soul cause the symptoms to occur. On the other hand, Ayurveda considers chronic pain as a result of a disturbance of energy balance in our body. Many factors are responsible for this energy imbalance, and stress is one of them.
To benefit most by Ayurveda healing, one is required to be with nature as far as possible. Also, having good relationships, healthy social activities, a flow of love in life, and having an Ayurvedic lifestyle filled with feelings of content, gratitude, and peace help fasten the process of Ayurveda healing, which leads to good health and real happiness, and frees you from the diseases of the soul.
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