Spirituality means something different to everyone depending on fundamental belief systems. This can include organized religion or something more personal. Either way, it is a belief that we are connected
to something greater than ourselves, and it provides a foundation for overall well-being and personal growth. It touches deep
values and principles by which we live.
Spirituality can be a valuable mechanism to help control symptoms of mental disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, among other mood and mental illnesses. For some, this can mean going to a church, a synagogue, or other house of worship. For others, it can be joining a spiritual discussion group. And yet for some, it can simply mean quietly reading religious passages or scriptures.
But by whatever it means or mechanisms, the ultimate goal is to connect with something greater than ourselves in the universe to try to attain more happiness and mental well-being. Not everyone is religious or spiritual, however, so basic meditation is another approach to consider.
Meditation is a type of mindfulness and awareness of the body through breathing, and being aware of but not distracted by external environment factors, so your current presence results in a state of total relaxation and focus on the self in the present moment.
Meditation should be done in a quiet place, where you can sit comfortably either cross-legged on the floor or in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Next, you need to relax all parts of your body, your neck, shoulders, arms and legs. Once you are comfortable and relaxed, meditation can begin.
At the heart of meditation is focusing on your breathing. Close your eyes and focus on taking deep breaths.Your mind should be centered on your breathing, which should feel natural and not controlled. If your mind starts to wander or you get distracted by something in the environment, focus back on your breathing and the present moment.
Meditation takes practice, and beginners may only be able to do it for a couple of minutes the first few times. Try to increase the amount of time you spend meditating each time you do it, always focusing on the present moment and your breathing. With time and practice, you will be able to meditate up to fifteen or twenty minutes per session.
For mental health, meditation can allow you to take a break from tension, irritability, aggression, sadness, or other negative emotions. At the end of a meditation session, you should still feel relaxed and more at peace than before you began to meditate. Even if the meditation session lasts only a few minutes, these feelings should continue to occupy your mind and relax your body.
A more sophisticated approach to meditation is called Integrative Mind-Body Training (IMBT).
Integrative Mind-Body Training
Integrative Body-Mind Training is an ancient eastern contemplative tradition that includes traditional Chinese Zen focused on the achievement of a state of restful and balance of the body and mind. This form of meditation is facilitated through training and trainer-group dynamics, harmony, and resonance. This approach is not as accessible for most people, but it is becoming a big topic of discussion with recent research on its results. For example, research conducted by Dr. Yi-Yuan Tang has shown that this type of training has positive effects on the brain and central nervous system structures in people with mental disorders.
Whether you choose spirituality, meditation, or some combination of the two, both methods can be good and useful ways to combat the symptoms of mental illness. They allow us to become more relaxed and at peace with ourselves and the environment, which can help lessen the symptoms of many mental disorders.