Tame the Monkey Mind

Chetan Prabhakar

Stress, anxiety and depression have become the most common words nowadays, because a lot of people are suffering from these conditions.
An example of extreme depression was the case of an actor, who was found hanging himself in his apartment in Mumbai. Two important questions arise from this unfortunate incident; 1) why people get into stress, anxiety and depression and; why do people having success, fame, money and power suffer from these illnesses when these things are considered as a sure sign of success, security and happiness? We have to look at the root causes of this disturbing problem.
To start with, let us understand what is stress, anxiety and depression? Stress, anxiety and depression together become ‘SAD’. In layman’s language, Stress means a state of mental condition resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. Increase in stress can cause anxiety and depression. Anxiety means repetition of negative or fearful thoughts because of a particular event or its outcome and increase in anxiety can cause depression. Depression means having a lot of thoughts and most of them being negative. It means a continuous negative chatter going on and on in the mind, which becomes an uncontrollable process, and the person keeps getting deeper into the ocean of negativity and does not know; how to get out of it. Thoughts become deep, continuous and never ending. There is loss of confidence, increase in sadness, lower self-esteem, lower motivation and enthusiasm levels. Life becomes an ocean of sufferings and sometimes, thoughts become suicidal and in extreme circumstances, person commits suicide.
One of the root causes of all this can be our education and cultural conditioning which is busy preparing and motivating us towards success, fame, money, power etc. considering that only success, money, power, fame etc. shall make us happy. But, is that true? Have these materialistic things made us truly happy? The probable answer is ‘No’, because happiness doesn’t entirely depend upon materialism or external circumstances.
We can be happy in whatever circumstances or conditions we are in because happiness is a habit, which we need to cultivate and nourish. Happiness also doesn’t depend upon success or failure in a job, businesses, relationships etc. and is purely a state of mind. We should learn to accept and embrace our failures as we embrace our success, because success and failure are two side of a coin, as such, they co-exist and are part and parcel of our lives. Our education should also teach us to celebrate our failures as well as provide us with a perspective that it is okay to fail, and there is no benefit in having remorse for it. What can go wrong can go wrong? Why to worry, because there is always light after the darkness. Challenges come to make us strong, so, when there are challenges in your life, try to be strong and face the challenge boldly. Every storm passes by and time never remains the same.
We have also been conditioned to postpone our happiness form one thing to another, and we keep on delaying our happiness to the future accomplishments thinking that if I will get this degree; if I will get that car; if I will get the promotion; if I will get a bigger house and et al, then, I will be happy and in such a way, we keep on postponing our happiness to future and never get it because we make our happiness dependent on our achievements and even after accomplishing what we wanted; we again have new desires for which we again postpone our happiness to their fulfilment and in a way, running for happiness becomes our habit. When we do not know, how to be happy without depending on fulfilment of our desires and materialistic things, success, fame, money etc. and we keep worrying about them and the future, we easily fall prey to these mental ailments.
We need to understand that stress, anxiety and depression are the illness of mind. And are we taking enough care of our mind? Are we giving enough time to our mind? Can physical exercises alone help us in curing these mental illnesses?Through physical exercises, the body becomes active and the mind becomes active and restless, however, the right balance should be an active body and calm mind, because an active or restless mind creates many thoughts which are not good for our mental health and hygiene. As movement is good for the body; similarly, stillness is good for mind. Therefore, the mind needs separate exercises and workout. The more you still your body, the more your mind relaxes and becomes calm and peaceful.
Does medical science provide any help in curing stress, anxiety and depression? To a certain extent it may be. Medical science mostly deals with the ailment of the human body; however, thoughts, feelings, emotions, concepts and perceptions are part of mind/consciousness, and for these, there can be no medicine which can deal with and transform our negative thoughts, feelings, emotions into positive ones. Hence treating stress, anxiety and depression only with medicines is like launching an arrow in the sky which will hit nowhere. Medicines can only put you to sleep for some time and slowly and gradually, you become addictive and dependent upon these medicines, however, the depression remains uncured. Medicine can only be used as an aid in curing these mental illnesses but without exercises of mind, these conditions cannot be completely cured.
The only way to cure stress, anxiety and depression is through self-help by way of doing some exercises for the mind, and one of such self-help practices is Mindfulness. Mindfulness or Dhyana yoga can help in managing or curing these illnesses without any addictive medicines and/or drugs.
To come out of the aforesaid conditions, we need to practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness helps us in reducing thoughts. Mindfulness works in the same manner as Air-conditioner works. It does not fight with the heat but slowly and gradually increases the cool air which results in rid from the heat. In a similar way, as the mindfulness will increase, the continuous negative babble going on and on inside our minds will decrease; resulting in a healthy mind.
To have a healthy mind, you have to tame your mind which behaves like a drunken monkey. The only way to tame the monkey mind is living in the present moment, and once you have tamed it, you will become master of your mind, and once you have mastered your mind, then; a) you are always be aware of your negative thoughts, perceptions and feelings; b) you know a way to convert them into positive ones; c) this helps in increasing positivity, confidence and self-esteem and; d) the ultimate result is eternal happiness and bliss.
(The author is Mindfulness & Life Coach at Sachetan)