Mental health as part of practice?

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steve19800
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Mental health as part of practice?

Postby steve19800 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 5:14 am

Hello all,

We often hear our spiritual teacher says that mental afflictions are also our teacher. Just be mindful, watching them continuously. They come and they go, nothing is permanent, they appear and then disappear.
My question is, is depression, anxiety and other negative mental state that many people suffer from also part of the practice? We know that human being naturally like pleasant things and avoid unpleasant things. If something make you pleasant, you feel refreshed and happy. On the other hand, the opposite is quite obvious. If something unpleasant constantly filling your life, most of the time the result is stressful life and other form of stress or maybe depression.

Material thing, even though just a little can sometimes entertain us for example go to the shop to buy yourself a nice gadget, etc. If we expel pleasant things (material or non-material) totally from our live, the result for most people is also stress or maybe depressed.

So I wonder, is the path of Dhamma is only for a handful of exceptional people (few dust in the eyes)? Those who by their nature are not after 'pleasant things' and those who enjoy a very basic life and yet content. OR those negative mental states are really needed and/or 'invited' as the part of the practice, in the sense and capability of ordinary people?

Thanks _/\_

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Ben
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Re: Mental health as part of practice?

Postby Ben » Sun Jan 06, 2013 5:44 am

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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ground
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Re: Mental health as part of practice?

Postby ground » Sun Jan 06, 2013 6:10 am


Digity
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Re: Mental health as part of practice?

Postby Digity » Sun Jan 06, 2013 6:17 am

My anxiety problems are what got me interested in Buddhism in the first place. In a sense, my anxiety was a blessing in disguise, because the suffering it created made me focus on the Dhamma. If I never had any problems with anxiety I wonder if I'd be as interested in Buddhism.

So yes, anxiety or whatever can all be part of practice. Everything is part of practice...from brushing your teeth, to lying on the sofa, to walking around, to experiencing sadness, to feeling depressed. It's all practice, nothing is excluded. When you think of x is part of practice and y is not then you have the wrong attitude. I still think in those terms sometimes, but I'm trying to break that thought process.

Although, if you're early on in the practice and the anxiety is too intense then it might be too much to just "be" with it. You might need to seek help, but eventually as you get better you'll start to be able to "be" with the anxiety or sadness, etc.

steve19800
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Re: Mental health as part of practice?

Postby steve19800 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:35 am


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Ben
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Re: Mental health as part of practice?

Postby Ben » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:01 am

Steve, I don't think one needs make a choice between health or enlightenment.
I also read that article a few days ago and thought it was interesting. With regards to the discrepancy of incidence of mental health in the 'religious' as opposed to the 'spiritual', perhaps it may have something to do with people who are attracted to trying various forms of spirituality attempting to, as it were, self-treat. It would be interesting to read the original article the Age piece is based on.
The greater part of happiness comes from the deep well of equanimity that is experienced regardless of whatever else is going on. This what some in the psychological discipline also refer to as ""Wellbeing". The Dhamma allows us to develop that anchor, that anchora salutis (anchor of salvation). But it is a long-term project. When mental health issues begin to affect the quality of one's life in a significant way, it usually requires some form of psychological or medical intervention.
As I mentioned earlier, there's no reason why Dhamma practice and psychological or medical treatment cannot happen in tandem and that there is evidence to support such a regime.
Perhaps what is sometimes required is to tailor the practice to the person.
With metta,
Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

steve19800
Posts: 226
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2011 1:20 am

Re: Mental health as part of practice?

Postby steve19800 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:12 am


steve19800
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Re: Mental health as part of practice?

Postby steve19800 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:29 am


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cbonanno
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Re: Mental health as part of practice?

Postby cbonanno » Sun Jan 06, 2013 2:06 pm



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