The topic of mental health is still so shunned upon and I have never understood why. I never really took the idea of seeing a therapist or being really aware of my feelings seriously until I experienced my first real hard-hitting wake up call failure in my undergrad final year.
2016 was a lot to say the least – I was working, completing my undergrad, trying to manage Melenial and attempting to maintain a social life, ALL at the same damn time. I LOVE my life, but like many people, I sometimes get overwhelmed and sometimes become prone to anxiety breakdowns. I can’t tell you how many times last year I had to keep myself from just throwing in the towel and wanting to wail like a baby in a corner. But I got my sexy lady lingerie on and kept it moving and even SLAYED in all ways in the process.
So after much encouragement and persuasion from my father, in January this year before I began my Honours program, I decided to go to the Vedanta Academy, a well known ashram in Lonavala, India for two weeks.
Now upon reflection of my stay there, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made and one of my most memorable trips by far.
So what is Vedanta?
Vedanta is an ancient philosophy founded in India. The word Vedanta refers to an end or culmination of all knowledge. The knowledge establishes a rational, logical approach to human education and achievement. It provides the framework and tools to reach beyond to that culmination of all human pursuit and reach the ultimate self-realisation.
The ashram provides a comfortable and conducive atmosphere to question, discuss and analyse the ancient philosophy among all your burning questions about life and yourself.
Whilst I was there, I followed the program of the full time students who live there. The first three days were tough. I was extremely homesick and even shed a tear on the first day when my mother called me. Yes my superhero sexy lady lingerie didn’t help this time, but I quickly pulled myself together and began to embrace the experience. I needed the trip, especially living and trying to become someone in an environment that can distort one’s internal state, which can sometimes leave you in a harrowed existence, tense with stress, anxiety, depression and eventually burnout.
The trip challenged me to confront myself honestly. Coming back home I felt physically invigorated by the yoga, intellectually stimulated by the interesting lectures and the thought provoking discussions, that deal directly with the individual and their relationship with the world.
There are different strokes for us all different folks when it comes to looking after ourselves mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. Vedanta does not automatically spoon feed you a solution to the myriad of psychological issues that one may face. What struck me is that, although it’s meant to come natural but the development of the intellect, the human faculty of reason and judgment takes daily training and application – using the principles of Vedanta, I learnt to probe into the essence of my most true personality.
My mental well-being and spiritual journey is ongoing. It’s not always easy and a constant work in progress. What I ultimately learnt, cherished and practice from this trip was that our intellect is all we have to guide us and what makes it possible to achieve anything (mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually). A mind left unattended is always in distress.
The actions of the body stem from the intellect and your intellect is your most important tool. So look after yourself and mind – they are your most powerful weapons.
Illustration by Nicholle Kobi