Non-violence is the basis of a mindfulness-based approach: non-violence to oneself, to others, and non-violence to the environment. There is important research that challenges the old Freudian 'aggressive drive' theory which states that humans are naturally aggressive, that violence is an instinct at our core. This research is profoundly important, especially at this time. We need to understand violence and aggression not as a core, human tendency, but as the anomaly it is. Human beings are sentient, social and naturally empathic. We're hard-wired for relationship. Our emotions are the key to understanding each other. But it has to start at home with ourselves and our own self awareness.
All through life there's change and loss, yet our culture pathologizes grief and the conflicted, negative emotions associated with loss. Our healthcare system is in crisis because it's been run like a business with policy decisions dictated by the pharmaceutical companies. It's important to think about that, especially when it comes to mental health. Our western medicine with its' advertising media have been powerfully convincing. To not feel emotional pain may sound like a good idea, but we'd be better served if we'd come to terms with our collective inability to self-regulate when it comes to our emotional attachments, our desires, and whatever it is we feel we're entitled to. In education, we'd be wiser to value emotional intelligence as much as we value learning the ability to logically debate.
Yoga philosophy tells us that what we 'see' and what we think we know is very limited. It's helpful to think energetically when coming to terms with emotional pain. Anger has fire. You can be creative or you can be destructive with anger. If you're conscious of what you're feeling, you have a choice. In the heat of the moment it can be hard to remember that. But bringing consciousness to what you're feeling becomes a practice and often the heart of what's being developed in therapy.
People come to therapy for lots of different reasons. There may be anxiety, some form of addiction, unacknowledged fear that's become a phobia, a sense of hopelessness, guilt, shame, ruminating thoughts, compulsive behavior, or anger that's being poorly expressed and threatening to destroy a relationship. You don't need to be in therapy to become conscious. But therapy provides a protected space in order to process something that has happened or is happening. It provides a witness, free of attachment or projection which at times can be profoundly healing, and at other times extremely challenging.
There are many conversations main-streaming the importance of mental health. It's important to remember that grieving is not 'mental illness' and the process to move through it doesn't have to result in disability, disease, addiction, or any other maladaptive response to life stress. Rather, we have the ability to stop and reflect and become more consciously aware. We can adapt and we change. We can learn to listen more deeply and tap into that triumph of the human spirit that's conscious and creative and uniquely our own.