Taking care of our mental health – Sampson Independent

Posted: January 8, 2020 at 8:49 am

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HomeOpinionOp-EdTaking care of our mental health

There appears to be a fact which applies equally to everyone on the globe, near and far: the success and happiness we find in our lives is tied closely to the state of our minds. This would seem to be such an obvious truth that it is one of the most easily missed, like water to a fish.

But it does seem to be a truth with significant ramifications on all our lives, whether we are aware of it or not. Evidence and testimonials appear in texts both ancient and modern, sacred and secular, from mental health professionals to congresspeople to Jesus Christ.

In his unique 2012 book A Mindful Nation, Ohio congressman Tim Ryan explores the links between the mind and personal well-being, and shares his experiences in the growing field of mindfulness meditation. The themes in his book are relevant to us all, whether we identify as liberal or conservative. And to add an ancient perspective to the conversation, let us not forget the words of a certain Nazarene prophet who is recorded as having said who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?

Long-term research at major institutions, such as Duke, suggest more and more that meditative and contemplative practices can serve as a key to open greater pockets of happiness and peace in our lives. It is common to hear objections to meditative practices based on their perceived association with the New Age, and with Eastern religious traditions.

I assure you based on my own experiences, however, that work on the mind is distinct from religion, and need not interfere with religious life; as a matter of fact, meditation can serve to unlock a spiritual and religious life of greater personal depth, peace and love. At its most fundamental, meditation is simply the art of quieting the mind.

As an individual with past experience of depression and anxiety, and one whom has found a light at the end of the tunnel, I heartily recommend for us all to take the simple action of becoming more aware of our mental lives, for personal awareness is the most fundamental step toward dealing with whatever unconscious issues we may be living with.

The stigma around mental health is obsolete and should be treated as such. To be human is by necessity to deal with mental and spiritual challenges. Our greatest freedom is in realizing that we are not bound to our hardships, nor defined by them.

Although it is not always easy to afford in this age of outlandish healthcare costs, I take it upon myself to make visits to a mental health professional just the same as I take my car for oil changes and go to the dentist for cavities. It adds a depth to my mental life that is worth noting; it helps me to be more productive, energetic, and able to accomplish my goals. In a word, it makes me more able to appreciate life without as much interference from negative thinking.

Taking it upon ourselves to seek professional help, therefore, is not an admission of weakness, but an act of love and faith in the goodness of life.

Happy 2020!

Garrett Whipkey is a Sampson County native with a BA in music from Western Carolina University. He can be reached at [emailprotected]

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Taking care of our mental health - Sampson Independent

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January 8th, 2020 at 8:49 am

Posted in Meditation