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Alternative/Ayurvedic Treatments for Anxiety and Depression
Ayurveda’s Holistic Alternative
Many people in the West today are seeking an alternative approach to medicine, especially when it comes to treating stress-related disorders like depression, anxiety and insomnia.
The biggest flaw of the Western approach has been an over reliance on synthetic pharmaceuticals like Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. These drugs treat symptoms much more than they treat disease (dis-ease).
For example, Xanax (alprazolam) may reduce the symptoms of anxiety in the short term, but will it “cure” the underlying cause of the anxiety, the stress? No.
Zoloft (sertraline) may temporarily elevate the mood, yet the underlying depression, frequently caused by a lack of love and connection, will still be there.
If you are open to a non-conventional medical approach, then Ayurveda, the 5000 year old system of holistic medicine from India, may be for you. Ayurveda gives us many ways to calm the mind without the use of synthetic pharmaceuticals. Ayurveda treats the cause of disease, not just the symptoms.
Ayurveda means “The Science of Life.” It is a natural approach to health, championed by Dr. Deepak Chopra, that balances the mind, body and spirit...without the use of Western pills and capsules.
Ayurvedic treatments are highly individualized, chosen specifically for each patient, based on dosha, or body type. Treatments include Ayurvedic herbs, Ayurvedic Sound Healing (with music and mantra), mindful meditation, Ayurvedic massage with therapeutic oils, and even aroma therapy. These therapies are combined with holistic psychology in the form of Ayurvedic Psychological Counseling.
The goal is to return the body-mind-Spirit to a sense of wellbeing, joy and happiness...something pills cannot do.
Ayurvedic Sound Healing
Many Westerners are surprised to learn that the most important Ayurvedic treatment for the mind is not herbal. It is Ayurvedic Sound Healing...healing with music and mantra.
According to leading Ayurvedic physician Dr. David Frawley, Sanskrit mantras, starting with AUM, “are the most important part of the spiritual and mental therapy of Ayurveda. Ayurveda uses mantra therapy to correct psychological disorders.”
Ayurvedic Sound Healing is also called TheYoga of Sound or Mantra Yoga.
How are Yoga and Ayurveda related? Ayurveda is the healing branch of yogic science, while yoga is the Spiritual aspect of Ayurveda.
The Yoga system has 8 parts and the poses, the yoga postures, are just one part. The last 3 parts of yoga have to do with meditation. That’s where mantric chanting comes in....as a form of mindful meditation... that leads us naturally and easily into a state of peacefulness, without the use of prescription drugs.
Just as the asanas (poses) in yoga class keep the body and internal organs healthy, Sanskrit mantras keep the mind and Spirit healthy. Mantras can be thought of as asanas for your mind.
Healing Sanskrit mantras penetrate deeply into the conscious, subconscious and unconscious mind…into the place where real healing occurs.
According to the sage Patanjali, “Yoga is that which calms the thought waves of the mind.” What thought waves? The worries and the hurries. The 40-50 thousand thoughts and counter-thoughts most humans have each day.
Because there are already many books on Ayurvedic herbs, the rest of this blog will cover the basics of mantra and Ayurvedic Sound Healing as alternative and complementary medicine to treat depression, anxiety and insomnia. We will examine some of the most important Sanskrit mantras used for holistic healing.
What is mantra, and why are Sanskrit mantras so important?
Man-tra comes from the Sanskrit words manas, meaning mind, and tra, meaning tool. Mantras are some of the most important mind tools in our yogic toolbox.
Common Misconception: A mantra is a special phrase that must kept secret and can only be given by a guru.
Truth: The most important Yoga of Sound mantras are not secret. They can be chanted by anyone, though proper training is essential, as with hatha yoga.
The general meaning of mantra, of course, is a word or phrase repeated over and over, mentally or out loud. A Sanskrit mantra, however, is something special.
Sanskrit is the mystical language of ancient India that is also the language of mantra. Unlike other languages, Sanskrit is based on the science of sound vibration. Word meanings are secondary. The most important thing is the effect of the sound vibration itself on the body and the mind. The best example of a Sanskrit mantra is AUM (OM). AUM is the most important mantra and the source of all other mantras The sound vibrations produced by chanting AUM create feelings of calmness and harmony in all the cells of the body. AUM is yogic Xanax.
The Cosmic AUM
Chant AUM now with author Harrison Graves
Questions For Dr. Graves?
Mantras From Yoga Class
If you have ever attended a yoga class, you have likely had a brief introduction to three Sanskrit mantras: AUM, OM Shanti and Namaste
Those who chant AUM tune themselves automatically to the “highest vibration.” It is the vibration of the highest consciousness (awareness) expressed in the form of the sound waves of AUM.
AUM, which became Amen in the Christian tradition, connects us to the one conscious awareness that has many names: Buddha consciousness, Christ consciousness, Shiva Consciousness and so on.
Chanting AUM can also produce feelings of love, connection and oneness. AUM is often written as OM, especially when used as a prefix for other mantras.
Chanting the peace mantra, OM Shanti Shanti Shan-ti-hi (e.g. at the end of yoga class), produces feelings of peacefulness and calm, like a natural tranquilizer. The sound vibrations produced by chanting Shaaan are soothing to the nervous system. Chanting OM Peace Peace Peace in English does not have the same effect.
Om Shanti is chanted three times: for peace of body, peace of mind and peace of Spirit.
Namaste, often used as a yogic greeting, is shorthand for “the divine light in me recognizes and honors the divine light in you.”
Sanskrit vibrations, like the first few notes of a harp solo, can calm and soothe every cell in the body. Ayurvedic Sound Healing prescribes these Sanskrit sound formulas (mantras) instead of chemical formulas (pills).
Regular Sanskrit chanting leads to emotional healing on all levels: conscious, subconscious and unconscious.
For more examples of healing mantras, please see my interactive ebook: The Mystical Chakra Mantras.
The Mystical Chakra Mantras
A Collection of Mantras
AUM is just the beginning. Ayurveda has given us an entire treasure trove of mantras for calming the mind and soothing the nervous system. These mantras are sound healing formulas, sonic packages of energy and vibration.
How Sanskrit Mantras Work
In any language, mantras work on the basis of two powerful forces: sound waves and thought waves (intentions).
The 50 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet have a unique power to energize, calm or heal. When the Sanskrit vowels and consonants are combined into words like AUM, they become even more powerful sound formulas that affect the entire being...body-mind and Soul.
It’s like acupuncture with sound waves. Our energy bodies (acupuncture bodies) and chakras are extremely sensitive to the sound waves generated by Sanskrit chanting.
Some mantras promote physical healing. Others, like OM Shanti, create mental peace. Still others, like the Chakra Mantras, work directly on the astral (energy) body to activate and balance the energy centers.
Mantra therapy is one of the main tools for achieving the original aim of yoga, “calming the thought waves of the mind.”
Ellen explains what Mantra Meditation has meant to her.
THE POWER OF SANSKRIT and TM
Transcendental Meditation is a meditation practice that uses a simple mantra based on one's age and gender. It is practiced for 15–20 minutes twice per day while sitting with one's eyes closed.
According to the Mayo Clinic, "Transcendental meditation is a simple, natural technique... This form of meditation allows your body to settle into a state of profound rest and relaxation and your mind to achieve a state of inner peace, without needing to use concentration or effort."
Quite similar to TM, “Primordial Sound Healing” by Dr. Deepak Chopra uses Sanskrit mantra as the keystone of its practice for healing the mind, for making the mind more sattvic, or balanced.
Ayurvedic Psychological Counseling
Research on depression has shown that people with depression often have inaccurate beliefs about themselves, their situation and the world.
In my next blog, I will introduce you to another important part of Ayurveda: Ayurvedic Psychological Counseling, a type of short-term therapy that focuses on present thinking, behavior and communication rather than on past experiences.
Ayurvedic Psychological Counseling is based on the theory that much of how we feel is determined by what we think. Disorders, such as depression, are believed to be the result of faulty thoughts and beliefs and not brain chemistry. By correcting these inaccurate beliefs, the person’s perception of events and emotional state will improve. Mindful meditation, mantra and self-inquiry are three of the most important tools used by the Ayurvedic Psychological Counselor.
Ayurvedic Psychological Counseling Available Here:
Questions for Dr. Graves?
What is the most important part of Ayurveda for calming the mind?
Benefits of Meditation
Reduction in Anxiety
Reduction in Depression Relapses
Reduction in Chronic Pain
Decrease in Cancer Rate