Mental health is a prominent social issue currently and our mental state is often overwhelmed with the stress of various aspects of life such as doing well in school, meeting deadlines, maintaining relationships, and building a better future for ourselves. The mind is a complicated element of the human body that enables us to be aware of the world and our experiences, to think, to feel, and is a faculty of our consciousness and thoughts. In this research paper, I propose that yoga and meditation can benefit one’s mental state under stress.
Some additional questions that most interest me and may help me develop my tentative thesis include: (1) Can yoga and meditation help us gain some degree of control over our mental state in times of stress? (2) Is there a way to change our response to stress by indulging in yoga and meditation? (3) How does yoga and mediation impact our mental health? (4) Can yoga and meditation help cure the negative ailments of the mind? (5) Is yoga and meditation the only options in regards to saving us from all the stress we face in life?
The development and science of yoga and meditation techniques has its origin thousands of years ago. Although the ultimate aim of these techniques is not widely understood in popular culture, one of the many benefits is to overcome all kinds of suffering, including stress, anxiety, etc., through a variety of methods to help human beings cope with mental instability. According to a Harvard Mental Health Letter, yoga along with other self-soothing techniques such as meditation, relaxation, and exercise modulates the mind’s stress response systems. When practicing yoga, deep breathing, which is an important aspect of yoga and meditation, sends a message to the brain to calm down and relax. According to Mayo Clinic, meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine and can produce a deep mental state of relaxation and a tranquil mind.
Prior beliefs, assumptions, preconceptions, ideas, or prejudices people may have towards practicing yoga and meditation to mediate stress is that these practices are religious techniques that trace back to the Indus Saraswati Valley civilization – dating back to 2700 BCE. It is true that in some yoga studios, there might be a murti (loosely translated as ?idol’) of the Hindu deity, Shiva, who is known as the first yogi, and some chanting in Sanskrit, but there is no compulsion to adopt Hinduism merely by the practice of yoga and meditation. Another misconception is that the purpose of yoga is physical fitness not mental fitness; however, it is in fact something that mixes awareness and concentration with movement. In other words, yoga is moving meditation.
Personally, I have been exposed to yoga and meditation since my early years and have found that through the regular practice of yoga and meditation, my mind is more relaxed and calm. I also feel energized with mental stamina to take on the stress of school work, meeting deadlines, maintaining relationships, and working towards building a better future for myself.