5 Ways to Support Our Mental and Spiritual Well-Being

(Photo above by Daniel Frese / Pexels)

When people ask how you’re doing, what’s your go-to response? We’re usually expected to say, “I’m fine” or “I’m good,” even if that’s not how we feel inside.

What are the ways Buddhism can help us renew ourselves despite the reality we’re facing?

1. Buddhism is reason.

There is no contradiction between medical science and Buddhism. If anything, for Buddhists, seeking out professional advice and support is an important step toward caring for ourselves.

However, accessing the best care is not easy. In fact, it can sometimes be a discouraging process, leaving you feeling alone or unsupported.

A friend from the Buddhability community, Yuko Miyama, courageously shares about her own mental health struggles, specifically with PTSD and depression. She breaks down how chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo helped her to find the best care. Fast forward to 20:55 to listen to her story.

2. Strengthening your spiritual well-being.

For Buddhists, strengthening our “spiritual well-being” is just as important as brushing our teeth or eating healthy. Why? Because the way we take care of ourselves internally impacts how we move through the world.

Our twice-daily practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and reciting brief sections of the Lotus Sutra, referred to as gongyo, is the source for this spiritual development. It’s how we build a solid spiritual core to experience genuine happiness and fulfillment despite whatever we are facing at the time.

Going a bit deeper, the Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda explains:

Reciting gongyo and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo each day is a ceremony in which the microcosm of our lives harmonizes with the macrocosm of the universe. By engaging in this ceremony morning and evening, we bring forth the power to direct our lives toward the greatest happiness.

My Dear Friends in America, third edition, p. 48

It’s important to note that this is not an obligation, and if you miss a day, that’s totally okay. It’s more about developing your spiritual core, one step at a time.

3. Getting enough sleep + eating well = balanced life.

Sometimes when we want to take better care of ourselves, whether it’s going to bed earlier or improving what we eat, it can feel overwhelming. Instead, it’s helpful to look what we can improve today and simply do our best one day at a time.

Emphasizing the importance of sleep, Ikeda shares that not getting enough sleep is like leaving a car’s engine running, eventually it’ll malfunction and break down. Breaking out of that unhealthy sleep cycle can feel impossible but Ikeda gives this practical advice:

Manage your time wisely, and try to do your gongyo early and get to bed early. That will prepare you for a fresh start the next morning. Developing the wisdom and self-control to put this into practice will benefit your health.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 2, p. 240

He continues:

Recently, there has been some focus on the benefits of “mini naps”—brief naps of five or ten minutes’ duration—in promoting health and productivity. The key is to make good use of rest periods during the day so that you can take care of your health.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 2, p. 240

4. Remember, there’s no need to rush.

When you’re going through a difficult time and can’t see a way out, it can feel impossible to break through. But remember: Who you are in this moment or what you’re experiencing right now will not last forever.

In moments of frustration or doubt, it’s important not to beat ourselves up. Everyone’s situation is different, and we are doing our best.

In moments of frustration or doubt, it’s important not to beat ourselves up. Everyone’s situation is different, and we are doing our best.

As Ikeda writes, “Life is long, and there is no need to rush things” (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 2, p. 107)

So, be kind to yourself, and if you feel up to it, reach out when you need support but no pressure. Just know that there is a community that believes in you and will never give up on you.

5. Our challenges can help us empathize with others and believe in our own dignity.

When we struggle to take care of ourselves or have mental health challenges, it’s not a sign of weakness or mean that there’s something wrong with us.

It’s quite the opposite from the Buddhist perspective. Having challenges enables us to empathize with and support others. It can even become our strength, as shown by Matthew Wroblewski, of Doe Run, Missouri. At one point, his social anxiety was so bad that he couldn’t look others in the eye. Through his Buddhist practice, though, he overcame his anxiety and is now a social worker who’s got everyone’s back.

Facing health challenges can inspire us to bring out our courage and perseverance. It can also challenge us to believe in our own dignity, no matter what the diagnosis is. We are Buddhas, through and through.

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