Whether one is working with a professional in the field of psychology, or one is working on one’s own internally to resolve disturbances and inner conflicts, attain peace, or achieve balance in one’s life, certain basic knowledge is required. One needs to understand the complex nature of the human personality, with the differing and sometimes conflicting needs, demands, desires and drives associated with each element of the being. We see this playing out when an individual takes up a fitness routine, for instance, and pushes too hard due to either a mental conception or a vital desire to succeed, and the physical body gets injured. There are innumerable such examples of the pressures exerted internally by the different ‘parts’ of the being.
Another aspect is to appreciate the nature of ‘normal’. Are we trying to fit into a cultural norm in a particular society? Is the cultural norm actually a healthy and balanced norm, or should the individual actually be working to establish a fair and balanced new “norm” that actually responds to a healthy lifestyle. In some cultures, for instance, it is normal to ask employees of businesses to work long hours, 6 or even 7 days per week, at the expense of a balanced home life, not to speak of any time to cultivate any personal inner growth or explore one’s capacities outside the work environment. Fitting into such a system to be “normal” is perhaps not the best approach to what is essentially a ‘toxic’ definition of normal.
Then there is the question of the significance of human life in general. Why are we alive and living in this world? Is there any purpose? What about the individual? Is the individual a cog in a larger machinery, or is there a specific value and purpose to the individual human life? Based on the response to these questions, there will clearly be a different definition of what mental health consists of.
Dr. Dalal observes: “Every system of psychological healing is based on a certain conception of the nature of the human being – what a human being is made up of, what is normal about human nature, and what constitutes an abnormality or a disturbance. Therefore, in order to apply any methods of psychological healing, it is necessary to understand the conception of human nature and about the psychological disturbances on which the methods are based. This introductory chapter aims at explaining the nature of the human being, of psychological disturbances and of mental health in the light of Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.”
Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Introduction