A disease is a dysfunction of the mind
Chants my yoga teacher, Chinook, with his Jamaican styled shorts and thick voice.
He continues, “you see people, the places where it hurts in your body, that’s your bodies way of telling you that is has a disease… Listen to the word, he repeats. “Dis-ease it means your body is diseased.”
In a full frontal downward dog, the only thing I could think about was getting out of class and getting my next meal.
My mind began to wonder, “I wonder what I am going to have for dinner tonight?”
“hmmm… there was the turkey from last night.”
“What about schezuen chicken from last week?”
There is nothing like the half-hearted reward of mediocre Chinese located in the middle of a strip mall that is surrounded by leather and bondage stores on either end.
My mind comes back into the voice of Chinook telling the rest of the yoga class to bend into their right lunge and start working their way down into pigeon pose.
Looking across the room, a full-time yogi is effortlessly squeezing her way down into pigeon pose position. I look down at my two duck feet and begin to try and imitate the move.
Right, if I just move my hip this way…
Maybe, if I bend my leg back…
Chinook looks up from across the room.
“Paige, move your feet up to the front of the mate and work your way down. You see you have to listen to the words. That is just called restlessness. People have a name for it. They’ll call you ADHD or ADD, but it is just because you haven’t trained your mind to be still.”
“Damn,” I think to myself. “Could he tell I was ADHD just because I was thinking about whether or not I put the turkey away from last night?”
Speaking of which turkey sounds so good right now…
Bending my right leg into pigeon pose, I rested into the position and allowed myself to enter into a deep state of savasana.
“A disease is a dysfunction of the mind.”
The voice repeats in my mind. Instead of staying balanced in my normal state of meditative flow, I begin to argue this concept in my head.
“What does he know. He is just a yoga teacher. He isn’t an official man of medicine! I need a doctor here right this second telling me what this man means.”
A Disease is a Malfunctioning Part of the Body
However, the more I began to think about this radical concept, I realized that Chinook was right. A disease is just a malfunctioning part of the body. In the dictionary, a disease is defined as “an abnormal condition, a disorder of a structure or function, that affects part or all of an organism.” Although, modern medicine is crucial and paramount for physiological illnesses that are transmitted from infectious agents like parasites, viruses and bacteria. The mind is a much more interesting human organ that can be affected by a variety of different internally sourced illnesses like our own thoughts. These illnesses can be caused by external factors; however, they’re manifested internally and cause more long-term pain and hardship than the majority of physiological illnesses. Diseases of the mind, do not physically shut down your internal organs like the heart, lungs or the large and small intestines. However, they do play a significant role in causing severe damage to the number one organ in our body – the mind.
We Can’t Always See Diseases
The unfortunate part of this is that unlike physical diseases that result in a direct somatic change in some tissue or organ mental illnesses are not always visible to the naked eye. In fact, the idea that mental instability and physiological illness are fundamentally different from one another did not arise until the end of the 18th century. Regarding medicine, this is a new development, and I think it is a new concept for civilization as well.
This could be why we’re so averse to responding to individuals who have “maladjusted” issues. One could argue that these occurrences might not be evolutionary natural for human beings.
However, we are being diagnosed with debilitating anxiety & depression left and right.
Could we be a source of parasitic toxicity to ourselves?
Are we, unnaturally, so self-inflicting that we have created circumstances and environments that have caused us to slowly damage and destroy our number one vital organ?
That is a debate for another time. However, I think it is imperative that we look into the prevention and treatment of these diseases.
Some People Are “Crazy” – We Have to Stop Blaming Them
Chinook is right. A mental disorder is a malfunction of a vital organ that shapes our perception, creates our motivation and is an essential key to defining and creating our happiness.
When this organ is out of whack – we are out of whack. We are even, dare I say it, ‘crazy.’ And I don’t mean to offend anyone, however, I think sick would be a better word. When the mind is at dis-ease, we become sick trying to fight off the foreign body or ailment.
This ultimately makes us begin to start fighting ourselves.
Unfortunately, the mind is a tricky thing, and we don’t know enough about it to give direct and clear answers as to why some people behave the way that they do.
However, I don’t think we give people with mental disorders the love and care that they deserve. We don’t cry, send flowers and teddy bears to someone who is just diagnosed with PTSD. However, we are immediately suspicious and worried about our safety and their capabilities as individuals. I bet we also even wonder if they aren’t just ‘dramatic,’ ‘hysterical’ or ‘attention-seeking.’
And of course they aren’t ‘capable,’ they are experiencing a dysfunction that is impairing their normal behavior. However, treatment does not begin with blaming an individual for why they’re dysfunctional. You wouldn’t blame a patient in the hospital for a somatic disease that is deteriorating their internal and external organs. You would feel compassion and even a level of pity for the individuals going through these hardships.
You would see that people fighting with mental illnesses are struggling every day like individuals with physiological diseases. And I don’t think it is fair to compare apples and oranges – However, I believe the number one reason that the mental health care system has gotten so out of control with diagnosis’ and more.
Is because we’re not treating the problems from the first symptoms of distress or disorder. In fact, our society and culture exacerbate these issues because we’re too ashamed and embarrassed to come forth and admit that we have a problem.
Mental Illnesses are the New Folklore
It goes even deeper than that. On some level, I would guess that the majority of workplaces, well-fair institutions, even family and loved ones at some point would tell themselves what you’re experiencing is fictional.
And who could blame them? Half the population doesn’t believe in a God because they simply can’t see him. It just isn’t normal to believe in something that you can’t see. However, we need to start believing and hearing these people’s stories. We need to start preventing the outbreak of these diseases by realizing our mental, and psychological health is not just as but more important than our physiological well-being.
And it begins by doing one thing. Casting aside your judgments and showing simple compassion for individuals who are distressed, sad, lonely and afraid.