Last weekend it was World Health Day! As a psychologist and yoga teacher, I immediately think of mental health. That’s why I‘d like to share some wise lessons with you, that I’ve learned in Nepal, where I travel every year.
In Nepal, the main religions are Hinduism and Buddhism, and a mixture between the two exists; you see that when you visit Swayambhunath, the iconic stupa in Kathmandu. It is a Buddhist temple, but there are also many Hindu temples around it. Many Nepalese people believe in both and they are keen to tell you about it.
This open-mindedness is an expression of the harmonious mindset that seems to come natural to the Nepalese. Something that makes them resilient and which is a great example for us!
Wisdom and compassion
According to another inspiring legend, the round, white base of the stupa represents our world, to which human beings are attached. We are often caught by our emotions and thoughts in response to events; that is ‘suffering’. On top of the temple is Buddha’s third eye, representing wisdom and compassion, the prerequisites for enlightenment. Enlightenment means that you are free from suffering, leading to inner peace and harmony.
Monkey temple, monkey mind
The many monkeys that live around Swayambhunath, which is why it is also called ‘Monkey temple’, can actually symbolize suffering. I remember watching the monkeys playing in a big pool – they randomly jumped in and out of the water. Our thoughts are similar: they randomly jump from one subject to the other. This explains why Buddhists talk about the ‘monkey mind’. What if we could look at our thoughts just like at the playing monkeys? Then we would not be carried away, but we would smile at it!