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The Need for Eastern Thought in the Western World by Dixon Rexach Toro

            Since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, it’s clear to see the drastic effects that society in the West is experiencing right now – the mental health pandemic following the coronavirus pandemic has greatly influenced all corners of the systems one lives in and it’s people must suffer immensely because of it.


American culture and the like have taken a great toll by the amount of loss people face during those dark times. Worldwide disease, teenage suicide, depression in young adults, increased crime rates, or increased need for therapy are the fruits of such times.


With that being said, the norms society holds dearly doesn’t work anymore.


This ongoing change must continue onward towards a new system to provide the security, safety, and ease that people so desperately needs – the answer lies in the East.


India, Tibet, China, Japan, Thailand, and so on have provided humanity with ways to explore what it is to be human and potential places to explore within. Unfortunately, American culture is devoid with that skill, as its roots lie within in a system that propagates sensual indulgence, whether it’s through music, film, or pop culture.


Because of this, most people in society seem to aim for the high that life might offer to them but they eventually perceive life to be upsetting through their lows, getting caught in a viscous cycle of temporary pleasure and great pain.


In fact, according to Harvard Medical School, it is shown that “…dopamine deficiency also contributes to a down mood” (Watson 5).


American society has made the dopamine rush a key principle to everyday living, providing a foundation for mental illness to arise.


Luckily, states of consciousness gained through meditative experiences like the Japanese Zen, Dhyana, or Nirvana, the Indian Moksha, or Chinese Taoist “living in the Way” are things that can be explored in order to have discipline as a new theme in one’s life, to develop new lifestyles that will be more satisfying, and to feel real, long-lasting pleasure with no consequence.


            Along with the mental aspect of eastern spirituality, eastern practices can have a significant impact on the level of stress that may be present on the body.


As one devotes themselves to any of these spiritual disciplines, the practitioner can see a great deal of change that might occur in the body and the behaviors, cognitions, and emotions they once had.


The Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) would be in charge of making the possibility of causing said changes.


According to the University of Utah, “When the PNS is activated, your heart rate drops, blood pressure falls, breathing slows and deepens, pupils shrink, and muscles relax” (UOU Health 5). Through the actions one takes by utilizing these methods, one can come to truly find peace in their lives by shedding away any trauma or mental scars that once plagued them and their body. Stuff like this can’t be found in more Americanized lifestyles.


It is important for anyone who might struggling with things like stress, anxiety, or depression to not uphold their doctrines but to try out the disciplines the Eastern world might offer with the possibility in mind to alleviating themselves of these mental ailments and making a better, healthier world.

 

 

 

 

Works Cited


Media Relations, “New CDC data illuminate youth mental health threats during the COVID-19 pandemic.” CDC Newsroom. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2022/p0331-youth-mental-health-covid-19.html   



Watson, Stephanie, “Dopamine: The Pathway to pleasure.” Harvard Health Publishing, 2021, https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/dopamine-the-pathway-to-pleasure

 

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