Cheri spends time in India exploring different aspects of mental health…

Upon arriving into Bangalore, India, I spent the first few days at The School of Ancient Wisdom, a Spiritist Centre for health, well-being and enlightened living. It is a school of progression which teaches human potential and helps to find the door way to self- transformation. The School has a vision of preserving the world’s wisdom with a holistic and non-commercial view to find a life of mindfulness and compassion.

 

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I was taught various yoga and meditation therapies including ashtanga, vinyasa and laughter yoga, some which were taught by psychologists who were also yogis. I learned the importance of yoga and meditation on the conscience, on the affect it has on the positive vibrations that a person radiates to others and on self-acceptance. I gained a better understanding and a deeper meaning of how all these factors can be of benefit in relation to a person’s mental health.

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Since leaving India, I have carried on practicing yoga and the art of meditating. This has had a positive impact on my own mental health and I would be interested to complete my yoga teacher training at some point in the future. Spending time here was such a valuable experience. To be able to stay here and live such a basic and simple life while all the time living such a fulfilling life was an incredible feeling and an overwhelming experience. It felt harmonious to be here. I learned to truly value the perspective and faith of others without judgement and also expanded upon my own frame of reference and position.

Moving on,  I got an unbelievable and rare opportunity to spend time at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience (NIMHANS) one of the top 5 psychiatric hospitals in the world. A main reason of mine for going overseas was to begin to build a knowledge and an understanding for multicultural aspects of mental health and at NIMHANS this was certainly delivered.

I spent a great time in the Department of Psychiatric Social Work which highlighted learning about socio cultural diversity and socio cultural factors influencing mental health, however I spent time in various parts of the hospital including the paediatrics clinic and attended seminars in the neurology department.

NIMHANS really taught me the importance of developing and strengthening inter/multidisciplinary skills and team work to be able to carry out effective care and to implement consistent practice throughout my career. During my time here I was able to work with two girls, one from Malaysia and one from Thailand, both completing their PhDs with varying thesis’. I appreciated them taking the time to answer my questions about life as a student at NIMHANS, sharing their experiences as a student at their level and I have taken on board the advice they have given me as an academic and for moving forward with my career. The experience at NIMHANS has given me  an ambitious drive to reach my desired goal. I would like to return to NIMHANS one day.

Although the work at NIMHANS was tiring (lots to take in!) there was still time to squeeze in other things while in India; after all, I’d came all this way and the brain deserved a little break.

I wanted to get better acquainted with the local culture and the local people. In a place so unique and as rich in history as India, one of the best ways to do that was to visit some of the markets, historical sites and temples. I was excited to indulge in even more in the delicacies and to be completely immersed in local ways. Some of these magnificent places included Mysore, Chamundi Hills, Hampi and Chikmagalur.

I also got the opportunity to visit an Ayurveda clinic while in Mysore. Ayurveda originated in India and is believed that there is a strong connection between the mind, body and spirit. It is a holistic approach which integrates yoga and meditation to promote health and well-being. It encourages a preventative approach to maintain a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle.

It was great to see the comparison between the two hospitals however it was really great to interact with the local people within the community. It is an amazing feeling to be welcomed into someone else’s home, traditions and even religions and I found that a great honour to be a part of. I would love to do more of this kind of work in the future, out in the communities, perhaps the rural communities, to meet more people of different cultures; You cannot learn anything like this in the classroom.

Namaste!

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