Mental health and non-duality

We don’t have to think of ourselves and the universe as separate. Photo by Vincentiu Solomon on Unsplash

Many mental health problems stem from inner tension, and many inner tensions stem from the division of the universe into incompatible parts.  For example, we get angry with each other because we differentiate between ‘you’ and ‘me’.

In general, we get unhappy when we feel separated from the universe.  We feel that there is something ‘out there’ which is incompatible with what is ‘in here’.  We feel we don’t fit, that others are ignoring us, or misunderstanding us.

Many negative emotions, including loneliness and frustration, are born of this feeling of separation.

Non-duality literally means ‘not two’.  It can include the idea that we don’t need to divide our world into ‘us and them’, ‘in and out’, subject and object.

When our mental health suffers, we feel incomplete, inadequate, uncomfortable.  In contrast, when we are mentally healthy, our completeness, adequacy and comfort are just there, and we stop questioning them.


  1. Sit for a while.  Watch your mind go through its usual thought-patterns.  Let it be anxious about some things, happy about others.  Let your body have its normal reactions to events.  Feel the fleeting pains, chronic pains, etc.  Notice what is going on in your immediate environment.
  1. Now turn your attention to yourself, the watcher.  Quietly observe this watching self.  Notice how it is different from all the thought-patterns and reactions.  The watcher just sits and watches, and isn’t so affected by things.
  1. Then notice that this ‘watching self’ is able to stand apart from the battles and troubles of your world.  This consciousness, or awareness, just accepts the universe as it is, without the need to fix it.
  1. Notice that this consciousness doesn’t question your completeness, adequacy or comfort.  It just sits there, not judging, just accepting.
  1. Finally, allow the idea that this consciousness is how things really are.  It embraces the whole of existence, and just accepts it.  It’s not trying to do anything.  It can just tune in and participate.  Neither consciousness nor the universe comes first.  They are the same thing.