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Breaking away from mental bondage

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A researcher in comparative psychology tied a heavy log of wood on the right leg of a young elephant. The researcher allowed the binding heavy log to stay on the young elephant’s leg for a period of half a year. The result was that the elephant was limited in its movement. It maintained a limited circumference of movement for that period and even when it was liberated, the young animal was unable to go beyond the scope of the initial progress. Why?

Conditioning had taken place. Habituation had occurred. Physical bondage had been transmuted into instinctual bondage. Physical limitation had degenerated into instinctual slavery. An example, which directly involves human beings may suffice. The Israelites sojourned in Egypt for a long period of 430 years of which a significant part was spent in bondage. When they finally left Egypt and were on transit to the Promiseland, all Israelites aged twenty and above (with the exemption of Joshua and Caleb), died in the 40 years wilderness journey majorly because of their inability to be free from the slavish mentality they acquired in Egypt.

They stayed long enough in physical bondage until it was translated into mental bondage. They were used to being controlled, compelled and constrained to carry out the normal routines of life. Even when their slave master had long left them, the Israelites were still behaving like slaves. They were mentally and emotionally limited and locked up, harassed and hemmed in.

Truly, mental bondage is the worst form of bondage because it controls the mind, which is the control room of the human personality. Mental bondage creates unlimited havoc, causes extreme harm as well as enhances human degradation. Mental bondage is the main reason why Africa is backward in every positive index of development, the reason why we are blessed with great natural resources; yet, we are swimming in shameful and abject poverty. It is the cause of plagues and pestilences, dangers and easy deaths; leadership insensitivity and ineptitude in Africa.

Mental bondage is at the root of both physiological and psychological disorders. Most of the time, people become sick mentally and emotionally before they become physically ill. Our predominant state of mind always prevails and manifests in the physical realm. Even in some cases of accidents, or sudden onset of sicknesses, the human mind still plays a significant role in determining both the diagnosis and prognosis. Several researches confirm this line of thought.

One of these was the case study of patients of terminal sicknesses like cancer and HIV/AIDS, who were divided into two groups and kept at two different locations in the same hospital. The former was domiciled in an open ward where they could interact with people as well as see people moving around while the latter was kept in single rooms where they were allowed to interact only with medical personnel. The result?

After a period of six months, it was discovered that though both groups of patients received equal medical attention, the health status of the former group improved significantly while that of the latter degenerated. This remarkable difference in health status was attributed to the development of a positive state of mind, which was initiated and motivated by the conducive social and psychological environment the first group of patients enjoyed.

Truly, one of the strategies used to gain dominion over mental bondage is to create a contrary state of mind through positive envisioning. This begins by deliberately separating the mind from present distressing and discouraging situations around and by focusing on the desirable and positive. Of course, this isn’t an easy task. It is like going against the tide. Yet, it can and is being done. When we realise that the same energy invested into negative thinking measures up with what should be invested into the positive and creative, it becomes only wise and profitable to engage in the latter.

Perhaps, a sure and secure starting point is to acknowledge the prevalence of mental bondage in one’s life. Truly, this can be a herculean task. Denial is more natural and realistic to the people suffering from mental bondage than accepting the reality of the existence of the problem. This is why an insane person hardly has any sense of shame. Meanwhile, the friends and family members are terribly challenged by the inanity and inebriation of the insane.

Generally, peoples’ strength and health are determined by their diet. Applied to the mind, this means that feeding the mind with positive, creative and possibility ideas will yield rewarding dividends. Inspirational materials in audio and video forms can contribute to the health of the mind. People have experienced great encounters when they listened to a message or watched video clips or films and reached important turn around decisions that altered the affairs of their lives. Examples of such transformational speeches include the following; Martin Luther junior’s ‘ I have a dream’; Jesus the Christ’s ‘Sermon on the Mount’. Exemplary videos are; ‘Charles Mully’ the Kenyan orphan who became a great philanthropist, raising over 2000 children with his wife in their home and the ‘ Amazing Grace’ film. The truth is that, there are many available transformational materials, which are invaluable.

Fundamentally, literature is an ever-potent vehicle for transformation. Knowledge is power. Readers are leaders. This may not be the case in Africa where the practise is selection more than election. Yet, leaders through diligent study are meant to be ahead of their respective followers. Reading and studying make the individual as interactions with new materials agree or counteract the old. It is in such close and interactive process that mental bondage is overthrown and positive changes are made.

Consequently, regular and concentrated reading produce better results than irregular and shallow types. Most often, people highlight the disadvantages of negative peer or friendly relationship. However, one of the best ways to gain freedom from mental bondage is by engaging in quality friendship relationship. Truly ‘ iron sharpens iron’. Consistent with this line of thought, Albert Einstein, one of the most brilliant minds that inhabited this earth in highlighting the potency of collaboration rightly said that, “If I have achieved anything more than others, it is because I am standing on the shoulders of giants”. Truly, we all need the blessing of quality and noble relationship to hit the sky.

A deep and persistent inner sense of disgust against mental bondage would also go a long way in helping the individual to gain freedom. Nobody fights what they cherish and adore. Mortals hardly fight their gods or idols. In some unfortunate situations, some victims have degenerated to the point where they worship one form of mental bondage or the other. Consequently, it is very difficult for such persons to free themselves from mental bondage. Such persons can be helped if they have someone they can trust or confide in.

Some other times, a family member or friend could take up the role of a confident whom the individual can rely on and commence the transformational journey of gaining freedom from mental bondage. In extreme cases, the victim would need the services of a professional therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. A good example is the transformational story of the renowned Helen Keller who became deaf and blind at eighteen months but through the help of her nurse Anne Sullivan, the former overcame all forms of physiological and psychological distresses and ended up as a global celebrity who earned several doctorate degrees as well as was courted by many world presidents.

In concluding this discourse on how to gain freedom from mental bondage, it is important to note that, it is both possible and noble to be free from all forms of bondage. It begins with acknowledging the problem, taking decision against it, and engaging in all the positive and practical strategies to obtain freedom. I urge you to remember the wise saying of Kelli Wilson, that, “freedom …is the act of releasing ourselves from the bondage of that which keeps us from living the life we were meant to live”. Now go ahead and live healthy and victorious.
• Dr. Amaraegbu can be reached at drpassy@yahoo.com


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Mental Bondage
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