In the realm of mental health and well-being, various cultural and religious perspectives offer unique insights into understanding and addressing the complexities of the human mind. Sikhism, a monotheistic religion, was founded by Guru Nanak in South Asia in the 15th century. It places significant emphasis on the holistic well-being of individuals. This article explores the teachings of Sikhism regarding mental health, the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit, and the practical applications of these principles in fostering mental well-being.

The Sikh Concept of Mind, Body, and Spirit:

Sikhism views the human being as a harmonious blend of mind, body, and spirit. The holistic approach to well-being in Sikh philosophy considers these components as inseparable entities, each influencing the others. The mind, according to Sikhism, is a reflection of the divine, and maintaining mental health is essential for aligning oneself with the divine order [1-2]. Guru Amar Das proclaims:  

ਮਨ ਤੂੰ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਆਪਣਾ ਮੂਲੁ ਪਛਾਣੁ ॥
Man ṯūʼn joṯ sarūp hai āpṇā mūl pacẖẖāṇ.
O my mind, you are the embodiment of the Divine Light - recognize your origin. (M. 3, SGGS, p. 441) 

Guru Nanak emphasized the importance of maintaining a balance between the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of life [3-4]. Sikhs believe that the mind when disciplined and focused, can transcend the challenges posed by the material world. Through meditation, prayer, and self-discipline, individuals can attain a state of mental equilibrium, contributing to overall well-being. Guru Nanak encourages us to train our minds in contemplation of God. 

ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮਨੁ ਸਮਝਾਈਐ ਆਤਮ ਰਾਮੁ ਬੀਚਾਰਿ ॥

Gurmukẖ man samjā▫ī▫ai āṯam rām bīcẖār.
The Gurmukhs train their minds to contemplate the Lord, the Supreme Soul. (M. 1, SGGS, p. 18) 

Meditation and Mindfulness in Sikh Practices:

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One of the fundamental practices in Sikhism that promotes mental health is meditation, known as "Simran," or remembrance of the divine [5]. This meditative practice involves repeating and contemplating the sacred name of the divine, fostering a sense of inner peace and tranquillity. Simran is a tool to silence the restless mind, promoting mindfulness and self-awareness. Guru Arjan urges us to meditate on God.  


ਏਕੁ ਸਿਮਰਿ ਮਨ ਮਾਹੀ ॥

Ėk simar man māhī.
In meditation, remember within your mind the One Lord. (M. 5, SGGS, p. 407) 

Through regular meditation, Sikhs aim to detach themselves from worldly anxieties and stresses, allowing the mind to connect with the divine essence. This practice not only enhances mental focus but also serves as a coping mechanism for managing stress and promoting mental resilience.

Community Support and Social Harmony:

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Sikhism places a strong emphasis on community and social welfare [6]. The concept of "Sangat," or community gatherings, is integral to Sikh practices, providing a support system for individuals facing mental health challenges. The sense of belonging to a community and the mutual support offered within the Sangat contribute to a positive mental environment. Guru Arjan proclaims the benefits of Sat Sangat (the True Congregation). He articulates:

ਸਰਬ ਸੁਖਾ ਪਾਵਉ ਸਤਸੰਗਿ ॥
Sarab sukẖā pāva▫o saṯsang.
All peace is found in the True Congregation. (M.5. SGGS, p. 180) 

Sikhs believe in the principle of "Seva," or selfless service, encouraging individuals to help others in need. Engaging in acts of kindness and service not only fosters a sense of purpose but also enhances one's mental well-being. The Sikh community's commitment to social harmony and support creates an environment where individuals feel understood, accepted, and cared for, reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues. Guru Nanak emphasizes the importance of doing Seva (selfless service). He says:

ਸੁਖੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੇਵ ਕਮਾਣੀਆ ॥
Sukẖ hovai sev kamāṇī▫ā.
You shall find peace, doing selfless service. (M.1, SGGS, p. 25)

Acceptance and Detachment:

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Sikhism teaches the importance of accepting the present moment and acknowledging both joys and challenges as part of the divine plan [6]. This perspective on acceptance aligns with principles of mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral therapy, emphasizing the need to focus on the present rather than dwelling on past regrets or future anxieties. 

Moreover, Sikhism advocates for detachment from material possessions and ego, recognizing these as potential sources of mental distress. By fostering a mindset of contentment and humility, Sikhs aim to mitigate the impact of societal pressures and expectations on mental well-being. Guru Teg Bahadur proclaims the significance of detachment in one’s life as:

ਜਿਹਿ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਸਗਲੀ ਤਜੀ ਲੀਓ ਭੇਖ ਬੈਰਾਗ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਸੁਨੁ ਰੇ ਮਨਾ ਤਿਹ ਨਰ ਮਾਥੈ ਭਾਗੁ 
Jihi bikẖi▫ā saglī ṯajī lī▫o bẖekẖ bairāg. Kaho Nānak sun re manā ṯih nar māthai bẖāg.
One who has forsaken all sin and corruption, who wears the robes of neutral detachment - says Nanak, listen, mind: good destiny is written on his forehead. (M. 9, SGGS, p. 1427)

Challenges and Stigmas:

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Despite the rich teachings of Sikhism promoting mental health, challenges and stigmas persist within the community. Cultural and societal norms may contribute to the reluctance of individuals to discuss mental health issues or seek professional help openly. Addressing these challenges requires a collective effort to promote awareness, education, and open dialogue within the Sikh community. Guru Arjan emphasizes the importance of awareness, learning and open dialogue within the community. He enunciates:   


ਗਿਆਨ ਧਿਆਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਸੰਤ ਤੇਰੇ ਸਿਉ ਗਾਲ ਗਲੋਹੀ ॥
Gi▫ān ḏẖi▫ān Nānak vadi▫ā▫ī sanṯ ṯere si▫o gāl galohī.
O Nanak, spiritual wisdom, meditation and glorious greatness (physical and mental wellness) come from dialogue and discourse with Your Saints (experts). (M. 5, SGGS, p. 207)   

In conclusion, Sikhism provides a holistic perspective on mental health and well-being, emphasizing the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit. Through practices like meditation, community support, and the principles of acceptance and detachment, Sikhs strive to cultivate a balanced and resilient mental state. However, challenges such as stigma and cultural norms persist, necessitating ongoing efforts to promote mental health awareness and destigmatize seeking professional help within the Sikh community. By incorporating these teachings into everyday life, individuals can strive for mental well-being while remaining grounded in the spiritual principles of Sikhism.


  1. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, (SGGS), 1983 (Reprint), SGPC, Amritsar
  2. Khalsa, S.S. English Translation of SGGS.
  3. Singh, D. P. (2019, Jan.). A Path to Truthful Living (Part -I), The Sikh Review, 67(1), 25-32.
  4. Singh, D. P. (2019, Feb.). A Path to Truthful Living (Part -II), The Sikh Review, 67(2), 19-30.
  5. Singh, Devinder Pal (2023). Truthful Living: A Perspective from Sikhism. Horizon J. Hum. Soc. Sci. Res. 5 (2), 132–139. https://doi. org/10.37534/bp.jhssr.2023.v5.n2.id1212.p132
  6. Singh, D.P. (2024). A Path to Truthful Living. Singh Brothers, Amritsar, India.


Dr. Devinder Pal Singh

Dr. Devinder Pal Singh

Dr Devinder Pal Singh, Center for Understanding Sikhism, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, has published about 100 articles on various aspects of Sikhism in several newspapers and magazines of English, Punjabi and Hindi.

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