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May all find the teacher within to guide oneself towards unconditional love and peace

Sunday, January 31, 2010

About Depression



Most people will suffer a stage of depression at least once in their life time. It is a common mental illness that is affecting many people. It is not too serious unless it is affecting our daily lives and our relationship with other people, and starting to hurt ourselves or other people in action or in speech. It is affecting our work, diet, learning capacity, sleeping pattern, mood, hormones, socialization, relationships, physical and mental fitness, self-esteem and sense of self-worth.

It is a form of deep sadness and meaninglessness. Some depressed people will tend towards self-destructive or suicidal behavior, while some people will tend to become very offensive and aggressive towards other people. Most depressed people are suffering extreme low self-esteem.

Most people are depressed due to previously had been experiencing many heart breaking and unhappy happenings in life and are attached strongly to what had happened and couldn’t let go the past. We are continuing being affected, influenced and disturbed by the past unhappy memories or experiences. Some unhappy incidents that happened when we were little, and it still haunts us in our hearts and in the mind. We tried to forget or runaway from these unhappy memories, but we couldn’t. And most of the time in all the happenings now, we will relate them with our past experience and will have pre-judging or pre-assumming mental attitude towards what is going to happen and how it is going to be. It’s like we will be afraid of being cheated or getting hurt again once we had been cheated or hurt by someone before even if it happened at a long time ago. We can't really wipe away or forget all the memories just like that, especially those sad memories that had a huge imprint in our mind. What we can do is, when any of the sad and depressed memories come up to the surface, we need to confront with them and let them go, and not trying to runaway and supress them back into our hearts. Until one day, all these memories will have no effect on us anymore. They can't make us feel sad or depressed anymore.

Some people are depressed due to great disappointment and sadness towards other people’s actions and reactions in love relationships or friendships, or being depressed about the bad and negative happenings in the world.

Some people are depressed mainly because of the imbalanced hormones changes in the physical body which is not in our control at all. While some people are depressed due to injuries to the nervous system or suffered brain damages. People who are paralyzed on the right side of the body due to damages in the left side of the brains, will tend to become depressed easily. And people who are always active in the right brain and less active on the left brain (breathing through the left nostril most of the time) will also tend to become depressed easily. That’s why the alternate nostril breathing exercise (Anuloma Viloma) in yoga practices can help to balance up the energy fields in the body to balance up the activeness in both side of the brains, so that we will not be too agitated or depressed.

Be with the nature. Sit down and look at the ocean, the broad horizon, the blue sky, the mountains, the forests, the rivers, the waterfalls, the animals, and feel ourselves are not separated from nature. Open up our hearts, breathe in the fresh energy from nature, be loving, be compassionate, be generous, be happy.

One thing to be remembered if we are in the path of yoga or in the path of Buddhism, is that we are learning not to attach to the body and the mind, and whatever that happens in our lives and in the world. We learn to let go the past instantly and not attached to the past experiences and happenings. We learn not to be affected, influenced or disturbed by what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think. We should not attached, nor identify with, nor associate with, nor react towards all the thoughts, feelings and sensations (both positive and negative) that we perceive in the mind through the senses, not generating any likes or dislikes, craving or aversion, remain equanomous and calm all the time. And thus neither elevation nor depression has got the opportunity to come into the mind.

If we are already suffering depression, and don’t know how to come out or detach ourselves from it, we need somebody who is wise, positive and cheerful to be there to uplift us, to support us, to help us. Reduce negative and depressive inputs like stay away from negative and depressive people, books, movies or music; mix more with high energy, happy and cheerful people, read books that are uplifting, watch positive types of movies and listen to cheerful music.

If we can manage without taking any drugs will be the best solution. And the most natural way and effective way is by letting go all the negative and unhappy thoughts and feelings, and not supressing them back into our body and the mind. Learn how to not attach to everything is the key to peacefulness. If we can detached from all the names and forms of everything that is being labeled as good or bad, happy or unhappy, positive or negative, success or failure, and not to give any values or meanings to them, then naturally we will not be affected by depression anymore.

It is like if we feel depressed when our body had put on some extra fats or when other people didn’t show appreciation about our offerings, this is because we are having the conception that being fat is not good, and when people reject to receive our gift or not saying thank you to us means that we are not good enough, people don’t like us and we don’t deserve love and appreciation.

People who suffer depression usually are very sensitive and low self-esteem. It is not a sin or a bad thing when a person suffers depression. It is not what we want, to be depressed and unhappy about life, about ourselves, about the world and everything. It just happens in us when we are attached to the sad and bad feelings that arise in our hearts.

We shouldn’t judge ourselves as a bad person, nor is anything less than other people.

Some back bendings and chest opening poses in yoga asana can help to release the negative energy and emotion in us to let them out of our system, and to develop cheerfulness, courage, confidence, positive thinking and letting go. Most important is we ourselves have to help ourselves to come out from depression, have the willpower to change our thinking habits, and be happy. We need to find out what is the real meaning of life and divert our attention away from the things that are making us depressed.

Sometimes when we see other people who are more suffering and unhappy than us, it might make us feel better about ourselves and appreciate the goodness that we are having now, like we can see, can hear, can smell, can taste, can feel and can think, and be grateful and be happy. And thus by doing selfless service can help us to remove unhappiness and dissatisfaction in us. But for people who suffer depression, seeing many other people who are in suffering and unhappy in the world might trigger deeper negativity and depression in them. But by helping other people definitely will help us to feel more meaningful in life, and feel good about ourselves that we can contribute to the society and bring happiness to other people. And thus this will make ourselves feel better and happy too. And so, doing selfless service to serve the weak, the sick and the poor can help us to divert our attention from our own personal problems and help us to be grateful about our lives, forget and letting go of our unhappiness, and be more cheerful and happy.

Life is very precious. Appreciate our lives and this body for us to be here to experience so many things and be selfless. Let go the sadness and be happy. Change a different lifestyle, or working environment, or living environment, or diet, or new clothes, or make some cheerful friends, or go travelling, or do some karma yoga selfless service. Do something that will make us feel good, meaningful and happy. At the end we will laugh at ourselves why did we had wasted so much time and energy in being sad and unhappy. We will find out that it is not the things or happenings out there that make us sad and depressed. It is not about the things that we do or not do, things that we have or don’t have. It is us, had attached to all the things out there, and feel bad and negative about ourselves and everything else.

It is nothing wrong about feeling sad and down when things are not right in our life, just that it really doesn’t worth to continue to feel sad and down all the time when time had already passed and everything had changed but we still hold on to the things that had happened long time ago. Let it go, even if it happened just a minute ago. Feel the fresh energy, open up our hearts, welcoming a new chapter in life from moment to moment.

Know that any feelings whether they are good or bad feelings, they all are very temporary and will soon disappear. They arise and pass away without asking our permission. They come and go as they like. They don’t belong to us. They are not us. We don’t have to hold on to any of these feelings. We don’t need to identify ourselves with all these feelings in us. Let them go. Be compassionate towards ourselves. Love ourselves. Be kind to “this” being. Then only we can expand this compassion and love towards other beings.

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Pantai Cenang, Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
My husband and I run ongoing yoga retreats in Langkawi Malaysia. We teach traditional Hatha Yoga - a combination of Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (breathing techniques) and relaxation, that has given benefit to millions of practitioners over thousands of years. Our yoga studio is situated in Langkawi. We also run yoga retreats in Europe and India.

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