Updated: Jul 31, 2019
According to many reports, depression is the highest increasing psychological disease in our modern day. Most likely due to the levels of stress we put on ourselves and the constant need and expectations to achieve higher and comparing to others. Yet, it is still a topic most don't want to talk about or confront, and for those who are dealing with it then often are left feeling it to be something shameful. I'm here to tell you it is nothing to be ashamed of! Let's talk about it and let's deal with it together as a culture. I have fought depression and been silent about it for many years because I was ashamed...no more.
The personal journey of self-realization
There are many reasons why people develop depression. For myself, I still can't pinpoint the exact cause, which for many years was adding to my reason for feeling ashamed. Because I felt I didn't "deserve" being depressed (I know, that sounds stupid!). When trying to talk to people about in the past, many would say, "what do you have to feel depressed about? You come from a good family and all your life you have made your own decisions and course of action." Which is true by the way. However, I have realised later on, that my course of action was also steered much of my self-harming and depressed feelings. It created a constant loop of negativity and the deeper I got, the harder it was to get out of it. It was the feelings of inadequacy and constant comparison to others that drove me down. "You're not smart enough, pretty enough, good enough"... It was like a drug, I had to punish myself more each time. What seemed innocent enough as a typical teenage mood of lack of self-esteem, turned to bulimia and then to self-harming and cutting. I constantly felt disconnected from myself. One New Years Eve when I lived in Vancouver during my university days, I was at a party with friends. Although I was surrounded by people, I still felt alone...that disconnected feeling was stronger than ever. It was like being in a fog that got thicker each minute, the chatter became distant and I felt numb. The need to feel something, anything, became stronger than any emotion in itself. I locked myself in the bathroom and found "my kit" to cut myself. Only this time the cut got deeper than I had planned and I passed out. From there it is all a haze still. My friends found me and called 911. Rushed in an ambulance to the hospital, missing the fireworks and countdown to the new year, I woke up the next day alone in the hospital bed. When they asked if they should call someone to take me home, I just asked for a cab. The condition for them to release me was that I would start seeing counselling at my university. But I realised only I can change this! No one can do it for me. I can't rely on others to heal me, to feel fulfilled or happy, that is all on me. We must all start by loving ourselves first and foremost and look within. I started to trace back of what I had brought into my life that wasn't good for me. Behaviour, food, people... The things that might feel good in the moment doesn't necessarily mean IS good for you. So by examining every aspect step by step, and eliminating that which didn't serve me any purpose, fulfilment or healthy patterns of positivity, I slowly began to heal. But keep in mind, this process is not done overnight and it takes a lot of self-control and determination. Ask yourself this; Is this person, my job, school, habits and behaviour...is this feeding me positive energy that helps me move forward and to grow? Is it keeping me in status quo and not giving me anything? Or is it only draining me of energy? When you find the answers to these questions it is much easier to take action towards a more sustainable life for yourself.
Yoga and meditation as tools for self-healing
In Yoga and Ayurveda philosophy it is often referred to as Dharma and Adharmic living - the underlying nature and approach to live a sustainable life within. Dharma is to know our true nature by giving up seeking outer enjoyments and approval for fulfilment. All the methodologies as we know as yoga today is dharmic in nature. Adharmic living is when we are in imbalance with the world around us as well as within ourselves and most psychological and emotional disorders are therefore rooted in an adharmic lifestyle. With yoga and meditation we strive to find that balance towards a dharmic approach to life. The way we experience the world around us is a reflection of the world within us.
For many yoga practitioners their yoga journey started with the physical practice of yoga, the practice of asanas (physical postures). For me it was the opposite, it started as a journey of healing the mind and finding the connection of prana, the life force energy, as I started to notice my breath and how it is all connected to everything around and within me; my emotional balance, reactions, and how I perceive and are being perceived of the world around me.
3 most valuable skills you'll learn through yoga as tools towards healing:
Yoga teaches us awareness and learning to listen to, and understand, our bodies and mind. We become more present and alert, being able to deal with any emotional distress that might come up. Through proper breathing we can control the course of action.
When practicing yoga we learn to find stillness and accept our current situation, even when we might experience some discomfort, feel tired and want to get out of a pose, or feel agitated and restless. We use our breath to stay in it, accept it, and move past it.
When practicing yoga we find ourselves more connected to our true nature and leave the illusion of disconnection of the world behind. By learning to be more aware and strengthening our senses of everything within and around and finding acceptance, we then find ourselves in a place of non-judgement and from there; self-love.
Follow me to read more next week as I'll share with you some effective yoga poses to fight depression as well as a short meditation video.
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