We go through life daily thinking that we are coping with all that we face, and then for some, suddenly like a car running out of petrol we can’t seem to go on anymore. Everything can become just too much to cope with even the smallest of things can seem like a huge thing to take on. And where did our feelings of joyfulness and playfulness go? Even getting out of bed can seem like a mountain too steep and daunting to climb. Because for most of us we have moved into such a fast paced life full of machines and technologies that we don’t see ourselves anymore and then one day we wake up lost. Then what do we do? Anxiety can be a natural and normal response to any stressful situation but if we experience it for a long time and it effects our daily life then we call this a disease, and we need some external support.
Anxiety is a fight response and it is actually healthy up to a point, i.e. anxiety about an interview or exam or challenging situation can make us perform better, drawing the best out of us. But when somebody feels anxious continually then the ‘fight’ has gone and ‘flee’ takes over often leading to giving up – this is depression. Fight or flee, sometimes we are not able to fight but we are not ready to flee either and this is causing the problem.
Anxiety normally comes and goes, when it stays for a long time this is when a person can start to withdraw from society, depression is coming from anxiety.
So what is the cause of this anxiety? Some common causes can be –
1. Lack of training in childhood, not being given enough duties and responsibilities. This training should start at home at a young age, things such as doing the washing up, cleaning, gardening, looking after pets etc.
2. Overworking, handling too big a responsibility without having the correct training. This seems to be all too often the case as we are expected to be super humans by most employers these days.
3. Tradgedy in life.
4. Fear of loosing ones job, income, position in life and fear of death.
5. Alcaholism, smoking and the use of drugs.
6. Having a lack of willpower and wisdom.
The main cause of these anxieties is looking for happiness in all the wrong places, looking externally, outwardly instead of looking inwardly to find the joy that is there, which is our birthright. External things and situations are not the answer to our happiness because they are not permanent they are fleeting. Think back to when you were a child and you really really wanted something and no matter what you gained that thing, where is it now? Do you even remember? All external matters are impermanent, the highs you get whilst intoxicated don’t last and then actually only bring a low and create more anxiety and stress.
So how do we start to put ourselves right?
- Firstly be around people you can gain support from, be close to family or friends, stay close in your yoga community, don’t isolate yourself.
- Sun Salutations – spending time everyday to move through the 12 postures of the sun salutations can be one of the best mental tonics there is. This enables you to re-connect not only with your body but to remember that you are part of this universe, that the universal rhythm is within and part of you, you can shine with the sun. This practice also allows your mind to focus inwardly letting go of the outward experience and concentrating on positive emotions and eradicating the negative.
- Working with movement and breathing techniques, such as standing in tadasana – mountain pose (standing) reaching up high with the inhale arms up over your head and exhaling loudly whilst folding from the waist down to the floor, repeating several times up and down with the breath and getting faster then again slowing down. Also alternate toe touching with legs apart, again moving with the breath speeding up and slowing down.
- Getting out into nature as much as possible, visit new places, spend time in places with positive vibrations such as temples, monasteries or holy sites.
- Take up new hobbies such as cooking, drawing, cycling etc, find your creativity.
- Working with yogic postures such as shoulderstand, ½ spinal twist and camel pose can leave you feeling more in control and invigorated.
- Sitting for meditation but using full awareness of breath on sectional breathing – Vibhaga pranayama. This is where you breathe into your belly, pause then continue the inhalation into the chest, pause and finally continue with a very subtle movement of the shoulders, then exhale fully and very slowly with full awareness.
- Sing and chant, a favourite uplifting song can work wonders to keep in mind and mentally repeat to yourself through the day or sing out loud if you can. Mantras are encrusted with special positive vibrations and are very uplifting, so sing out, chant out loud to the highest mountain and let yourself go.
- Look at your diet, foods with preservatives, colours, white sugars etc can be a root cause of depression. All the things you ingest have an effect on the mind, in fact the gross parts of what we eat become our bodies forming body tissues, cells muscles etc, the subtle parts of the food we eat become our thought patterns, so be very mindful of what you are eating. Try to eat as simply and naturally as you can.
Depression is not un-common, so many people are struggling with it. I believe the biggest step is to recognise that it is there and then we can start to deal with it. So let us all stay healthy and happy, a happy and healthy body means a happy and healthy mind, a happy and healthy mind means a happy and healthy body. We can pray to Ganesha, the lord of all living things to give us the strength and the wisdom that we need and to remove all the obstacles in our path. OM GUM GANAPATYE NAMAH - prostrations to Lord Ganesha.
Wishing that all living entities be happy, joyful and find their peace.
Mangala / Nicky