• megna paula

Undoing Depression

Updated: Jan 17

Studying the yoga body-mind gives us a broader view of the human experience, especially in contrast to the reductive medical approach of diagnosing symptoms and treatments. Through yoga, we can see holistic health as unifying body and mind, where manifestations of discomfort/ dis-ease will appear physically, psychologically, and emotionally.

The yogic practices empower us to care for our own health. Our most powerful tool is our vision. Developing proprioception (seeing where our body is in space) and awareness together, we can observe how we move in space and time. Movements are physical, of course: posture, strength, flexibility, ease of waking and sleeping. Movements are also mental: the nature, frequency, and contents of our thoughts. Emotions will show in body-mind.

When the posture, the tone of the body-mind are depressed, we observe movements that express:

  • cravings: for sensory pleasures; and for whaat is not present (people, material possessions, opportunities, etc)

  • exhaustion/ depleted energy

  • blind/unintentional falling into habits that no longer serve a positive purpose

During these times, we feel unaware of the ways that we can actualize changes in body-mind health, life perspective, and daily actions. This is especially true since the beginning of the pandemic, with restricted travel opportunities: when we leave our habits at home, we naturally make changes in our living upon return. Now that we are truly living at home, we need to see home life as a regular opportunity to live with awakened perspective.

When the body-mind do not feel awakened or interested, we slip towards depression, which is a deeper manifestation of dullness (tamas) and insensitivity to pleasure (anhedonia). The common response to this initial experiences of tamas and anhedonia are to increase the intensity of stimulation through addictive pleasures, which usually take us deeper into the roots of depression by giving the body-mind more to crave, and less to be sensitive to.

The healthier options of avoiding addictive behaviors/substances can also lead us deeper into depression if we find ourselves inundated with too much:

  • warmth, comfort, convenience, low-energy inertia, stale habits (kapha and tamas)

  • certitude, close-minded thinking, narrow perspective

To undo dullness, we ned to counteract and reverse these processes, adding rajistic energy to our daily lives, and resensitizing our body-mind until we find ourselves naturally enjoying daily life, as children do. The best ways to shake off dullness is to take on the mindset of interest and travel:

  • more movement, and a bit of discomfort: search out new paths, new destinations, new perspectives on your current body-mind movements

  • rather than relying on ambient warmth and warm clothing, generate your own body heat (tapas), through yogic practices of asana and pranayama

  • question what you take for granted: expand your perspective and thinking to include new angles of vision (but stay rooted in yourself; self-doubt will drain your energy)

  • make active, transformative changes in your habitual actions

Introducing active, rajistic energy will dispel tamasic energy. Emotionally, the depression needs to move through body-mind. This can be done through talking, writing, color (painting, etc), drawing, music (listening, playing, composing), reworking your living space (decor/design), cooking, etc. Find your favorite positive expression and release what is stale, dull, low, and heavy. This is a continual practice— creating creative habits will keep you in a satvic state of body-mind.

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