We’ve all heard that the number of suicides skyrockets during the Christmas holiday season. But this post is not an indictment of Christmas. Because really the whole cycle starts when the temperature starts to drop and it combines with gloomy skies and dead leaves, and closed windows.
It is called Seasonal Depression Disorder, and it is a diagnosed, clinical disorder, an imbalance in the system related to vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sunlight, and various other factors connected to drop in temperature, inactivity, etc. So right off the bat we have a few solutions. But it is not always that cut-n-dry.
Having said that, let me say I deplore criticism of people for something that is not their choice. So this is not a criticism of people suffering from Seasonal Depression Disorder. But I want to illustrate what is happening with SDD, apart from the imbalances in the system. I am not an expert in the science behind it, and I won’t pretend to be, though I think it behooves anyone to try to become understanding of such cases.
What I do know is this. The root of SDD is a reaction by the body to outside circumstances which thereby affects the mind. Why let the body overthrow the peace of the mind? And even more, why let the body use outside circumstances to overthrow the peace of the mind? Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to block out outside circumstances of the material world and become unaffected? To essentially create for oneself a fortress within?
Yoga philosophy has suggested, and yoga practice has shown many that “I am not this body” to begin with so how can “I” be affected by it’s chemistry? Nor am I the mind, so though the body’s chemistry may affect the mind, how can a state of mind affect That which is truly me? That is not to say one who practices yoga will never get sick. That is not true. It is just that with yoga, one has the tools for transcending the trauma.
“Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”
“Pain don’t hurt!”
You know, all that.
As I wrote this piece, I read another blog about restorative yoga, which I felt illustrated the point. In practicing restorative yoga, one is instructed by a guide to be aware of oneself and the external goings-on of one’s environment. Awareness often is a gateway to attachment, but from what I know of it, this yoga practice is one that leads from awareness to…well just that…just simply observing that which goes on around us, and in a higher state, actually observing our thoughts as they occur to us, as though watching a movie pass before our eyes. Having experienced this particular aspect myself, I can verify that it is not apathy. It is just non-entrapment. If you can do this, you can see that the dreariness and cold of winter affect your essential being not one iota. And even if the effects of the cold and gray do somehow infiltrate the movie of your mind, you are able to observe the distance between yourSelf and the screen upon which this movie plays, and are able to discern that the “depressing” attributes of the “real” 3-D world are but a crude, 2-D line drawing compared to the vast Oneness of the Great Ocean within.
Sounds like utopian idealism? Fair enough. Try thinking this way and you will see how the world changes and troubles become your friends and setbacks become something to smile back at, because you can see the bigger picture of the reason behind them.