I wanted to write on depression for a long time as I have also suffered it and it is my deep desire to help people in their fight against it. However, I never received my own answers until I started studying Upanishads which are also referred to as Vedanta.
Nowadays, we see many cases of depression. Many NGOs are working towards it and many celebrities are coming forward to share their own experiences. They are not limited to any age, caste, country or faith. Anybody can be a victim of it and sometimes it leads to death as well.
First of all, we need to understand that depression does not mean insanity. People suffering from it often don’t come ahead because of the fear of being labeled as crazy. It is important to make everyone aware that depression is the mental disease similar to any physical disease. It is only different in the way it needs to be treated.
Depression is nothing but the mind with negative thoughts. In our day to day life, we think approx. 60,000 thoughts. An ordinary man does not have control over what he wants to think. Mostly it comes from the experiences and memory. For, e.g. if you had a fight with someone (verbal or physical), then you will have thoughts of it for the entire day or maybe entire week. Even if you feel miserable due to these thoughts, you cannot change them.
We call it depression when a person is continuously in the negative or sad mood. A psychiatrist tries to heal it through some medicine and through changes in lifestyle. This works to some extent, but any external situation can reverse out all the healing in one minute. What we need is an internal mechanism which can make our mind calm and allow us to face any situation in life without being mentally affected.
In Vedanta, the mind is compared to a lake. The lake is still, but when you throw a stone in it, it will create ripples. Our thoughts are like these stones. They create ripples in our calm mind. After some time the ripple will go away, but the mental impression will be created which gets stored in some corner of the mind.
Let’s take the example of some incident which created a very strong mental impression. Like you lost your friend, who was very close to you. You are already in grief about the loss and out of that, you get the thought that even you can also die at young age. This creates a big fear in your mind which take over all the waves in your mind. Your body also starts trembling and suddenly you are exposed to the fear of death.
This thought went away, but it created a strong mental impression. Now anything you do, this impression will come on the surface and will create waves of it. You are afraid to walk on the road thinking that you might meet with an accident. You check your pulse every other minute to ensure that you are not going to get the heart attack.
From outside we think that the person has gone crazy who is continuously in fear, but only he knows how he is feeling. The only thing he does not know that this fear is non-essential and he can control the same and Vedanta shows the way.
Vedanta explains the concept with examples so that we can understand it clearly and that is why it compares mind with the lake. As we saw that the depression is nothing but waves of negative thoughts in the mind. For a normal person, these thought waves are less negative compared to one suffering from depression and a normal person would also have some waves of positive thoughts. We need to increase the positive thought waves and make them stronger.
We all know that we can control our mind through yoga and meditation, but the understanding of yoga and meditation people have is very limited to asanas and health benefits. There are some exercises which are mentioned in the Hindu ancient scriptures which can cure depression. Today I will explain one simple exercise which can help everyone.
Sit down in a comfortable position. Don’t be bothered about different postures, just keep your head, neck, and spine in straight line and ensure that you don’t fall asleep. Now start doing inhaling and exhaling consciously. The important thing is that it needs to be done rhythmically. Your all inhaling should be of the same duration and all exhaling of the same duration. The breathing that we normally do is not the correct one.
Once you get into the rhythm of your breath, it is time to join the repetition of any word you like. The word should be chosen carefully and it should be associated with peace and it should not create any conflict in your mind. I prefer the word AUM or OM as I can associate it with many positive things. Slowly your repetition of AUM and breathing would be in sync and you will feel relaxed. This exercise is also good for those who suffer from insomnia.
You should not take this exercise for granted because it looks simple. When you actually start doing you will realize that it is difficult to sit still for few seconds as well. Here, you are giving orders to your mind that for some time you will not have any mind waves except those of AUM or any word you choose.
Take the first step in a fight with depression by understanding it first because you get the power when you understand the nature of something. Once you understand then you take steps to control it through the exercise I mentioned above. It is difficult to cover everything here and hence I will be writing more on it. Just remember that depression is self-created and we can cure it.