Ancient Indian wisdom passed down from one guru to another through word of mouth and through scriptures have delved deep into the workings of the mind. And while depression might not be a subject that is discussed in explicit details, many modern day gurus have harnessed this vast knowledge to find causes and treatments of depression.
Jaggi Vasudev, aka Sadhguru, is the founder of the Isha Foundation, which provides yoga programs for a better living. In many of his sermons and writing, he has been asked the question of depression quite often, and his answers from his acquired ancient wisdom, provide some interesting perspectives.
This is a compilation of Sadhguru’s views on depression and how we can combat it using yoga and inferences from the ancient scriptures.
Depression and physical wellbeing –
“The fundamental reason why depressive syndromes have assumed epidemic proportions today is that we are eating too much and do not have enough physical activity. Physical activity is a very important part of maintaining the chemical balance in the system. Over the last few generations, our physical activity has decreased substantially. Therefore, maintaining the chemical balance in the system becomes difficult. Depression is just one manifestation of that. Some sit in a corner and sulk. Others, who are bipolar, can get violent. The common approach is to tranquillize them with chemicals, tablets or injections. This destroys the potential of the individual.”
“One of the simplest and best ways of establishing balance is lots of physical activity in a natural environment – ideally from an early age. Another aspect is being consciously in touch with the five elements of nature – earth, water, air, sunlight or fire, and space. In earlier times, human beings had to be consciously in touch with the elements. Suppose you are cultivating land or walking in the jungle, you have to know what is happening with the different elements of nature and how they affect you and everything around at any given moment.”
“One more factor is the type of food you eat – over-processed food should be avoided. Yet another factor is the lack of emotional security that modern generations are suffering. They cannot really invest their emotions in anyone, because no one will be around for too long.”
It doesn’t pay to be sick – set incentives to be healthy
“Unfortunately, in many different ways, I would say 70% of illnesses on the planet are self-created. Even in the case of infections, if you keep yourself in a certain way physically and mentally, the virus and the bacteria will not work the same way as it works for somebody else. It is possible if you set yourself up in such a way that no matter what’s happening, anyway I have to go do my work without a break. For every change in weather, if you have the comfort of covering yourself in a blanket and lying down, once you create that, your body will learn to fall sick as often as possible. If you just keep it this way – it doesn’t matter what it is, anyway I have to go and do what I have to do – you will see your body will just bounce back as quickly as possible, even if it gets the worst kind of infection.”
“Do not set incentives for sickness. If a child is sick, observe him from a distance, never go cuddling. He knows that’s the worst time of his life, but he will also know that he has to get well soon. Instead, give him the best attention when he is joyful. You will see he will naturally learn from within, his very chemistry will learn that it pays to be joyful; it doesn’t pay to be sick.”
“So set that up for yourself and you will get healthy. If you turn your mind this way, you can also turn your mind that way. “No, no I’m like this because my father abused me when I was 7 years of age,” if you know all that bullshit, you can as well turn yourself around, isn’t it? It’s time. You must understand. Mentally, physiologically, chemically, energy-wise, you must clearly understand, it doesn’t pay to be sick, unhappy or depressed – it just doesn’t pay.”
To move ahead, you must trample your ego
“Now what is there in you that can get hurt? If I beat your body with a stick, the body will get hurt; that’s different. Otherwise, what is it that gets hurt within you? Just the ego, isn’t it? The mind and the inner nature cannot get hurt. It is only the ego that gets hurt. So if you are saying, “I want to grow,” growth means going beyond this, trampling your ego and going ahead.”
“One can make any emotion into a creative force in their life. If your sadness reminds you that you are incomplete, it is good; make use of your sadness to grow. But, when you get sad, if you are going to get irritable and angry, and that whole world is wrong, you are a fool. Do you want to make this sadness into anger or into love and compassion? It is very easy when you are sad, to become compassionate. It is already a dissolving kind of energy; you can use it for further dissolution which leads you to your ultimate well-being.”
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