Depression is not uncommon and is a sensitive subject to deal with, and it doesn’t exclude those whom the society believe are good, loving, generous, friendly, physically active, fit and healthy people, as well as those who have been doing yoga and meditation practice. It’s a form of mental illness.
Mental illness or mind blockage is neither a good nor a bad thing, and there’s nothing to be ashamed about. Different people might suffer different level of depression and might require different approach/counteract to counter the depression.
Though there is nothing wrong or bad or negative or shameful about someone is suffering from depression, there are people might not know how to deal with their own depression or with other people around them who are suffering from depression.
For many people, it’s normal that occasionally, the mind would feel unhappy, sad or down about something that they experience that their minds recognize as something ‘sad’ or ‘depressing’, or when they are not getting what they like and want or they are getting what they don’t like and don’t want, or when they think their lives are lack of something that would give them the sense of liveliness, goodness, positiveness, happiness, or meaningfulness. Once they found or attained something that would give them the sense of liveliness, goodness, positiveness, happiness and meaningfulness, when they experience something that they like and want, and when they don’t experience something that they don’t like and don’t want, they would stop feeling unhappy, or sad, or down. But this is not the same as those who suffer from depression.
For those who suffer from depression, depression is just what it is that is not in their free-will or control towards how they feel. The mind is just being in a ‘involuntary’ state of depression under the influence of chemical hormonal imbalanced that may require the help of medical treatment to get out of depression, as depression is not determined by whether their life experiences are ‘lively or lifeless’, ‘good or bad’, ‘positive or negative’, ‘joyful or sorrowful’, or ‘meaningful or meaningless’, or whether they have a cheerful and positive personality, or whether they are surrounded by positive and cheerful people who love them and care for them. The depression is there, even though life is all good and there are many people around them that are cheerful, loving and caring.
Those who suffer from depression are getting the direct experience of the teaching of yoga that the function of the body and mind is not in the control of ‘I’, they don’t belong to ‘I’, and they are not ‘I’. Even though the function of the body and mind is not in the control of ‘I’, but out of compassion, people can perform necessary actions that can influence the state of their minds to regain stability or balance.
There are people don’t understand depression and they might get impatient with or be annoyed by other people’s state of depression, and they ‘advise’ or tell people who are suffering from depression to be grateful for the good things that they have and to stop being depressed, because they think it’s wasting time and energy, and it’s meaningless to be depressed most of the time, especially when there’s no reason to be depressed, as they feel that it’s quite ‘depressing’ for them to deal with or be with people who suffer from depression. Some close family members or friends might feel guilty that they couldn’t help much no matter how much they show love and care for their loved one who suffers depression or any kind of mental illness.
We can’t tell people who suffer depression to ‘just get over it’ or ‘please stop being depressed’ as it is really not in their control or free-will towards how they feel or the state of their mind. Maybe there are some people in the world enjoy being depressed, but most people don’t like to be depressed. Most people want to feel good and happy most of the time.
Everyone has their freedom for how they feel and think. The people who suffer depression are allowed to feel depressed and be depressed, even though they don’t want to feel depressed, but they have no control over it. While the people who get annoyed by other people’s depression also are allowed to be affected and feel annoyed. There are people don’t have empathy or compassion towards other people’s suffering, and that itself is also a natural form of mental illness or mind blockage as well. If we understand that there are different types of mental illness or mind blockage, we won’t be just being compassionate towards those who are suffering from depression, but we would also be compassionate towards those who are lack of empathy and compassion towards other people who suffer from depression.
Yoga practice such like ‘proper’ yoga asana practice with correct understanding (non-judgmental, non-perfection, non-competitive and non-fitness challenging), breathing exercises, chanting and etc, can help to balance the state of the mind and relieve the state of depression up to a certain extent, but even the balancing effect derived from the yoga practice is impermanent, and it’s not a guarantee that after we have been doing yoga practice for some time, we will be immune to depression or any other kind of mental illness, even if our physical body is becoming more fit and healthy from the regular yoga practice.
If the yoga practitioners actually practice yoga according to the essential teachings of yoga of freeing the mind from ignorance and egoism, learning how to go beyond the balanced and imbalanced state of the mind through the realization of the truth of the mind and suffering, and realized SELFLESSNESS and unconditional peace and love that is beyond all states of the mind and the impermanent function and condition of the physical body, and all the mind perception of different qualities of names and forms, then depression is just one of the condition of the mind that is not ‘I’ and it’s not a suffering.
When the mind is free from ignorance and egoism, then it doesn’t matter whether the mind is occasionally be affected or disturbed by the perceived qualities of names and forms, and feel unhappy, sad or depressed about something that the mind recognizes as ‘unhappy’, ‘sad’, and ‘depressing’, or there is depression in the mind caused by the chemical hormonal imbalanced, there is an awareness being aware of the mind is in a state of unhappiness or there is depression in the mind, being aware of what is going on in the mind, but there’s no judgment, attachment, identification, craving or aversion, and most importantly, knowing that it’s impermanent and it’s not ‘I’.
The realization of the truth of the mind and suffering, being free from ignorance and egoism doesn’t stop the truth of changes, decay, old age, sickness, and death or decomposition. All the saints and sages in the past had showed us the truth as it is. The mind could be liberated from ignorance, egoism and suffering, but, the life existence of the body with the function of the mind will still have to go through impermanent changes of decay, old age, sickness, pain, weakness, and death or decomposition. And upon the realization of the truth, all impermanent changes, decay, old age, sickness, pain, weakness and death, are not ‘suffering’. There is no suffering even though the body and mind are going through changes, decay, old age, discomfort, pain, unpleasantness, or some other limitation.
The mind that is not free from ignorance and egoism, would perceive depression as something ‘horrible’ and have aversion towards ‘depression’, and either it would hate itself for suffering from depression or it would generate self-pity, and would expect sympathy and empathy from others. And it feels more depressed if it doesn’t get the sympathy and empathy from others. And others who show sympathy and empathy towards those who suffer from depression might criticize others who don’t show sympathy or empathy, which they think and believe as ‘normal’ human being, everyone should have sympathy and empathy towards other people’s suffering.
The mind that is suffering from depression, but is free from ignorance and egoism and suffering, doesn’t need self-pity or sympathy and empathy from others, as that is unnecessary for a liberated mind. Meanwhile this mind allows other people to show sympathy and be empathetic towards this mind that suffers from depression, or not. And those who are free from ignorance and egoism might show sympathy and empathy towards other people’s suffering but there’s no expectation that other people should also or be morally obliged to show sympathy and empathy towards other people’s suffering, and they won’t be disturbed by other people being non-sympathetic or non-empathetic, because they understand that under the influence of ignorance and egoism, or being unable to be sympathetic or empathetic is also a form of mental illness or mind blockage.
Out of compassion, the selfless mind will help itself with necessary actions or even receiving medical treatments that can help to counter depression if required, to influence and balance the state of the mind, and if the mind is still not free from the state of depression after all kinds of effort being done, there’s no judgment, disappointment and criticism. There’s no expectation that the mind has to be in a good and balanced state or be completely cleared from depression after all the efforts and actions have been done to help to counter depression.
It’s okay if the mind is not okay in this moment. Be compassionate towards this mind that is not okay in this present moment, even though this condition might last for a prolonged period of time, but still, it’s impermanent and it’s not ‘I’.