Saturday 3rd November 2007
I woke up crying this morning – it happens occasionally when I get caught up in what my son is going through, but it’s not such a bad thing to cry – tears relieve the pain a little. But today it meant I didn’t have the emotional strength to go to mysore practice at the shala as I’d planned.
Every second Saturday I work in the art gallery. It’s a six day working week. How on earth did I manage to do this AND teach two yoga classes last year – no wonder my mind/body rebelled with injuries.
Even without the teaching, life is crammed full. The busyness keeps me on a superficially even plane. But when I have a full weekend off, when I take time to breathe more slowly with the natural pulse of life, I sink straight to the bottom and all the unacknowledged feelings are there waiting for me.
I wonder if this rings true for a lot people who keep themselves constantly busy. We purposefully avoid getting too close to our core, because as we get closer to it, all we can see and feel is an emptiness – deep down, past the ego personality, we have no substance and what we face when we’ve dug through all those layers of personality and character is nothing – nobody home – and for most people that can be scary.
Many people I know who suffer from depression are sensitive, perceptive people who live close to their core. They sense that our modern life is artificial, that society keeps us all on a pointless merry-go-round, and the average person in the street is sleepwalking in denial.
When you’re depressed you FEEL – REALLY DEEPLY. And what you feel is great sadness and emptiness because there seems to be no purpose to life, no reason to do, achieve, aspire, create or even live. So close to the Truth, but not close enough to recognise that in that empty space is God – waiting patiently, calling softly.
Buddha’s four Noble Truths (roughtly translated):
1) Life is suffering
2) Suffering is caused by our desires and attachments
2) There is a way out of suffering
4) The Way
Perhaps we get pulled into the centre of our dark internal Universe because this is the only place where the secret can be revealed, where the ultimate Truth of our Divine essence is hidden. But the trip there through suffering is hell.
Depression is that place where we hover at the edge of the precipice, looking into emptiness, overcome by fear, unknowing and darkness. We’ve come too far and the road that brought us here has disappeared so there’s no way to get back.
Depression is the edge of the precipice.
It’s often said that crisis and trauma bring many people to the spiritual search. When the superficial and petty concerns of daily life are replaced by life threatening ones they are exposed as fraudulent, and we are plunged into the dark death of unknowing, where all our beliefs are shattered and we are left naked. That’s when the instinct to survive, to go beyond, will expand our minds.
This is when we suddenly find ourselves opening to new possibilities. This is when parts of our old mental structure and limiting belief systems dissolve away, creating space for the neglected spirit to awaken and flow in.
I am fortunate to have discovered my divine core, that God is within, that I am It - though it needs constant reinforcement not to forget and fall back into the old habits of thinking. And when I do, when the inevitable trials of life threaten to engulf me, I have to remember what I am and who I am not. I have to reach in and touch heaven with my fingertips.
But for gentle, sensitive people like my son and my sister who still cling to the edge of the precipice, who are stuck between the two worlds, life is lived in hell.
If only I could reach out with my fingertips and touch them too, tip them softly over the edge into the real world of wonder.