But sometimes we just can’t seem to stop hurting and get out of our mental rut. It has been estimated by the Mental Health Association that some 19 million people in the US are affected by depression each year.
Why is this?
Spiritual teacher Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, says that it’s because our mind is fixated on thoughts of,
“What about me?,” “What about me?,” “What about me?”
In fact, many spiritual teachers have said similar things. According to the great Indian Bodhisattva, Shantideva:
If you want to be happy, you should never seek to please yourself. Instead, we should seek to bring joy to others.
Buddha’s prescription for happiness is to forget yourself and love others. His Holiness the Dalai Lama says: People who have the tendency to use more self-referential terms (I, me, myself) tend to have more health problems and earlier deaths. Being self-absorbed has an immediate effect of narrowing one’s focus and blurring one’s vision.
A part of us already knows that self-obsession can lead to a downward spiral. The other part has a hard time letting go of our ego driven mindset because quite frankly, we are unaware that it even exists. Let’s face the facts of our inner world. When we are having a bad day, where is our mind? Are we aware? If we do become aware of our mind we find that it is usually not thinking about how to save the world or how to help others. Most of the time, it is thinking things like, “Why did this happen to me?” or, “If I just get this over with, then I will relax!” or, “He/She always does this to me!” We are victims of our own minds. We could be in a tropical paradise and not care or notice because we are in an egotistical, self-absorbed, complaining mode. Have you experienced this?
So what is the solution? Here are a few key concepts that Sri Sri encourages us to remember:
1. Things are always changing. Your mind and emotions will not remain at the same intensity or quality for more than a couple of days.
2. When your ‘prana,’ or energy, is low your mind can get depressed. If any of the four sources of energy are not replenished or in balance your energy may be low. These are food, sleep, the breath, and a calm meditative state of mind. The subtleties to how these sources of energy work within each of us depends on our level of awareness and our experiences. Pay attention to how they affect your life and take an Art of Living Course to learn how to practice breathing and other techniques which increase the ‘prana’ and harmonize our inner and outer existence.
3. Ask: “How may I be of service?” Ask this question everywhere you go. Helping others gets us out of our head and into our heart. It helps us to recognize that we all need help and have hard times. Isn’t that true? Also, notice how you take responsibility for the things you feel belong to you. When you have a sense of belonging to the whole world you will always find a way to be of service. And you will expand within, and return to inner happiness and flow.
What I like about these points and techniques is that they are so tangible, and allow us to get out of our head and into the real world.
All of this is taught in the Art of Living course. This is a course that’s for everyone—it’s about managing the ups and down in life which we experience within us. It’s about creating a smile that never breaks, by living fully in the present moment and feeling a sense of belonging to everyone.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, a large volunteer-based and quickly growing non-profit. In just under 30 years, the Art of Living foundation has reached 20 million people in over 140 countries (no small feat). His mission is simple: to create a lasting smile on everyone’s face. And…to create a violence-free, stress-free world. Sound too good to be true? Sri Sri believes it is possible and will happen. He tirelessly travels the world bringing his message of inner peace and outer dynamic social action to nation after nation.
In the early eighties, Sri Sri developed the ‘Sudarshan Kriya’, a powerful breathing technique taught in Art of Living Course. He says that just a few minutes of this Sudarshan Kriya practice done daily will cleanse our mind of past impressions and stresses, creating a sense of harmony in the body, mind and spirit.
The Art of Living course however, is not for the timid. It pushes you to question your personal comfort zone and encourages you to willingly stretch outside of it. It helps you to grow into the person you’ve always aspired to be, rather than staying stuck in the mud of old limitations. Sri Sri believes we all have that ability—we all have that ‘Bigness’ inside of us.
One of the best ways to discover it is through seva or selfless service; to always ask the question “What can I do for you?”
*** Warning / Disclaimer: This article in no way is intended to treat or cure an conditions or diseases. It is not written by a mental health expert, just a normal person who would like to put out a new perspective that may help someone (but there are no guarantees and it may take a long time to learn how to use the technique in here effectively). The technique of being selfless may only be effective as a preventative tool and may not be useful when you are already severely depressed. By no means, does this article cover the wide range of issues that come along with clinical depression or other forms of depression and was intended to only assist in the personal discovery of the average day to day sad feelings that people to often get. The author is making no claims that this is the only way in or out of depression or that depression is a simple topic.
Catrina McFate has been studying health and healing since she was 14 years old. She is founder of Naturally Me Health Coaching (certified by the AADP) and is a teacher for the Art of Living Foundation.
Join Sri Sri for an evening of wisdom and meditation entitled World Peace through Inner Peace in Denver on Tuesday, April 20th at the Seawell Ballroom in the Denver Center for Performing Arts, and in Boulder on Wednesday April 21st at Naropa University’s Nalanda Event Center. Tickets and information are available by calling 720-984-1108 or at www.events.artofliving.org.
The Art of Living offers yoga classes, evening and weekend workshops and grassroots service projects throughout Colorado, the US and in over 140 countries. Get involved!
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