Down in the dumps survival kit:
- Take one day at a time. Don’t try to plan out more than a day.
- Minimize being around people who you feel judged by.
- Place any message that reminds you to relax and trust life by your head side. Read it first thing in the morning before the mind starts it’s negative talk.
- Drink water (maybe with lemon).
- Eat at least one good meal a day.
- Connect with a source of humor everyday (humor can be a real liferaft).
- Shower or bathe to remove toxic energy.
- Pay attention to the music you listen to. Only listen to those songs that make you feel good.
I remember when the whole hype for positive thinking started. I just wondered how it made any sense. How was running towards positive thinking any different from our addiction to safety, wealth, and power? Our natural human tendency to hoard all the good things and run from all the scary things would have to take over at some point. Our trust in life would diminish as our faith in ability to control things strengthened. Eventually, we would start using our power of positive thinking to manipulate more wealth and control into our lives. Eventually, we would deny anything we consider negative and only acknowledge what we would “like” to happen. Wouldn’t we become blind to one half of reality?
Reality is both positive and negative. As far as anyone I knew (and still know) no one was given the power to see the future. All I knew for sure was that the next second could feel good or bad, it could be positive or negative. So, I concluded that in order to accept reality, I had to accept both positive and negative. This is how I became friends with my neutral mind. I started seeing its importance and it showed me a whole new world.
Instead of aiming for a positive mind, I say, aim for a neutral mind. The closer we are to neutral, the closer we are to reality. Reality is always neutral. Life is always neutral. The mind fluctuates between high and low. Neutral is right smack in the middle of the two experiences. The closer we remain to neutral, our highs and lows become less intense.
For a simple example, sometimes we use alcohol to reach a high. It takes us to quite a “high” high. When it wears off, life/reality will naturally pull the mind towards itself, a neutral state. The higher the high, the greater the pull, hence the drop will have a higher speed. As we drop towards neutral, the speed will not let us stop only at neutral. It will take us below neutral, hence then we experience what is called depression, a negative mind. What goes up, must come down, and what goes down must also come up.
Alcohol has a high velocity upwards, so the journey downwards will also be quite fast. To avoid the crash, we use more alcohol or stronger drugs. The important thing to understand is that due to the laws of nature, the crash cannot be avoided. Only the length of high can be lengthened.
We may not be able to keep the mind at a neutral state at all times but maintaining closer proximity to neutral will lessen the speed of fluctuations. We won’t be easily thrown around from one state to another because of our circumstances. Basically, we will be able to stand with a better balance. We will experience a more balanced state of mind. A more balanced mind gives us clarity for vision just like a more balanced stance.
Our tendency is to leap towards the positive and fear the negative. Which probably keeps us afloat but overtime our habit to avoid turns obsessive and compulsive. As long as it’s left unchecked, it will run our decision making. It has power over us. We are enslaved to it. Others can easily manipulate us into doing what they want us to do by dangling in front of us our drug of choice (food, exercise, gossip, entertainment, work, relationships, children, alcohol, drugs, sex, etc).
In order to rise out of our personal challenge, we must understand the importance of a neutral mind. We have got to want it or we will not reach for it. Instead, we will always reach for anything that brings us a quick high. We must understand how temporary the high is and how easily and inevitably the high turns into a low. When we understand how destructive it is to our own life, we will want different, and then choose different. Out of understanding of ourselves, we will create a new habit of returning to neutral mind so our experience at neutral is strengthened and lengthened.
This is not to say that we should not be positive. On the contrary, this makes us more positive because we aren’t putting up unrealistic expectations for the universe to fulfill. Instead, we trust that whatever will happen, no matter how it appears to us, positive or negative, we can handle it. Our motivation for living changes from pleasure-seeking to learning. Instead of using things and people as a means to avoid our fears of safety, loneliness, etc., we are able to “explore” them while they last.
Back when I started my journey towards myself, I remember sitting on the porch and watching a spider doing its “thang”, weaving its web. I noticed how similar it was to the human mind. Out of nowhere, a thought would occur and weave a bunch of stories from itself. Then my mind trailed off to the day before to contemplate my adventure of horseback riding. I noticed another similarity, this time between the horse and myself.
Being the wise owl out of my group of friends, I had expected my horse to be the most zen, but this horse related to a very different aspect of me. This horse was wild at heart. It refused to follow anyone, and insisted on marching past the guides to lead. When it got the chance, it escaped its headgear and took off into traffic with me on top. That was my second time on a horse so you can imagine my terror. Yet, I knew this was meant to be because this experience was reflecting to me something about myself.
The horse had my complete sympathy. After all, who was I to tell it what to do? I had spent so many years trying to be a perfect horse myself (figuratively), and I no longer saw any benefit in it. I was in the process of shedding an image that I had worked so hard to create, because it was a false image of me. It was an image that made no one happy, least of all me. I no longer wanted to be enslaved to any society, religion, or culture. I was no longer willing to live to impress others. I was no longer on this planet to live a life that others wanted me to live. I wanted to own my life, my time, my likes, my dislikes, and my mistakes. Basically, I could relate to this horse and understood why he was shown to me.
Sitting on the porch, the picture became even more clear. I had been punishing, shaming, neglecting, denying, bullying, comparing, and criticizing my body. Now, I started to see that my body was also a wild horse that I had been trying to tame. What good was a tamed horse, when I could have a wild one with it’s own intelligence? Trying to break this horse was only breaking its spirit. Instead of trying to own the horse, I decided to honour it. I broke out of the mental conditioning us humans have that compels us to own everyone and everything in our paths. Thanks to this horse, I no longer saw my body as a resource for me to exploit. Instead, I started my journey of worshiping it.
This simple change in intention made an enormous difference in the direction my life progressed. As I dove into yoga, my single point of focus was to heal my relationship with my body. I wanted my body to trust me instead of fear me. Every day, my body shed more trauma and relaxed a little more. My sleep improved, my health improved, my strength improved, and most importantly, my intuition improved.
Now, when I’m facing a group of new yoga students, this is the simple change I hope to inspire in them. I feel that once you start seeing your body as an invaluable companion, you are less likely to quit halfway or be led astray. You will be gentle, curious, and determined. The journey itself becomes healing because you learn. When you learn, you know better, and when you know better, you do better. You no longer have to torture your body into sizes that don’t feel comfortable. You no longer feel the need to be accepted by another person, because you have already accepted yourself. You are able to say that you are working out for yourself. You are able to show up everyday to your practice because it’s no longer superficial, but a very personal, spiritual, and intentional prayer.