Depression is not always the stereotype of the sad and down person. Depression can be smiling, going on trips, playing with children, laughing with friends as the person seeks to get a glimpse of happiness again. As a person seeks to escape the deep and murky darkness of their inner turmoil. Happiness is fleeting, a phenomenon that we are always seeking. It is much easier to grasp sadness than it is happiness. But depression is more than an attempt to hold on to the happiness that comes in episodes. Depression is a serious mental illness that there is a lot of verbal attention given to but not enough action in the medical or mental health fields. Depression is a mental illness and a serious medical illness. With that knowledge, why is the onus placed only on mental health professionals to provide care for the individual suffering from depression?
It would be beneficial for the individual with this medical illness to have a team of medical professionals working together with mental health professionals. For example, those with cancer have a team of providers to support them not an individual doctor. This could be part of the reason why those with depression and other serious mental health illnesses feel so isolated. When you are diagnosed with a serious medical illness, there are already providers in place that come up with a treatment plan unless you have a rare illness. With depression, many people become disillusioned because they are working either with a therapist alone or a psychiatrist alone or with no one.
If you are on medication, your psychiatrist and your primary care physician should be in communication, there should be a neuropsychologist and a therapist. Then the support system should be involved. However, this is not possible for many people to have a support system which is where group therapy or support groups may be beneficial. The mental health field is hodgepodge with providers working in isolation. A therapist alone can only do so much. Medication can only do so much. That is even if people are okay with taking medication. Many people are fine taking medication for what they consider serious medical illnesses but balk at the idea of taking medication for depression which is a serious medical illness that is chronic and can be terminal.
Those with depression understand that happiness is an episodic phenomenon and it is increasingly difficult for them to envision getting a glimpse of that phenomenon. Not enough resources and research go into mental health. The medical field also has a lack of respect for the mental health field when in fact, both are intertwined. Ideally, there would be a team of professionals working with one person just like cancer treatment. We need to become better at understanding that depression is not just “in their head”, that it is medical. It deserves the same care and attention as a serious medical illness. Maybe just then, there will be more episodes of happiness and less depressive episodes.
When you think of turtles, what is the first word that comes to your mind? Is it majestic? Long-lived? Adaptable? There is a high probability that it was probably the word “slow”. That word does not generally come with positive connotations. Except, turtles are not always slow, they have been clocked to swim as fast as “35 km/h (22mph) such as the leatherback sea turtle which is the fastest turtle in the world. Just because they have the capacity to move this quickly, does not mean that they have to at all times. This is something that we can take from turtles, slowing down. One of the constant statements that came out of the pandemic was that people need to slow down. As we roll into a new year, it may be helpful to take this to heart. Slowing down does not mean not spending time with your friends and loved ones. It means listening to your mind and body when it says that you are tired or feeling unwell, that you need just a little break. Reminding yourself that you don’t have to do that thing, go to that outing, answer that call. It can mean understanding and being aware of your own capacity and limits. Sure, you can be on the go all the time but your battery will drain whether it is in a day or 10 years and when it drains, it will drop you hard. So put into place preventative measures. There is the refrain to do all the things all at once but what you see on social media, mainstream media, what others tell you that they do, not all of it is true and there are many things hidden under the surface.
Take a chance to slow down and like a turtle, use your capacity to move quickly when necessary. Identify what is important, prioritize what is important, and let the rest float by. Move with intention and mindfulness.
Practicing mindfulness is truly that, a practice. Being aware of your present moment. Aware of your interactions with yourself and with others. Many times, we are not aware of our impact on others or what others notice. It had not crossed my mind that my son was aware of my business, let alone the name. Until he mentioned I should create an inventory for Sunny Wellness of Honey. In his mind, he thinks my business is selling items because he knows I interact with clients on a daily basis. He is also aware that I am self-employed and I was unsure he noticed the difference from when I worked corporate. What that did was remind me of how I have been remiss in my posts because who really reads blogs anymore? It also helped me remember that we don’t live in a vacuum, the little ones are watching and learning.
Will I post more frequently, cannot promise that. One thing is clear, I need to be more intentional with my site and business. The last two years have been one of huge change, most unexpected. Personally and for many others. With this change has come a shift in perspective. A more laser focus on what is important, what truly matters. As I watch my son grow, I am becoming more cognizant of his mental awareness and what that means for our interactions. I am aware that out of all my titles, there is one that I prize the most, and that is the title of “mom”.
The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.
– Steve Maraboli
Forgiveness is one challenge that is hard to overcome. It’s such an obstacle, that I can count on one hand the situations and people I’ve forgiven. Even then, have not forgotten what happened. How do we get to a place of forgiveness? Am I stuck in a place of darkness if I have not forgiven? Can I be free if I have not forgiven?
In practice, we are to be able to temper our minds, focus completely on our asanas, and with that, find a sense of freedom. Yet, I am finding it more challenging to in a sense lose myself in a practice. Though, I am not really losing myself, more of searching for myself. I am not able to fully immerse myself into my practice. I am finding myself distracted, allowing worries, frustrations, and anger take hold. I ask myself “Do I want to forgive the atrocities that are being committed on an almost daily basis?” At the same time, my mind is at an unease, my body is unbalanced, and I am holding on to a very thin rope of faith.
In the Light on Yoga, there is poem called “Song of the Soul”. Within the poem itself are the words “I cast aside hatred and passion, I conquered delusion and greed.” To actually do this, one must forgive, right? Or is it saying that forgiveness is not necessary, simply a casting aside of the emotion. But if something is cast aside, does it not mean that it can be picked back up again? I am left with more answers than questions.
Accept your dark side, understanding it will help you to move with the light. Knowing both sides of our souls, helps us all to move forward in life and to understand that, perfection doesn’t exist. – Martin R. Lemieux
When I first started practicing yoga, I felt that if I wasn’t muscling through it, I was wasting my time. I was looking at yoga as a workout for the body, not a workout for the mind. I felt that I needed to be able to do certain poses now. It had not registered that it wasn’t about the poses. Cognitively, I knew that, but in practice, I wasn’t living that. Have you ever done anything like that? Driven yourself so hard to obtain a level you thought you must get to?
Have you ever pushed and just felt like you were hitting a wall? Did not allow yourself time to relax or even be mindful of your present surroundings? It seems that we live in a society that believes in “Go hard or go home”. Why? Why must we go hard all the time? Sometimes, we really would prefer to just go home. Many times we push ourselves so hard, that we become sick. We have no balance, we are either at 0 or 100. Yes, we have the capacity to do a lot, does not mean we need to do it all the time.
In acknowledging this for myself, my yoga practice became gentler. It took almost five years to get to that point. I started listening to my body more and figuring out what it wanted and where it wanted to go. It really did not like the hardcore practices that left me with a sense of unease. It preferred slower moving, holding, breathing, falling out of poses, and slowly building strength. It can do more now than before without pushing so hard. This is not to say to not work hard or push yourself, this is to say to give yourself room to breathe. Find the dark to your light and vice versa. Reevaluate your purpose and what you want for yourself and not what others want from you or what you think others want from you. And if you want to, just go home.
When I made the inaugural post to my blog on March 18, 2019, I typed that this was a blog to keep me accountable. I have not kept to my goal of posting once a week and this is due to an unexpected but good situation that came up which left me with less time in the day. However, I have still continued to post with it being more like once a month. Now, back to what I was saying regarding this blog keeping me accountable. It was to keep me accountable because I had a goal to start yoga teacher training.
There were a couple of barriers to yoga teacher training. A big one is the financial barrier. I was taken aback at some of the costs of the courses, upwards to $5000! Of course, yoga teacher training will cost money but $5000 is a bit daunting for regular people. Even $1000 can be challenging when you have a family to care for and bills. You wonder if that money could be used for something else.
A 200-hour yoga teacher training will generally run from $1,000 to $3,000 and a more advanced yoga certification course can be anywhere from $1,000 to $7,000.
Yoga teacher training was looking like a pipe dream and I set my goal for it anyway. Then I got a text from my sweet friend (whose name is one of the colors of honey – what are the odds???). She knows my other obligations but felt I would still want to see this information. In the text was a link to a yoga studio that is offering a Yoga Teacher Training Scholarship for Black Wellness. The teacher felt the need to offer this training under a scholarship to help increase diversity within the yoga community and in the health and wellness world as a whole.
We are needing light in our world right now. We are dealing with a pandemic and the tragic death of George Floyd which has rocked the country. All this combined has left me reeling and feeling overwhelmed, then I received this drop of honey. It was a reminder that there is support, light, and love still here. I have enrolled in YTT and I will reach my goals.
Hello, honeybees! It’s been a while since there’s been a post. In my life, the quarantine has made things even more busy. What have you been doing during this time? Have you been taking care of yourself? Businesses are starting to reopen and many people are living their lives as if COVID-19 doesn’t exist.
There are those of us who are making small and conscious changes to improve our lives spiritually, mentally, and physically. A couple of days ago, I was thrilled to get a text from a really good friend telling me that he had begun practicing yoga daily. He has been practicing for 12 days straight. That may not seem like a lot but it is for someone who has not done it before. To take the leap to care for yourself in healthy and sustainable ways is to be appreciated and applauded.
As much as I practice the physical part of yoga, it’s been a challenge for me to focus on the more meditative aspect. So for the past two weeks, my goal has been at least one meditation session a week. The session could be as short as five minutes. Even five minutes has made a difference. I meditated before work and a stressful day was handled a lot better because of the grounding that had been done that morning.
The pandemic has made many people even more on edge and agitated than usual. High levels of stress is deleterious to not only our mental states but our physical states as well. These high levels can increase our blood pressure, mess with our immune systems, impair our judgement, hinder our memory, essentially wreak havoc. We must be mindful of our stress levels. It can be difficult when we have so much to do. That is when we must stop and even if it’s just for five minutes, breathe. If we have too many thoughts in our head, have a notebook next to us, where we can write those thoughts that we don’t need in that moment. Let those five minutes be your time and your time only. Be your own shelter of peace.
“Healing is not about ‘staying away from something bad’ but about living a life led by positive values & intentions’” ~ Gabor Maté
Yoga is a physical practice for a spiritual purpose. Powerful words from Rajat Thakur. Yoga is like a dance, it is communicative, tells a story. It combines power and grace, words that seem to have different meanings. When we think of power, sometimes violence or aggression comes to mind or being in control of others. Yoga reminds us that power is beautiful and graceful when you are in control of yourself. The name of the poses themselves are even powerful yet they look graceful such as reverse warrior. The word “warrior” itself speaks of power, yet when you look at the pose, it is reminiscent of a dancer. There is an actual asana called “dancer” which requires a great amount of internal power and flexibility.
Yoga teaches us about the power and grace within ourselves. Working on giving grace to ourselves and others can be very challenging. Even in my practice, I find myself losing grace towards myself. I judge myself and nitpick. It takes away from the power of my practice as well. That also affects my whole day, if I lose power and grace within my practice. We are also living in a time where I am feeling powerlessness creep in and a lack of grace. We are dealing with COVID-19 and if I am being honest, there is some anxiety. I am worried and at the same time telling myself “It is what it is.” We cannot live in fear but we can be cautious. This why I need to ground myself in my internal power with yoga, find balance to bring grace. The schools are closed which means my son is home during the day when he normally would not. Instead of fretting about it, this is a time to strengthen the power of our relationship and teach him more about grace.
Taking care of your spiritual self helps not just you but others and their spirits. In stressful times like right now when we do not know what each day will bring, it is even more important to feed our spiritual self with power. This can be done with the grace of prayer, yoga practice, and any other type of physical movement. It is also important to wash your hands.
Since the start of the New Year, I have been filled with a sense of unease. The feeling that something just is not right, the feeling of impending doom. I know this is not how people like to start the new year. There is a lot of cheering for a better year, how one will change oneself, but what if this is too much pressure for people? Is it okay to be filled with some trepidation, some dread, some worry? Or is it better to have forced cheer while you feel sick inside? I once read a book by Barbara Ehrenreich “Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America” and it was a breath of fresh air. Finally, someone put into words that described how I felt about the constant push for positivity. The persistent preaching of positive thinking causes some cognitive dissonance. It makes one feel that she has no right to think negatively. Balance can be achieved with accepting that there are times that you will have negative thinking, it’s the wallowing in it that can further imbalance.
For me, there has been an internal battle to show good cheer when I’m really worried. I know that part of it is due to some choices I have decided to make for myself in 2020. I am actually scared shitless about them. But I know that I will not move forward if I stay in the same place and I want to move forward, not hide who I am, be honest with myself about what I want. The majority of my life I have been told that it is not about what I want, its about the community. That was drilled into me as a child, it was about everyone else and my needs were not important over the needs of everyone. “Everyone” is simply a group of individuals, we are not monolithic. We have our own feelings, if we were supposed to feel what everyone else was feeling, we would be true empaths. However, we were built to have a range of emotions and thoughts so that we were not all the same like lemmings.
Many seem to think that yoga makes one a 100% positive person. That is not exactly the case, yoga helps me accept my negative parts. It helps me realize that I will not always feel this sense of unease. Does it make it go away? For me, no. It makes it a little easier for me to take it day by day. It has made me more ready to admit to myself when I am afraid. Change does scare me, it is the unknown, and so far 2020s seems to have a lot of unknowns. This means my yoga practice, physical exercise, prayer, and eating whole foods will increase. A year of wellness.
Last week, I decided not to practice yoga. I thought I could use a break and see how my body responded to it. I practice yoga daily, it is part of my life but I had a lot going on last week so used that as an excuse to take a break. So from Tuesday until Sunday, I did not practice yoga. I do not plan on doing that again as long as I am physically able to move.
One of the reasons that yoga is recommended is because it helps the yoga student be mindful in their present moment and this helps regulate emotions. When I review my mood from last week, it was more anxious, and I found myself easily agitated. I practiced my breathing less and I went through each day on autopilot. I just did not feel like myself.
To add to the mental unease, I started feeling physical pain. My calf and hamstring started having sharp pains. It felt like there were knots in them. One morning, I actually woke up with a muscle cramp. This was highly unusual as I haven’t been awaken by a leg cramp since I started practicing yoga and stretching in the evenings.
After a week of this, I decided the experiment was over. Within a day of returning to my mat, my physical pains were gone. I started to feel more at ease in my physical self. The spiritual self took a little hit and has been more challenging to overcome. I realized that even when it felt like yoga was not doing anything, it was doing the most. What I had started taking for granted was because of my consistent practice. I will still take breaks but I will at least try to do five minutes a day. Yoga is like my apple a day.
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