You are not alone in your being alone. You are not alone in your sadness. You are not alone in your loneliness. You are not alone in your isolation. Our minds like to tell us we are the only ones going through this darkness. It is a lie! That is your small self talking, trying to convince you it is safer this way. It is not. It is just as painful staying small. I would venture to say it’s even more painful because it causes you to miss out on life. Your one, true, wild life.
There is no way to keep yourself safe anyway. Life is unpredictable. Unexpected things happen. We might as well be enjoying ourselves and truly living so when something big goes down, we are more capable of dealing with it.
I started listening to and practicing Kirtan over 15 years ago. Kirtan began in India centuries ago. It is a spiritual practice that uses ancient chants as a form of meditation with the goal of calming the mind. The chants are usually sung in Sanskrit and usually involve call and response. I fell in love with it. When I sing these chants, I feel a change in my internal vibration as if something inside me is slowly being transformed.
I often listen to the Kirtan music of Krishna Das while practicing and teaching yoga. The other morning as I was practicing, I had Krishna Das on Spotify. Instead of the usual chanting, this was a recorded workshop. I usually skip these as I prefer the music. This time, I heard the word, ‘depression,’ so I kept listening. What Krishna Das shared during the workshop really struck me. He said that he has gotten to a place when he doesn’t attach value judgements to his feeling states. He shared, “Oh, I’m feeling sad, so what? Happy, alright. It doesn’t matter.”
What struck me is the recognition that feelings pass. We often forget this. We feel pressure to always feel good, be happy, or some other positive state and we place judgement on ourselves when we feel down, sad, or something negative. The truth of it is, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we allow the space for these emotions to flow through us without judgment or attachment. If we can think about our more challenging emotional states like that of a spring storm, we can see that it may cause some havoc while it is occurring but then it will eventually pass. There may be some clean-up to do after, there may not be. Calmness arrives, the sun comes out, we check for damages, and we notice we are ok. This gift of allowing our emotions to pass through us is in the strengthening of our soul.
As for positive emotional states, there also needs to be some unattachment here. Just as it can’t be sunny with blue skies all the time, we are not going to feel happy all the time. That is ok. How would we know what happy feels like if we didn’t experience periods of sadness? Life, as in nature, is about balance. Yin and yang. Dark and light complement each other. They also need each other.
The next time you are feeling down, acknowledge it. Experiment with expressing it. What would that look like? Going for a run, dancing, yelling into a pillow, going to a martial arts class, walking around the neighborhood, listening to Kirtan, or maybe just inviting it in for some tea and asking what it is here for? As we sit with uncomfortable emotions, we notice they lose their power. They lose their hold on us. Paradoxically, when we try to run from them or suppress them, they tighten their grip on us.
I’ve gotten to where, even if I’m alone, I’ll share what I’m feeling out loud, “Ah! I’m so irritable!” or “Man, I’m feeling really sad.” Or “Hmm, I feel really good.” Simply noticing without judging.
The next time some of these less-comfortable feelings surface, instead of getting distracted, pay attention to them. Instead of jumping onto some social media site, jump on a bicycle, jump on the phone and call a real breathing person, or maybe jump up and down and shake things up a bit.
It will take time, as it always does to form new habits. You are training your brain. It takes some experimentation to see what works. It takes practice. It takes persistence. It starts with a decision. It starts by being willing to do something different. It starts with you. You are worth it. Your one, true, wild life is worth it. Now get out there and live it. All of it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Share a comment on how you’ve dealt with the ups and downs of life. There is a richness in the diversity of our experiences. Please share yours and help build our community here.
Sending you all peace, love, and light.