Weathering the winter blues
My friend’s nephew celebrated his fourth birthday. He told her, “I was 3 for years and years and now I’m finally four”. That’s how I feel about January. Every. Year.
I have, at times struggled with intense feelings of depression. When January rolls around and I wonder if it will ever end, my fear of those feelings returning rears its ugly head. I want to hide away, to wait for January and these feelings to go away.
Then I remember I have learned practices and tools since that first frightening bout of depression.
Years ago I read Carolyn Myss’s Anatomy of the Spirit. In it she discusses the notion that all of our feelings are messengers here to teach us something. If we don’t listen when those feelings are slight, they will intensify until we do.
Yoga nidra is all about practicing this . . . getting into a very relaxed state and then inviting sensations, images, thoughts, feelings. From this relaxed state we can see the ephemeral nature of these perceptions. We can discover the part of ourselves, sometimes called pure awareness or higher Self, that remains unchanged despite these changing states.
And we don’t have to be in a formal practice of yoga nidra to do this. For me, I need to start by putting down my first line of defense against such feelings . . . M&M’s or chocolate chip cookies. Then I get still, I let go of the label, depression and instead let myself feel into the sensations that are present, heaviness, low energy, darkness. tears welling. Sometimes when I do this, just this moment of attention allows the feeling to immediately subside. Sometimes I have an insight about what is going on or what I need. Sometimes it gives me just enough space that I can engage in other self care, like a yoga posture practice or a walk or a chat with a friend.
Though sometimes it seems the hardest thing in the world to do, I know that being present to my inner state with kindness is what ultimately allows me to feel free again.