FOR DEPRESSION AND ADDICTION
IT IS well-known in addiction circles that one does not ‘cure’ addiction. That may be why “one day at a time” (of sobriety) is perhaps the most famous of the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous slogans.
Momentum of sobriety notwithstanding, what I do and what happens to me today, is mostly independent from what came before. Some say the time you wake up each day determines the beginning of your sobriety—not the days and weeks before.
It occurs to me that depression shares this characteristic—you don’t get cured of it once you have it or have that propensity. You merely learn how to control it and keep it from rearing its very ugly head.
That many addicts suffer from depression is of course connected. As well, being depressed, can lead to active addictive behaviour, sometimes under the guise of ‘self-medication.’
So if you find yourself afflicted by depression—as many are during the pandemic—it may be useful to be aware of tools at your disposal. It is also helpful to be aware of these tools beforehand, as once in the throes of depression, linear thinking often becomes strained.
In no particular order, here are some tools to alleviate symptoms of depression:
- proper exercise
- especially disciplined eating
- Yajnya (in addition to Agnihotra)
consideration and practice of the other 4 aspects of the Fivefold Path—Daan, Tapa, Karma, and Swadhyaya
For elaboration, insight into self (certainly an aspect of Swadhyaya, self-study, the fifth step of the Fivefold Path) can be enhanced through the vehicle of writing, journaling being a prime example. Trying to get oneself into a ‘going within’ mode might optimise the purpose of the process—to alleviate depression symptoms.
Exercise is not as easy as it sounds. Low energy is often experienced during depressive episodes, so pushing yourself to exercise aggressively may indeed be easier said than done. Because there are often physical aspects to the mental parts of depression, exercise serves the dual purpose of getting your mind off of yourself as well as doing all those things exercise are known to do— increased serotonin and other hormonal benefits, etc.
A very useful way of looking at depression is looking at it as your psyche sending a message to you that ‘same old, same old’ no longer works. Either some new protocols need to be added to your routine, or some existing ones may need to be lessened or eliminated.
When we say “especially disciplined eating,” this consciousness is an attempt to mediate the tendency of many to ‘drown their sorrows’ in food. It may be better than drowning them in drink or drugs, but overeating and eating unhealthily certainly affect many depression parameters.
Meditation is often misunderstood as something one just sits down and does. In truth, meditation is the culmination of concentration and contemplation. So thinking of meditation as a 3-step process is helpful.
As many readers practice sunrise/sunset Agnihotra pyramid healing fire, it may be helpful to point out 1) REGULAR daily practice of Agnihotra is very important and 2) those who do Agnihotra may wish to add a daily routine of 30-60 minutes of Om Tryambakam Yajnya. Many report tangible and continuing benefits from this discipline.
So for those looking for a ‘magic bullet’ to cure depression, let us keep in mind that all of our tools can help, but, other than Grace, there’s not a lot of magic involved.
Of course, many of us find Agnihotra to be rather magical. But as has been said, the Fivefold Path has been described as SIMPLE, BUT NOT EASY. Interestingly, the exact same description is given to the 12 Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous (which is incorporated into the Homa Therapy Drug/Alcohol Detoxification Program—published on its entirety in the website mentioned below.)