This week guest writer and Cambio instructor Renee Nicole Rudolph shares her words on our recent visit from one of our favorite yoga teachers.
On Shanti Shanti's Cold Depression Workshop from Friday, July 15
On Friday, I attended the Overcoming Cold Depression: Penetrate the Silence of the Soul Workshop, presented by Dr. Shanti Shanti Kaur Khalsa and hosted at Cambio Yoga and what an honor it was. For years I suffered from cold depression. I was tired, angry, frustrated, and the level of my anxiety was indescribable. Sure, I knew I was probably depressed and sure, I really thought anxiety was to be expected--better get used to it I often told myself.
I kept up with some self-care practices to try and manage my situation. I practiced asana and got outdoors, found support in my therapist, and even tried some pharmaceuticals to little avail. These tools certainly helped take the edge off, but I still felt an overwhelming sense of frustration. It was like my entire life was trying to fit a square peg through a round hole. Finally, reaching a point of near nuclear meltdown, I realized my own life was on the line; I had to make some drastic changes. I started shedding duties and responsibilities, keeping only those that served me most. I realized that I could not continue doing, that I was spending far too much energy outside of myself and by the time I had a chance to check in with me, I was too exhausted to care. Something interesting happened and until Friday, I had no words for what that something was.
As I stripped away the items on my plate, little rays of light started to emerge. I spent less time griping about work. Getting up in the mornings became easier. I craved healthier foods. Nourishing relationships started to emerge and current ones improved. My creative energy skyrocket and my capacity for bullshit tapered. My inner self-critic became a little less harsh, though she's still an occasional asshole. Generally speaking, I'm a whole hell of a lot happier and hold this life with much gratitude, more than what I ever thought I was capable of.
In the philosophy of kundalini yoga, depression is not considered a psychological issue, rather it is seen as an energetic issue. The energy we are using to meet external demands is beyond our capacity, and we've reserved nothing left for our internal well-being, rendering us numb. We become cold, turned off from our inner light only to check boxes. Modern times corner us to fast-lane living and demand we keep achieving. As soon as we cross one thing off the to do list, we write three more. We are in a constant state of doing, approaching our lives with an exhaustive sense of urgency. The worst part, we are rewarded for this keeping-up-with-the-jones behavior. If you're not operating your work and other responsibilities from some kind of crisis mode, then you're simply not doing enough. Not only does this reek havoc on our physical bodies, think stress-related illness, but cold depression also manifests psychologically as depression and anxiety. As reported by the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety is the most common mental illness and affects 40 million adults in the United States.
When we operate from a place of cold depression, our ego is in overdrive. We grasp for the things we believe will make us happy: material items, toxic relationships, and instant gratification. We use quick fixes and false gods as distractions and we find ourselves drowning in self-hatred, frustration, anger, and resentments. We harshly critique our past and we worry too about our future. We tell ourselves we'll be happy when we achieve that next goal. We rarely connect to the present moment and have become so far removed from our true self, that we've forgotten we ever had our own unique inner light. We've lost the ability to listen to our true calling, our dharma.
Had I attended this workshop before I made these changes on my own, I wonder if Shanti Shanti's wisdom would have resonated. Regardless, the timing of this workshop could not have been more perfect. Moving from a place of total numbness into a space filled with joy, compassion, and love has been one of the most remarkable gifts I've experienced, yet not having the language to understand and integrate such gifts left me yearning for answers. I am forever grateful for such a learning experience.
We yogis tell our students to listen to their bodies, but I often think this message gets lost because we are numb. We're not even sure what our body is telling us and certainly no sure how to respond. Let go of the constant need to archive, the urgency to get things done, find a little time for yourself and settle into a simpler way of life. You can still check things off your list, but do it from a place of intention. Be sure you're asking yourself how this serves you. I've got a hunch you may be able to hear your inner light a little more loudly.