Winter trees.

Spare Me the Positivity Right Now

These are dark days.

I mean, literally dark. Winter solstice and all that. In these northern climes, we just don’t have a lot of daylight hours right now. And I’d like to believe that this darkness is responsible for what I’ve been feeling lately. It is surely a factor.

I suspect, however, the looming possibility of living under a dictatorship plays a whole hell of a lot more into what I’m feeling.

I live in a racially and economically diverse city with an LGBTQ community center at its heart. Having the good fortune to attend racially and culturally diverse schools the majority of my life, I feel quite at home in such an environment. But these days, I’m around many people who are feeling sadness, hopelessness, injustice and fear. And rightly so.

Being in this open and accepting neighborhood, I also frequently encounter new-age, “just think positive” advocates who keep telling me to look on the bright side, be thankful for what I have and expect good things.

Aw, that’s nice. And with all due respect, it’s emotionally dishonest and it’s bullshit.

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The Niyamas – Soulful Living At The Second Limb

In the simplest of terms, yoga is like a tree comprised of eight limbs. Each one of these limbs represents a different level of the practice. The yamas and niyamas comprise the first and second limbs respectively and are ethical precepts that apply to how one relates to oneself and to society. By the most essential definition, the yamas are restraints while the niyamas are observances.

In a nutshell, the niyamas are as listed below :

Shaucha – Purity

Santosha – Contentment

Tapas – Burning Enthusiasm

Swadhyaya – Self-Study

Ishvarapranidhana – Celebration of the Spiritual

Easy enough then. Practice all of these things and you’re good to go.

Well, not really. It’s been said that practice makes perfect. But whoever said that was delusional and possibly cruel, as perfection is an illusion and cannot be achieved.

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I’m A Yoga Teacher And I Take Medication For Depression

This past weekend, I was visiting with my friend Tom.

Tom and I share an appreciation for cooking – though his appreciation is far more passionate than mine. He adores cooking. He would, and has, put it above all else.

“Whenever I’m sad or having a tough time,” he says, “I just go to the kitchen and start chopping or shredding and my troubles just melt away.”

Tom has said this to me so many times that he’s beginning to sound like the autistic savant Raymond on Rain Man. (“Melt away. Away. Troubles melt away.”) And I know him well enough to understand that the implication is that I should give this ‘cooking thing’ a try whenever I’m feeling down.

Tom means well, but he is unable to grasp that it’s not that easy for me. And I envy him this.

I live with depression. And not the “I’m so bummed they discontinued my bra” or “I can’t believe they kicked my favorite singer off of The Voice” kind of depression. Mine is of the “don’t leave the house and suffer paralyzing fear/anxiety that makes me want to strangle myself with my discontinued bra” variety. It isn’t pretty.

And for me, it’s terrifying.

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