I’ve been posting a lot of photos of life’s pleasures on my Instagram account lately - summer holidays in Europe, adventures in Bali, creative projects, and the sweet aspects of family and partnership. What is easy to underestimate is the extent to which these focal points are a choice.
This single-sided story is often the downfall of social media, in which we see only the sweet spots, and can feel inadequate in comparison.
So here’s a little more insight into the reality of this story....Whether it’s due to genetics, societal issues like individualism and too much time on devices, existential tendencies, psychological patterns - or all of the above - for any number of reasons, I experience anxiety and depression in both episodic, and underlying persistent ways.
If I pause and touch beneath the surface, it’s not uncommon for me to touch on a well of fear, sadness, or intense agitation.
What I’ve found - and what so many others who’ve practiced yoga and attended counselling with me have shared - is that when we practice the two wings of mindfulness (awareness AND compassion) simultaneously, then we can be with the full spectrum of emotion without having to associate ourselves with one or the other.
In this way, I’ve learned through yoga, that I can experience simultaneous moments of real joy AND underlying depression. Anxiety AND pleasure. Melancholy AND belly-achingly-rich-laughter.
If I’m so busy fighting anxiety or depression that I don’t take in these fragments of real joy or ease, then life becomes exhausting and my mental health suffers. But when I practice yoga regularly I can make room for all of it. When I pause in this way, rather than only experiencing a well of sadness, I can find and touch on peace also.
That’s what has been getting me on the mat each day for over 20 years, and keeping my spirits high - even when my mood is challenging. Which, for me, is a juicy life. A life worth living •