Happiness After Depression

I get reflective in the Fall, thinking about the year fading into the past as the leaves start to change colors… this year has not been easy. Physical challenges, loss of a long time friendship, financial stress, etc have all weighed heavily on me. But the other day, I was at the dentist getting THREE cavities filled and after all the drilling, two shots, and the extra shot because I could still feel the drilling, the Dentist said to me, “How do you feel?” I answered like my lips and tongue were made of jello, “Happy,”” and she turns her head to the side and says, “No, how do your TEETH feel?” Ohhhhhhh…

Apparently I’m not depressed anymore, because the first word that came to mind even in the Dentist’s chair was, “Happy.” All the things that happened this year were worthy of a few days in bed feeling sorry for myself, a resurgence of bad habits, reaffirmation of negative self talk, playing the victim, all that stuff. It took a long time, over a decade, of work on myself, yoga, more yoga, and even more yoga, learning how to treat myself and others better, mindfulness, hard choices, pulling up my bootstraps, never giving up, MORE yoga, meditation, getting over myself and my ego, starting over and over again, being radically honest, getting as much therapy as I could afford, building and rebuilding relationships, you know, doing “the work.”

The work WORKS. It’s not instant, it’s not easy, but if someone like me who fought serious, serious depression for most of my life can instantaneously respond, “Happy” after having my teeth drilled, then it’s worth it. It works, and for anyone out there suffering right now, just don’t give up, don’t stop — get to a yoga class, volunteer somewhere, read all the inspiring books you can get your hands on, do whatever little bit of work on yourself you can each day, it WILL pay off. Only you can do it. Just like no one can get on the mat for you, no one can meditate for you, no one can eat right for you, no one can work on you for you. This work, it’s an inside job, and we all have to do it for ourselves. You’re worth it.

I never imagined I could be this happy!

I never imagined I could be this happy!

ALTERED SPACE // I GO TO WORK

Last week I was talking to a group of teacher trainees at DY about business, and I found myself saying what I always say when asked how I’ve managed to build a successful business : “I go to work.”

I joked about trying to write this article for weeks now, and having a block because my big secret is : “I go to work.” End of story. Publish. Share.

My husband and I have another joke about how we are people just made to work. We come from hard-working stock. My mother’s family was from Baja, Mexico and worked hard not only to get to Los Angeles, but to survive there. I am actually more Mexicana by blood than Italiana, but my driven father who raised me is Italian and he instilled in me a gut wrenching work ethic which he himself had to develop at a young age in order to put himself through school. When I am happy, I go to work. When I am sad, I go to work. When I am tired, I go to work. When I am scared, I go to work. When I am depressed, I go to work. When I am excited, I go to work. It’s this weird reflex I have… I go to work.

If you could see the table I am sitting out now, I have my computer in front of me so I can do this work. To my right is my journal and some scribbled notes I just used to work on an update of my Bio for the website. To my left is a stack of colored paper and beads and goo to work on some crafts when the baby wakes up from her nap. Off to the side a pile of Italian grammar and vocabulary books tugs my eyes their way and whispers, “don’t forget to do your homework!”

When I am on the mat, it’s hard work. Nothing comes easily to me in Yoga. You might find it funny that I am not particularly good at Yoga asana. But I persist, 25 years into practice, and when I have that great blessing for all the stars and planets and things in my busy life to align that allows me to actually get on the mat these days, I am just happy to do my work there. I know other people are more graceful and accomplished and playful than me on that mat, and that looks nice. But it’s not what happens for me. When I practice, I have to work. Oh sure, you’ll see me smiling here and there at something the teacher may have said, or laughing when I splat out of a hand balance, but then, it’s back to work!

Work sustains me. It makes my heart feel full. I love my work. It’s never about the pay, either. You could be getting a huge paycheck and be miserable, and be getting a little check and be happy. That happiness has more value than ANY paycheck. I happen to get an effervescent feeling from doing a good job at all things big and small. I enjoy contract negotiations as much as cleaning out the fruit bins in the fridge. I sit back and look at the paperwork or sparkly drawer when I’m done and marvel at the job well done! If I am not satisfied with my work, it’s just not finished, so I get back to it. No biggie. To me, that’s the nature of work, do your best, wait for some feedback, and plan your next step. Adjust. Get creative. Maybe you are done. Maybe you need a toothbrush to get into the murky corners, or maybe you need to let go. It’s all part of the process.

One of the verses from the Bhagavad Gita that has always struck a chord with me is, “Finite bodies have an end, but that which possesses and uses the body is infinite, illimitable, eternal, indestructible. Therefore fight, O Bharata.” (2.18) Krishna is advising us to do our Dharma, the “fight” is a metaphor for the task at hand. The good work we do is infinity being channeled through us, and the deeds we leave in our wake are a legacy of energy that we ride until our own finite body turns to dust, and that all of those thereafter will inherit. In other words, you’re here for a short while, why not leave something nice behind?

I’m just going to call this the “Preface” to future installments on how I started Dhyana Yoga and things that I learned along the way, and I will definitely address the great questions people have specifically asked, especially the ones that you can’t find out through a Google search. But for now, the baby is rustling around, so it’s time for me to… ah, probably PLAY for awhile!

Make shapes that create Harmony, Peace, and Love in your life!

Sat Namaste!

Diana

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