I was born in a quaint, remote little village in North Kerala where myths, superstitions, and folklores colored the thoughts of its inhabitants. Luckily, I was born as the daughter of a man of science, a homeopathic doctor and a hypnotherapist, who worshiped the human mind.
I grew up hearing tales of the demons that lived on the giant Pala trees (Indian Devil Tree) and about the dangerous spirits that lurked in the darkness to pounce upon unsuspecting wanderers on certain full moon Fridays. But, at home, we were taught about the miracles the human mind was capable of performing and even the science behind certain common beliefs.
Homeopathy heals by stimulating the healing power or the vital force that exists in every living being, it studies in detail the intricate connections that exist between the mind and the body. A hypnotherapist learns to control the human mind. My father combined both these systems to heal his patients. More than that, he taught us that every single thought was powerful. The wall between sanity and insanity, he said, was very feeble and was entirely balanced by thoughts. To drill this into our consciousness, he told us case histories of his patients. Some had lost their sanity due to a sudden trauma, some others after years of ill-treatment or self-abuse. He told us how hypnotic suggestions (instructions/affirmations to the brain to think in a certain way) brought about dramatic changes.
My brother and sister both followed his footsteps and became Homeopathic doctors. Whenever their friends came home, there would be healthy debates about the healing powers of a single drop of medicine or a single hypnotherapy session. All in all, I grew up venerating the human mind.
My father left us in 2011, after being bedridden for eight long months. All of us were in denial for the longest time. My sister was the worst affected and would burst into tears every other moment. My mother left our family home to live with my brother in Delhi saying she couldn’t bear to live in the house which had lost its pillar of strength. I bottled all my sadness in and acted bravely in front of others. Relatives taunted me that even though I had been the most pampered by him I seemed happy that he was gone. They didn’t know that I was withering internally. I had to remain strong externally; I had a two-year-old to look after. But I loathed myself, I criticized myself constantly for being fake. Slowly but steadily the sadness I had trapped inside began to surface as random outbursts of anger or tears. Sometimes, all I wanted was to escape from the numbing sadness, find a window to jump out of, and end everything. My health suffered, I was always lethargic and exhausted. Insomnia plagued me. I tried many things to distract myself; painting, crochet, and endless hours of television. Nothing worked.
I turned then to my sister for help. She prescribed medicines. But recurring thoughts would again lead me into the same pit of depression. It was during that time that my sister found healing for herself through Reiki. She encouraged me as well to take it up. Reiki again instilled in me the confidence that we human beings are capable of healing ourselves. The power to heal was through thoughts, intentions and meditations thereby harnessing the cosmic energy to heal. I did the self-healing Reiki sessions religiously and all the symptoms of depression began to disappear.
At the Reiki class, I met Saileela who was then a techie working at IBM. We became close friends as we shared many common interests. Her life ambition was to master past life regression, which she learned eventually. She was kind enough to let me experience the magic of past life regression during mid-2013. The experience taught me many things. The most important one was that we incarnate many times. Our soul is immortal. The experiences we undergo in this life are already chosen by the soul even before we incarnate. Everything is a lesson our soul wants to learn. And our thoughts create our reality.
The period of 2011-2013 was the dark period in my life where I was reeling in mild depression, a common mental disorder. When I look back at those hours now, I understand how they made me stronger. I also understand why bottling up emotions is harmful.
In the current world, nearly half the world population is depressed. Having experienced the debilitating numbness this mental disorder brings into one’s life, I know it is a tough and lonely fight. But it can be won. I wish to share here the pointers I use to keep myself centered and happy.
1) A Happiness shield:
I believe that being happy and content is our most natural state of being. Everyone deserves happiness and love. Whenever a situation arises where I find myself haunted by recurring sad thoughts, I deliberately start thinking about happy things. Remember the spell ‘Expecto Patronum’ Harry Potter uses to drive away the Dementors who makes him think dreadful thoughts? I create my own Patronus, my protective shield using happy vibes. These can be happy memories, music or dancing. Happiness comes in little packages and inundates our being if we care to collect them.
I take care to read happy light reads, watch comedies and weed out negativity from my social media feed when I am in such a phase. Also, I eliminate toxic people from my life who are responsible for giving me those negative thoughts or vibes.
Whenever sadness becomes unbearable I make myself move. I go out for a long walk in the park, spend an hour at the gym, do yoga or dance away to the music.
I maintain a gratitude journal. I write in it every day. It is a very powerful spiritual practice. Once we begin to notice the things that we are blessed with. If you are reading this using a laptop, have an internet connection and is wealthy enough to buy the food or clothes of your choice, you are blessed than the majority of the world population. Whenever I feel down I take out a paper and start to list things which I am grateful for at the moment. When we become aware of our blessings, despair goes away.
4) Self Love:
I practice self-love to build self-esteem. I take care not to chide myself repeatedly if I commit a mistake. I mentally hug myself and tell it is okay to err. After all, I am human. I use the mirror method prescribed by Louise L Hay to say affirmations of self-love. Check this article by Louise L Hay where she talks about ways to help build self-esteem. In fact, Louise L Hay says we can heal any ailment using self-love and affirmations.
I meditate whenever I feel overwhelmed by day-to-day life. If you search on Youtube, there are many guided meditations including by many masters like Louise L Hay which bring perceptible change into our mental makeup and thoughts if practiced regularly.
6) Talk to a friend or relative:
A face to face talk with a loved one is more effective than a hundred counseling sessions. I talk to my sister or my husband. Both know me better than I know myself these days.
I chant my favorite Devi mantra till a negative thought leaves me. I visit the nearby temple when some event occurs that agitates me. I like to unburden myself by giving it all to God. I make it a point to ask for healing whenever I visit a temple. Ask, believe and you will receive.
8) Live in the moment:
I firmly believe in this quote by Lao Tzu.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
9) Write to vent:
Writing in longhand on paper about the things that trouble you is an effective way to vent. Free writing to make your brain vomit all those random thoughts floating around inside your mind helps to purge half the anxieties and fears. Putting them down on paper make half of them sound ridiculous.
10) Seek medical help:
Depression is a serious mental illness which can be cured. If nothing you do is returning you to your natural state of happiness, seek medical help. Find a counselor.
I can assure you that all these methods work. I used various permutations and combinations of all these methods when a bout of depression hit me again this year in February about which I have written on my blog. I became my own savior this time.
Preethi Venugopala is a bibliophile in love with words. Her debut novel is ''Without You'' published by Write India Publishers. She loves to dabble in fiction, poetry and arts on her blog www.preethivenugopala.com
Twitter: @preethivenu || Instagram: @preethivenu || Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorpreethi