An Example of a Samskara: Depression

"Don't Worry! Be Happy!"  Yeah, easy for you to say pal.  I'm sure 

Bobby McFerrin was feeling that way when he went to the bank with his royalty check.  We talk a lot about depression in our society.  I have been dealing with it for many years now.  Part of the reason I got into Yoga in the first place was to find an effective way to deal with it.  Does Yoga cure depression?  No.  If it did, everyone who had depression would be doing it and the problem would vanish.  


 has made great breakthroughs into the biological causes of depression, which has lead to better treatment.  We take medication to feel better, but for me , it was never a cure all.  So, does biology dictate thought or thought dictate biology?  In my experience, both go hand in hand.  Yoga is the science of consciousness.  It teaches that we are not our thoughts.  Like I stated in my last post, we are conciseness trapped in our identity with thought.  As we untangle ourselves from our identity with materiality, we begin to identify with pure consciousness.  

A Samskara is an impression made on the consciousness in the form of thoughts, memories and the emotions associated with them, which in turn are triggered by our identification with matter.  In my case, I had a deep Samsakra associated with the memories of my father, who died when I was sixteen years old.  We never really got along and when he died, all the memories associated with him stayed with me as subtle impressions. My dad served in Vietnam, in the Navy.  Let's just say he did not come out the same person he went in. Ironically, he also never talked about being a soldier or his experiences.  Since he was a veteran, he got a burial flag and a free spot in the V.A grave yard.  My inheritance from him was a a box, about two square feet, full of papers from his time in the service and the flag he had draped over his coffin at his funeral.  

Flash forward about a decade or so when I started my Yogic practice.  I became aware that I got very depressed around patriotic holidays such as Veterans Day, Memorial Day and the Forth of July.  My mind's association with the symbolism during those days triggered a deep Samskara in.  This is why symbolism is very important as you start your practice.  When looking at the world through the prism of Yoga, we see nothing more than a group of objects.  Matter is matter.  It's out association with these objects that determines our false identity as the mind and thoughts.  

Have you ever noticed in commercials for depression medication they tell you to contact a mental health care professional if you have suicidal thoughts?  I have been at that point and I will tell you it was a waste of time for me.  What helped me the most was realizing that I was not the thought of suicide.  A thought is just another subtle form of matter, it is not me.   Thoughts come and go like the rise and fall of the tide.  If we can do the hard work of identifying the triggers, we can begin to devolve their power.  Instead of drowning in the tide, we can sit on the surface and let the wave pass us as we sit in our boat of mental stillness.