This life is hard, there’s no doubt about it. If you’re struggling from any kind of feelings of malaise (and who isn’t, given the state of the world at the moment) all the way through full-blown depression then it can be really really challenging to bust free. There are no easy fixes, and if you’re truly suffering, then getting support from qualified medical professionals is important.
However, there is a simple formula that you may find to be incredibly effective for battling the blues and keeping your spirits high (and keeping your spiritual practice alive!), and it comes down to these things:
These are listed in order of importance (if you meditate every day, then I promise you, your life will work out!!), though they’re all supremely effective when approached with the right way — and even though meditation shows up as #1 on the list, let’s talk about them in an alternate sequence today.
If you’re in a rut and feeling down over a period of time, where things aren’t going well and you can’t seem to break out of the funk, and especially when you know that it’s because you’ve been a slob — eating what you know doesn’t work for your body, indulging too much in the excesses of drinking, sitting like a sloth on the couch — then instead of trying to meditate yourself out of the funk, the best thing to do is WORK OUT.
Make a commitment just for today to do something physical.
If you’re someone who has in the past had a consistent workout routine and you’ve just let the habit sag, then simply decide today that you’ll get back on that pony and do it. You’re not committing for the rest of your life or even this week. You’re just doing it today.
If you’ve never been a regular exerciser, then this may be more difficult, since you’ve not got the past habits ingrained deep enough to leverage them now. If that’s you, then no problem! All you need to do is put on your shoes. Get those sneakers on your feet and go for a walk. It does not need to be anything severe or too strenuous. Just get your body moving.
Exercise is #2 on this list but at times, it can be #1 in importance. If you’re in a black place in your head and it is not lifting, then exercise can be way more effective than meditation.
It can be very difficult if not impossible to meditate a foul mood away. Sometimes when life gets too real, you’re lucky you can even get yourself out of bed in the morning. To expect to be able to layer on an activity that is at such a higher level of self care as meditation is often unrealistic.
In order to meditate, you have to have self esteem. You have to believe in yourself.
Or, sometimes, you need to be at absolute rock bottom and seeking help before you lose yourself completely, and in such situations sometimes meditation is also proscribed along with an entire intervention. If someone tells you, “Just meditate, you’ll feel better!” they’re not wrong, but they also may not be being realistic.
Meditation **always** works if you do it, but its effects can be exceptionally subtle, and they build. One single meditation is rarely going to change your attitude if you’re in a state of the blues. It adds to the levels of hope and optimism that may then be able to filter through, but you may find that the whole process of meditating is such a slog that you give up.
The thoughts can be too heavy to break through.
In this case, commit yourself to being physical instead. Let that be your practice if necessary, for a short time.
Then, once the endorphins you’ve released start to buoy you and your mood begins to lift after (hopefully!) a number of days, you can look around with greater perspective and add back in your meditation again. Taken together, these two tools can perform miracles on how you feel and what you’re capable of.
You need to start where you’re at, and be realistic, and certainly never give up hope. If you feel exceptionally despondent and tremendous despair, then seek attention from a professional. Talk to someone, tell a friend. There is always help available.
But if you’re just in one of those up-and-down ruts that all of us experience in life, and are feeling moody or unmotivated or down in the dumps, then try working out today, and see what it does, and maybe try it again tomorrow. And then on the third day, along with your workout 🙂 you can add in some meditation.
And call a friend. Share where you’re at. Don’t suffer alone. Get some help if you need it, and when the clouds lift then meditation is always available to carry you to the new heights you deserve.