Dealing with depression, lethargy
The following conversation occurred between Ramana Maharshi and a Devotee.
Devotee: Is it proper that one prays to God or Guru when one is afflicted by worldly ills?
So it is clear that praying to God or Guru sincerely should help us with our problems. Pray in general, Pray in particular, Pray at any time and anywhere you can remember. By praying, we accept that we are helpless and we reach out to a Higher Power which is beyond human laws and so it can help us. So indicates Paul Brunton from his experiences with Ramana Maharshi.
Having said that, I would like to point out that Sri Ramana Maharshi says that such Divine Grace and help only becomes available to those devotees who strive hard for it. Therefore, I would like to offer some pointers from Great Sages about how to make that effort.
Talks with Ramana Maharshi – 27th March, 1937 – Talk 378.
“In a conversation with a visitor, Sri Bhagavan quoted: Lord Krishna says to Arjuna: (Bh. Gita, Ch. VI, 35)
Without doubt, O mighty-armed Hero, the mind is restless, hard to curb. Yet by constant effort, Partha, matched with detachment – curbed it is.”
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi – 28th September, 1938 – Talk 521.
“Acquire strength by surrender and then your surroundings will be found to have improved to the degree of strength acquired by you.”
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj – I Am That – Item 72
M: Whenever a thought or emotion of desire or fear comes to your mind, just turn away from it.
Due to our inherent tendencies (Vasanas), turbulent thoughts arise in the mind. And the force that operates on the mind is called Ego. Often, these thoughts are contradictory and conflicting. And due to habit, we follow every thought and are affected by it. And whatever we do, we expect and worry about results. Meditation is practiced for the expulsion of these disturbing thoughts that cause misery, depression, lethargy etc. There are two main ways of handling this problem.
1) Surrender to God and abide by His will. He knows what is best and when and how to do it. Leave everything entirely to Him. His is the burden. You have no longer any cares. All your cares are His. Such is surrender. This is Bhakti.
2) Enquire to whom these questions arise. Who am I who is depressed, who feels the inertia? I was feeling fine during sleep. My real nature is happiness, that is why I want to be happy. Then who is this ‘alien’ ego telling me that I should be depressed? Asking oneself like this makes the mind subside and creates peace of mind. It increases concentration and focus.
One easy thing to practice is this, which we can do at any time, at home, driving, at work, in a party, anywhere: Every time a thought disturbs you and you feel depressed, ask yourself, “Hey, wait a minute. These things didn’t bother me in deep sleep. From where do they come now? And they are constantly changing. That means they are not real. I am not going to pay attention to these disturbing thoughts. I will do my duty and leave the results to God. Then what is there to make me depressed?” Constant reminders will make this a habit.
Another easy thing to practice at any time, anywhere is watching your breathing. No strenuous breath control exercises. Just simply watch the breath movements. Swami Chinmayananda says: Concentrate on the inhaling – the cool air going in through the nostrils, then concentrate on the exhaling – warm air flowing out through the nostrils. Do this a few times.
Meditation is like giving fresh grass to a roguish bull to calm it and make it peaceful. As soon as one wakes up, to try to meditate for about 30 minutes to an hour will create a calm atmosphere, so to speak, that will carry on with you for the rest of the day. Sometimes it may not seem to do any good. But positive results will be gradual but certain.
The following Posts contain in depth information by Great sages. Please study them and try to follow them. Good results will follow.