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Before I get into the next #reverb10 post, I just wanted to mention that Birdie over at Yogi, Interrupted has written a feature post on my tattoo as part of her Yoga Tattuesday series.

Go check it out and say hello to Birdie! 😀

Ordinary Joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?
~ December 27 prompt

Actually, this year has had a bunch of them. Mostly as I previously described: those moments when I’ve realised that depression is no longer running the show.

Where I’ve been surprised by my own darkness-free sense of enjoyment. Free of anxiety, even. Those moments are almost unbelievable and they appear a little bit mysteriously. Think of fairy floss magically wrapping itself around a stick: there’s other forces at work, but to the naked eye things suddenly appear to change.

Like… hey, I think I’m feeling pretty happy right now. For no particular reason… Fuck, but that can be mind-blowing when you’re used to a more morbid alternative!

Don’t get me wrong, depression still sticks its nose out every so often looking for a soft place to land and dig in. That’s its nature. Once it’s had a taste of you, it always wants more. Although it should be noted that the “it” I’m referring to is none other than our own minds. Depression is not an imposition from the outside, but one way that our brain functions or rather, dysfunctions.

Over time the onset of depression’s symptoms get easier to recognise and as long as I’m still doing yoga, riding my bike and connecting with nature then it can’t easily get a foothold.

Not that it doesn’t try.

Most interestingly, while examining my mind recently I noticed that depression shares the same root experience as meditation. A sense of spaciousness. A big gaping hole. A vacuum.

However if you’re not prepared for that kind of spaciousness, it can be very scary. It can even look a little bit like death. No matter who you are or how much work you’ve done on yourself it can be quite shocking.

I know this from my own experience – I’ve been shocked several times now, via both depression and meditation.

And perhaps depression is just one fork in the road, a really well-trodden path because the alternative is… what? Self-destruction?

Unless you’ve had any meditation experience, then there aren’t really too many other roads to take. You can’t see them and even if you could, they wouldn’t make much sense. Because there’s just too much noise going on there in the ol’ mind.

Problem is, once you’ve become acquainted with that sense of empty space, it never really goes away. In fact, it can be a little bit like the worst back seat driver imaginable. Always commenting and shadowing your actions, seemingly not being helpful at all. Butting in when you wish they’d just SHUT THE HELL UP! Ever present and waiting, causing unnecessary stress.

Until we learn to relax and humour it: the back seat driver; depression. Take your pick. Life isn’t going to end because of them, not unless we allow it to.

This is why I say that yoga and meditation had as much to do with my recovery as all the therapy I’ve ever had.

The physical practice of yoga – all that movement and controlled breathing – was just what I needed to get out of my head, because depression lives in the mind and then invades the body.

To build up my sensitivity in order to dispel disassociation. To sense and feel in ways that weren’t too scary.

The practice of meditation helps us understand the mind’s vagaries and also provides discipline. And it is this discipline that we need in order to free ourselves of the endless terrors the mind will cook up if we let it.

Endless hours of this kind of work: vigilant observation of the mind; moving my sorry ass around instead of sinking further into the couch; feeling, even when it was painful to do so; facing the truth about my experiences, as much as they hurt.

And my reward is this: these little moments of ordinary joy.

Of rejoicing in a glorious sunny day while waiting for the train.

Of skipping gleefully down some street and noticing the beauty of a tangled mess of tree roots.

Of talking to animals I come across, just to say hello.

A cute random dog I befriended on the street

Of that incredible high I get post-yoga class, body and mind engaged and experiencing life fully as an integrated mind-body awareness. Less a singular person and more a living organism, just a part of the whole.

Of all of those things and more. Ordinary moments of joy, indeed.