In honor of Suicide Prevention Week, I wanted to offer a collection of questions, statements, and inspirational bits of wisdom gleaned from my years of practice as a holistic and spiritually oriented psychiatrist. Review this list and make a mental note of the words and phrases that resonate the most. Repeat these to yourself when you need to reorient to a place of inner equilibrium—this week and always!
If you are truly feeling suicidal, however, know that all things in this world are temporary, even your current experience. Transformation is always possible. Please reach out to a trusted friend, a family member, or a professional for support.
A Mind Mosaic Poem
I offer first a quirky little poem I wrote years ago about the importance of clearing the mind and creating a kind of “mental art” within it. That’s what happiness is all about, in my opinion. It’s a sand mandala, an internal collage, a mind mosaic.
Scatter your thoughts
Then collect the pieces.
Arrange them cleverly
Into a design that pleases.
Pause for a moment,
Remember to smile.
Things are gonna change
In just a little while.
20 Positive Perspectives
And now, my list of positive perspectives:
1. The nature of life is change. All things change—feelings, appearances, relationships, everything. An open heart and a playful-plus-curious attitude toward change clear a path toward harmony and happiness.
2. When it comes to love, the ideal question is not “Am I being loved and receiving what I want?” but “Am I actually being love and giving what I want?”
3. Be willing to grow your heart under any circumstance. Trust that this is the exact life your soul wanted (and needed) to grow into the next stage of its development.
4. Attempt to neutrally witness the experiences of life, at least some of the time. Take a step back and contemplate the possibility that all things have their own divine intelligence and timing.
5. Have compassion for erratic moods and emotions, if present, while simultaneously vowing to do the work it takes to become as healthy, grounded, and balanced as possible.
6. Ask: Am I ready for the next level of my own shining? And, have I done the work needed to get there?
7. Commit to doing the work and raising your vibration right now and always.
8. When disappointments happen, attempt to face them with grace. This will help you mature into a deeply conscious and connected human.
9. When stressed, fully commit to your own resiliency.
10. See depression as a teacher. Choose to give it love, rather than hate.
11. See the exact conditions (family, body, mind, relationships, experiences) of your life as helping to develop skills, feelings, and traits needed for your highest expression as a soul in this life.
12. Change comes more naturally from a place of acceptance rather than resistance.
13. People who challenge you may be reflecting an unhealed aspect of yourself. Try loving and forgiving that part of yourself, and watch your relationship with the other person transform.
14. Be willing to bravely face the experiences the mystery brings. Endeavor to show the core qualities of your soul in the way you rise to greet life, even in darkness.
15. When the unexpected happens, ask: How can I improve? Endeavor to always do the very best you can with what you have.
16. Choose your thoughts and words carefully. If a negative thought comes, compassionately substitute a positive one. This is called “pratipaksha bhavana” and is an ancient yogic practice. “I am depressed” becomes “I am working toward happiness in this moment.”
17. Realize that your negative qualities are often part of your positives. People’s greatest strengths are tied up in their greatest weaknesses. (I recently wrote an entire article about this.)
18. When you can show love in the face of all adversity, when you can welcome all experiences of life with grace, you have reached a state of true mastery.
19. Mantra: I am the ME I am supposed to be. Compassionately accept yourself exactly as you are (depression, so-called “flaws”, and all) while simultaneously committing to your evolution.
20. Your own love will heal the wound in yourself you are afraid to feel. This is the gold star on the list. Take the journey to your center. Endeavor to find your inner treasure and let it enrich your life forever.
12 Positive Practices
In addition to the above questions, insights, and bits of love in written form, I invite you to incorporate the following practices. They will elevate your vibration and slowly restore equilibrium if stressed, sad, anxious, or depressed. Please also refer back to my articles on anxiety and depression for further wisdom and reflection.
1. Spend time every single day in nature.
- This is evidence-based advice.
- Nature is pure and balanced. It will attempt to neutralize inharmonious energies in our bodies and minds if we interact with it.
2. Commune with a higher power through prayer.
- If surrender, trust, love, and compassion are hard to come by, consider offering your struggles up to a higher power.
- The purpose is to unburden your heart and state your intentions for healing to the Universe (and to yourself).
3. Perform a ceremony if you need to center yourself, release a difficult experience, mark a transition, or heal your heart. There are many wonderful ways to perform a ceremony. Here are a few suggestions:
- Choose a powerful time and location.
- Make an offering.
- Invoke the elements (earth, air, fire, water).
- Align with the directions (north, south, east, west).
- Invite connection to spirit.
- State your intention (healing, transition, grounding, etc.).
- Meditate, sing, chant, pray, dance, wait.
- When ready, close the experience with gratitude.
4. Consider talk therapy.
- If you are truly suicidal and/or struggling with severe depression, it can sometimes take a bit of time to energetically dig yourself out of the hole depression and suicidal thoughts create. It’s really useful to have a loving and nurturing presence as a guide.
5. Dance regularly. Play music.
- Dancing and playing music is cathartic and can shift energy easily.
6. Practice yoga daily.
- Yoga is an evidence-based treatment for depression.
- Even a few minutes of yoga can improve mood, in part by raising glutathione levels. Glutathione is a natural antioxidant, and oxidation plays a role in the initiation and maintenance of depression.
7. Engage the body in exercise or sports.
- Physical activity improves mood, releases endorphins, and affects both dopamine and serotonin.
8. Make art.
- Expressing the self creatively through art (or poetry) is a wonderful way to release stuck energy, honor a transition, and/or shift into a lighter state of mind.
9. Connect with the community.
- Connecting with others reminds you that you are not alone, even if connections are limited or superficial.
- Building a community is a lot like growing a garden. You have to put in significant energy, especially in the beginning, but the rewards are almost always greater than the effort.
10. Treat yourself to massage/acupuncture/energy work.
- Physical touch can do wonders for the mood.
- Acupuncture shifts energy in the body and can be a useful adjunct treatment for depression.
- Self-abhyanga (Ayurvedic self-massage) is wonderful for activating and grounding energy.
- I do a sort of “modified abhyanga” using food-grade organic virgin coconut oil every morning. I put about a teaspoon in my mouth for oil pulling, and while swishing, I put the same oil on my legs, arms, and face. It’s not a full-body, classic abhyanga, but it is still a helpful, nourishing morning ritual.
11. Eat well.
- Eat high vitality foods to raise your vibration!
- Depression is a restricted state. One way to conceptualize healing is to imagine elevating your energy and holding it at a higher level. If this is done for long enough, happiness is the result.
- Food contributes to our vibration, so eating nutritious foods (and incorporating the rest of the positive perspectives and practices in this article), makes it harder for the vibration of depression to persist. Positive neurotransmitters are made, and the mood often responds.
12. Begin a daily meditation practice.
- Meditation is evidence-based for depression. This makes sense because depression is a state of rumination and heaviness.
- In meditation, you learn to clear your mind. When the mind is empty, sadness and heaviness are temporarily “paused.”
- Staying with the meditative energy of open awareness, on and off the cushion, helps the mind grow resistant to depression. The “pause” gets longer!
- Tapping into the field of awareness within yourself, you connect with the fabric of consciousness underlying the world. The flow of life is always right there, full of light, love, magic, and potential. It’s just waiting for you to attune your heart and remember who you are.
Joy is a tap away. Download the Chopra App for personalized well-being guidance you can access anywhere. Isn’t that a happy thought?