Depression

Many of us (one in five people according to statistics), at one time or another, have experienced a deep sadness, a sense of loss or loss of interest in things that once excited us, a gradual but noticeable gain or loss in weight, a sense of lethargy coupled with a loss of energy and either an inability to sleep or the desire to just stay in bed, ‘there’s nothing to get up (live) for’. Hopelessness, loneliness, often these symptoms accompany difficultly in thinking clearly and a general lack of concentration, or the inability to complete a task. There is low self-esteem and sometimes thoughts of death or suicide.

Depression causes both a psychological and physical shutdown.

Control the mind and you control the body; this is true at many levels. Every cell has receptor sites for the neurohormones produced by the brain. These are the chemical messengers produced by the nerve cells and circulated through the bloodstream to every other cell in the body. Simply put, when you are happy the neurohormones transit a positive message, strengthening our immune, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems (making us want to exercise) while adding to our longevity, while when we are sad, anxious or depressed the transmission is negative. In the extreme, as in clinical depression, the neurohormones can transmit such negative messages that they can depress or shut down the immune system, making way for disease and death.

Stress and its resultant anxiety may be a precursor for depression.

The intention of REAL STRENGTH NOW training is to teach the student to understand the body from the inside, out and become his or her own teacher. Everything else, health of mind and body, will flow from this training. BREATH IS LIFE.

My own personal experience


At the height of my illness and during my final efforts to hold on to a marriage that had long gone, I experienced a hopelessness that I had never known before. I was losing my wife, my family, as I had known it, and finally the house that we had taken seven years and all our savings to build. I had stopped writing, could not exercise, and when I looked into the future, I saw nothing but an old man getting older. I felt I had lost everything and there was nothing left to look forwards to. The present moment was dark, with no light at the end of the tunnel. I had one great consolation, and he was my closest friend of over thirty years. I spoke to him every day and he did his best to assure me that I’d get through the mire and live happily again. We shared a black humor about my situation; nothing was off limits. Then, one evening I phoned him and got his answering machine. The next day was the same, and the next. It was unlike him not to return my calls. A day later, his ex-wife called to tell me that he’d been found dead on the floor of his kitchen; he’d suffered a massive coronary, at 61 years old. I was decimated and ashamed. Here I was leaning on my friend for support, spilling my guts about my sorrows, thinking only of myself, and there he was, dead. I remember that afternoon; sitting on an old sofa in my garage, staring out the door at the mountains, thinking of my friend, jealous in a strange way that he’d escaped the mess that life could become, almost angry. Then thinking that if I’d had a gun with a hair trigger, how easy it would be to lift the barrel to my temple, take a breath and join him. At that moment, I understood suicide, the giving up and letting go. Thoughts of my sons ended my black fantasy. Their dad was better than that. I could still breathe. I could still move. Maybe, I could even exercise.

Studies have shown that exercise is superior to anti-depressant drugs with regard to treating depression. First, it gets the body moving, inside and out. The contraction and relaxation of muscles stimulates blood flow and promotes the release of natural hormones in the brain – the ‘feel good’ hormones: endorphins, serotonin and dopamine along with two hormones that stimulate protein synthesis (the process in which amino acids are joined to form protein): glutamate (a neurotransmitter involved in energy production) and GABA (a hormone that heightens mood and encourages lean muscle growth). This synergy heightens alertness and elevates mood.

Depression is a state of stagnation and negative.

Exercise is dynamic and positive.

Conscious breathing is the key to stabilizing the mind and body.

Exercise, when combined with controlled and conscious breathing, becomes a moving meditation, by that I mean it stabilizes the mind; heightens alertness, increases concentration, stimulates a feeling of calm and wellbeing, promotes a sense of self-control and regulates hormones that suppress the immune system, (in particular, cortisol, the stress hormone).

Exercise combined with conscious breathing, even in small doses, will empower the health of the mind and body.

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