Thursday, December 8, 2011

Balance is not for everyone

[I like this little video in which the cat on the ledge refuses to make a fool of himself.]

Just some thoughts today, on their way to being developed in a file on Zen and bipolar. The question applies to any mental disorder, though.
Thinking about how many Buddhist teachers promise that we can practice our way to equanimity and peace - and can this possibly apply to bipolars?  Depression (which can manifest as other disturbed mental conditions than sadness, e.g. irritability) is a kind of dukkha, and is in our own mind/body.  It is us, neurochemistry, brainwaves.  The dullness and apathy it brings are a survival disadvantage; of course you don't like it.  You are not at peace with it.
     Practice, and lots of it, brings a certain amount of detachment from depression, just as you can get detached from your pain.
     You can also distract yourself with external things that "take your mind off" it.  For me, fiction, both written and filmed, can work.  The more depressed I am, the more I crave exciting, active films.
     Being engaged in talking with someone else can work, though sometimes I still feel uneasy, not quite there, even with a close friend.
     So you can distract from depression.  But when you notice yourself again, so to speak, there it is, like a browned-out or jagged-red aura all around you, a dis-comfort, un-ease, in your very brain pathways.  Researchers talk about brain levels of various chemicals, norephremine, serotonin, dopamine.  And you can control your actions if mania is coming on, but still have that hyper, jittery feeling - and it will keep you awake.  And various medications won't help.  And you will eat many potato chips at night, and buy books for your Kindle, and only vaguely remember it when you see the crumbs on the table.  Sorry, got carried away. 


  1. There is an assumption that this is a different part of you. It is all you manifesting in pure awareness of life.. Embrace everything as a sign that you are alive and try to stop compartmentalizing it(good vs bad).

  2. hm. How do we ever separate ourselves from who we ARE? You're right, we can only be distracted for so long. Still, thank goodness for distractions.

  3. No, unfortunately, the tendency to moodswings is me, built in. I'd say I don't judge a mood intellectually, that doesn't make sense, but I do prefer some states of mind, and others are painful. You just endure them and try not to get into trouble.

  4. I have PTSD, not the same as Bipolar - but I can see Bipolar's house from where I am.

    Being awake, being aware and embracing this beautiful mess that is our life is a deep and worthwhile practice.

    Your writing does feel like equanimity and peace from out here. Equanimity and peace does not mean you get to stop wrestling the angels.

  5. Also laugh at the painful moments when you wake up to notice them in progress...give them less power to be something to avoid. Endure....already sounds painful...even with language we set a tone.
    Hey we all have mood swings, and I have good ones. I have not noticed anyone who doesn't besides realized Monks in Thailand.