How to Avoid Getting Depressed

Ephesians 5:19-20 (NIV; emphasis mine) says “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, ALWAYS giving thanks to God the Father for EVERYTHING, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ“.

How many of us give thanks to God the father “ALWAYS” and “for EVERYTHING“?

When things don’t work out our way, do we remain in an attitude of thanksgiving, even though our emotions don’t feel like it?

Or, do we instead nag, grumble or complain?

That said, I think the secret of preventing oneself from getting depressed is to “always give thanks“.

Sure, things don’t always turn out the way we want, but do we not trust God to cause “all things [to] work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28; KJV)?

Indeed, I find that many Christians living in comfortable societies are not in the habit of “always giving thanks”, although we are clearly instructed to do so in Ephesians. Instead, they have a grumbling, hard-to-please attitude. I guess such individuals have taken their comfortable lives for granted.

Besides having a thankful attitude, how many of us constantly practice “singing and making music from our hearts to the Lord“?

Music renders a positive, uplifting effect to our emotions, and thus, when we are devoid of music in our hearts — and on top of that, a lousy, grumbling attitude — is it no wonder that so many are depressed?

So, let us all commit Ephesians 5:19-20 to memory, so that we would be mindful about “ALWAYS giving thanks to God the Father for EVERYTHING“, and also to constantly “sing and make music from our hearts to the Lord“.

To help us in this endeavour, you may wish to play this scripture memory song over and over again:

 

 

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Is Yoga Safe for Christians?

In my previous posts, I examined whether yoga is safe from a physiological perspective (I think its purported safety is inconclusive), as well as from a mental health pespective (where there apears to be a connection between yoga and some symptoms of mental illness). On the latter, I noted that this is related to the Kundalini awakening associated with yoga.

Just to recap on what ‘Kundalini’ means:  in Hinduism, the Kundalini refers to the dormant spiritual power or energy that resides at the base of the tail bone. The base of the tail bone is believed to be the location of 1 of 7 energy centres (known as ‘chakras’) in the body.

The Kundalini is represented as a coil, or a snake, which will rise with the practice of yoga, and will pass through and activate 5 other energy centers, until reaching the last one (which is located on the top of the head), and at that point, full enlightenment happens.

In physical terms, the Kundalini experience is commonly reported as a feeling of electric current running along the spine (Wikipedia). Some people experience intense involuntary, jerking movements (known as ‘kriyas’) of the body. Unfortunately for others, their experience of Kundalini awakening is so disturbing that they require psychiatric attention (for details, please read my earlier post).

I personally know of Christians who practice yoga, percieving it to be merely a form of exercise to keep fit. However, what they seem oblivious to are its spiritual dangers, particularly, how it opens a doorway to the entry of a Kundalini spirit.

Pohshon Choy, who was a yoga instructor and who opened her own yoga centre in Singapore in the 80s, wrote in her book ‘Confessions of an Ex-Yoga Teacher: . . . And What They Don’t Reveal to You in Yoga Classes‘: “In my yoga classes, I would introduce the ‘Kundalini’ spirit’ to my students, because the Kundalini (snake) spirit is central to yoga and you can never sever the ties that bind the spirit and the yoga poses. Every yoga pose is meant to stimulate or awaken the Kundalini.”

She adds: “Many of the non-Hindu yoga teachers these days do not or have not even heard of the Kundalini spirit! So just because now they (the teachers) do not mention about the Spirit of the Snake, the students are led to believe they are merely doing ‘physical’ exercises, and have nothing to do with meditation or the spiritual aspect of yoga. Be informed that the moment you start on the yoga poses, you have opened your spiritual doorway to the Spirit of the Snake.

In 1992, during a Christian evangelistic and healing outreach, Choy witnessed a Kundalini spirit being expelled from a lady, who had also been a yoga practitioner. After being prayed for, this lady started writhing uncontrollably on the floor like a snake. The incident so affected Choy that she severed all ties with yoga, including throwing away all of her yoga books, which had cost hundreds of dollars.

Given the risk of opening their souls to the entry of a demonic spirit, I think that Christians should refrain from yoga. Indeed, the scripture (2 Corinthians 6:14-18; NIV) tells us:

14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God,  and they will be my people.”

17 Therefore,

“Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

18 And,

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

Yoga and Mental Illness — Is there a Connection?

In my previous post, I examined whether yoga is safe from a physiological perspective (I think its purported safety is inconclusive), and concluded that although it seems assuring that there has not been a substantial number of yoga-related adverse events reported in the medical literature, this could be due to under-reporting of such events, and therefore, more studies are needed to establish its safety.

In the study published by Cramer H, Krucoff C, and Dobos G. of the 76 unique cases of yoga-related adverse events that has been reported in the medical literature between 1969 to 2012, there was 1 case that involved a psychotic episode, and another that involved a manic episode.

I was unable to obtain further information on the manic episode (because a paid subscription to the journal is required), but further information on the psychotic episode was available in a letter published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

The psychotic epside involved a 33-year-old man who became psychotic while participating in a Bikram yoga instructors’ training seminar that lasted several days. The man, though, had a history of brief hallucinogen-induced psychosis 10 years before this event.

In the days leading up to the episode, the man felt dehydrated, ate poorly, and slept only 2–3 hours per night. He then developed auditory and visual hallucinations (he reported seeing owls speaking to him, “cat-like slits” in people’s eyes, and a cross on his own forehead), paranoia, and a disturbing sense that there was “a battle for control of [his] mind” and that he had “betrayed God.”

He was subsequently treated with aripiprazole (an antipsychotic), and had robust improvement in his psychosis after 1 week, and complete recovery by 1 month.

“This case demonstrates that while yoga may have physical and psychological health benefits, it is not devoid of side effects. Intensive forms of yoga such as Bikram may in particular have a liability for psychotic decompensation among those individuals who are more psychosis-prone because of stress, sleep and sensory deprivation, and dissociative experiences that can arise from meditation,” noted the authors, in their letter to the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Apparently, this is not the first peer-reviewed paper that has observed a connection between yoga and mental illness. In the paper ‘The Physio-Kundalini Syndrome and Mental Illness’ that was published in 1993 in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, the author (Bruce Greyson) cited Yogi Gopi Krishna, who claimed ‘countless’ cases of spontaneous yoga-related kundalini-awakening that led to insanity or less severe mental illness: “Apart from psychosis. there are also many people in whom the awakening of kundalini leads to neurosis and other psychic d1sordcrs. They lead an unbalanced hfe without cross1ng the border mto the territory of the incurably insane.”

In Hinduism, the Kundalini refers to the dormant spiritual power or energy that resides at the base of the tail bone. The base of the tail bone is believed to be the location of 1 of 7 energy centres (known as ‘chakras’) in the body.

The Kundalini is represented as a coil, or a snake, which will rise with the practice of yoga, and will pass through and activate 5 other energy centers, until reaching the last one (which is located on the top of the head), and at that point, full enlightenment happens.

In physical terms, the Kundalini experience is commonly reported as a feeling of electric current running along the spine (Wikipedia). Some people experience intense involuntary, jerking movements (known as ‘kriyas’) of the body.

Unfortunately for others, their experience of Kundalini awakening is so disturbing that they require psyhiatric attention. Specifically, they may experience symptoms resembling schizophrenia — they hear internal voices (which resembles auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia), or become locked into unusual positions/postures (which resembles catatonic rigidity in schizophrenia), or have intense mood swings for no reason (which resembles the schizophrenic symptom of inappropriate affect), or experience thoughts speeding up or slowing down in kundalini awakening (which resemble the formal thought disorder of schizophrenia).

It is not clear why some individual experience psychosis (that is, a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality) during Kundalini awakening, while others don’t.  In the paper published in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, the author (Bruce Greyson) noted: “Some authors have asserted that kundalini awakening, or inappropriate treatment of it, is a frequent cause of psychosis; while others maintained that mental illness occurs only in individuals predisposed to it or already suffering from borderline or narcissistic pathology prior to a kundalini awakening.” Nonetheless, according to Greyson, “symptoms of the physio-kundalini syndrome (i.e. physiological symptoms associated with kundalini awakening) are reported far more often by individuals known to have experienced kundalini awakening than by psychiatric, and particularly psychotic, patients“.

In summary, there appears to be a connection between yoga and some symptoms of mental illness. This connection, however, is not entirely clear; for example, it may be that some who require psychiatric help already have an underlying mental condition that is exacerbated by yoga. Nonetheless, it has been noted that psychiatric (and, in particular, psychotic) patients are far less likely to report specific mental disturbances associated with kundalini awakening, than individuals who practice yoga that had previously claimed to have a kundalini awakening. Hence, the connection between yoga and some symptoms of mental illness cannot be rejected.