The Natural Prozac
The poet, translator, and teacher Jane Hirshfield, herself a long-time Zen practitioner, often writes of her own strategies for coping with her "days of the black dog." At the end of her poem "The Door" in her collection October Palace, she expresses a way in which we might embrace depression:
The rest note,
hinged between worlds,
that precedes change and allows it.
In my own journey, I have come to the place where I can integrate and accept my darker moods, to allow them to teach me what I need to learn about myself this time around. Now when I have insomnia and feel lethargic and overwhelmed, symptoms I recognize in myself as depression, what I seek is something steadier than exhilaration. I seek a state of mind that permits me to accept the darkness as well as the light. Through my practice, I have learned how to rest in them both.
Amy Weintraub is a fiction writer and editor who teaches yoga and writing in Tucson, Arizona. She also edits books on spiritual psychology and yoga.