The Yoga of Sadness and Joy
People who take Prozac and its relatives often say they feel everything less intensely, including their depression. Drug treatment has its place as one option for treating severe mood disturbances, but I worry about such enthusiasm for drugs that damp down passion, because I see intensity of feeling as a key to activating the healing system. Our capacity to feel joy may be the same as our capacity to feel despair, so that a depressed person may be more capable of experiencing ecstasy than someone who is always on an even keel. One technique for managing the down periods is to pretend to feel otherwise. Rabbi Nachman of Bratislav, a great Jewish mystic of the late 18th and early 19th century, who regularly experienced ecstasy on solitary wanderings through forests, recommended it to his followers.
“Always be joyful, no matter what you are,” he taught. “With happiness, you can give a person life.” Every day, he stressed, we must deliberately induce in ourselves a buoyant, exuberant attitude toward life; in this manner, we will gradually become receptive to the subtle mysteries around us. And, if no inspired moments seem to come, we should act as though we have them anyway, he advised. “If you have no enthusiasm, put on a front. Act enthusiastic, and the feeling will become genuine.”
—Andrew Weil, MD, Excerpted from Spontaneous Healing