Everyone feels lost and alone sometimes. When we’re in that place, it’s as if no one in the world could possibly understand.

Thing is, more people than not know what that feels like. They just don’t talk about it. But we’ve all been there. Most often, we find ourselves somewhere in the spiral and eventually crawl our way out.

We live in a world of material wealth and instant results with little substance. The light-speed changes in technology, its effect on our culture and our interactions with one another has catapulted us into a world of loneliness, emptiness with no direction and little hope.

Those of us who have practiced yoga for a while know that pain–physical, mental and emotional–is real. Yoga heightens our sensitivity to what’s really going on in our bodies and minds. Often when people first come to yoga, they have no awareness they have tightness or restrictions in their bodies. But once they start really feeling what’s going on in there, a whole new world of awareness opens.

Regardless of your personal history, repressed feelings have been held in our bodies for years, if not decades. Through the increased awareness we’ve gained in our yoga practice, we find out we’ve held on to a lot! The best part is that we’ve discovered one of the most effective ways to alleviate this kind of pain is through simple yoga practices that lift the heaviness of our minds, lighten the weight on our neck and shoulders, and eases the pain in our low back and hips.

Without the release and reset that we experience in yoga, many end up feeling depressed, anxious or hopeless, often frustrated or angry at themselves for even feeling this way. When suppressed feelings accumulate and turn into tangible pain in the body, the first natural go-to is reaching for the bottle of something. Whether it’s an anti-inflammatory pill, alcohol, an anti-depressant or nerve-dulling prescription, that’s our first response to pain. It’s how our culture works. It’s how we’ve been trained to manage pain, physical, mental or otherwise.

This conditioning, coupled with the isolation resulting from device-based social interaction, suicide, addiction and violence have reached epidemic proportions. It has touched all of us, adding to the hopelessness that we feel. From teens to young adults, 30-to-50-somethings, to active seniors and those nearing the end of their lives, depression and anxiety affects everyone.

A sense of belonging through community, support and connection can provide the life-saving rope that gets thrown out to the man overboard. A little help from a friend–to really feel a human connection–is often all it takes to pull someone out from drowning in their own sea of despair.

Merriam-Webster defines compassion as a “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.”

In this season of giving and receiving, compassion is where the story truly began. Understanding that by helping others, you too can realize purpose and meaning. It’s a chain reaction that can support us all at a time when answers seem out of reach.

And it might just be that this heartfelt desire could hold the secret to creating our eternal wish for Peace on Earth.

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