Transcendental Meditation

Shadows in the Sun by Gayathri Ramprasad

It is quite a challenge to add anything original to the chorus of praise for Gayathri Ramprasad’s book Shadows in the Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within.

shadows in the sun - gayathri Ramprasad - book review

Full title: “Shadows in the Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within”
Length: 240 pages
Author: Gayathri Ramprasad
Published: 2014, Hazelden

Yet, as the book is a masterpiece which cultivates compassion and understanding, it simply must be reported on once again. Moreover, the book also shines a light on yet another issue which Transcendental Meditation practice can help solve.

Descent into terror and darkness

The tale starts with Ramprasad’s memories of her happy childhood in India. The magic of that time and place is communicated by rich descriptions of the scents, tastes and sounds that coloured the years of the author’s youth.

However, the cocoon of beliefs and customs which had sheltered her childhood became an unfortunate burden when Ramprasad first experienced the onset of depression while at university. On top of her illness, she had to deal with condemnation and lack of understanding. In her culture, a disease such as depression did not exist – it simply could not be diagnosed or treated.

She had to learn to hide the dark abyss she felt she had become, and put on a facade of normalcy.

Author Ramprasad explains why she decided to write the book

gayathri ramprasad author asha

“What if I can’t sit still? Will my eyes ever stop fluttering? As hard as I try, my mantra keeps floating in and out of my consciousness, and a million thoughts muddle my mind. Within minutes, I grow restless.
…….“Don’t worry, Gayathri,” my teacher says, sensing me squirm. “With practice, you will experience a deep state of restful, alert consciousness.”
…….Although I don’t believe her at first, eventually, with daily practice, I learn to tap into the hitherto unexplored tranquility of my mind. Despite my mind’s tendency to wander, much like a mother lovingly guides her child back to its task, I learn to gently guide my mind back to its still center.
…….Therein I discover a reservoir of energy, clarity, creativity, and restful calm. Meditation also offers me a sacred space to reflect and look back on my life, which in turn teaches me to become an observer of my thoughts and emotions instead of getting entangled in them.”
Gayathri Ramprasad, excerpt from Shadows in the Sun

Ramprasad’s parents arranged a marriage for her with an Indian man living in the United States, and soon she had everything one could ask for: a loving husband, a healthy baby, financial security and home in the land of her and her parents’ dreams.

Paradoxically, having such a picture-perfect life made it even harder for her to bear the fact that all she really wanted was to put an end to her existence. The gloom inside her dominated her more than ever.

The road to recovery: Finding the light within

Yet at one point, some light started to shine through the cracks.

While the individualistic society of her new homeland presented some challenges, Ramprasad for the first time encountered the idea that depression was a medical condition – not a curse, or just something in her own head – which could be treated like any other disease. She learnt to accept her condition and gained hope for recovery. Her path to health was not an easy one, but once she knew there was a way out, she was determined to undertake the journey.

She was in and out of hospitals and underwent treatments with different medications and forms of therapy and counselling. Finally she discovered a formula which worked best for her: a holistic wellness plan that attended to her emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, physical, financial, occupational and environmental dimensions. It included breathing exercises, Transcendental Meditation practice, journaling, exercise, hydration, nutrition, meaningful work, social connectedness, spirituality, service, joyful hobbies and sleep.

As she states in the book, despite periodic setbacks, these practices help her thrive in life.

Ramprasad’s triumph, however, did not end with that. She herself became a vehicle of change for others by founding ASHA International, a non-profit organization with a mission to raise awareness of mental health issues and offer information, inspiration, and tools to help people suffering from such conditions transform their lives.

Gayathri Ramprasad’s personal transformation has thereby drastically improved the lives of thousands of people around the world — and will affect thousands more through this wonderful book and its inspiring message.