Only a hair’s breadth of difference separates heaven and earth.
Sometimes with moods we may tend to think that on a scale of 1-100 we are stuck deep down at a 5 or a 7, and that we really need to be up at 95. But perhaps we’re really at 45 or 47 and only need to get up to 51 or 52. Subjectively, we sometimes feel we’re way down deep, but objectively, it could be a much smaller, more subtle shift that creates a large subjective sense of improvement in mood. In other words, it may be not so much a matter of getting from 9 to 90, as from 49 to 51. A molecule or two, a thought or two, and we pop up into the light once again.
Practice can surely be a helpful part of mood management. It has proven benefits for anxiety and mild-to-moderate depression, for example. But these conditions can be more subtle and protean than we may take them to be. Practice can help us learn that.
This is analogous to our sense of separateness: the difference between a “me” being here, and there being no identifiable thing called “me”. It’s like the koan says: “Only a hair’s breadth of difference separates heaven and earth.”
What is that tiny difference?