In the olden days it was called melancholia, today it is called depression and it is one of the major psychological problems of the developed world.
It could be described as a sense of despair or helplessness, a lack of self-esteem with no enthusiasm or interest in the surrounding.
Sometimes there are also physical symptoms such as sleeplessness, lack of appetite and a general loss of energy and enthusiasm for life.
Feelings of moroseness, uselessness, lack of energy, inability to sleep, and a poor attitude toward life in general seem to be common amongst many people.
Depression causes a pessimistic view of things and most of the time the thoughts that accompany the feelings are completely unnecessary but how do we stop those thoughts.
The reasons for depression are most likely different in each person, often it’s a result of circumstances. I remember being told by a counsellor many years ago that the depression I suffered was due to the external circumstances in my life.
In other words when everything was going well and I was engaged in life I seemed happy. This made me look at my life and observe what was happening in the times that I felt depressed.
By observe I mean to look at all the aspects, the thoughts the actions or non-actions, the circumstances that surround the diagnosis or the label if you like.
The most beautiful discovery was that everything changes, and that this so called thing that seemed to cripple me at times and indeed stopped me enjoying life was actually manageable and better than that, transformable!
In spite of what a person who is suffering depression may think, it is actually very easy to overcome depression from a spiritual point of view. It is not at all as difficult as some of us imagine.
It is actually a matter of perspective or point of view, which is based on the mental disposition.
This attitude and perspective is what must be changed. Mind has the mysterious power of magnifying a problem and making it appear formidable and bigger than it is. Do not listen to the promptings of the mind. Reject them ruthlessly and throw them out.
Although spirituality may not be able to cure all forms of depression completely, it will certainly help.
In many cases, developing oneself spiritually can lay the groundwork so that if you are depressed, you may change your view which may allow you to rise above a depressed state of mind.
In other cases, it can lift you right out of any depression or despair that you may feel.
If we really start by observing our thoughts we discover that the mind is quite negative at times. In fact I like to explain it from the perspective of states of consciousness. We are either operating from the lower consciousness or the higher consciousness.
The lower consciousness is always repetitive, compulsive and destructive and the higher consciousness is always creative, expansive and auspicious.
When we start to observe our thinking we will notice the parrot on our shoulder that tells us things are bad, nothing is going to work out, how bad we are and how bad we feel and guess what happens then, we spiral into the feelings and experiences that are created by those thoughts.
Now you may say but how do I get rid of the thoughts?
Well I don’t think you can but I do know that once I become aware of them, I immediately have a choice as to whether I engage and entertain that particular movie of my mind or whether I re focus and move to something more enjoyable.
Ultimately the journey needs to be from the head to the heart. Our heart is over 5,000 times more powerful than our brain, our heart is trustworthy as is life if we just meet it through our heart with the curiosity of a child and the wisdom of an adult.
Each moment in life is an invitation to fully live and appreciate all the flavours that are offered to us in this journey of being human.
The problem is very simple, when experiences that we want and like are presented to us we say yes to them and we experience joy and happiness, but when life presents us with something that we interpret as negative we run away from the experience.
We do this by labelling what’s going on by interpreting it, by telling a story about it, by justifying, by blaming, by judging etc, when all that is actually needed is to directly experience what is happening in the moment. We need to do this through the sensory body.
So instead of avoiding we allow and say yes to the experience and the wonderful thing is that all feelings and situations directly experienced turn back to the peace and joy we are searching for.
We need to be engaged in life we need to enjoy our physical bodies by inhabiting them and to do this we need to move and we need to have a purpose. The purpose does not have to be huge or difficult, we can start with small things.
One thing that can be very helpful is to have a look at things that make you happy. Small things that are achievable, that you can do each day that will help to put a different perspective on your life.
Being willing to feel deeper than our stories, deeper than our emotions into the source of our own precious heart is the key to transformation and I have found the key to being able to overcome depression.
I mentioned earlier the art of observation, this is an important step as it helps us to discover the triggers and once we are aware we can catch ourselves at any point and make a decision to move in a different direction.
In the beginning it’s a bit like training the brain, the mind and deliberately choosing to not engage in the thoughts. You see if you really track it, you will discover that there is first of all a thought although it may seem that only the feeling is there.
This is why we must really be honest and look deeply inside which may require the help of a practitioner at first.
There is a saying I like to share “To see is to be free” we are all on some level looking for love, freedom and peace and often the journey through depression is the very gateway we need to find this.
Being depressed is okay, indulging in the depression, landing in the layer of self-pity and resisting the deeper feelings is the suffering.
Remember your heart is so trustworthy more that your interpretations will ever be so please allow yourself to sink into the longing into the love that is always here and you will be very surprised at the beauty and life-force that is awaiting you…
On a very practical level some tips for moving from suffering to joy, from existing and just managing life to really living and experiencing are:
- Move your body, exercise, go for a walk, feel your feet on the earth this will help to move you from the head to the heart
- Do something that you love every day
- Make an effort to be present with what you are doing and enjoy it
- Change your viewpoint
- Reflect and observe yourself, your thoughts, your feelings
- Surround yourself with people who love and support you
- Start to have a relationship with your heart
- Spend some time in nature
- Fall in love with love
I think the deepest cure we can find for our depression is first to accept it rather than be depressed about being depressed and then we can access the love in our hearts. Once we have activated love, we can activate gratitude and from her we can just simply fall in love with love.