The other day I quite suddenly got engulfed by a deep debilitating Depression. I couldn’t do anything but just sit there. It owned me.
Being a basically happy person, this had never happened to me before. Not that I hadn’t had a slow undercurrent of creeping depression at times, but this was way different, so sudden and all-encompassing.
I tried to figure out what might have caused it. Had I picked it up from a client that morning who was depressed when she came in? Was it because there were several minor things in my life that I’d like to be different, and all together they might have added up to produce depression? Was something nasty going on somewhere in the world and I was picking up the energy of it?
I noticed how I was trying to build a story to have a “reason” for this deadening feeling that was sucking the light out of my life. If I created a “reason,” then I’d have something I could return to again and again, embedding this depression more deeply. I might be able to feel sorry for myself (the real killer), or get sympathy and agreement from my friends…undesirable payoffs to say the least.
Luckily, I was able to keep my head above water enough to just observe these shenanigans in my mind without getting sucked in. Where had it come from? Why was it there? I abandoned all efforts to “understand.” I just sat there, feeling it, waiting to see if my emotional wave would turn around on its own, into more enjoyable territory.
No. It didn’t.
How did I do that? What does it really mean to do that? Sometimes when we have old pain we haven’t resolved, our heart will be hidden, even from ourselves.
If you feel you don’t know how, no matter…improvise! It will take you where you want to go.
Will you practice with me in this moment? If you practice when you don’t need it, it will be easier to do when you do need it and maybe feel weighed down and less capable of it.
We must begin at what is always the beginning: coming Home. If you are not in your body, how can you find your heart?
If your heart is caught in the turmoil of the past, it will be hard to find. If you have given your heart to another in a misguided attempt at love, there will be only a shadow of a heart left for you. You may have left small pieces of it scattered around with those you love…family, friends, beloved pets…as a mistaken way to stay connected. Or your heart could be barricaded or even shriveled, as mine was when I first began my spiritual journey.
So we begin by being as Present as we can be, by feeling every muscle in our body, by feeling every cell. In particular, I like to feel my back, because in our culture we are so heavily oriented toward the front that we in effect are off balance, nearly falling on our face.
Bringing your whole back into your awareness, let that awareness spread throughout your whole body. Now ask your body (not your mind), “Where is my heart?”
Allow a sensation to rise up, to make itself felt. If you don’t feel a tangible sensation, no matter. Imagine what it might feel like if you could feel it, and let that feeling rise up if you can.
Know that your heart will make itself known when you ask, even if you are wearing blinders and can’t see it or feel it. So just assume it is responding and act “as if.”
Now’s your chance to imagine cradling your heart in your arms. Whenever there is any pain, it’s always our little two year old self crying out for love and comfort. Imagine you can actually feel your own energy embracing your own heart, comforting that two year old.
Allow compassion to rise up. It’s hard to play this “human” game. Have compassion for your Self. And kindness. Now’s your chance to model how you want the world to treat you, with kindness, love and compassion.
This worked for me. By the time I got done, I had only a shadow of the depression left. I was now able to dwell in things I love…budding new leaves in spring, outrageous colors in my garden, family, friends, my kitties, the ocean, the mountains, the trees, Silence, a clear starry night. What remained got swept away with a timely phone call from a new client requesting a session, always a happy event.
Using Gandhi’s quote as a guide, I’d say I dropped into my true nature and that mysterious interloper, Depression, beat a hasty retreat. If I were out in the world at that moment, yes, the attitude of the world toward me would have been much improved over the depressed state. But my own attitude toward the whole world changed as well.
Alone in my depression, I feel bleak and distraught. Together, me, compassion, kindness, thoughts of what I love, and my heart itself, together we dance a dance of “Lovin’ In my Heart.”