Have you considered the idea that depression might be an initiation into something new? Into a new way of living?
Could depression be an opening, rather than a closing? I have experienced this and now see depression as a preparation for something new.
Living in Albany, Georgia during the Civil Rights marches in the 60’s, I became seriously depressed. Such unfair treatment angered and saddened me, and feeling really helpless, I lost any previous sense I’d had about my purpose for living.
That plus a marriage that wasn’t working caused periods in which suicide seemed a viable option.
It was during those down and dark years (7 long years) that I found Unity and a path back into sanity. This process took me into a new life, but it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t quick.
During this period I heard, in one of my daily meditation periods, “the people” crying. I felt this deeply. It seemed to me the whole world was in agony, and I was being summoned to find a way to help.
Through my own suffering I rediscovered my purpose.
As Dr. Carl Jung has said we must turn consciously to the mysteries and give energy to the unconscious to illuminate a new way.
Later I found journaling to be a huge help in this process. As I poured all my thoughts and emotions onto the pages of my journal and felt “as bad as I felt,” new ideas would emerge.
I gradually began to see situations differently, to work through these dark places.
“Depression makes way for an initiation,” as Dr. Jung said.
You might want to read that line twice. It’s worth thinking deeply about.
Even though statistics show that depression is prevalent in our world it is usually seen as an illness, or something that must be fixed, rather than the sign of new life wanting to be born.
Science seems to believe that feelings are an unimportant component. Often the medical world seems to lack faith in the human potential to face and work through difficulties.
Science does not understand spirituality nor the strength of the human spirit for science only measures the physical world, not the spiritual depths of the soul, which cannot be measured.
Therefore depression is most often medicated, which may be a necessary phase.
But whether or not anti-depression drugs are used there is a path through this darkness and despair.
This is soul work.
Depression means we have depressed our emotions so that we don’t have to feel them or deal with them. Many people think emotions are just too painful, and feel helpless to face them, so they are pushed underground.
However pushing emotions from our awareness doesn’t mean they go away. They continue working underground and cause future pain and suffering.
Feelings cannot kill, no matter what we think. Depressing them can lead to illness and death, however. Therefore it is vital to find a way through them and into new life!
As the Zen teacher, Cheri Huber puts it:
The state of DEPRESSION is not the problem.
The process of DEPRESSING is the problem.
If you are depressed, ask yourself, what am I depressing?
These ideas are from Cheri Huber’s book, The Depression Book;
Depression As An Opportunity For Spiritual Growth.
Zen teacher Cheri Huber says neither denying depression nor indulging it is the answer. Instead moving through depression into new life requires turning our attention inward.
She suggests taking up your journal imagining you are someone that you do NOT dislike! Yes, use your imagination!
Then write out all your thoughts and emotions. Let them all pour out and keep on writing until it’s all out there. We may find a lot of anger that we haven’t acknowledged. And sadness.
Allow yourself to cry, for tears soften hardened and stuck places. But don’t stop writing while you cry.
You may need a therapist to help meet these issues, these old beliefs and disappointments. Getting professional help is often a must!
It may be helpful to talk to your pet, or to an empty chair upon which you have placed a wonderful counselor, or wise friend. Or dance it out! Movement helps emotions flow.
Be compassionate, not indulgent, towards yourself.
It’s not whether you choose to use an anti-depressant medication as a help; it’s how you work with your feelings and emotions, with or without medication.
Admitting and accepting what takes place in your mind and heart is vital. This is not a one time activity. Our emotions need ongoing attention—not acting them out, but experiencing them in our heart and caring how the little child within us feels.
Little children need to be cared for, and the one inside you is the one you need to take care of first, before you can help anyone else.
So, next time you feel depressed, consider that this may be an initiation, as I felt in a recent dream. It wasn’t a comfortable dream, as it’s never comfortable to be an initiate, for one is being worked on and is not in control.
Nevertheless the way through depression is by paying attention to whatever lies below our conscious mind. Including our dreams.
Discover what you are fearing. If fear is too big as word, ask yourself what you worry about, and what you don’t want to happen.
All humans have these thoughts to deal with. So, become aware of how you greet and meet your attitudes. Don’t depress.
By paying attention you will be led into new ways of responding.
Take time to listen to your inner, as well as your outer conversations.
How do you react when something frustrating happens? And why? What is your belief about yourself that causes you to feel this way?
A few moments ago I was trying to fax papers to my tax accountant. I had the correct number, and I was told their Fax was on. However, each time I sent the papers, I got an answer message telling me to try again.
So, I noted how I was feeling. I had jangled and frustrating emotions. My thoughts were, “Why is this happening? Why doesn’t electronic equipment work the way it is supposed to? They said the Fax was on. Then why isn’t it? I never can work these things. I must be stupid.”
I part of me was angry and having a temper tantrum. I remembered to hold my frightened child gently in my heart, reminding her that I was there for her. I felt her suffering.
Oh, yes, this wanting what isn’t happening, and not want what is.
So, I told my little child, “Settle down, honey. It will work its way out.”
If I had shoved this under the rug and had gotten busy with something else, the disgruntled energy would have continued to work underground and caused later problems.
That is the process of depressing.
But by feeling and experiencing my anger and upset, and paying attention to my attitude, I became more patient and forbearing.
Attention is a form of love. And love transforms.
And I did get the papers faxed.
Please note again that feelings do NOT have to be acted on!
We have choices about our actions. By asking the right questions and watching where they lead us we will find the deeper cause.
Our beliefs and interpretations are the roots of our difficulties. And they have come about through a process. They will dissolve through our processing them with compassion and attention.
We let go of what is not useful—and new ideas will enter.
We all have transforming power!
It’s like a science in that there are basic steps.
It’s like a mystery in that we don’t know how it works.
But whatever is taking place now in your life—no matter how uneasy you are about it—has the capability of leading you into something new.
Start small. Don’t tackle the huge things yet.
Maybe just your smart phone, or something you heard on the news.
Remember nothing in the outer gives you satisfaction and joy. It comes from within.
Your choices can bring you new meaning and purpose in life.
In lovingkindness, Rev. Billie