4 WAYS TO MANAGE SPIRITUAL DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
On Any Given Day
We journey on this planet around our galaxy with two constant companions’ – our physical body and mental perceptions. While society has placed a high value on physical health – and rightly so, without taking it to the extremes, it is only more recently that mental health has been given the serious consideration it deserves.
Unstable biochemical processes can play a part in causing many diseases of the mind including depression, anxiety, personality disorders and dissociative disorders – sadly, the list is long. The spectrum is full of people like you and me, just doing their best on any given day. Some are high functioning “successful” business people, some are homeless, some are stay-at-home moms, some are your kids, some are your partners and parents.
Thankfully our web of resources in the 21st century is vast and diverse, offering sustainable long term positive effects. For some the journey with depression and anxiety will last a life time, for others it is seasonal, situational and transitory. Either way, there is always hope and help – always.
Befriending This Mind
For centuries Eastern philosophies, sages and saints have taught the priceless wisdom of befriending and exploring the mind. They already knew that a stable mind led to a stable body and life.
By now we have possibly come to accept the view that our thoughts create our reality. I am by no means saying that we consciously go around wishing and wanting disease in our days. There are much bigger cosmic and divine forces acting upon our lives that we will never truly understand or know. I am saying we can, with consistent practice, begin to change our own inner dialogues about what is happening in and around us.
Like An Unending River
Like the flowing rivers of our planet, our thoughts never stop – ever. It is the nature of the mind to think, but it is what we are thinking that can play a crucial role in the quality of how we spend our days on the river. Are we going to throw our garbage off the side of the raft or stuff it down in the bottom of our bags? Are we going to leave our dirty laundry on the shores or never wash it? Will we taunt and strike the creatures and fish going about their daily business or catch and release?
Thinking Ourselves Into Despondency
Yet this is how we treat ourselves – we bully, shame, judge, neglect and berate ourselves and/or others until we are caught in the vicious rapids of melancholy, despondency, dejection and misery. If we could just make it to calmer waters then we could catch our breath, we could start dealing with the urgency of the disease, right?
Nevertheless, once we make it back to the peaceful shallows, we fall back into our habits of either numbing out or acting out. Drugs, alcohol, food binges, endless hours in front of the TV, shopping sprees all bring a small amount of temporary relief – until the next rapid, the next rock bottom. If we are honest, we will do anything not to sit with ourselves and our thoughts for too long. It is too uncomfortable, too boring, too disturbing even. But this could be the very thing that saves us.
We Are Not Bad People
Instead of turning away from the depressions and anxieties, what if we could lean into them with a curiosity and enquiring mind. We stick a foot into the water instead of just jumping in, we start to open the clenched fist releasing the fingers bit by bit, we learn to float instead of sink and we get comfortable with discomfort. We see that we are not bad people, we are just dealing with a “bad” untrained mind.
Depression, as a spiritual crisis, could simply be this – utter disappointment with yourself and life, unmet expectations and a deep disillusionment. This is similar but different to the dark night of the soul. Going deeply into the experience of depression – bypassing the prescribed labels – we come to find anger, rage, sadness, regret all sitting under the surface of the river.
Anxiety swims on the waves as doubt, restlessness, stress, overwhelm and fear. Anxiety is simply the discomfort of uncertainty. At this stage we probably just want to jump ship, sink to the bottom of the riverbed and stay there for a long, long time. If we do not understand our mind’s role in creating our moods, emotions and experiences then this lack of awareness will leave us feeling helpless without any strategies to help us.
From a metaphysical and mindful based approach, we can begin to unpack these all too common dis-eases and find relief. We come to a place where we don’t feel like we are broken, useless, undeserving, or that there is something wrong with us. For at our deepest core, we are ALL made perfect, whole and complete. Our true nature can never be damaged, broken or affected by anything in this world. Though there are days when it seems so.
Lifting The Weight Off Depression & Anxiety
Let us examine 4 practical and easy ways that can start lifting the weight of these two specific mental disorders.
- Get To The Bottom Of It
If you are suffering from any mental disorder please see a professional immediately to assess your condition and medical needs, if any.
Should there be no indicators of a biochemical imbalance, look to nutrition, exercise, lifestyle habits that need changing. We are constantly consuming foods, information, opinions, etc. all day long and we need to be aware of what we are feeding our bodies and minds.
We need to address these mental disorders from all angles, leave no stone unturned. There is so much information to absorb, tips, tricks, trends to follow that sometimes throwing in the towel before we start has also become the norm.
- Get Quiet
There is just too much noise out there, in here and everywhere in between. We need to shut down from all the outer distractions so that we can actually hear our own thoughts for a minute without checking our emails or social media pages for a second.
Just stop, put all devices down, turn off the TV, put your phone on silent. So simple, but so hard to do. Start with just 3 minutes. Or start when you boil the kettle and instead of dashing off to do something else, just sit there. Doing nothing. Get really quiet. If you can create a comfy spot or have a great sofa then sit there, you can gaze out a window or close your eyes. It is just crucial that you have some silence during your day.
- Get Mindful
Your mind is full of so much stuff, that once you get quiet you will not be able to stay quiet with all the thoughts in your mind and you won’t be able to even stick with just one for very long.
Mindfulness is simply becoming aware. It is noticing what is there. Like opening up your closet and just looking at all your clothing. Taking it all in. You don’t need to make a decision on what to wear, you are just aware that you have choices, of all the different colors, stylesm, etc… This is being mindful, you are aware of reality as it is in the moment – not what you want or think it to be. Your clothes are your clothes, nothing more, nothing less.
- Get Involved
Chronic self-involvement is paradoxically detrimental to our healing process. Placing too much emphasis on the “I” can lead to keeping one stuck in a victim mentality with little joy and hope. Our worlds become small, constrictive, solitary and selfish. I can assure you; you were not born to live this way.
Focusing, even if for a small part of your day, on helping someone else, or becoming interested in following a cause even if online for now, will help break the mental pattern that keeps swirling around the ego’s selfish needs.
A Place Where Your Breath Returns
I am well aware that you may not feel like doing any of this at all. But what will another day of sitting on the sofa agonizing over your troubles do for you? To repair and liberate mental suffering could be the most important job of all at this time in humanity.
The time is now. The river never stops flowing and neither do you. Step out onto the raft, float gently out onto the waters, trust that the current will carry you to exactly where you need to be. A place where the darkness lifts, peace prevails and your breath returns.
*Should you suffer from any mental disorder please do see a qualified expert to assess your condition immediately.