A friend recently told me that she was really depressed and despondent, and couldn’t seem to get out of it. I invited my friend to shift her thinking for a moment and, instead of saying “I am depressed,” I invited her to express this feeling in a different way saying to herself, “The depressed one is here.” I also told her that it is a really good thing that she can’t get out of it. “Getting out of it” is what most therapy is about and is helpful up to a point. To me, the healing is about “getting into it” and moving through it.
Clinical depression, including feelings of suicide, is a very real and serious diagnosis and should be treated by a medical provider. This is not what my friend was experiencing. Often when people experience low-grade sadness, low energy, tiredness, feeling unmotivated, etc., they label it “depression.” I call it the “No-Way-Out Place.” In truth, it is bound up energy and it needs your attention. When things get really stirred up, your mind wants to get away from what it is experiencing, so it slips into the idea of “I am depressed” and it ignores what you are actually experiencing. There is a difference between the story of “I am depressed” and what is actually going on in your body and mind.
If you look at the word “depression,” it literally means “pressed down.” When you can say to yourself, “The depressed one is here” rather than “I am depressed,” you can get curious about it. Then, ask yourself, “What am I experiencing right now in my body?” As you check into your body, you might find that your hands are cold, or you have a lump in your throat, or your belly is tight, or your face is sweaty. The more you can bring your attention to all of the parts that are tight and uncomfortable, the more you recognize the powerful healing capacity of simply bringing your accepting attention to what you are experiencing.
When you are feeling pressed down, often the most despairing and painful places inside of you begin showing themselves. And it is usually the three hidden spells (discussed in greater detail in my book, What’s In the Way Is the Way) that are contributing to the feelings of depression. I call these beliefs “spells” because they are not true and they can be lifted. They are beliefs that you took on when you were young because life was too scary and it felt unsafe. Since you have spent your life trying to get away from these spells, they are actually running you from underneath your everyday awareness.
The three hidden spells are: 1) “Because I am not doing it right, I am wrong;” 2) “Because I am doing it wrong, I am unlovable” and 3) “Because I am unlovable, I am all alone.” In other words, “I don’t matter.” All three of these are unbelievably painful even though they are not the truth.
What would it be like if you just shifted from “I am despondent” to “The despondent one is here?” It is an invitation to say “Hello” to the despondent one inside of yourself. Say “Hello” to “I haven’t done it right enough.” Say “Hello” to “I don’t matter to anyone else.” As you shift your way of thinking, you begin to relate to your experience rather than from it. The depressed one is not who you are. The despondent one is not who you are. You are the one that can see and be with the parts of you that feel pressed down and despondent.
During the process of awakening, it takes a while before you can get space around the “No-Way-Out-Place.” The voices in your mind say “There is no use. It is never going to work. I am always going to be alone. Nothing is ever going to be different. I am always going to feel like this.” It takes a while to turn towards these parts of you that feel hopeless and helpless. Every time you relate to them rather than from them is like a little stone added to a path. Slowly and surely, the path becomes strong enough that you can walk right out of the conditioned self and back into who you truly are!