New Civilization News: An Insight on Depression - Disengagement vs Nonattachment    
 An Insight on Depression - Disengagement vs Nonattachment12 comments
7 Jun 2004 @ 12:28, by Craig Lang

In past newslog entries, I have noted that several people have written about depression. There are alot of discussions as to just exactly what depression is. Is it a biochemical imbalance - a deficiency of serotonin? Or is it perhaps a spiritual affliction? Or could it be one of a myriad of other paradigms? Which of these views is valid? In any case, this weekend, I had a few insights and experiences which came out of my own visit from the depression demons. I hope that these insights can be of benefit to others who are also visited by the curse of depression.

First a bit of prior info before we go deeper into the article...

Hypnotherapists often work alot with eachother for practice. And about a year ago, a friend of mine conducted a fascinating and revealing Life-Between-Lives (LBL) session with me. In the LBL methodology, one explores a lot about the dynamics of the soul - and its manifestations throughout this and other lifetimes. Among these is how the events of this life relate to themes of past lives and the interlife. Little did I realize then, how much this would mean to me a year later...

During the LBL, while I was in extremely deep trance (one has to be the deepest of trance states - deep into the delta state to do this) my friend asked me "how much of your soul is present at the physical level in this lifetime?". At the time I was simply confused by the question, and we moved on. But this question has stuck with me ever since that moment. I often conclude that in some of the more non-positive moments in life, my answer might well be: "not very much..."

Any reader who has followed the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes" will immediately recognize the creative/expressive mind, which spends alot of time in the imaginal realm. I have often wondered if the author of this comic strip was somehow writing a biography of my own life. And in comparing notes with others like myself who spend a lot of time in creative imagination, I have noted that many of us also suffer from depression. The imaginal realm can be a blessing and sometimes a refuge, but it also can have a downside, depriving our interactions with the world of the energy they need to be the most effective. So in the end, we sometimes seek to retreat back into that imaginal realm when we most need to be fully engaged in the world.

Some creative/expressives have told me that they simply wished that it was possible to "just go home". There is the frequently described sense of "not belonging here". More than one has described it as if they had been sent here, perhaps in some way against their will. One person told me that they thought they were here to fulfill a karmic debt. The reasons are myriad, and many have described to me such a yearning for the beyond - to return to the true reality which transcends the limitations of this existence. And for many, it is as if the soul were still mostly on the other side.

While I certainly don't think that this is true among ALL creative/expressives, it seems to appear true for some/many. And over the years this has had me wondering - what is the metaphysical understanding of this? Why this deep desire to disengage? And why would we deprive our physical-plane-resident selves of this needed energy?

My sense is that in a more balanced way, this yearning for the beyond is also much of what spirituality is about. The core desire is to get in touch with the greater self and to better unite the physical and the transcendent. One aspect of this is the path of spiritual growth that beckons many, often at the time of midlife, but also varies so widely. Many of the creative/expressives I know have eventually found this path - but not all have...

I have learned in studying the Eastern Tradition, reading works by Eckhart Tolle, etc., that one very effective way to travel this path is through meditation. From this, I have also learned (at least to some degree, I hope) the gift of non-attachment. Non-attachment is the art of being in the world, but not necessarily of the world - of being fully engaged in the world, yet being of the soul. As such, though one is fully engaged, what happens in the world does not need to affect one's core being. And on some days, I can feel myself learning this (a little bit, anyhow). Yet, like all gifts, the understanding is here some days, and not on others...

I have also noticed that when depression strikes, this new-found mindfulness seems to go bye-bye. The desire for spiritual growth and transcendent unity seems to morph into a compulsion for escape. It is a time when the goal to experience The-Greater/The-One/The-Transcendent, becomes a need (sometimes pressing) to escape some source/form of pain in the physical world. At that moment, the focus on the positive becomes a focus on the non-positive. In some way or another, one seeks to withdraw for a time to lick one's metaphorical wounds - escaping to one's own healing space. The energy retreats, and life in the physical plane resumes its former depressive path...

I have heard a number of hypnotherapy clients describe this to me, but for the longest time, I have not understood it for myself. Then, a few days ago, for relatively minor reasons, I felt this same sense of need-for-escape hit me like a two-by-four, right between the eyes (or perhaps a better description would be "smack in the middle of the heart chakra").

In an NCN dialog a number of months ago, Heidi had written something that I have since always treasured. This was the comment that when something troubles you, it is often best to go inside and explore it. Why does it trouble you, and what can you learn from it? In this case, I did exactly that. And what I learned was that - at least for me - the feeling tied back into what I had learned in that LBL session a year before: That for whatever reason, for myself and perhaps many others, there was an important part of my soul/psyche that at that moment sought to detach from the world, wanting nothing to do with - well, with whatever was occurring. And by shunning it, if I did so long enough, maybe the "problem" (whatever it was) would simply go away... :-)

What I also noticed was that when I turned away from "it", then "it" also turned away from me. And as a result, my sense of escape soon turned to a sense of isolation and loneliness. For, much as we may sometimes want to free ourselves from interactions with others, they can also be sources of strength for us.

So this time, when this occurred, I found that I was able to remember some of the things I had read from Eckhart Tolle's book "The Power of Now". Part of this was about stepping back and observing what I was thinking, and why. I realized that the issue was my reaction to the crowded room I was in. I knew that I had never really liked crowds. And once I realized this, though the situation was still somewhat unpleasant, it somehow lost its negative energy. I was able to engage for the evening, and actually had a pretty good time...

This dovetails nicely with something I had noticed in hypnotherapy sessions with my own clients. I go a bit beyond the standard hypnotheraputic model and teach mindfulness to those clients who are open to that idea. And what I've noticed is that this often seems to help alot with a client's core issues. Similarly, many have told me that as they've progressed in their meditative path, some issues seem to resolve (at least to some degree) on their own. It is as if, by witnessing one's own life and psyche from the perspective of the atman (the core being), one can transcend many issues. The spirit and the physical are more closely linked, and one no longer needs to choose between life in the physical and escape to the imaginal. Each can empower the other, bringing presence and energy to our interactions with the world.

Frequently mindfulnes seems to help with those issues that result when one disengages from the drama of life - the "not wanting anything to do with..." types of issues. Part of me had always wondered why this worked so well with some people (though not with everyone). But now it was apparent that what was happening was the ability to see clearly what it was that I was trying to escape from, and why. And I realized why, sometimes, meditation helps - it fosters understanding of the big picture. And with understanding comes balance, and with balance comes empowerment.

So now, it will be interesting to see how well this revelation helps me - and others - to transcend the annoying theme of depression that seems to thread through life. Perhaps, as I (and other fellow travellers along this road) understand this concept better, it will become ever easier to transform the depression and disengagement. In the end, these will hopefully become the engagement, constructive transcendence and non-attachment - the renewed energy that comes with the union of the spiritual and the physical.

So let's just see where this goes...


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12 comments

7 Jun 2004 @ 20:44 by skookum : Meditation
helped me to climb out of the hole. I can relate very wholely to this Craig. Depression can indeed drag you down if you retreat even more. I had done this for years and through some spiritual aid I cannot quite understand I was saved from this self imposed prison I was living in. I am forever changed from who I was before, and I am grateful.
I have found also that I am more awake to spritual things now and have 'gifts' that have come to fore that I am still trying to understand and deal with. I can, however, catch myself when one of these downward spirals besiege me I can sense it and circumvent it in time before I crawl back in that dark whole again.
It happens less and less often as I heal within. I sure appreciate this article and thank you for your wonderful insight.  



7 Jun 2004 @ 20:51 by spiritseek : I see myself in this article
I wanted to go home so badly that for years I drew in a cancerous condition to allow it to happen, also many of my ways of dealing with it was alcohol addiction. Not until I realized that I would only be putting off something important or the reason I'm here. Also knowing that the otherside is what I escaped from to come here.I think this life here holds much more chances and choices for us that it makes it worth coming here in the first place. So I would say the realization saved my life and gave me new hope for making this a more enjoyable time.It justs seemed easier to give up then to work at it.  


7 Jun 2004 @ 21:02 by vibrani : May sound like a simple answer
but I do feel the answer is finding the balance between the outer and inner, and so forth. Being lost in the imagination realm takes one away from the physical; staying too physical can deprive one of the mental or spiritual. Find the balance.

When you are depressed find out why and honor that space, find the pattern in your lifetimes and realize you don't have to keep repeating them; then get out of being self-indulgent and help someone else. Often we get too caught up in our own dramas and the habit of that drama, which keeps people separated from life; connecting with others helps us out of it in a kind of symbiotic relationship. (Not as an avoidance.)

On an aside, I think some of the depression (that is not related to the avoidance of dealing with making heaven right here on earth for one's self), has to do with memories of other places/dimensions where life was better. Some people long to be in that place rather than here. BUT, if they were supposed to be THERE, they would be.  



7 Jun 2004 @ 21:15 by spiritseek : good comment Nora
I especially liked the last part and feel its very true in my case. Some of it is to the extent of not being very helpful or useful in a past life that it carries over.  


8 Jun 2004 @ 12:34 by martha : Craig
I have a great deal to say about depression but instead i suggest you read The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer. I understand all you have written and tend to agree with Nora. Depression can also be a way of recognizing one's need to move on and try a new way of thinking. I personally have dealt with depression on a very deep level several times in my life and it all comes down to changing perspective and shifting energy. We were not choosen to live to be depressed. You are disconnected from your soul and source if you dwell in depression too long.
Eckhart Tolle speaks a great deal about this in his book. Also bringing up past life issues can be very healthy to understand problems in this life but it is still a conscious choice to stay in higher vibrations. Depression is a lower vibration. You have to make a decison how you want to control your vibrations. I know you are familiar with this Craig...I just thought I would remind you cause I care. Love, beauty, kindness, creativity, expansiveness, abundance (not material) and receptivity are the higher energies of life. Those are your tools to work through depression.  



8 Jun 2004 @ 15:20 by craiglang : Great Comments
Very interesting and informative.
If I understand the gist of the comments, especially Nora's and Martha's, I think they are in many ways, actually pretty close to what the article said. But they add alot of really great perspective to it. So thank you to all.

Martha, thanx for the reference to Dyer's book. Sounds like I have some more reading to do. But then, any of us can always learn ever more: Understanding leads to perspective leads to balance leads to empowerment...

I've found that one can read Eckhart Tolle's books any number of times, and each time, one learns something completely new from them.  



8 Jun 2004 @ 16:17 by martha : Yes that is true with Tolle
and you will also find that with Dyer's book Craig. Since you and i like reading similiar material that is why I recommended it to you. You won't be disappointed. This time Wayne has produced a strong arguement for the positive choice. Nora and I also watched his PBS special with our spouces and had some fruitful conversations. Then we both decided to get the book to reinforce what he was saying.  


8 Jun 2004 @ 18:20 by magical_melody : Great writing Craig,
I truly appreciate that you have shared your heart as you have and the many wise comments show me all you have pieced together. Kewl! I have but one thing to add to this great virtual space. I really have benefitted from the writings of Carolyn Myss, and I invite you to look into how she talks about energy and the chakras. I met her years ago when I was working at a Healing Crisis Center, Pathways, and did a workshop training with her before she became hugely popular back in the late 80's. I have a really great interview with her I saved to a word doco entitled: ''Intuitively Perceiving the Human Energy Field -Interviewed By Russell E. DiCarlo - However I just re-found the link for it so all can read: Interview
C. Myss Website Her tapes and books are awesome! She is an excellent speaker, and truly a practical Mystic with brilliant and effective skills!
If you haven't read 'Anatomy of Spirit,' I highly recommend it!

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Thanx Alana,
Another great book ref. Lots of great follow-on material here.
Thank you for your comments.  



8 Jun 2004 @ 18:27 by jmarc : excercise helps
unless of course if you're physically overworked already.I've read a bit on this too, being affected by it seasonally, in the winter, usually when i'm finding myself idle. A good walk can do wonders, working up the pace over a few days, starting out slow. The idea of looking for ways to help others i've found also helps. Lending someone a helping hand is a great boost for the self esteem.  


8 Jun 2004 @ 18:37 by martha : Excellent suggestions Jmarc
Exercise and helping are very good for the body and psyche. Which reminds me, I need to take my walk now! Maybe I can find someone to help across the street.  


9 Jun 2004 @ 08:46 by craiglang : I note
that I always feel better after I've finished working out, and also, after I've finised doing either some form of healing session or just some form of good deed.

So, Guess I need to find a nearby street corner where someone needs to cross. We just have way too many pedestrian bridges around here... :-)  



9 Jun 2004 @ 08:53 by skookum : well
you could paint fire hydrants? ;-)... exercise is a great mood elevator. Bring on the endorphins!  


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