If you have felt depressed for a long period of time you know precisely what it feels like; it is as though life has slowed down, lost its vibrancy and color and sense of expansiveness.
If you are depressed you might feel spiritless as if you are numb, hollow and empty inside and each waking moment makes you feel more and more diminished rather than expanded.
Feeling depressed makes us lose touch with the joy of living and throughout our lives we all, to some extent, experience this loss. While some of us get back in touch with the vibrancy of living, others of us continue to struggle – mostly against ourselves.
When I went through my own heavy bout of depression I was completely unaware at the time that the reason why I felt so oppressed was not because of other people victimizing me or life punishing me, but rather the endless barrage of toxic self-talk, festering core beliefs and deep unresolved core wounds inside that were making my life a living hell.
I had created a prison within my mind full of limiting beliefs about myself (“I am bad,” “I deserve to be punished,” “I’m worthless”), endless self-put-downs (“You can’t do anything right,” “You are such a mess,” “You’re a loser”) and perpetual judgments about others (“People can’t be trusted,” “People are out to get me,” “No one else is like me or can understand me”).
Before I knew it, life truly felt like a jail cell. But even despite the overwhelming oppressive weight of everyday life I knew, deep down, that there was something “much more” to life.
Slowly, as I began to explore this elusive “something else” I came to discover different ways of expanding my very limited, constricted and narrow sense of self, and with these discoveries came my ultimate conclusion: what “we” think “we” are is such a lie and delusion. We are so much bigger than what we ever imagined.
But I will leave you to discover the details of this realization for yourself.
In the meantime, you may, or may not find the following practices helpful – but I hope they are. Even if they aren’t I hope they expand your sense of possibility:
1. REFLECT ON THE SKY
The trap that the depressed person falls into is living a very insular life. When you go outside and stare up at the endless blue expanse above, a part of your mind expands as well.
Suddenly your problems don’t seem so big or end-of-the-world. There is something particularly mystical about the sky which I have always loved and continue to admire.
So the next time there is a clear (or partly cloudy) day, go and sit in a chair, on a bench or simply lie down somewhere comfortable and let yourself be lost in the world above.
2. GO “FOREST BATHING” (SHINRIN YOKU)
I have written about this topic before. The Japanese believe that taking a regular stroll in the forest is very beneficial for one’s well-being.
Forest bathing is said to increase feelings of calmness and joy while decreasing depression, anxiety and blood pressure. It is also said to increase mental concentration while lowering blood sugar levels.