Tag Archives: Descent

Depression as descent: part I

1 Mar

Our world can seem so cold at times. We feel that life is one big chore, and that there is no one to relief us from our burden. We cry during the dark hours of the night, desperately wishing there was someone to comfort us, but everyone is asleep and minding their own business. And this isn’t only the case during the night. No matter how many close friends or relatives we have, we are often left to our own devices, since they have their own life and problems too.
Although affection and love from others is an integral part of recovering from feeling down or depressed, we can’t expect others to do the healing process for us. Sometimes there is no one else there either, unfortunately.
Depression is a call from your soul, to look within instead of around you. You are the one who must travel the road down into the underworld of your being, and unfortunately you can’t bring any earthly companions.

The descent

Depression is without a doubt a call downwards. We might feel it gentle tugs when we are still cheery and going strong, but if we don’t pay attention to our inner life, what we are really thinking and going through, the tugs will cease to be gentle, and we will find ourselves on our knees before we know it.

Camille Maurine writes in her book “Meditation secrets for women”:

There are times in a woman’s life when the call downward is a transformative journey, a summon to the depths of the soul.
People tend to think of spirituality as rising upwards into the sky. In the traditional (male) teachings, enlightenment is often described as a flight from the lower centers of the body, the instinctive and sexual places, to the upper centers in the head and then out. By contrast, a woman’s spiritual quest at some points leads to a soulful sinking down into herself. Everyone fears this descent, this sinking down. Yet sinking down connects us with the earth, with our personal ground, with our foundation. There is a secret in “endarkenment”.
The realm of the soul is not light and airy, but more like mud: messy, wet and fertile. Soul processes go on down there with the moss and worms, down there with the decaying leaves, down there where death turns into life. Deepening into soul requires the courage to go underground, to stretch our roots into the dark, to writhe and curl and meander through rich, moist soil. In this darkness we find wisdom, not through the glaring beam of will, but by following a wild, blind yet unfailing instinct that senses the essence in things, that finds nourishment to suck back into growth.(1)

It’s not about getting out of this mess as soon as possible. It’s about having the courage to truly stand what you see down there, and to transform it into something new. We mustn’t use religion and spirituality as a mean to completely ignore ourselves and only concentrate on the heavens above, hoping to be saved. Instead, I think it’s wiser if we use it as a close companion to which we can constantly turn when we are going through this painful descent. There is no need to pretend to be fine when you are praying or meditating. There is no need to be anyone else but yourself.

Hidden treasures

It’s important that when our soul calls for us, we listen, and that we don’t desperately try to cling to our life as we know it. The period in our lives in which we feel our inner pain so acutely, is a very special one. Daily life loses its meaning, and reaching out to others is not enough to cheer us up. We feel that only spending time with ourselves, being gentle and caring towards ourselves, and retreating from the outer world, will help us heal.
Of course we are afraid, because we fear the unknown. We don’t know yet what we will see when we dive, and it might be more severe than we first thought. We don’t know how it will affect our lives, and we also fear change.
But we have no choice, we are already in the water, and there is no turning back. Let’s be strong, and find the hidden treasures of this difficult period, in which we feel so cut off from others and the world around us.

Camille Maurine continues: The down-ward moving emotions, such as regret, grief, and loneliness, lead you into your depths. Everyone experiences these at times during meditation, and they are not to be resisted. If you have undergone the loss of a loved one, a way of life, a self-image, or a dream, there may be grief in your heart. Enter the grief and let it release its healing gift.
When we are in solitude or in sorrow, we are sitting by the sacred well of life. Although we may be crying, we will emerge renewed.  Though we fear we could cry forever, the more we yield to this process, the more quickly it can resolve itself. Many meditators say there are times when they die and are reborn in a heartbeat because they have learned to surrender.
In opening to our own suffering, we share in the poignancy of the human condition. We become aware of others who suffer, tuning in to the morphogenetic field of humanity. Linking to the rest of humanity through our shared suffering can be a conscious prayer and transformation. In meditation we can open our hearts to breathe in the suffering of the world and to breathe out with compassion and healing for the self and others.
Grief and love are intertwined. If you love, you risk inevitable loss-and choose to love regardless. We lose each other one way or another, through separation or death. To bear this grief is to live with an open heart. (2)

(1) C.MAURINE, Meditation secrets for women, HarperOne, p.210
(2)C.MAURINE, Meditation secrets for women, HarperOne,p.212