This is a nice short video on the benefits of meditation. Very topical on this mental health awareness day.
When I was going through my darkest hours of depression I found a YouTube channel operated by a duo known as “The Honest Guys“. They create wonderful meditations and relaxation sounds to soothe the soul. The first video I found was called Banishing Depression and it had an immediate impact.
They have a huge library of videos and I still have not seen them all. It also may be one of the few channels where I have not seen a single negative comment under any of their videos. They are simply there to help people and they are incredibly appreciated by their followers.
The video below is called Christmas Loneliness and is for anyone who felt alone over the holidays. Have a look and please check out the rest of their stuff as well. You won’t regret it!
Happiness is a choice to be made, not a skill to be learned.
In becoming the witness I discover I have always been the witness, but was under the illusion that I was in control of what I had witnessed.
To love our enemy is impossible. The moment we understand our enemy, we feel compassion towards him or her, and he or she is
no longer our enemy.
— Thich Nhat Hanh
This is an incredibly valuable piece of advice for learning how to be with someone who suffers. It is a pathway to healing for both the sufferer and the listener.
“Depression isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you’ve been strong for too long.”
This is one of the most popular quotes on depression but it has me wondering, what does it really mean to be strong?
Culturally, strength is often associated with size, power, and aggression. But the concept of being strong in the face of depression has nothing to do with any of those. It is entirely an internal battle. One voice in your head says you’re worthless, and the other says you’re awesome. I would say that many people view strength here as carrying on with daily living even as the negative voice starts to completely drown out the positive.
Another purpose of this quote is to address the idea that people who are much less affected by adversity are much stronger than those who respond with anxiety and fear. The truth is that there are internal factors at play in every individual that no one can really understand. If that apparent strong individual had to listen to a persistent internal negative voice for 15 years they probably would not appear so resilient. But does that mean strength is the absence of negative self talk?
Perhaps, those that appear strong have just never been forced to discover the true depth of their strength.
So then what exactly is the depth of true strength? It can not be that unending desire to reinforce the positive in opposition to all of the negative. Yes it may work for a while but it seems like so much effort, especially for the one who is already in a weakened state. But in the realm of duality there is one very relevant, eternal truth at play. The idea of good creates the idea of bad, right creates wrong, happiness creates sadness. If you want to get rid of the negative voice forever, you also need to lose the positive voice.
This does not in any way mean giving up. But it is the beginning of a spiritual transformation. It is the realization that whatever your mind says is, for lack of a better word, horseshit. But you are not meant to stop your mind from thinking. You are simply meant to stop giving it authority.
When I observe the most spiritually transformed individuals on the planet they appear to be immune to the debilitating effects of depression, anxiety, & fear. Or in many cases it was the intolerable suffering from these conditions that created their transformation. And they didn’t achieve this state through any kind of superior strength. They simply took a step back from the fight and saw it all as just a play of the mind.
Could it be true that being strong actually causes depression?
If your strength response to a negative thought, is a more powerful positive thought, then this quickly turns into a runaway train of a stronger negative thought. So the next time someone tells you to stay strong in the face of suffering, smile at the beauty of their intent but know in your heart that strength is not the way. Instead stay quietly present in your belief that whatever your mind says has no authority over the definition of who you truly are. Your true strength appears when you offer no resistance to any thought that your mind creates.
If there is one predominant lesson that being alive has taught me is that I need to be afraid. We are bombarded every day with a million things that we need to fear. Things we need to be cognizant of so they don’t sneak up on us and author our demise.
We need to fear the flu season, dropping real estate prices, climate change, a higher dollar, a lower dollar, an oil shortage, losing our job, cellphone radiation, Ebola, and even the 100 days of happy challenge!?
In many cases it appears that fear is the currency used in attempt to promote support. Support for change that is in line with the beliefs of whomever is promoting the fear.
For instance with climate change, environmentalists will often speak as if we are on the edge of a cliff, if not already falling, when talking of how much we have already negatively affected the environment around us. On the other hand the senior economists will tell us how many jobs will be lost if we spend money on clean energy and implement carbon taxes.
In other cases it seems that fear is primarily used to gain attention, as it is with the evening news. A news story with potentially much more dire consequences will obviously gain more viewership than a good news story.
There is implied urgency with fear based information. It keeps us on our toes, promotes anxiety, keeps us perpetually in a state of flight or fight. Fear is very effective at gaining attention, and EVERYBODY knows it. That’s the problem.
Our fears are constantly tugged in every direction as people chase our money, or our vote, to support their cause. The progress of change is thus driven by fear.
As we evolve technologically, exponentially increasing amounts of information are available to anyone with a wi-fi connection, and thus our society becomes more and more burdened with a directly proportional amount of fear.
Taking a moment to look inwards, I have from my own experiences learned that fear is one of the primary sources of any suffering that I have gone through. It has created anger, misperceptions, anxiety, stress, and depression. It is an emotion built to address immediate and real danger, but has been tapped into as a tool of manipulation due to its extreme effectiveness.
Fear emerges from an idea of what may happen, not what is happening. It is a concept that carry’s no actual danger. It is an illusion infused into reality through our own reactions. Any action based on fear, is thus based on an illusion.
The wonderful takeaway from all of this is that you can actually choose not to be afraid. More accurately, once you realize that fear isn’t real, you begin to create a world in which fear doesn’t exist. I can feel the change happening within myself now. I have also become much more aware of how often I create fear with my own thoughts, and they are losing their influence dramatically. I write this post as a call for the abandoment of fear. To dissolve the illusion of ever present immediate danger. To realize that if you truly want to change the world you must first exist in it.
Anxious poison in my heart
Feels like bursting wide apart
It is my lungs now cut in half
A voice that cracks and never laughs
Stress is squeezed around my head
Misunderstands each comment said
Feel my heart beat through my chest
Makes every step a failed test
Fear of death is what ages me
Blinded from what the sages see
Keeps me naked in the rain
Frozen with no chance to change
Depression’s weight still crushes me
Like ten thousand gravities
Tidal waves on a rocky shore
Pounds with unrelenting force
All is still my fighter dies
Screamed out his final battle cries
Amongst the ruins a surprise
Waves retreat and hopes arise
As I sit and lie in waste
I search for God and test my faith
A glimpse of some new mystery
Captively entices me
First things first I’m not my mind
In any action I can not find
All that happens I must allow
The thin line of the present now
Surrender all and do not define
There is no me and what is mine
All that I am I’ve always been
With no real hate and no real sin
It is not a God of bearded chin
Booming voice nor whitened skin
It is but Love that dwells within
Accepts all things, all forms of kin
Pain and purpose start to merge
All separations must converge
Truth flows through abandoned minds
Frees Love within all humankind