In last weeks Sacred Saturday post I wrote about strategies & tools to address SADS or seasonal depression in this article – Beating the Winter Blues.
Having these tools is totally useful, and I shared them because I use them myself and with my clients as needed.
And yet, while “nutraceuticals” & lifestyle practices can support mind/body balance short term, ultimately we need to address the root cause of our problems or we may find them coming up again and again, maybe in seemingly different and creative forms, but ultimately still rooted in the same unmet need.
As I mentioned in last weeks article I believe that a big part of the reason depression is on the rise in our society is a lack of what I call, ‘connective containers,’ where we can be held and safely express our grief for both the small and the large things we lose.
So what do we do about this aching societal, and sometimes very personal, problem?
Today’s post is about addressing depression on a deeper level.
It’s not a complete solution. I don’t think a blog post ever could be, but I do hope my words somehow inspire healing on a deeper level to unfurl in your being and/or those you love.
1. Stay connected – don’t isolate – find a safe space to express how you are feeling.
Often, simply speaking how we are feeling to another compassionate human being can be enough to bring some relief.
When we can receive empathy from another human being, it can help to take away the shame around our emotions and allow us to feel some sense of kinship & okay-ness.
One of the biggest places we can get stuck around healing isn’t always just the difficult feelings themselves, but the fear or shame of how we are feeling.
It’s the fear of the fear, or the shame of the shame, or feeling that there must be something wrong with us because we aren’t feeling rainbows, unicorns and beams of sunlight bursting through our psyche and may (especially as we near the winter solstice and the longest night of the year) instead be feeling rather under-worldly.
2. Self-compassion, especially for the broken, muddy and less glorious parts.
In his book, Entering the Healing Ground – Grief, Ritual and the Soul of the World, author and psychotherapist Francis Weller, says:
“It is in the inferior parts of our life that we will find redemption. This is so hard for us to accept in a culture driven by the demand for perfection. Still, it is in the outcasts, those parts of us that we have sent to the edges of awareness, that we will recover our true humanity, the layers of the soul life that can distill the shared truth of our mutual vulnerability. It is within… [these places] that we will touch our common inheritance of weakness, inadequacy, failure, and the host of experiences that undermine our culture’s heroic ideal. This is where we find our healing, in the broken terrain of our lives. In so doing, we are freed from the obsession with measuring up and getting it right. And it is through grieving for these despised pieces of life that we restore our humanity.”
In fact, being willing to ‘go to the under-world’ and feel the depths of the less-than-fabulously-joyful emotions is absolutely critical to healing, but we need a cultural context for this, and a container.
Gaining a cultural context to feel the depths of the “darker” emotions is not something any one of us can do on our own. We need to talk about this with our families and friends, and we need to build community around both having fun & playfullness AND deep grieving.
Martin Prechtel talks about how his own traditional indigenous community would feast together, and then they would grieve together as a kind of dessert.
And grief can be beautiful, as we remember the ones we hold in our hearts, including the parts of ourselves we may have forgotten.
Prechtel also talks about grief being the other side of the same coin with love, because when we truly deeply love someone or something, it is part of the package to also at some point lose that someone or something. Grief is part of the deal, we can’t have love without it.
The Beatles sang, “All we need is love…” over half a century ago, and while I agree that more Love is much needed in the world, I believe it is time we recognize that we cannot have love without making space for grief.
We need cultural containers for letting go – releasing – and for that to be acceptable and even a wonderful and celebrated thing.
3. Move Your Body
One of my favourite ways to release grief (and in this context by grief I mean any emotion other than pure joy & love) within our current cultural context is by moving my body.
Dance, Yoga & Somatics are all powerful ways to move energy and emotion (e-motion = energy in motion) through the body in a safe way.
It is important when we set the intention to move energy that we create a container, because otherwise it can feel unsafe. The limits created by the container create a sense of control, so we can let go within that container without fearing we may lose control completely and never come back!
One way to set a container for ourselves is through time. When we say, ‘okay, I’m going to dance, or practice yoga etc for 20 minutes, or one hour, or 5 minutes – or whatever feels like the right dosage for us, then we can let go completely into exploration and flow for that period of time.
Another way we can set a container for ourselves is through space. We can light a candle, put on some music, lock the doors, draw the curtains or do whatever we need to create a space that feels safe and inviting for our emotional selves.
So those are some ways we can create safe containers for ourselves, even within our current cultural context.
4. Find retreat in community. Ultimately it is still important for us to have spaces where we can move energy, and grief, together in community. One of the best ways I have found to do that is in retreat with other women, and a trauma/grief informed teacher who can create compassionate safe space.
The beautiful thing is, our nervous systems know how to grieve and release energy. They have been doing it for thousands of years. All we need is the right container, where our innate body wisdom receives the feedback that yes – ah – yes – it is safe for this energy to move here.
And the energy – e-motion – moves.
And then we have spaciousness, and more room for love.
On that note, I’m very exited to invite you to a day long solsttice-time retreat with one of my mentors, Elizabeth Claire Burr, here on Saltspring Island on Sunday December 17th.
If you’ve met Elizabeth then you know that she is one of the most light & love filled beings walking the planet, and that she also has deep roots in some powerful ancient practices which have led her on her own journey and to guide many others towards Awakening.
Awakening through Essential Yoga & Somatics
Light of Tara Retreat
with Elizabeth Claire Burr
Sunday, December 17th 2017
@ the Gatehouse, Stowel Lake Farm
$108 (registration details at bottom)
Stillness – Breath – Movement – Sound
Connect into the stillness of the Winter Solstice and bring the light of compassionate heart into unconscious patterns and conditioning in this one day retreat.
When we uncover the unconscious patterns creating suffering within us, and bring these patterns into the light of compassion, transformation happens.
TARA~ Tibetan Goddess of Compassion, teaches us to cultivate a compassionate heart for both ourselves and others. In this retreat we invoke Tara ~ compassionate heart.
Essential Yoga draws upon the elements of Vijnana Yoga, Hanna Somatics, Tibetan Buddhism and the field of Craniosacral Therapy. It is not only a practice but a vehicle for awakening.
Elizabeth Claire Burr is an inspired and skilled healer and facilitator. She is committed to helping her students awaken to their own true nature, which is Love. Elizabeth has been facilitating transformation through yoga for over 25 years. She is a certified Vijnana Yoga International teacher, ERYT, Cranio-sacral Therapist, Meditator. She is also cofounder of Rasa – a centre for healing arts in the Comox Valley.
Registration & Inquiries:
If you have questions please email email@example.com
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org ~*~