spirit |╦łspirit|
1 the nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character; the soul
2 those qualities regarded as forming the definitive or typical elements in the character of a person, nation, or group or in the thought and attitudes of a particular period
1 convey rapidly and secretly

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dealing with Depression and Anxiety

There are a lot of theories about how to treat depression and anxiety but few theories on why these emotional rollercoasters show up in our life in the first place. A lot of people that experience depression and anxiety report that there lives aren't all that different than earlier times in their life when they didn't have these same experiences.

So what gives? Why would depression and anxiety suddenly show up in our lives?

If you're going to live your life believing that your body is merely a regulator of blood flow, hormones and endorphins then you'll probably conclude that your wiring isn't right. In this approach, we believe that our bodies used to keep us in balance but has stopped functioning correctly. Similar to a car's oil leak, it is as if we believe our brains are incorrectly leaking out the "panic" fluid at random times in our lives.

Or there is the theory that anxiety and depression are normal reactions to what is going on in our lives. The solution so goes that if we change what is going on in our lives, the conditions will subside. But as many have found, our lives are incredibly difficult to change. And even when they do, often these conditions remain.

And so it is no wonder that we've started medicating our way to a solution. Doctors, therapists and psychologists don't really know what is causing our depression or anxiety but they surely know how to prescribe drugs to mask the conditions.

In all these scenarios you are the victim. You've got a faulty emotional regulator, your life is out of control, or you're not coping with life. It is so easy for those that don't deal with anxiety and depression to label you as broken since they don't have these "issues." Don't you just love advice from people that aren't as broken as you are?

But let me propose an alternative theory. What if you're not broken, but rather not paying attention?

To understand this theory, first conceptualize that you are not "you" but rather a collective you consisting of different "parts." You have three parts known as the Body, Spirit and Mind.

Hold on a second before you write this off as some metaphysical love theory that can't make a real difference in your life. Hear me out and I guarantee I'll share with you a theory of conquering anxiety and depression that you can test in your life.

Let's quickly go over each part:

The Body - this one is easy, it's that physical part of you. Skin, bones, blood, brain...all the physical stuff.

The Mind - this one is a bit harder, but the easiest way to conceptualize your Mind is to recognize it as that voice in your head. You know, the voice in your head that won't shut-up? Yeah, that voice that right now is saying, "What voice?"

The Spirit - ah, the hardest part of you to conceptualize because it isn't physical nor is it constrained to your physical body. Some people call this a soul and most religions hold the Spirit to be that immortal part of you that lives on after you die.

The Body~Mind is where we focus most of our time and energy. In the most simple understanding, the Mind thinks and the Body follows the instructions (e.g. I'm hungry, goto the refrigerator). And since this is where most human beings spend their time, we wrongly assume that this is all we are. We believe we are that voice in our head and the actions it commands our Body to do.

And this is where medical and psychological science is stuck. Therapy attempts to rewire our Minds and pharmaceuticals attempt to rewire our Bodies. But neither are dealing with the root cause of why we're anxious or depressed in the first place.

Whereas your Mind is constrained to your physical Body, your Spirit is not similarly constrained. Your Spirit exists with God and is not bound by the dimensions of our Universe. As such, your Spirit is directly connected to God and other enlightened beings.

And thus we have this framework of our Spirit being both part of us and watching over us. Your Spirit is thus in a wonderful position to help you achieve your hope and dreams. To do this, your Spirit is directing to you all the life-force energy of God necessary for you to succeed. This same energy that powers everything in the Universe is also available to us in order to fuel our pursuit and accomplishment of purpose.

And there you are (presumably not paying attention). This same life force energy is being channeled to you and, without being put to use, it builds up inside of you. This excess energy plays havoc with our Bodies and mental states. And just like your home's electrical system, when too much energy builds up... we blow a fuse.

Does this sound like anxiety?

And similarly when we're depressed we're experiencing a lack of this life force energy. It isn't so much that your Spirit isn't providing you with everything you need to succeed, but rather without the channels of communication being open to your Spirit...the energy isn't finding its way to you. And without this life force energy flowing through us, we find ourselves unable to muster the energy to accomplish the simplest of tasks.

Does this sound like depression?

So instead of approaching anxiety and depression from a point of being broken, consider them an awakening to the imbalance of your Body, Spirit and Mind. Without proper balance of these three parts of you, energy management is not within your grasp. But by harnessing the life force energy of God and channeling it for the accomplishment of purpose... our hopes and dreams are well at hand.

Chopra is correct that medicating our way through anxiety and depression is not the answer. At the very time where our Bodies and Minds are awakening us to the presence of our Spirit in our lives, we're dumbing down our senses by medicating our Body and Mind. So instead of medicating away anxiety and depression, try and leverage this life force energy by recognizing its mismanagement as the cause of anxiety and depression.

For anxiety, connect with the Spirit's aspirations to unite humanity. Take that excess energy building up within you and put it to use in service of others. Yes, I know it is easier to take a pill. But instead volunteer at your local food bank (nothing heroic, just go cut carrots one morning). By putting this excess energy to work for the betterment of mankind, you'll bring yourself back to a place of balance.

For depression, recognize that in order to receive more energy you must first nurture your connections to Spirit. Put some time into re-connecting with your faith in a new way. Returning to the familiar may not be what you need. Check out a new group within your religious community or deepen your knowledge of your religion. So too open up the communications between the Body and the Spirit by investing in your Body (that's right, exercise and eating right). In this, you're pushing energy from the Body to the Spirit and pulling energy from the Spirit to the Mind. Think of it as oiling a machine that hasn't run for years.

It is impossible to work in this space without recognizing two techniques that will greatly help you regulate the energy flowing between the Body, Spirit and Mind:
  • Yoga - which actually means the balance or union of the Body, Spirit and Mind.
  • Meditation - bringing the Body and Mind to peace
I'm a big believer in these two approaches but don't consider them tools. In order to balance, you first open up the lines of communication between your Body, Spirit and Mind. And then, these techniques will both connect and awaken you to a more sensitive awareness of yourself. And that is where you'll never return to the states of anxiety and depression.

This is but a small posting on the topic. I deal with these concepts in depth in my book Inspiration Divine and the Awakening Inspiration Workshops. I'm here to help. That's my purpose.


Darwin Stephenson

"When it comes to depression and anxiety, a prescription may not be the only answer."
- What You Can Do To Cope with Depression - Deepak Chopra - Oprah.com (view on Google Sidewiki)

Your Energy is Infinite and This is Why

In Inspiration Divine, I write about how energy flows into our Universe from God and is available to power us to achieve our hopes and dreams. So when I find other authors touching on this topic, I'm encouraged that Humanity is awakening to this understanding of life:

What I'm suggesting is that everyone needs a supply of energy that is renewable, vibrant, unstressful and uplifting. Such an energy supply is within you. It's your spiritual energy, and it comes from everywhere. The universe is grounded in infinite energy—I don't think anyone would argue that—and throughout the world's wisdom traditions, sages and teachers echo the same truth: You are the universe. The mystic Persian poet Rumi puts it beautifully when he reminds us that we aren't a drop in the ocean; we are the ocean in a drop. - Deepak Chopra

I find this to be a blessed understanding of our symbiotic relationship with all forms of life including God.

The second law of thermodynamics demonstrates that energy cannot be consumed but rather only converted into another form. For example, the potential energy of gasoline isn't consumed inside your car engine but rather forces the piston which, in turn, accelerates your car along the road. The energy doesn't disappear but it is dissipated to a point where it cannot collectively perform any useful work. In science, this is referred to as entropy and our entire Universe operates accordingly. And just like your gasoline tank, the Universe in which we live should be slowing down as the energy that propels its expansion dissipates. In short, we should be observing the de-acceleration of our Universe's expansion.

But that isn't what we're observing. On the contrary, several million years ago our Universe actually reversed its de-acceleration and started accelerating. But that doesn't jive with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In a closed system, the expansive energy should dissipate as entropy increases. In layman's terms, as this energy fuels the expansion of our Universe, it is dissipated and thus would be unavailable to perform any useful work. Thus our Universe's expansion should be either constant or decreasing. But paradoxically it is increasing.

It isn't that the Second Law is invalid but rather that our Universe isn't a closed system. God isn't contained within our Universe and thus exists outside of our Universe. When we fulfill our purpose, God provides us with more energy to fuel the expansion of our Universe and power all life within the Universe. The energy flowing into our Universe causes our Universe to expand.

In contrast, if we were to not fulfill our purpose God wouldn't provide us with this life force energy. We can deduce from this relationship that we, as a species, are fulfilling our purpose. Otherwise our Universe wouldn't be expanding.

In Inspiration Divine, I discuss what that purpose is but irrespective of my perspective you can apply this model of the Universe, God and Humanity to your understanding. Whatever you think God calls us to do, you can correlate that 'purpose' to our symbiotic relationship to God. In fulfilling this purpose, we are living in harmony with God and thus in his grace.

The question becomes, "Are you pursuing your individual purpose or are you living off of the grace of others?"

The energy we need to be healthy, happy and enlightened is available in exchange for working for our purpose. This energy is naturally attracted to those pursuing their purpose and living in harmony. And therefor everything you need is available to you.

Thus it is high time you discovered your individual purpose and work towards achieving it. Large or small, your purpose calls you to act and achieve.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Believing is not the Truth, but it is the path to your Truth.

If you think about it, each and every one of us is somewhere along the path of a spiritual awakening. While some sleep peacefully in slumber, others have awoke in the middle of the dream to wrestle with everything that the evolution of consciousness has to offer. And while the destination may seem far away at times, somehow you know that the truth is right in front of your eyes.

The great Indian sage Padmasambhava once said:

Confident faith allows blessings to enter you.
When you have no doubt, whatever you wish can be achieved.

Notice that he didn't say, "If you have faith, you can have whatever you desire." Padmasambhava isn't so much distinguishing that faith itself is the key to what we desire, but rather that our believing is what allows blessings to enter us. In this, we are called to pause our logical distinctions of right/wrong, correct/incorrect or even Divine/evil and instead live fully in our faith. Outside of dogma and religion, this path to the Divine invites us to connect with Spirit regardless of method, rules or scripture.

And while this may seem risky to those that believe the path to God is wrought with trappings, each and every one of us has experienced that Divine connection that is isolated in a moment of peace. In that spontaneous connection that came about through any number of circumstances, standing in that moment we felt the love of God come through and touch the very essence of our soul. As fleeting as that moment may have been, the true experience in that moment was devoid of any repeatable process. In trying to recreate and sustain this connection, our logical minds attempt to deduce the formula that lead to this beautiful moment of enlightenment. In this, we step away from Spirit and enter back into the domain of the Mind and again find ourselves wrestling with right/wrong, correct/incorrect and even Divine/evil.

For those that are asleep and those that have attained enlightenment, these are nothing more than the struggles of those that seek a Spiritual existence. Comfortably snuggled in for a long winter's nap, those that have yet to truly begin their journey cannot even begin to process these concepts for they are entirely governed by the logical ways of the Mind. Stepping outside of process, method and dogma is unconventional to those that believe the path to the Divine is structured. And for those that seek a true relationship, following those that reduce God to a rulebook of behavior is akin to the blind leading the blind.

But herein are the trappings that perpetuate our own slumber. Finding fault in the ways of others bring us no closer to a union with the Divine. Regardless of truth, those that confidently believe are truly on the path of a spiritual awakening. In this, we can see that each and every one of us are called to a direct and living relationship with God. And while our logical minds love to divide everything into buckets of right and wrong, the truth of confident faith shows us that the Buddhist, Christian and Muslim all can and do find God.

For the moment, step outside of your Mind's inclination to see this from your own beliefs. Recognize that God is regardless of what we think and thus our beliefs are simply pathways to the Divine. Devoid of a life based on judgment, we can explore this relationship through the eyes of a child. Seeking the connection, rather than the path itself, actually puts us on the path. But moving along the path brings us face to face with our true self. The difference between partially believing and confidently believing is truly what illuminates a journey filled with or without friction.

And so the true seeker comes back to the realization that their faith can be enriched anywhere. Regardless of church, mosque or sitting under the bodhi tree, those with confident faith find a connection to the Divine. And by staying in a Spiritual existence, we can continue this journey without walking away from our cultural and religious heritage. Knowing that it is the relationship rather than the process, brings you back to the pew. Your faith knows no boundaries and allows blessings to enter you because you believe rather than what you believe.