Focusing Away Depression

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I awoke today frustrated about how I was feeling.  For the past few days I have been feeling depressed and overwhelmed.  I wanted to call my daughters and whine about it, but I couldn’t find my phone.  I thought about going to see my therapist but remembered I have all the tools I need, I don’t really need my therapist for this; I guess I just wanted to complain to someone.

“I need to focus” I reminded myself.  Focusing is a technique I learned from my teacher Tom Brown Jr. and the basics of which are also described in a book called “Focusing”.

I lay down on my bed to begin the meditation, and there was my phone!  I chuckled to myself because I realized that I simply need to focus instead of relying on the crutch of complaining to my family, and that is why I couldn’t find my phone!

Focusing is like peeling back the layers of emotion, one by one, to see what is going on in that mix of emotions you might be feeling.

I began by asking myself, kindly and gently as a loving mother might, “How are you feeling?” and the first layer popped up.

“I am feeling angry!” came the feeling.  There was roaring and screaming and gnashing of teeth inside me.  I let myself feel it.

“Why?” I asked.

I was surprised that there were so many things I was angry about and they were all swirling around me: Too many things I want to do; Overwhelmed by all of it; Can’t get things done fast enough; Don’t even want to do them; Angry that I have to; People I have been angry with even popped up . . . it was like everything I have ever been angry about was there.  It felt sharply painful in the center of my chest.

“OK, that’s good to know,” I said to myself, reassuringly, trying not to get stuck in this first layer and remember the next step.  Oh yeah . . . “Now, set that first layer aside . . . and aside from that, how am I feeling?”

I let the anger move up and out of me and I felt for the next layer.  “I’m feeling depressed.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I feel ineffectual, like there are so many things I feel like I am supposed to do: build my art studio, finish the barn, learn the edible and medicinal plants, work on genealogy, do school with the kids, run errands, make food, lose weight, clean the house, etc. and I have so little energy.  I feel like a failure.”

“OK, that’s good to know,” I tell myself.  “Now, aside from that, how am I feeling?”

I let the second layer move up and out of me and I felt for the third layer.  I felt a glimmer of timid joy.

“Why?” I asked, “Why am I feeling this little bit of joy?”

“I love color,” was the answer.

“Tell me more,” I asked.

“I love making art, I LOVE working with color!” The feeling of joy was getting stronger.  I began blissfully thinking about making a scarf, and began designing it in my mind.  I started thinking about the necklaces, and tunics, I have been designing in my mind the past week or so.

I had stopped working on art after the art fair because I was spending all my time with organizing and working on the household and the building projects and had not made any art since before the fair.

I felt guilty even thinking about making art because of all the other things I felt like I was supposed to do.

Somehow I have to find a balance.

I can stop beating myself up and forcing myself to spend my time entirely on chores.  I can have the fun time in order to balance everything out and be happy.  In fact, the joyous pursuits can be my main focus and everything else can fit into the nooks and crannies around the fun.  Why not?  After all, I came to Oregon to heal my mind and body, and what better way than to live in joy?

I didn’t need to go any further in my layers today, even though I know there are many more amazing layers, because I found my answer.  I feel relieved and happy, looking forward to making art and balancing my life better.

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