Dealing with Depression

I recently made a comment in another persons website about one of the ways I deal with depression so I thought I would share it here.
I have an approach called Focusing which I learned from my teacher Tom Brown Jr. (which approach I received by going out and going to Wilderness Survival classes at Trackerschool). The concept of focusing is also taught in a basic way in a book called Focusing, but Tom took us further in the exercise.
First, you get yourself in a quiet place away from others, preferably in nature, be quiet for a minute, just enjoying relaxing, then after a few minutes, ask yourself, “How am I feeling?” and surrender to the first feeling that comes up. If the first feeling that comes up is, “Fine, I feel fine.” Say to yourself, “No, really, how are you REALLY feeling?” Then in a VERY LOVING, NON JUDGMENTAL way, you say, “That’s good to know!” Then you ask, “Why am I feeling this way?”, and surrender to the answer that comes to you. Again, no judgement, only love and understanding. Say, “Well, that’s good to know!.”
Next, you set that feeling off to the side and you say to yourself, “Great, now aside from that, How am I feeling?” and surrender to the next feeling that comes up. Once you identify the next feeling, in a very loving, understanding, non judgmental way, say to yourself, “Good, that’s good to know. So why am I feeling this way?” Surrender to the answer and acknowledge that answer with love and understanding.
Next, you set those first feelings aside and say to yourself, “OK, Aside from those, How am I feeling?” Surrender to the answer. Again, in a very loving understanding way say to yourself, “Good, that’s good to know! Now, why am I feeling this way?” Surrender to the answer and acknowledge it with gratitude.
Tom told us to peel back AT LEAST 4 layers of feelings as a minimum, but he also told us, “When you think you have gone as far as you can go, keep going.”
More likely you will find many, many layers of feelings and reasons why.
This is peeling back the layers that make up that confusing mix of feelings which may be making you feel stuck, depressed, or confused. Bringing the individual emotions up and the why’s behind them, is healing because those feelings are being acknowledged in a very understanding way. There are reasons why we feel the way we do.
The first time I did this exercise we were given 45 minutes. I kept being distracted after the first 10 minutes or so. We were each sitting out in nature away from anyone else. It was very difficult to stay on task of peeling back the layers of feelings, but each layer was a revelation to one degree or another. I had no idea each of those individual feelings were carrying on at the same time, contributing to how I was feeling overall. It’s almost funny, looking back, I would uncover a feeling and the way behind it, and get caught up in thoughts about it and completely forget I was doing an exercise! Then I would remember, and almost be startled that I had forgotten that fact! Then I would go to the next layer. Going deeper was difficult for some reason. I couldn’t imagine there could be another layer, but there always was! And the deeper I got, the more surprised I was at what feeling was in that layer (I kept going with dogged determination because I paid a lot of money for that class and I wasn’t about to waste any of my time learning all I could)!!
Then the jewel . . . under all the feelings, I found myself. I had no idea until then who I really was. I can’t describe to you how I felt when I saw myself for who I really am, but I can say it was good, and I couldn’t stop weeping in absolute joy!
When they called us back in to the lecture hall, I couldn’t stop crying. Tom said, “It’s about time you got rid of all that sh#*!” I don’t know if he understood I was crying for joy or not, but the experience was life changing.
Before Tom sent us out to do this exercise, he told us to write down the feelings and the why’s as they came up. Once the exercise was done, he had us go through the list of feelings and circle the one that felt the most important to us. For many the most important feeling was not the first one we felt come up. He had us circle it and write a little #1 by it. Then we went through the list again, looking for the one that felt most important aside from the first feeling that was circled. When we found the next one that felt most important, we circled it and put a #2 by it. We continued circling and numbering the feelings until we felt we had circled all the important ones.
By doing the second half of this exercise, circling the most important feelings to us, we might be surprised which feelings are most important or strongest, and which feelings that have not been circled are clouding or hiding our most important feelings.
Some logistics:
Sometimes the same feeling may come up more than once. Typically because of a different “Why?” That’s fine just write it down.
Sometimes we may hover with a feeling for awhile before wanting or being able to move on to the next one. That’s perfectly all right, that feeling just needs a little more time to be acknowledged before setting it to the side and moving on to the next feeling.
Sometimes you may not have any feeling come up. That has happened to me more than once in the past. What I do is say to myself, “OK, that feeling is not ready to be seen, or I am not ready to see it . . . that’s good to know.” and I set it aside and move to the next one.
The most important thing to remember is to not be judgmental of yourself for your feelings. They are there and they are valid to you because you are feeling them. There will most likely be baggage contributing to some of your feelings, and that is all great and part of the layers you’re peeling back. It is all good. Digging deep, through it all, is a very introspective approach, and therapeutic, and healing.
One of the things that makes this exercise such a jewel to me is that underneath all the feelings, I found the purity of me. I don’t know if others will experience the same thing, but I do believe that under all those emotions and reasons for the feelings, our true selves exist: pure, beautiful, amazing, powerful, undimmed, and beyond description. So peel away, be patient, enjoy the comfort of being able to feel your feelings and love yourself fully and unconditionally no matter what you are feeling. There is a reason you have your feelings, and you can be a comfort to yourself, but your feelings are not you. You are underneath all the feelings, at the core. YOU are truly amazing!
At one time I thought that if I only know who I really was, spiritually, I would be able to handle anything. I have to admit that has not been the case. I still struggle and find myself knocked off balance. I still get depressed at times, always because I fear something. I can say, however, peeling back the feelings and getting the mix separated out, helps me identify what’s really going on. Awareness in an incredible tool.
Thanks for letting me share, and I hope you can try this for yourself!

Peeling Back The Negatives, Finding our True Childlike Joy

I have used the tool of focusing that I explained in my blog called “Do ya ever just not wanna get outta bed?  “Focusing” will tell you why.” many times since learning the meditation in Trackerschool almost 10 years ago.  The meditation is getting easier for me and I am more quickly able to pinpoint the problems and the good things I am looking for to assist me in my life.

I woke from a wonderful dream this morning which held all sorts of hope and confidence symbols, to a day clear of scheduled duties and full of possibilities, but a feeling of being overwhelmed and not up to the opportunities.

After feeding my horses and letting them out, taking the dog out, and setting up my computer, without any change in my feelings, I decided to peel back the layers and get to the bubbling over excitement and unrepentant confidence I knew was in there because I had felt it so recently!  So I lay back on my couch as my computer was warming up . . . my meditation went something like this:

“How am I feeling?”  I surrendered to the answer with no judgement, only love and acceptance, and waited for the first feeling to arise like dew forms on grass.  It took awhile for me to identify the feeling, it just looked like a carpet of darkness all over me and the landscape around me.  After several moments of being in that darkness I understood what the feeling was.

“I’m feeling inadequate, ‘less than’, incapable.”

“Why, why am I feeling that way?” I asked myself, again with only love and understanding, no judgement.

Again I waited in the feeling for awhile.  The understanding was not quick or easy in coming, and even when the answer came I was a bit surprised.  “I’m feeling this way because I have been taught since childhood not to trust myself, my feelings.  I was taught to look to others for approval, for what my path should be, for how I should be feeling.”

After sitting with that understanding for a minute I said to myself, without judgement, only acceptance and love, “OK, that’s good to know.”  I proceeded to attempt to set the darkness aside so I could go to the next layer but it really didn’t want to go.

I wondered why the darkness of inadequacy didn’t want to go.  I felt reluctant to force it to go.  I felt like maybe something bad would happen if I made it leave.  I wondered if I would be hurt somehow, ripped apart somehow, incomplete somehow, if it was gone.  Then I remembered I was just setting it aside.  But I also remembered that setting it aside often healed it and sometimes it didn’t come back.  I wondered if setting it aside was like giving it to God.  I wondered if giving the darkness to God is what the scripture means when it says to cast your burden on the Lord.  I tried it by saying, “Here God,” and imagined the darkness going to the light. It went, but very slowly, almost reluctantly or doubtfully, and I wondered if that was my doubt, or even my fear of being incomplete without it.  I wondered if I had been too hasty in setting it aside, maybe I had more to learn from it. . . maybe . . . anyway . . .

Next I asked, “Aside from that, How am I feeling?”

I was a little bit surprised when I found I was feeling afraid.

I asked why and surrendered.

“I am afraid I will fail, than I will know I was inadequate, not good enough.”

“OK, that’s good to know,” I said, meaning it and so grateful for that understanding!  I thought about giving that to God too, but wondered if setting it aside myself is the same thing, in a way.  I set it aside and it was easier that the first darkness of inadequacy.

Next I asked, “Aside from those, how am I feeling?”

This was the layer I had been looking for; buried under the layers of self doubt and fear.  I could see all the pictures in my mind, the colors I have been playing with for a project I am working on, the sketches I have been making, the shapes, the compositions, the textures!  This layer of feeling held the excitement of creation and joy!  “I feel energy, creative, full of life and ideas!  I don’t care if I make mistakes, it will be fun!”

“Why?”

“Because this is living, wondering, experiencing, tasting, smelling, making, seeing, doing, touching, trying, showing, talking, smiling, laughing, hugging, sharing, energy, everything.”

This layer isn’t hampered by fear, negativity, or self doubt.  This layer is pure.  This layer is more who we really are. This is the light that we are.  This is the layer I want to live my life from and I just had to get past the film of negativity to find it again.  I believe this layer is always in there, for everyone.  We simply (or sometimes not so simply) have to make the effort to find it under the other layers.  Focusing is a great tool to help with that!

I will forever be grateful to my teacher Tom Brown Jr. for his teachings and his healing methods we students benefitted from.