An exorcism happened here.
Depression once lived in this mind, many years ago.
Depression showed up in two ways.
1. A pale dullness; the grey emotional backdrop I had grown up with.
2. The deep blue melancholia which began showing up with greater and greater frequency, leading down into dark, wild depths of sadness.
This second variety was starting to interfere with life and cause increasing trouble.
I knew too much about the drugs and how they worked (and didn’t)
to trust any of them and their side effects.
With drugs, there arose curious questions, such as:
” Which is the ‘real’ me – the ‘depressed me’ or the ‘medicated me’ ? ”
” Am I more ‘authentic’ feeling depressed ? ”
” Am I really ‘healthier’ if am not depressed, even through reliance on a chemical crutch ? ”
For a while, took St. John’s Wort.
Felt considerably better.
But the questions remained.
And even St. John’s Wort has a side effect.
Back then, did some mantra meditation every morning.
Could feel the positivity last until about lunch, then wear off.
At some point, got involved with a group that practiced Tibetan Buddhism.
Tibetan Buddhism promotes practice of a profusion of visualization meditations.
Of these, the first that many new practitioners are directed to do is
Vajrasattva -the practice of purification.
The visualization is explained after an ” empowerment “,
a kind of ritual to convince one that this practice acts powerfully,
that it is fitting to begin and that it moves quickly to help dissolve negativity.
In other words, that it works.
I took up the Vajrasattva practice with gusto,
convinced that there was a great deal that needed purifying.
Self-blame, guilt, even self-hatred all hid in the darkness of this heart.
Vajrasattva practice acted like 10 000 scrubbing bubbles, scouring everything sparkling clean.
Again and again, like Hercules cleaning the Augean stables,(1) Vajrasattva washed away the reeking manure of negativity, anger and blame.
Another visualization which really helped [ one of the Lam rim series of visualizations ] involves broadcasting love, in the imagined form of whatever some suffering being wants or needs. In all six realms of Buddhist cosmology, every being suffers something and wants something to end the suffering.
Through the power of imagination, provide all beings with whatever they need to reduce their suffering and their want. Starting in the most unfortunate realm and traveling to the most fortunate, from the deepest hell to the highest heaven, giving in each realm from the wish to benefit and reduce suffering.
After this meditation, the heart chakra was filled with a great radiant warmth.
THIS was the kind of person I was, the kind that wishes others well !
I see now that I am a good and loving person !
Who knew ?! Somehow this simple fact had eluded notice in the suffocating, conceptual crapstorms that would darken the mind and obscure the heart.
Of the three things which had to occur to banish depression permanently, two had happened:
- Cleaning out negativity in the mental space. [ Vajrasattva purification]
- Filling the heart/mind with positivity. [ Love ]
The first step broke the imagined links with the past, and with a negative self image.
The second step filled the heart with love and joy through the practices of generosity and compassion.
The third step was ready.
One of the Tibetan Buddhist teachers put it this way: ” When delusions [negative mind states] come knocking on the door [of the mind], people invite them in, lie down and tell them to bring reinforcements ! ” *
Clearly, struggle for emotional supremacy in this mind was coming, and conditions were finally ready.
On a cloudy, grey Saturday morning, I awoke with a familiar heavy feeling.
It had been months since the last depressive episode.
The heaviness deepened, but my plan of attack was ready.
GET OUT OF MY MIND ! I bellowed into the caverns of thought.
The heaviness lifted !
For a few moments, it was taken aback.
A fight was not on its agenda.
Then the heaviness began creeping back in.
GET OUT !
Again the dark lifted.
As if it were puzzled, it slowly crept back.
OUT ! !!
A longer pause before the heaviness returned.
All morning long, back and forth, screwing up all the power that I could each time and roaring into the echo chamber of the mind, the dark heaviness was forcefully expelled, then flew back in.
Later, I would have to wait a few minutes to gather enough energy for a shout.
In those moments, I could feel the heaviness occupying it’s old seat in the heart chakra.
Not for much longer.
Before noon, with a final shove, the darkness fled, never to return.
That happened over ten years ago. The whole process took almost two years.
Flushed out negativity.
Filled the heart with love and positivity.
Exorcised a demon through focused determination, sheer willpower,
and a little help from a friend.
For another take on depression and spirituality: http://beyondmeds.com/2012/09/05/depression-spiritual-awakening/
For one link among many about Vajrasattva practice: http://www.angelfire.com/mt/thubtentenzin/vajrasattva.html
The empty cage pic comes from here : http://www.mmacagerentals.com/
The fighters in the cage comes from here: http://amateurcagefighting.wordpress.com/2011/04/29/michigansmmafightleagues/
Vajrasattva pic is from here: http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhism/A%20-%20Tibetan%20Buddhism/Subjects/Tantra/Practices-%20%28Sadhanas%20and%20commentaries%29/Vajrasattva/Vajrasattva%20meditation/Vajrasattva%20meditation%20and%20comments.htm
* Years later, my Thai meditation teacher would describe negative mind states as semi-autonomous, with their own agendas. Experience certainly bore that out !
(1) Hercules Fifth Labor: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Herakles/stables.html