(In a letter to a friend who asked about letting go and depression; personal references have been removed)
Depression is the opposite of love.
Depression is rage turned inward.
Depression is all our hard emotions we had in the past for which we were not fully present, turned inward.
I understand how you feel. I understand the utter numbness. It’s hard to be comfortable in your own skin. Whatever you are doing, you want to be doing something else. If you are with people, you want to be alone. You don’t have any energy. You can fake it for a while, but the energy to pretend becomes harder and harder to gather up. There is insomnia or too much sleeping. The things that seem to motivate other people become meaningless. You have forgotten what pleasure is.
You wonder how is it that other people manage. Are they just pretending? How is it that they are not questioning life? How do they go about their lives, day after day after day?
You don’t like sunny days because they urge you to feel better, when you cannot. You do not like people who tell you to be happy or positive or “snap out of it” because they have no idea what it really feels like.
You wonder if people have noticed. What do people think of me?
I know these feeling intimately.
To people who are depressed, I suggest to use the full arsenal at hand. There is nothing wrong with using medication, though many people, particularly of our background, may feel that medication is an admission of weakness. I have taken anti-depressants in the past and I would take them again if I thought they would help me. Medicate, use therapy, meditate, exercise, avoid the things and people who make you feel down. Allow yourself to be depressed–if you want to be alone, sleep, or whatever, allow yourself to do or not do without judgment or guilt.
Letting go is a simple practice, it’s very natural, but often there is resistance to it. The resistance shows up as “I need to understand more” or “it’s too simple to work” or “I don’t know what it is that I’m supposed to let go of.”
Some people have obvious emotions that go with depression, such as anger or loneliness or sadness or anxiety. I had anxiety. The mechanism of anxiety is so very obvious and demanding, that it can’t be ignored so in a sense it’s easier to get a hold of to release.
In depression, often emotions are numbed, so it’s a little harder to get hold of an emotion to let it go.
Letting go, ironically is all about allowing.
What do you think when you hear “allowing” and “letting go”?
If you look at the concepts of “letting go” and “allowing” you will find that you already have a bunch of judgments about them. They may seem weak, passive, lazy, giving-up-control, wishy-washy kind of concepts. You are used to hard work and control. Your judgments about these concepts have to do with the deep fear that if you slow down, or stop pushing hard, or simply expect life to be easy, the whole house of cards will collapse.
Allowing, with patience and love, is however the most essential part of living and growing.
For two years, I went through a period of very low-energy and self-isolation. I wasn’t unhappy, but nothing seemed to be happening in life. I would have rather been alone than with people. I would rather have been doing nothing than doing something.
My lesson at that time was to be allow, be patient, with love. To watch, with awareness.
It isn’t always easy to remain in stillness and allow and watch because all our conditioning screams at us to do something. Do something, get up, change yourself, be better. Even in depression when it isn’t easy to get up and do something, the feeling that you should nevertheless persists.
When you are able to allow yourself and people and events and life and situations to be as they already are—without judging or wishing for change, you begin to understand the immense power of allowing and letting go.
You may not understand what it is that you have to let go of—most of us don’t—but you can still practice allowing and letting go.
Use it for the smallest emotions. Use it for the sense of dread you may feel for having to go to work, or to be with people when you don’t want to, or when you are somewhere where you don’t want to be. Try it for that funny feeling you may have at night before you go sleep when you wonder what is this all about. Is this all there is? Try it for that feeling that comes up which asks, what is it that I am missing in life? What is it about me that is broken? Try it for these little, vague feelings of uneasiness.
When your mind objects and says it doesn’t understand or needs to know more or it doesn’t know what it is that it should let go of, look at the judgments your mind has about letting go. Let go of that resistance.
I will publish an article about a breathing-release technique soon which you can also try, and you may also want to look at this allowing meditation: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Adyashantis-Meditation-Allowing-Everything-to-Be-As-It-Is