Feeling Depressed? Maybe you’re just self absorbed. ~ Catrina McFate

Via elephant journal
on Apr 19, 2010
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“Everybody hurts, sometimes” claims R.E.M., and we all know it’s true.

But sometimes we just can’t seem to stop hurting and get out of our mental rut. It has been estimated by the Mental Health Association that some 19 million people in the US are affected by depression each year.

Why is this?

Spiritual teacher Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, says that it’s because our mind is fixated on thoughts of,

“What about me?,” “What about me?,” “What about me?”

In fact, many spiritual teachers have said similar things. According to the great Indian Bodhisattva, Shantideva:

If you want to be happy, you should never seek to please yourself. Instead, we should seek to bring joy to others.

Buddha’s prescription for happiness is to forget yourself and love others. His Holiness the Dalai Lama says: People who have the tendency to use more self-referential terms (I, me, myself) tend to have more health problems and earlier deaths. Being self-absorbed has an immediate effect of narrowing one’s focus and blurring one’s vision.

A part of us already knows that self-obsession can lead to a downward spiral. The other part has a hard time letting go of our ego driven mindset because quite frankly, we are unaware that it even exists. Let’s face the facts of our inner world. When we are having a bad day, where is our mind? Are we aware? If we do become aware of our mind we find that it is usually not thinking about how to save the world or how to help others.  Most of the time, it is thinking things like, “Why did this happen to me?” or, “If I just get this over with, then I will relax!” or, “He/She always does this to me!”  We are victims of our own minds.  We could be in a tropical paradise and not care or notice because we are in an egotistical, self-absorbed, complaining mode. Have you experienced this?

So what is the solution? Here are a few key concepts that Sri Sri encourages us to remember:

1.    Things are always changing. Your mind and emotions will not remain at the same intensity or quality for more than a couple of days.

2.    When your ‘prana,’ or energy, is low your mind can get depressed. If any of the four sources of energy are not replenished or in balance your energy may be low. These are food, sleep, the breath, and a calm meditative state of mind. The subtleties to how these sources of energy work within each of us depends on our level of awareness and our experiences. Pay attention to how they affect your life and take an Art of Living Course to learn how to practice breathing and other techniques which increase the ‘prana’ and harmonize our inner and outer existence.

3.  Ask: “How may I be of service?” Ask this question everywhere you go. Helping others gets us out of our head and into our heart. It helps us to recognize that we all need help and have hard times. Isn’t that true? Also, notice how you take responsibility for the things you feel belong to you. When you have a sense of belonging to the whole world you will always find a way to be of service. And you will expand within, and return to inner happiness and flow.

What I like about these points and techniques is that they are so tangible, and allow us to get out of our head and into the real world.

All of this is taught in the Art of Living course. This is a course that’s for everyone—it’s about managing the ups and down in life which we experience within us. It’s about creating a smile that never breaks, by living fully in the present moment and feeling a sense of belonging to everyone.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, a large volunteer-based and quickly growing non-profit. In just under 30 years, the Art of Living foundation has reached 20 million people in over 140 countries (no small feat). His mission is simple: to create a lasting smile on everyone’s face. And…to create a violence-free, stress-free world. Sound too good to be true? Sri Sri believes it is possible and will happen. He tirelessly travels the world bringing his message of inner peace and outer dynamic social action to nation after nation.

In the early eighties, Sri Sri developed the ‘Sudarshan Kriya’, a powerful breathing technique taught in Art of Living Course. He says that just a few minutes of this Sudarshan Kriya practice done daily will cleanse our mind of past impressions and stresses, creating a sense of harmony in the body, mind and spirit.

The Art of Living course however, is not for the timid. It pushes you to question your personal comfort zone and encourages you to willingly stretch outside of it. It helps you to grow into the person you’ve always aspired to be, rather than staying stuck in the mud of old limitations. Sri Sri believes we all have that ability—we all have that ‘Bigness’ inside of us.

One of the best ways to discover it is through seva or selfless service; to always ask the question “What can I do for you?”

*** Warning / Disclaimer: This article in no way is intended to treat or cure an conditions or diseases. It is not written by a mental health expert, just a normal person who would like to put out a new perspective that may help someone (but there are no guarantees and it may take a long time to learn how to use the technique in here effectively). The technique of being selfless may only be effective as a preventative tool and may not be useful when you are already severely depressed. By no means, does this article cover the wide range of issues that come along with clinical depression or other forms of depression and was intended to only assist in the personal discovery of the average day to day sad feelings that people to often get. The author is making no claims that this is the only way in or out of depression or that depression is a simple topic.

Catrina McFate has been studying health and healing since she was 14 years old.  She is founder of Naturally Me Health Coaching (certified by the AADP) and is a teacher for the Art of Living Foundation.

srisri-banner-150x300Join Sri Sri for an evening of wisdom and meditation entitled World Peace through Inner Peace in Denver on Tuesday, April 20th at the Seawell Ballroom in the Denver Center for Performing Arts, and in Boulder on Wednesday April 21st at Naropa University’s Nalanda Event Center. Tickets and information are available by calling 720-984-1108 or at www.events.artofliving.org.

The Art of Living offers yoga classes, evening and weekend workshops and grassroots service projects throughout Colorado, the US and in over 140 countries.  Get involved!

“Sri Sri Interviewed during Israeli Peace Mission”


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80 Responses to “Feeling Depressed? Maybe you’re just self absorbed. ~ Catrina McFate”

  1. Im great grateful for that too. :O) I have Faith that not all people are looking for the negative and will see sri sri's work for what it is… amazing :O) and all the great masters doing work on this planet for that matter. Including many Buddhist, Christian and Muslim teachers and any others I my be forgetting .

  2. there no need to put yourselves down. I have no idea where all your anger toward sri sri is coming from. If someone from the art of living has done something to you personally I apologize for them. I can honestly say it is not it is not a reflection of his teaching. I'm open to all faiths and no one is better then anyone else. sorry if this article rubbed you the wrong way. It could have been more mindfully written.

  3. elaine says:

    This is where I am coming from. I grew up in a cult and my cult-dar screams when I see groups like this. I do not want this to devolve into a convo on what a cult is and are all cults harmful? When the radar goes off, and it can be any type of group, not just religious/spiritual, I need to honor that feeling and do the research for the benefit of those who are on the fence or may have doubts. Any open group will accept honest criticism, a closed group will not.

    My question to you, Johann, is why are you so threatened by the criticism of your group? And did you know that your responses are symptomatic of a cult member? One, you are so attached to your guru, you cannot hear any criticism of him. Two, that you feel responsible for the actions of other members.

    Johann, if this path is working for you, great! Keep on doing it! But others have not had your experience and their voices are valid as well and have a right to be heard.

  4. There have been cries of abuse, and actual abuse, in the spiritual communities I have been a part of. People I know personally have been hurt. Hence my concern.

    Be well my friend,

  5. Peace to you.

  6. Greg says:

    Catrina, I thought the article was helpful and "on the money."

    It is ironic that supporters of the pharmaceutical industry (and its wholly-supported distribution network of psychiatry) would attack spiritual teachers who provide a more effective, long-lasting, and side-effect-free path to well-being.

    The Buddha, for one, taught the crushing nature of samsara. When one dismisses such sound education and practice with warnings that "depression is more serious" and it is "a complex condition" and it is a "biological condition", one simply comments on the overwhelming nature of samsara and on the depth of clinging and attachment to which a person can descend.

    The path out of the ditch is the same no matter how deeply mired in the muck one becomes. In my humble opinion, the bad advice is that of pharmaceutical psychiatry: "You have no control. Your condition is biological. Drugs are the only solution. You are only a bio-robot and we, the experts, must set your chemical mix in order for you to function." These concepts are damaging and promote more depression than they cure. A society addicted to anti-depressants is not an enlightened society and eventually no longer a free society.

    Keep flapping those beautiful wings Sri Sri.

  7. Catrina says:

    just because some gurus do this does not mean they all do or that Sri Sri is doing this. Even though you did not agree with it or like it because of who said the quotes, you can not deny that it is useful information for many people and that gurus of many traditions have used similar words.

    Many people have also enjoyed the article and noted how it opened their mind. We all have an opinion and it is good to be able to share those opinions but the truth is that no one opinion can be truth here. We all have a history that leads us to believe what we do now. Our history has obviously been quite different.

    Relax and be happy! People will believe what they want in the end. Our minds change all the time, its a very unreliable source. lol! We all must agree to disagree and in the end see that we all have a good heart and good intention. Peace

  8. jody says:

    The path out of the ditch is the same no matter how deeply mired in the muck one becomes.

    Yes, through the muck. There's no going around it, as Sri Sri would like you to believe. His is a simpleton's path that only leads to his own glory, and a little temporary peace of mind for as much of your money as he can get.

    Caveat emptor.

  9. I am neither confirming nor denying the claims made in the two websites I linked to, for I have no further information. All I did was provide links to another perspective.

  10. johann says:

    This has nothing to with my attachment to a guru. It has to do with my frustration about the way you were using this article as a segue into slandering an organization based on 2 blogsites that have not been validated. If you feel you have the right to make assertions about a teacher or the Art of Living organization, you should know first hand that your assertions are true, and aren't just basing it on a hunch.

    To clarify, I never said that I felt responsible for other people actions, merely that I was sorry if someone had a bad experience.

    Is this organization perfect? No. Are there some bad apples? I'm sure, not unlike pretty much every organization on the planet (not just in the spiritual world). Is it an abusive organization? Far from it. It is doing great work around the world which I can speak to first hand, and which has been recognized by global leaders – including President Bush, President Clinton, Ban Key Moon, Joe Biden, the President of India, the King of Ghana, Ruud Lubbens the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, as well as spiritual leaders from every faith, including the Dalai Lama, archbishops, rabbis, and imams. 15 Mayors have named a Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Day in honor of his work. Don't you feel the offices of these renowned world leaders would have done their due diligence in researching Sri Sri before inviting him to a) meet with them b) conduct peace negotiations to address major world conflicts, including Kosovo, Iraq, Palestine, and Sri Lanka.

    I feel strongly that people should be free to speak their truth. I just don't believe that freedom of speech means the right to slander without any basis in credible sources. If things that are abusive or harmful to people are happening, you should have no problem reporting them to the police and your statements should be able to stand trial in a court of law.

  11. johann says:

    To your comments about a cult, and usage of the word cult:

    "Catherine Wessinger (Loyola University New Orleans) has stated that the term "cult" represents just as much prejudice and antagonism as racial slurs or derogatory words for women and homosexuals. She has argued that it is important for people to become aware of the bigotry conveyed by the word, drawing attention to the way it dehumanises the group's members and their children. Labeling a group as subhuman, she says, becomes a justification for violence against it."

    Be mindful that blatantly throwing around the word cult and asserting that my behavior is "symptomatic of a cult member" is seriously concerning behavior, considering you know nothing about me. Other than that I'm having a frustrated response to cyber-bullying of an article that was poorly framed but harmless in nature and which clearly stated that it was not for people suffering from clinical depression. You used unverified secondhand accounts to slander a teacher who's doing good work in the world.

    Peace be with you.

  12. Lindsey says:

    Commoditizing a "way out" of the human condition of suffering (depression is one form) is pretty lame. Hence the "Got Inner Peace?" ad for SriSri's Boulder appearance on Facebook. Funny, the ad states "inner peace comes from within, not without." In that case, I really DON'T need to pay $30 to see Mr. Guru speak, for the truths are already inside my soul. Cool.

  13. Catrina says:

    despite what so many of you tried to do, which was ignore the sweet intentioned message and overload negative thoughts and emotions to readers about sri sri ravi shankar, the event in both cities was amazing. Lots of smiling faces and great meditations and useful, touching wisdom!

    And back to talking about the article….as a volunteer, being of service kept my mind in a much more healthy positive place. My family has a history of mental illness and keeping our minds focused on helping others rather than thinking so much about our lives and why we are the way we are has helped us all soooo much. Of course it is not the only thing but it does our minds and bodies good while giving us a deeper sense of purpose. From my understanding, all of our talents and gifts in life are to be shared with others and being of service helps us to do just that.

  14. steve says:

    hear hear!!!!

  15. ellen says:

    Too true. How about a bit of due diligence on the puff being given to this fool running a cult of personality (AoL). Being Buddhist is not an excuse to give up on critical thinking.

  16. ellen says:

    Catherine Wessinger (Loyola University New Orleans) is a known cult apologist. The recognised definition of a cultic group has more to do with the methodology of that group rather than a bigoted bout of name-calling: http://www.rickross.com/warningsigns.html

  17. ellen says:

    Well put. Whether we call ourselves Buddhist, Hindu, or Christian, discernment and critical thinking are vital in the spiritual marketplace that these guys are operating in.

  18. ellen says:

    If Mr Guru was a true man of integrity and had something useful to say, he wouldn't be demanding the $30 (an an ever increasing scale of fees) for something that you already have. This knowledge is open to all and belongs to all.

  19. ellen says:

    Catrina, haven't you noticed the disparity? You are willing to share your talents and gifts freely, Sri Sri has set up a huge organisation to disseminate age-old human wisdom that belongs to no-one and everyone. His organisation gives away nothing, it charges megabucks for this knowledge that has been freely available for at least a couple of thousand years. His focus is on the power and money in this, not the dissemination of knowledge.
    Thats not a negative perspective, thats a business perspective, the same perspective that Sri Sri has brought to his enterprise.

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  24. dmac says:

    She lives a very fearful life, and the fear is destroying our relationship. I have given her an ultimatum to change or i have to leave. We have gone to couples therapy she has been in her own therapy, she has books and cd's but she truly does not realize that her practice is in regulating her REACTIONS to things, not her listening to a cd. She reacts and responds in the same ways even though she KNOWS they are unhealthy. She knows she needs to sit down and calm down to get rid of her agitation, yet she will still choose to pace the room feverishly, working herself up even more. I DO NOT WANT TO LEAVE her and i have had to tell her that her behavior and fear of losing me, will cause her to lose me- then that puts her in her cycle of fear and it spirals!! I say all this to say,

  25. dmac says:

    as she does her "practices," she has cultivated this, ME ME ME attitude. I think she truly struggles with being self aware vs self absorbed. If we are at a party, she will compare herself to others and create a story in her head about how they would be someone i would like, then she gets mad at me and i dont know why! If others dont talk to her, in my opinion because she has negative energy sometimes, she blames them, not the possibility that she is creating energy that others can feel and dont want to engage. She complains that others dont call her or try to be friends with her, but she NEVER reaches out to them and when they do call she doesnt answer. If i am upset, she will automatically think its about her and get scared and we will fight because she will start making accusations that she has created in her head.

  26. dmac says:

    How can i get her to communicate her feelings without being accusatory- to claim them as her feelings, so we can have a healthy relationship? She complains that we dont have sex, but she is constantly in a grumpy mood, or complaining or just plain irritable and always blames someone else, mostly me, for why she is feeling that way. IT will start with, "well, im grumpy because you…" or I was happy until you….or he or she…" Or" I wanted to say hello but they looked away and werent concerned with me…"
    UGH! i know this sounds like a lot! Because it is! i need help- we need help- she needs help but we havent found the right thing…suggestions????

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  28. Mrs. Just Saying says:

    See this is why I have a problem when people don't take the time to read through before publishing something for the world to see. I get that you were trying to be humorous and that you weren't referring to the crippling disorder of depression, your intention was to comment on people who have random bouts of the blues. If you had expressed that in the beginning of the article there wouldn't have been such an issue. When you leave room for people to make assumptions it doesn't go well.

    "despite what so many of you tried to do, which was ignore the sweet intentioned message and overload negative thoughts and emotions to readers about sri sri ravi shankar, the event in both cities was amazing" <—-Umm….wow that was rude! Clearly no one ignored what you had to say. As the author the onus is on you to get your message across to the reader. You can't blame the reader for reacting to a callous statement when you didn't take the time to clarify your intentions. Another thing I found interesting is that your first priority was to inform everyone that the event "was amazing". This just proves that there really wasn't much substance to this article other than to serve as an advertisement. Hopefully you received a decent payment for all of your troubles.

    I do find it extremely hypocritical that you demean people for being negative when you state that the only reason you provide service for others is because it makes you feel good. The purpose of volunteering your time is to help others not yourself. I work as a mentor because those kids need positive role models to guide them in the right direction. I donate clothing because it's senseless to throw it in the trash when someone in need needs it more than I do. I get my nieces together to make cards for the troops during the holidays because our troops deserve to know how grateful other people are for their service. Notice how every act of service I've participated in is done because of how it benefits others, not because of what I get out of it. Maybe writing just isn't your thing because if you were an experienced writer I wouldn't have to mention any of these things.

  29. Heather says:

    Brian Alder- You should perhaps have studied harder. There are four noble truths.

    1. Suffering exists
    2. Suffering arises from attachment to desires
    3. Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases
    4. Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path

    You have completely got the wrong end of the stick. They actually bring great relief from depression as when you face your suffering, acknowledge it, then detach from it as outlined in the four noble truths, you can experience real freedom WHILE suffering still exists.

    This article is flawed on so many levels I don't know where to begin and could have severely detrimental effects on someone going through the grip of depression. This "guru" is a renowned fake.

  30. Kev says:

    hi… I have been dealing with depression/anxiety almost all of my life. I recently went out with a girl and I don't want to bore you with the details but to be honest I am beginning to relies that she is right. whats the steps forward. I really want to tackle this head on. I am totally self obsessed and partially and I mean partially narcissistic in my ways… Its ruining my life….