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A new definition of depression.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Imagine that our bodies are a vast system of flowing energy. Simple enough. There is a natural current or pulsation to this energy, because its function is to express itself (stay with me). When this energy is allowed to express itself fully, we feel connected to life. This is what some of us may know as a “flow state,” when we seem to be moving in accordance with the rhythm of the universe.
We become happy, healthy, and strong.
Let’s now imagine that things happen to us in our lives that create blockages which inhibit the natural flow of energy inside of us. We can call this “trauma.” This could look like a difficult event in our childhood—something that made us develop a coping mechanism which eventually resulted in a stifling of life energy, physiological inertia. It could also look like a physical illness or an oppressive element of culture that created a resistance within us to the movement of life energy.
The result is the same, regardless of the root cause. These are all various forms of chronic stress, and stress takes away our energy.
To get back to depression, I want to give a simple definition that aligns with what I’ve just talked about:
Depression is an inversion of conflicting energies within ourselves.
I know…that could be stamped on any new age self-help book found on shelves of our local book store. But let me explain why this definition is completely practical and leads to a deeper understanding of how to get rid of depression, instead of just a way of getting you to open your heart (wallet) to another money-making scheme by Guru Sammy over here.
Depression is the result of having our psyche split in two. An enlightened person, or a person experiencing a flow state, feels as though the various parts of their consciousness are in complete alignment with each other—moving as one. All of our energies are centered in the present, rather than stuck in the past or lost in the future. The different “channels” of energy inside of us are moving in unison and complimenting one another, instead of working against the other.
When we are depressed, our self-image is in conflict with the actuality of our daily experience. This depletes the body of energy. The different parts of who we are have been alienated from each other, and therefore can’t work together to form a free and expressive human being. There is a fundamental friction inside of us, as the psyche is torn from the soul.
It’s like there’s a tug-of-war going on inside of us. When both sides should be working together for the same goal, but they are completely counteracting each other. One part of us is attacking another part of us, draining our vitality and sucking out our life force.
Here’s a quote on depression and bodily energy by Dr. Alexander Lowen, a disciple of Wilhelm Reich (the first person to bring together psychotherapy and body work), in his book Bioenergetics to further illustrate what I’m discussing here.
“The relation of energy to personality is most clearly manifested in the depressed individual. Although the depressive reaction and the depressive tendency result from an interplay of complicated psychological and physical factors, one thing is abundantly clear. The depressed individual is energetically depressed. Cinematic studies show how he makes only about one half of the spontaneous movements usual in the non-depressed individual. His decrease in his level of energy is seen in the decrease of all of his energetic functions. His breathing is depressed, his appetite is depressed, and his sexual drive is depressed. In this state he could not possibly respond to our exhortations that he interest himself in a pursuit; he literally doesn’t have the energy to develop an interest.”
Depression is a deficiency of energy, caused by a duality in our consciousness. Where this inner conflict came from exactly in our personal history is less important than how we should go about solving it.
What I like to employ is a combination of breathwork, meditation, and self-inquiry. As an example, when we engage in breathing exercises—particularly those developed by Wim Hof, Stanislav Grof, or Wilhelm Reich—we awaken the body and increase the flow of energy. This stimulates the nervous system by tapping into the brain stem, bringing about a feeling of aliveness and connectivity—and allowing us to open up some of these energy pockets that have become stuck in our body. This is one modality (of many) that can help us get through bouts of depression and move us into more of a holistic and integrative state of being. For others, check out some of my other writings.
The cure to depression is found through bringing awareness to the body and realigning the relationship between our ego and our physicality. They were never meant to be separate. They are one thing, a unified movement of consciousness.
I have a severe chronic illness that has brought about intense states of suicidal depression, but I can say with complete confidence that in spite of my physical condition I feel zero depression today. None at all. I can say firsthand that there is nothing special about me; I attribute this fact purely to the resources that I’ve used to reconnect with my breathing. The breath is the portal to oneness, and oneness is the solution to depression.