Question: What is the source of the "blues," and what is the most effective way to begin shaking it?
Answer: Virtually all forms of sadness and depression begin with an unconscious act of identifying with certain images about ourselves. These images or ideas usually have to do with pictures we hold in our own mind about how things should be. The problem with this set of ideas is that they don't belong to us -- they are an effect of the world we live in, whose nature it is to measure ourselves by values passed along by others. When we compare ourselves unconsciously to these ideas and fail to measure up, it just drives the circle of self. First this nature looks for itself and, failing to find what it's looking for, it simply returns to its own content for another answer, which is always part of the problem and never the solution. Since this negative state enters us and takes possession of us in unawareness, new awareness is the solution. In order to see what we must about this false sense of self, it is necessary to investigate it instead of giving ourselves over to it. Don't fight with it. Add as much light (awareness) to it as you can, and it will begin to lose its hold on you. And, as you lose interest in any negative state, i.e., in the sense of self it surreptitiously provides you, the state dwindles away into its native darkness -- no longer a problem for you because you are no longer a place in which it can dwell.
Excerpted from Seeker's Guide to Self-Freedom
Question: When I find myself feeling depressed -- in the dumps so to speak -- I tend to see myself as the victim of whatever situation is at hand. Then the more I find reasons to justify being the victim, the longer I tend to stay at my personal pity party. What would it take to snap myself out of this sad stupor?
Answer: When faced with any despair, the first thing our mind asks is: "What's to be done?" "Who can I speak to about it?" "What's the best way for me to handle it?" "Is there any way out?" And at the heart of these complaints, whether detected or not, is the mind's favorite question: "Why does everything happen to me?"
But at the root of each of these fearful questions which seem to seek a way out of the sorrow lies a secret assumption, one that keeps us defeated and going around in sad circles. And the deception is so unconscious and habitual that if it weren't for the existence of higher powers of perception, this subtle betrayal would be complete. The assumption is that whatever your current pain may be, it must be real. And further, that since that ache is lodged in your heart -- it must follow that that pain belongs to you. Even if you doubt the existence of a higher, happier life level, the following is beyond all doubt:* living from a mind that automatically assumes suffering is real, gives you no choice other than to remain a perpetual victim*. This defeated inner condition is the same as being sentenced to a life of perpetual sadness and resentment. Our lives aren't meant to be spent in this wasteful way.
The next time any sadness calls for you, slow the whole of yourself down and work to quietly observe yourself. Your voluntary state of conscious, but alert relaxation, will stand in sharp contrast to the rapid-fire contents of your own mind as one thought after another races through it, competing for your attention. Use your consciousness of this contrast, and the higher self-awareness this inner conflict naturally creates, to keep you wide awake to these invading thoughts and feelings. This sustained and elevated awareness is vital to your success.
No matter how familiar that sadness may seem as it floods through you, allow your new awareness to help you just consciously brush aside what you think you know about it. Make it your heartfelt intention to see what that pain is trying to tell you about you. If the mind can get you to believe in its conflict and suffering, then the reasons for that suffering must be real. This is where the darkness triumphs. In so many unspoken words -- words whispered in the dimly lit portions of your own mind -- it tells you: "Since this pain is real, your problem has to be real as well." Yes, there may be a real problem. But it's rarely, if ever, what we think it is.
The source of our suffering isn't that life fails to live up to our expectations, but that we live from a nature that meets life with countless unconscious demands. And contrary to what our minds would have us believe, happiness is not having our demands met. Lasting contentment is being free of our own undeveloped and demanding nature. The only thing that makes us unhappy is our ideas about how to make ourselves happy.
Begin today, right this moment, to see all the ways you try to make sense of suffering. And then see that suffering never makes any sense! Meet as many moments as you can with this new wisdom. Look at all of life, and all of its demanding relationships from the undemanding eyes of your higher nature. If you do your part, you can't help but hit the higher mark. One day the new freedoms you're sure to see, you will be.
For extra profitable inner practice, learn to see the deception in any assumption that wants you to believe that there is no higher alternative to your suffering than to either run from it or simply endure it. Never listen to any pain that is asking you what to do about it. The moment you seek a solution to its tormented question, you're under its authority, which makes you its victim.
Excerpted from Freedom From the Ties That Bind
Question: Why does it feel so good to give in to depression? And why is it so hard to see the truth that wallowing in sadness in fact does us no good?
Answer: We value negative states because of the strong sense of self we get from them. This may be very difficult for us to see, but the light of Truth will show us the freeing facts. No one wants to believe that he or she values things like self-pity, anger, and depression. We would insist we don't, and as evidence we point to the fact that we fight against them, but the struggle gives us a false sense of life and importance. It focuses attention on us and makes us feel like the center of a great deal of activity. The more we struggle, the more valuable these states become, because the more interesting and exciting they make us feel. We never feel ourselves so strongly as when we are furious, or hurt, or depressed. Of course, this self is a created self, a false self. But it feels real, and that's why we cling to it. The power in the state is that by giving it our life, it feeds back to us a false sense of life and power. And as a result, we miss out on the Real Life we could experience if we were not filling ourselves with the false.
Question: So that means I am choosing to hurt my own self while thinking I'm doing something to help myself. How have I been tricked into doing something so stupid?
Answer: I'm sure that we can all agree that no intelligent, conscious man or woman would ever intentionally hurt him or herself. No one would choose to ache. Yet the fact remains that all of us do hurt ourselves every day with bursts of anger or fits of depression or anxiety. There can be no doubt, beginning with the physical level and on up, that fear and worry exact a definite toll on all levels of our health and well-being. Intelligent, conscious beings would never intentionally hurt themselves, but we somehow manage to do just that in one way or another almost every day. So how do we reconcile this contradiction? There is only one possible conclusion that we can draw from these facts, and it is imperative that we paint this picture clearly to ourselves.
We must be unconscious while thinking that we are awake! In other words, during those times of self-betrayal when we are hurting ourselves or others with negative inner states, even though our eyes are open and all kinds of sensations are coursing through us, we must be asleep to what we are doing to ourselves or we wouldn't be doing it. Somehow, we have become separated from the real Intelligence within us that knows better than to punish itself. There is never, I repeat, never any intelligent reason to feel bad. If you will only let these truthful ideas prove this astonishing fact to you, one day this new understanding will go before you and defeat all that has been defeating you.
If real Intelligence is incapable of hurting itself, then how can we call any thinking that leads to a stressful state intelligent? Obviously we can no longer continue to call such thinking intelligent unless we want to go on sinking from this present level of thinking.
Intelligence does not cause itself to suffer. Yet, as proven, we suffer. This can only mean that a counterfeit intelligence has been passed off on us and its thinking accepted as our very own. There is only one way that such a sinister switch could take place within us and go undetected. During those all-too-familiar moments of dejection, we are asleep to ourselves. In this strange psychic slumber we only dream we are awake, so can you see the solution to this sorry state? Since unawareness of ourselves is the only problem, then awareness is the only answer. A sting operation can only work as long as the victim believes that one of the players who is secretly in on the sting is trying to help him. Let's say all of this in another way.
You may not be able to think your way out, but you can see your way clear. This special kind of inner seeing is safety. Waking up to yourself is the same as letting go of all those self-defeating thoughts and feelings that have been telling you how to win.
Excerpted from The Secret of Letting Go
Question: How can I hope to heal something I don't even want to look at when it threatens to overwhelm me?
Answer: Nothing is healthier for us than the beautiful process of awakening to how we have been unwittingly involved in our own suffering. We stand in good company when we consent to see these truths within ourselves. All truth teachings agree: freedom from compulsive or otherwise self-wrecking behavior begins with recognizing that we have been unknowingly serving what makes us suffer. Yes, awakening to what has been an unseen conflict in us is a challenge, but this interior work of self-realization is more than offset by the rewards gained for our efforts.
Excerpted from Let Go and Live in the Now
Question: Would you give me some specific strategies to help me when I start to feel depression pulling at me and dragging me down?
Answer: Here are three bright new actions for you to take. Each is designed to help you bring the light you need into the present darkness of what you have yet to understand about your depressed states. Use them all together and you will soon command the very forces that once compelled you to believe that your dark states were inescapable.
The next time depression takes you over, think toward it instead of from it. What this means is that you are to realize in the moment of being taken over by the darkness that you are simply wrongly involved in thinking about your state from the state itself. This is exactly how negative states take us captive. See the depression as a temporary imposition instead of accepting the position the state is telling you that you must accept. Work at this. Your efforts will be rewarded.
In that same moment when you realize that something painful has again pressed its way into you, holding you hostage to a hated image or painful regret, here is what to do: right there, right in that Now, instead of capitulating into that familiar state of feeling yourself to be a captive of what this pain tells you that you must remember (along with all of its suggested solutions for ending the suffering), choose to remember the Light. Instead of being drawn into a struggle with that unwanted sense of conflict, complete with its cast of supporting characters drawn from your past, intentionally withdraw your attention from that stage show. And at the same time as you close the curtain on it, bring all of your reclaimed attention into the Now. Come awake to the sense of your own physical body. Observe what thoughts and feelings are pressing themselves into your awareness and, while working in the Now like this, welcome into you a conscious remembrance of the Light, of God's Life, of the whole truth as best you understand it. Choose to remember the Light. Let it fight for you. Instead of a life of endless resistance, you will learn the timeless secret of how to replace any form of darkness with the Light you have chosen over it.
When you feel some kind of darkness coming over you, you must muster the courage to consciously doubt the reality of this condition, even though your feelings are powerfully trying to convince you that what you feel is true. Here is a special short poem entitled "Ten Words With the Power to Help You Walk Away From Useless Suffering":
The "feel" is real, But the "why" is a lie!
Let this liberating insight into the secret nature of unhappy feelings find a welcome home in you. Dare to apply its wisdom to any moment when some negative state tries to brew up a storm in you, and watch how you can make even the most stubborn sufferings disappear.
Excerpted from Let Go and Live in the Now