American culture is afraid of depression. Emotions, reflection, introversion, being, solitude and contemplation are the quiet, feminine yin qualities that all women and men can access, but aren’t encouraged to develop. The masculine, yang aspects of doing, extroversion, drive, achievement and competition are validated, encouraged and rewarded. Yet both sets of qualities are required for each of us to attain balanced health and well-being — the active doing of the male and the female stillness of being.
Roughly 19 million Americans are labeled as depressed and are being treated with medication and/or therapy, according to the National Institute for Mental Health, 2004. Although there is much speculation on the causes and cures of this disease, there also is hidden within each person’s experience of depression the precious gift of truth crying to be heard and embraced.
Ease vs. dis-ease: Have you ever had the experience of over-stressing yourself and getting a cold? That cold is your physical body’s message that your system is out of ease or balance. Experiencing a dis-ease is experiencing a time of miscommunication with your inner guidance system. Physical disease forces you to care for your body. Finally you have permission (and are forced) to rest. You have permission to take care of your deeper, fundamental needs.
Your emotional/mental body also offers signals indicating imbalance and dis-ease. As you become caught in the wheel of overachieving and stress, you may become out of ease. Depression is one demonstration of this imbalance. Depression (“pressing inward”) stops time and offers permission to reprioritize and give to yourself. Depression holds many subtle gifts for you.
Through depression, your inner guidance is asking you to descend into the dark, quiet internal caverns alone, to sit and contemplate that part of yourself that can not be reached in the external world. This is a descent into your deeper nature. Denying this important time, remaining socially acceptable and covering up or looking away from the message your inner guidance system is offering you, is a missed opportunity. You miss both your personal wisdom and your voice. We learn instead to fear our inner signals, quiet them, loathe ourselves and continue to do and achieve.
• What if you allowed yourself to listen once again to your own sensitivities?
• What if you trusted your anger, irritation, illness and depression as signs that your true path of harmony is calling to you?
• What if you then allowed that message of change to seep into your daily schedule, your office, home and heart?
Depression arrives as a gift, offering the chance to touch the deeper ground within you. Depression asks that you stop and take the time to recognize the quiet, steady voice of your own truth. If you heed depression’s call, the voice of authority is no longer outside, but now deeply within you. Depression demands that your life be viewed, not as a commodity, spent in service to external authorities such as profession, church, community or even family. Depression demands that you hold your life sacred and live moment to moment. A few months ago, Sheryl (not her real name) requested assistance in reducing her dependency on anti-depression drugs. She also wanted to clarify destructive thought patterns and make the changes necessary to return to a level of happiness she felt in her early 20s. By respecting and working with her emotions, fears and thoughts, she learned to ask herself better questions and recognize the quiet wisdom her inner guidance system was offering her. Over a short period of time, Sheryl brought into harmony a successful career as a computer programmer with her heart’s desire to teach high school. She also reduced her medications to almost zero. • What if you asked, “What is the gift this darkness is offering me?” “Where am I not being truthful with myself?” • What if you allowed yourself to leave a way of doing that doesn’t nourish you and makes you unhappy, and embraced a way of being that feeds your soul?
Perhaps you can!
Roxane Burnett is an author, transition coach for women and seminar leader. She has been offering programs such as Feminine Alchemy, A Way of Life and Spiritual Abilities & Tools for Intuition, around the country for more than 10 years. The Tahoe Center for Wholeness (TCW) has invited Roxane to give a free lecture at the Squaw Valley Chapel in March 2005. Ongoing classes at TCW begin in April. Roxane may be contacted directly at 550.1508 or via the web site: www.avalon1.org.