If you have ever embarked on a spiritual path of any kind you’ve probably heard the terms ‘dark night of the soul’ or ‘shadow self’. As heavy as those words can be, sometimes with quite negative connotations, they constitute a part of us that needs to be acknowledged, and when the time calls for it, engaged with.
I sincerely never thought they would pertain to me. Ahhh…it was only a matter of time before they showed up on my doorstep, in full force and I got to the point where I’d never felt so depressed and alone in my life. Quite often, I literally choked on my tears – my sobs sounding less human, and more like an animal on the verge of death, struggling to find its breath. I felt so useless I begged and pleaded for the darkness to swallow me up so this could end.
Just as I felt a sense of relief – a few days of solitude, connection and perceived joy –the darkness came roaring back like a ferocious jaguar bounding to its final supper. I held on for another day at a time, but the truth is I was exhausted, running on fumes. A lifetime of bubbles, smiles and avoidance landed me smack dab in the hell of my own mind. It was like being in prison with my right hand shackled to the cell wall and my left holding the key.
Yet I knew there had to be something more to this life and to this pain – a way to be truly free. I didn’t know where this path would lead me, but I figured it had to go somewhere.
I promise you, it does.
We’re on the Same Team
Depression takes us home to the seat of our soul, to the truth of who we are. I learned this first hand and now see my dance with depression as my greatest teacher. I say dance because I don’t believe it is a battle, which gives the illusion of two opposing sides fighting for victory.
With depression, you’re on the same team. There is no enemy or opponent – only you and your soul. Once I realized this and allowed my soul to take the lead, what followed was nothing short of magic. I’ve never felt more connected to my truth, to my desires and to the universe. Now, I’m able to cry out of pure joy for this existence I have been given. Sure, I still have my bouts of sadness yet it is somehow different. Once we begin to see the silver lining and get curious, we begin to heal.
Depression allows us the opportunity to say yes to our soul and to choose God. I know God can be a charged word, but for a moment set aside your preconceived ideas of who/what God is, or represents, and consider the possibility that God symbolizes love, peace and joy and that those qualities are inherent in each of us. Not just in some of us, but in every single one of us.
The Co-existence of Light and Dark
First we need to figure out who the heck we are, and that requires us to go within, to slow down and discover who we were before the job, the money, the partner, the successes, the failures and the pain. We are so scared of the pain. Most of us are so terrified of our own shadow that we run around from one responsibility to the next filling our days with to-do’s and one distraction after the other – insert your choice of food, drug, alcohol, sex, money, clothes, etc. here.
Remember though, it is in our shadow that the very essence of who we are is so often locked away. There’s no book, mentorship program, online tele-summit or guru that holds the key. Only we do – and we need to be willing to travel into the shadows to get it.
In actuality I wouldn’t take one moment of darkness or one drop of tears back because all of it has guided me home to my truth, to the very essence of my soul. It is, after all, in our darkness that our brightest light can finally emerge.
With that I honor and know the depths of despair one can feel in the midst of being depressed, so I offer to you some of what helped me to embrace depression and allow it to be my greatest teacher:
Let Go – Surrender to who you thought you should be and to all expectations – of yourself, of your life and of others. In doing this you begin to let go of any attachment to the outcome, by giving yourself over to Source
Ask for Help – We like to pretend we have it together. All the time. But we don’t and the sooner we can let down the walls of the fortress we build around our hearts, the sooner we can acknowledge that our weakness is actually our greatest strength. This is hard – really really hard – but totally worth it.
Do Less – Sit still more. Just be. Meditate even if it means one minute of silence. Just do it and do it everyday. Eventually you will yearn for the solace this silence brings.
Embrace Your Inner Child – Yes I said it. What so many of us hate to hear. Our inner child needs some serious love and only you have the exact potion he/she needs.
Speak Your Truth – Communicate what you feel in the core of your being. Say what you think, not what you think needs to be heard.. Learn to say no when you mean no and yes when you mean yes!
I hope these help you as much as they’ve helped me. With a little practice and a lot of patience, you’ll start to see how being down is part of the process in getting up.
Much Love + Light,
Jamie Wagener is a plant-based chef and holistic health coach, connecting her passion for creating in the kitchen with her desire to inspire others to live the life they’ve always imagined. Thru her own struggle with disordered eating and body image issues, she digs deep and explores what feeds us beyond just food – thoughts, beliefs, ideas and emotions – and leaves nothing off the table for questioning. You can see what she is currently creating in the kitchen and beyond by visiting www.theblissfulkitchen.com