A few retreats ago I had a conversation with an old, old-timer who was sliding into yet another depression. These are not the “I’m feeling down” brand of depressions, these are the ones for which medications, even hospitalizations, are prescribed. Through years of practice, medications and hospitals are no longer needed, but the depression, often more the threat/fear of depression, remains.
“What are you hearing?” I inquired.
“I just feel so sad. It feels as if I’ll never get over being so hurt and sad about my childhood. That little child who was so mistreated is still so sad.”
(Now, as many of you doubtless know, I don’t buy this for a minute, and the person I was talking to knows that, but the identification with the story was so complete there was no ability to entertain even the possibility of something other than that story being “the truth.”)
“Well, how about this?” I suggested. “Do you have a picture of that little person? A picture of you when you were that age and experiencing that abuse?”
When I got an affirmative I asked if there was interest in and willingness for helping that child. “Oh, yes,” was the immediate reply.
“Okay, here’s what you do. Step 1: Take out those pictures and put them where you can see them all the time. Make some copies if you need to so you can have one on the bathroom mirror, the dashboard of the car, by your bed, on the back of your phone; everywhere you can think of to make this child a constant part of your daily life experience. Step 2: Begin to talk to her. Tell her you like having her in your awareness, that it’s fun to see her face, that you like having her around. Begin to include her in what you do—folding the laundry, cooking, going for a walk, taking a bike ride. Talk with her about what you’re seeing, take pictures, draw pictures, make recordings. Yes? She’s your companion. And, as you do this she will become more real to you as an actual person rather than the subject of stories in the head. Soon she will begin to communicate with you. Okay?”
Once again a willing “yes.”
“Good. Now there will be tremendous resistance to this from the voices in conditioned mind. So, to head them off, will you text me each day and give a report about how the two of you are doing?”
“Yes, I will.”
For one month I got a text every day giving reports on drawings and bedtime stories and recovered memories and making recordings and listening to them….
A few days ago I got this text:
At first I thought this project was to ‘rescue’ a sad, hurt child. But she’s not sad AT ALL and the hurts pass so quickly. I NEVER REALLY EMBRACED THIS PROCESS UNTIL NOW.
And this morning:
I woke up this morning really wanting to live Life today. Happy danced through my morning check-in even.
This from a person who, before beginning this process was facing another historically suicidal depression.
If you are not “really wanting to live Life today, if you’re not happy dancing through your morning check-ins,” please “REALLY EMBRACE THIS PROCESS.”
Instead of leaving somebody in the grip of the unconscious self-hatred that perpetuates an illusion of separation and results in suffering, move into conscious compassionate awareness and embrace that person into Presence. The karmically conditioned impulse is to stay in identification with ego, dread and resist the experience we are having, wish it were different, and want it to go away rather than doing the work that transforms the experience.
EMBRACE THIS PROCESS. DO THE WORK.
EMBRACE THIS PROCESS. DO THE WORK.