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September 01, 2016

Depression: A Spiritual Crisis

Tags: Depression, Spiritual Crisis, Leaned Helplessness, Mental Illness, Negative Ego

It is a gloominess that descends upon you like a thick, water soaked blanket. Colors fade to shades of gray, joy becomes completely inaccessible while sadness overtakes your body. While this is experienced briefly by many wading through loss or grief, to others depression takes up permanent residence in their psyches. The outside person sees their relentless sadness as unwarranted, as physically they look quite capable. While they may be on many levels, the depressed person is caught within a quicksand of hopelessness inside that pulls from them their very will to survive.

In science, animal models are used to study depression. In one model a dog is restrained by a cage on a platform where it receives a mild shock regularly. Once the animal realizes it cannot escape this shocking it withdraws, expecting it will never end. Eventually the dog is put on the platform without the cage, but it doesn’t leave, even when it can. It stands there and continues to be shocked. This is called “learned helplessness.” 

A high percentage of individuals who suffer from long term depression are  sensitive, intelligent people that experience overwhelming fear. Their active minds have literally backed them into a corner they cannot think themselves out of. The ego is the part of ourselves that gives us identity. It also keeps us safe. A depressed person starts to identify with the parts that think “I can’t”. This undermines their efforts until it is true. They then retreat and stop participating with the world, giving them nothing to identify with but the suffering of being so isolated. Much like the dog on the platform, their experiences to date tell them they cannot escape, so they lose their will to try. For many death looks like the only way out.

In our culture we treat depression as a mental illness. We assume that whatever is going on in the mind has thrown the body completely out of balance. We prescribe medications to reboot the brain so the will to survive returns. We suggest counseling to get to the bottom of whatever issues may have triggered this darkness. To be sure, the body’s primary directive is to live, but the depressed person’s ego can no longer be who it has been. It wants out. No amount of reasoning and processing, however, is going to make it feel safe enough to dismantle its cage. Therein lies the conundrum. The ego is asking for a death it knows it cannot survive. While there is a physical and mental aspect to it, at its heart, depression is a spiritual crisis. The only way out is to bypass the ego and connect with  the soul.

To get off of that platform we have to transcend the part of the mind that identifies with the suffering, the part that believes it is alone on the planet without support. It believes this because, like the dog, it has experienced this over and over. To convince that dog that it is free, you must lead it off the platform. It must experience its freedom before it will ever believe it has any. While medication may numb the symptoms and jumpstart the will, and counseling may sooth the pain, ultimately depression requires a spiritual intervention.

When person has a spiritual experience, their ego, or sense of self, dissolves and they remember who they are at the level of the soul. In shamanic traditions the client is guided a place outside time where they experience their eternity, their freedom. Here they can safely release the fear and limited beliefs that define their current human identity. As they wipe this slate clean and experience the ego death they have been asking for, they experience the spiritual rebirth they have so been longing for and can begin anew.

Christina Allen’s work as an Intuitive, Healer, Teacher and Founder and Director of the Austin Shamanic Center, combines a strong science background (BA Physics, MS Neuroscience) with decades of applied ancient spiritual wisdom (Master Yogi, Reiki Master, and profound Shamanic Healing based on Q’ero Indian traditions of Peru). Learn more about making private appointments, and upcoming classes, at or (512) 391-9829.

© Austin All Natural, September, 2016

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