Shamanism & Depression

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Lynn:

Is it a normal part of depression to feel like you don’t want to get better; just too much for a person to try after so long?

Sarah:

When I am depressed, I don’t want to do anything, including get better. I want to BE better, but GET better? Nah. That would require doing something, and my particular type of trauma-depression often immobilizes me. It has to do with hope; not the bad kind that means, “attachment to an outcome or process,” but the good kind that means, “If I make the good effort, there will be a good effect.” In depression, for me, there is a deep-seated belief that no matter what I do, things won’t get better. No matter how well I say something, it will not be understood. I have no influence on my reality. It is next to impossible to get motivated and energized with that kind of mental-emotional congestion.

For me, baby steps help, as does talking to people as you are doing now. Also, a series of shamanic rituals is the best for getting me out of the experience of isolation and depression, if even just a little (the more times the ritual is done, the more results). I go into the woods and make some offerings to the tree people, the stone people, the water, etc. I listen, which only requires being quiet.

I go to the sea and listen there, absorb the negative ions from the water crashing into the rocks and know it’s doing me well. I put my bare feet on the earth and enter the nourishing cycle, letting go of my hucha (heavy energy) and absorbing kawsay (the nourishing energy of the earth).

I think the shamanic type of spirituality is so good for depressive conditions because it opens us up to the bigger reality, where we are not isolated in any way, shape, or form.

This summer, I did fires every week for the stages of the moon. I had a few friends participate; not big groups. We just experimented with drumming, ritual offerings of sacred flowers and herbs, making despachos, and intimate conversation. A few times I stood as proxy for the group and held mugwort to different parts of my body and energy field to absorb the dense energies, the fear, the illness, and so on; whatever came up. My hand was guided to go where we needed the herb’s help. Everyone felt good after that. We did a lot of noticing: the moon, the stars, the sudden gusts of wind when a deep truth was shared…

I also follow the stages of the moon by making mandalas. Creative expression is so helpful in overcoming depression.

All of these activities have in common a quality of being indirect. They’re not an aggressive way of combating depression, against which the ego would rail. They are simply means of getting in touch with the bigger, healing reality of the natural world. You could start by making small offerings of tobacco and cornmeal to the trees near you, telling them you thank and honor them. Then see what happens next.

LOVE to you, Lynn, and anyone else that is reading this.

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About provinstitute

Teacher of meditation, shamanism, Buddhism, and natural health.
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