This article was published by SelfGrowth.com by Simon Jacobson
“Nourishing the soul by adding a healthy spiritual diet to traditional treatments can open new channels of hope and confidence. The joy of the soul, in turn, weakens the debilitating fear and demoralization of the depressed psyche.”
While the our world continues to absorb disturbing headlines of the current death toll from COVID, political chaos including an unprecedented siege on our nation’s Capitol, and ongoing restrictions and changes within our communities, depression and anxiety are at an all time high.
Traditional medications and treatments are offered as a temporary or longer-term solution, yet what has been less explored are the spiritual roots of depression. Is depression a spiritual or physical condition? How does spirituality impact depression, and can a nourished spiritual life begin to alleviate states of depression or anxiety? Identifying where these questions intersect and how they affect each other is an area worthy of further exploration, so that alternative treatments can be used to help more people.
The serious nature of depression must not be overlooked, due to the significant impact it has on our society and on an individual’s ability to function, remain healthy, and to thrive. Depression and anxiety interferes with our work, our relationships, and often our entire well-being. What can one do to prevent depression or manage its effect on us? What can one do to recover and become the vibrant, healthy person he or she is meant to be?
It is important to learn to recognize that feelings of depression are often the cry of the soul, bringing your awareness to pain and letting you know that it’s time to make a change.
We have greater health when our life is more closely aligned with its purpose and understands its raison d’être. Just as a machine hums smoothly when it is fulfilling the purpose of its creation, we, too, are able to thrive when we are aligned with our own purpose. Making choices that align with the needs of your “machine”includes feeding and exercising your body with proper nutrition and activities, including how you feed and exercise your soul by answering the call of your spirit to live out your calling through decisions of virtue, kindness, and alignment.
One clear way that integrating spiritual mindfulness and practice can be a powerful application in helping to heal depression or anxiety is the simple fact that at some point it requires us to become still. Silencing the mind gives space to allow connection — connection to our spirit within, as well as connection to a higher power. As a society, our minds are generally directed by a steady stream of uncontrolled thoughts that subconsciously begin to direct our choices.
Giving ourselves a still, clear break from this unharnessed mental activity during a state of connection, creates a more vast space in which the voice of our inner divinity can speak, allowing us to create and be connected to a higher version of ourselves. Your spirit was designed to fuel you, guide you, allow you to connect to the vital life source, and even to heal.
Shifting your focus now outward, begin by taking a deep breath and looking around. What do you see? Does it look negative? Yes? Good. This is an opportunity not only to help others, but to boost the landscape of your emotions and mind as well. Involving yourself in anything that is of service to others is an immediate pick-me-up, and gives you something outside yourself to focus on in a very positive way. It may be as simple as checking in with friends or family to learn how they are doing, or helping a neighbor with their groceries or lawn chores. The transformative part of shifting your focus outward is to verbally or physically do something to help someone else. A change in behavior that brings positivity triggers the inner source of goodness at your core and brings it up into the present moment.
“The happiest people are the ones that don’t focus on themselves and their psyches, the ones who are so occupied with serving a cause and a higher calling that they don’t have time to think and agonize over things.”
The Healing Power of Purpose
What does a sense of purpose have to do with spirituality depression? When we have an internal map guiding us day by day that aligns with what we are naturally drawn to, we feel more empowered and “on purpose” in our lives. Begin by assessing what things or activities make you feel more satisfied, happier, or at greater peace. Include these things in your day-to-day or week-to-week activities. This way, no matter what other circumstances are or how you may be feeling, you will still feel on track with this gentle, purposeful guidance of your own creation.
If you have not yet created your own Personal Mission Statement as your personalized guide, take a few moments to create one for yourself. Your Personal Mission Statement brings your unique vision and passions into your experiences with a heightened direction, mindfulness, and more joy.
“Your personal guiding statement is key to opening doors to a life more consistently, positively focused and distanced from the negative.”
Practice Makes Perfect
Many of us have suffered in some way during the many months of the pandemic and its ensuing fears, restrictions, and loss of life. Perhaps it affected the microcosm of your own life as well. Mindfully lay these struggles aside and reach for a higher vision of yourself that rises above perceived struggles and any grudges you may be harboring about the year. This can be a first step towards bringing new practices and habits of thought into your life so that slowly, slowly, step by step you learn how to tend to yourself differently, so that you have a different outcome in how you are feeling. Remember that sometimes our struggles are intended to awaken or re-awaken the light of our soul and the voice of your spirit. Sometimes challenges are meant to light the path for us in a new direction, one more suited for our greatest health and happiness. Change is not easy, though it is inevitable. Integrating practices and self inquiry of a more spiritual nature puts us back into the driver’s seat, no matter what current challenges may be.
Be gentle with yourself as you begin to learn about and apply spiritual solutions to your life in order to help you move through depression or anxiety in a healthy way. Your spirit and soul are not separate from the rest of your body or mind; each aspect works together as one system and each aspect must be tended to in times of trouble. Joy and happiness are waiting for you. Have patience as you move forward along these newer aspects of self-healing.
Remember that traditional therapies and modalities of treating depression or anxiety often lack a spiritual component, and that this spiritual component is an ever-present need of all people whether or not they may be in a state of depression. It’s here at our divine center where expansiveness, trust, openness, and joy lie in wait for us to take notice and experience them fully. It’s a limitless source for you to connect with at will, at any moment.
In the name of free inquiry and scientific discovery it is vital that we move towards an honest understanding of mental health and the mental health industry, and begin to separate the ideas of therapy as “business” and therapy as “soul-healing.”
Rabbi Jacobson shares more ideas on this subject here. A recent weekly “Soul Gym” of the Rabbi’s to see: “Grow Into the Person You Want to Be.”