Welcome...

Come meander with me on the pathless path of the Heart
in these anecdotal,
sometimes inspiring, sometimes personal meanderings of the Heart's opening in the every-day-ness of Life...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Back to the Bare Bones...


Lately I’ve been feeling a need to get back to the basics in my “spiritual practice” – back to the bare bones. There is a sense of needing to clear the plate of old paradigms to make way for a clearer way of seeing and being. And - I’ve also been experiencing what I have been calling “depression” off and on for the last few weeks, or as the “Advaitin and contemporary non-dualists” say – depressing is happening… Probably as part of this clearing away…

“Depression” is a strange bedfellow, it can be many things. And I don’t treat this lightly. Sometimes I know her as melancholy, sometimes as heartache, and sometimes an overwhelming oppressive wave of molasses that pulls me under. I never know when she’s going to arrive, or in what costume, or when she’ll leave, nor specifically what it is about. Mostly it’s just kind of this nebulous feeling of deep sadness and longing in the heart. It shows up unexpectedly and stays a while, much like the other feelings that just show up – but I don’t notice them so much when it’s joy or happiness – only the “troubling” ones stand out and grab my attention. When I feel joy or happiness, or peace, I don’t think. Gee this is odd, I must do something about this! No, I am delighted that they came to call and think all must be right with the world or with myself *because* I *feel* “happy”… They reinforce the illusion that this personal “me” has done something “right” and is therefore happy – and therefore I feel the pressure to always be “happy“, to be optimistic – to get rid of “depression” so I can live up to my “happiness” , and start to believe I *deserve* to be “happy” all the time. When the Buddha said that the goal of life is to be “happy” I don’t believe he was talking about head over heels in love kind of happy, but internal “contentment” with life, which is a state of Being that never changes – that doesn’t come and go…

But – depression - well, it comes and goes – like all the other feelings do. It makes “me” (this little me) feel all wrong with the world and myself – unhappy, alone, sad. It’s quite dense actually – like a heavy hand gripping the heart with a pressing pressure – causing a heartache. But what is this heart aching *for*? You’d think with my husband’s new job there would be a sense of peace, optimism, even happiness. But no, a heaviness of heart pulls me deeply inward like a weight… I suspect it has something more to do with an internal orientation to life and being, than the externals of life circumstances – although that’s some of it too - clearing the underbrush of some heavy emotional burdens and beliefs that I’ve been unconsciously carrying for so many years around our life circumstances… And just maybe my husband’s recent return to work allowed all this to emerge…

“Non-dualisms” didn’t work - like: “There is no one here to be depressed.” Okay - so then why am “i” depressing, “i” asked my Self. Or - “i” do not exist – according to non-dualists - so how could “i” be depressed? So “*who* is depressed” then, who is depressing? Non-dual conundrums that keep me in my mind. Ahhh - maybe it is the mind, I thought… So I tried to convince the mind that it was only its thoughts, its beliefs, it stories that were causing this depressing feeling. The mind bought it for a while and then went back to its job – “depressing” – pulling me more deeply in… Even though I *know* intellectually that it is the *personality* of the mind that depresses, and that behind the little me-self personality that feels empty, full of insecurities, doubts, and depression is the Truth – the bare bones Truth of authentic Beingness that we are at the core… But the intellectual knowing didn’t help either… It has to be deeply *known* at the core…

So I sat, journal in hand, as is my style, and said – okay – here I am – show me who you are, show me where you want to go. I followed her inwardly, to see what she would reveal. I saw that she was a thread that ran all the way through my life that I hadn’t seen before– well more that I hadn’t wanted to acknowledge before. She was a golden river that ran through every phase and chapter of my life that held a familiar deep longing in the heart at every turn and bend – a longing for the Truth, somehow misconstrued as “depression”... Interesting that it was golden, not something dark and sinister…. There was no monster lurking under the surface. She took me down the rabbit hole, in a good way, allowing me to come face to face with my delusions… She helped me to see that my life has been a fantasy of distorted characters, stories and feelings that I have become attached to, and have gotten lost in, confused between what is Real and what is fantasy. I recognized that I had identified with the *feeling*, with the *personality* who *feels* depressed, empty, lost, wounded, separate from ones true identity.

Following the thread, I realized that “depression” was really my Heart calling. It was an invitation to follow the lifeline of the feeling all the way back to the Truth that lies beyond the feeling - all the way back to the bare bones Truth at the Heart of Being; which does not mean that by seeing this that “depression” left. Oh no. She’s still a companion, shadowing me on the road here. But it was seen that she’s not who I am. I had mis-identified myself *as* the shadow. In truth, she is a thread of love clearing an opening in my heart, calling me back to a direct encounter with the bare bones Truth…

15 comments:

  1. well said. "she was a golden river" a lovely image. I send prayers that your sadness lifts. Journal writing is such a good, concrete activity in the midst of feelings and thoughts.

    also comes to mind that you like to walk and to me walking is a forward movement activity, placing mind and body in a flow state where things can sometimes unclog. Thinking of M. Hearts lovely post on her long walk.

    Wish i were there we could take a very long walk together. be well, suki

    PS
    I once wrote a little "essay" called "Depression, my friend." It separated depression from me, and turned around the idea that depression is an enemy. I felt depression pointed out things about my life and thoughts to me so that I could "face" them and acknowledge rather than bury.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Dear Suki, Well, I'm really doing okay with it all, not paralyzed with it,not going over the edge here :) it just comes and goes. Some days better than others - and like you, seeing it differently helps. It *does* get us in touch with those parts of ourselves that have been buried. I do see it as a "messenger" if you will. And I figured writing about it here would also be therapeutic. :) Yes, I liked M's post too, walking along the river, and I notice being outside is a great help as well... And it would be delightful to take a walk with you! :) We'll walk in spirit... I'm going to try for a twilight walk tonight! :) See you there! Heart Hugs to you!

      Delete
  2. she’s not who I am. I had mis-identified myself *as* the shadow. I think this is such an important part of the process. and it is such a razor's edge to not push away these feelings and yet not indulge them. yes, skillful means as Suki points out. And theraputic to put it all in to words here. It makes me think of the quote "how do I know what I think until I see what I say."

    I was reading a Lynn McTaggart (from "The Field) interview last night about "intention", very interesting, startling facts like consciousness is outside of our brain. Begets the question where do thoughts coming from?

    Anyway I would love to join you and Suki on your walk! It would be such fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ZDS - Thanks for the insights as always :) My guess is that if we followed the thoughts we'd find out :) Yes, wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all get together for a walk! I've been lax lately - due to weather and wind and timing of the sun with hubby's new arrival time from work... Excuses, excuses :)

      Delete
  3. I love that you're consciously tracing the path of depression trying to find the source, and as zendotstudio points out it is a razor's edge and very much like the middle way between indulging in feelings/passions and serving them that I'm trying to find as well. And yes, the long walks...so cathartic physically and mentally! You should see my blisters! I've been so wrapped up in hiking through the woods these past few years I forgot how much ground can be covered along the roadside...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank *you* Dear Uma for sharing *your* wonderful walks in your recent posts! Following the river to the Source and Impressions along the way have been inspirational and helpful here as well for not getting entangled, but remembering the Source behind everything...

      Delete
  4. Such a heartfelt post, Christine! I'm with you. It always surprises me that my sadness is more universal than "she" lets on. She tries to make me feel she's mine and mine alone. Then someone opens up and shares, and I see she's everywhere.

    Vigorous exercise transforms my sadness. And vigorous zazen. I like to imagine Avalokiteśvara, hearing the cries of the world and splitting open into thousands of eyes and arms and heads all over flowing with compassion for suffering beings. My sadness becomes less personal then, and more about loving all of life with this achy, imperfect, yearning heart.

    May the sadness of all beings, be warmed and held by the boundless love in your big heart!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Kris for your loving response... Yes! it is so universal, this heartache. I feel it as a heartache *for* humanity sometimes, realizing it has nothing to do with a personal 'me.' It's like the heart just opens to this universal sadness and just wants to cry for the whole world. I love your image of Avalokitesvara! :) And I remember your story about 3 little ducks about a year ago :)

      It really is about embracing it all. As you say, "loving all of life" - yes! Letting life unfold as it does... Everything is allowed.

      Yes, walking has been helpful here too, getting out into nature brings one's perspective back, allows one to see the whole picture type thing without getting lost in the feeling. And sitting, yes, where I can follow the feeling back to Source - ie: the field of Pure Awareness out of which everything arises. I also find listening to and reading good Dharma is very helpful. In particular right now I've been reading Ram Dass who talks about Love being at the root of everything. And just picked up a book by Gangaji called: Hidden Treasure: Uncovering the Truth in Your Life Story. Looking beyond the stories we tell ourselves to who we really are at the core. (Buddha Nature).

      Thank you for the ending... :) Love *does* hold us all in the Universal Heart! :)

      Many bows and much Love to you dear One...

      Delete
    2. PS - Oh my, I do go on don't I! :)

      Delete
  5. Oh my dear, we are in just the same place... and you are right in saying that being outside helps. Be well, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You too dear Cate! I know Winter is so hard for you, but I delight in your lovely photos. They lift my spirits... Love holds us all in the cave of the Heart...

      Delete
  6. The heart-sharing in this post is really amazing, Christine. I think we've all experienced depression in some way, in some time at some point in our lives. And it's no small thing. What can be interesting is letting go, or clearing away, as you so well say, that in itself can cause a kind of sadness. Because we're sad to let anything go, aren't we, as humans. ;o) Your walking is a great endeavour for finding clarity. I often find physical movement cathartic for finding my way back to a more peaceful place inside--or at least a start on the way back to a more peaceful place. May we all follow your brave example in following the call of our hearts. :o) ((HUGS))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words Tracy. Yes, long-held attachments can be difficult to acknowledge and released. Yet I welcome the clearing - to really *see* what I need to see - to understand the bare bones Truth of who we really are at the core, beyond these little disturbances. Everything arises out of the vast field of Love and it's all good. :) LoveLove, C

      Delete
  7. I had never thought of sadness being the call of my heart, but of course it is. It also feels like the call of all suffering beings that we can answer in so many different ways, from realizing our true nature to doing tiny acts of kindness. I'm really enjoying exploring your wonderful blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I have found that to be true too - that it is also the call of all suffering beings. It's really a universal heartache for humanity - which helps me to *see* humanity with more compassion (at times :)

      And I'm enjoying having you here and leaving your insightful comments! With gratitude for your Presence...

      Delete