Last week, I discussed the first stage in Unstuck, Your Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression: The Call. This first step embodies the acceptance period — the seemingly simple but often arduous process of bringing light and awareness to a state of being. I’m elaborating on these steps and choosing aspects that have been particularly helpful in my process. Let's move on to the second and third stages: Guides on the Journey + Surrendering to Change.
GUIDES ON THE JOURNEY
This stage might be somewhat self-explanatory. Like Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, guides are an integral part of almost any journey. In this book, James S. Gordon asks us to locate inner guides and external ones. Let’s start with the external ones, as I recommend beginning with those.
Sometimes, you just know. You know when you’re meeting a guide. You find inspiration, healing, light, something in that person. I want to add here that I don’t think a guide necessarily needs to take human form. We can find deep guidance in a place. For instance, there is a stretch of road between the town I grew up in and a neighboring town in Pennsylvania. There are vast fields on either side and the terrain is hilly and green. There is something about this stretch that activates me and I am always called to return. Listen to these little bursts of energy that come from finding someone/something that you need to learn from. A guide can be a professional (doctor, therapist, etc), energy healer, friend, internet presence. I found it helpful to write down the people, places, animals, etc. that I find myself drawn to and list the qualities that they embody, as well as the feelings that I get when I am in their presence. I want to add that a guide isn't always a super-feel-good being of love and light. A guide might be tough or he/she might trigger something in you. Take note of these guides, too. Similarly, there are places that stir up that strange deep-in-the-gut weirdness. Places that I don't necessarily want to return to. However, it's important that I figure out why they are so distressing to me -- so that the overpowering feeling might be transformed into something more concrete -- something I can learn from and interact with instead of fearing.
MEETING YOUR INNER GUIDE
The book recommends a safe space visual meditation — wherein you imagine yourself in a place in nature. After you feel comfortable and safe, your inner guide will appear. It might be someone you know, it might be an aspect of yourself, a family member, an animal guide, etc. The important thing is — don’t force it. If no guide comes, that’s okay too. A guide will eventually show up during these safe space meditations. Let it show you what it needs to show you. Move on when you are ready. My experience has been that simply sitting in the sweet safe place that I've created is satisfying. Enjoy the space that you made. You can have many guides or one guide. There is no room for judgement or critique of self, no wrong way to practice this.
Activity: Make a list of optimal qualities your guide should possess.
SURRENDERING TO CHANGE
It’s easy to get stuck in patterns, even if the patterns don’t feel good. Depression can create a deep groove in the mind. But, we know from neuroplasticity, that the brain is capable of morphing — training and untraining. Sometimes, even if we want to start a new groove, the pattern sucks us back in.
SURRENDER is different from GIVING UP. When we surrender, we are open to possibilities and the universal energy. When we give up, we close down our senses to possibilities and the energy channels shut down, as well.
Action can help RESET. Physical activity can be especially catapulting. Dancing, stretching, hiking. Meditation. Starting with ONE thing is easier for the stuck brain to adjust to in the beginning phases of the creation of new mind-body patterning.
Writing about the experience can help solidify and deepen the new groove. What action technique did you choose and why? What happened during? (Maybe you walked around the park, maybe you danced in front of the mirror, maybe you just shook your body in the kitchen…) Whatever it was, reflect on what your body and mind were feeling during the action. How do you feel now? How did you feel prior to the physical activity?
NEXT UP: Dealing with Demons + The Dark Night of the Soul