Meditation can assist us with depression by reminding us to tune into a higher energy. “Move back to Source, pick up the larger signal, and live with that energy for a greater portion of our lives.”
Q: I’ve been meditating for years, but I still live with chronic depression. This doesn’t make sense to me. I meditate to find peace, but I can’t hold on to it for very long. I seem to return to a set point of unhappiness. Is there any hope to be able to live more from peace than depression?
Sometimes I find insight in strange places.
Our son recently told us we could join his friends and family group for YouTube TV. I watched a few things on it for a couple of months but was not too impressed. The picture would get blurry for a while, then turn clear again. If I had more than an iota of techno-savvy I would have figured out the problem quickly. For some time in our home, we had defaulted to the 2G wireless network because it allowed us to use devices farther from the router. The TV sits right next to the router, but it still had a blurry picture. All I needed to do was set it to run on 5G and the picture stayed clear.
What does any of this have to do with your question? I think all of us are like devices that can connect with a lower level signal or a higher signal. The lower signal makes the picture of our true nature blurry, the higher signal makes it clear. Maybe the “G” in 2G stands for “gripes” and the “G” in 5G stands for “God” (however we understand God).
For me, meditation is a daily practice of resetting the device of my mind-body-spirit to higher energy. To do this, I need to move closer to the Source of that energy, just as my device needs to be closer to the router if I want it to pick up the 5G signal in my home. When we stray too far from the Source (for me, another name for God), we lose the higher signal and default to the lower one. Meditation is not just a technique to help us get a break from depression or stress; it’s a daily practice to train us to move back to Source, pick up the larger signal, and live with that energy for a greater portion of our lives.
How does meditating allow us to live closer to Source throughout the day? I end my meditation time silently invoking the words of the 14th-century monk Meister Eckhart: “What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action.” What am I planting in the soil of meditation each day? I plant the seed of intention to notice throughout the day when I drop the higher signal and catch myself living from the lower signal. As I finish the conscious breathing I do during meditation, I also plant the seed of intention to go to my breath as often as necessary throughout the day to reconnect with the higher signal.
Our desktop computer upstairs is far enough from the router that it sometimes switches over to the 5G signal. Then it can’t hold that signal, so we manually switch it back to 2G. Kind of a pain. But I think we’re all a bit like that computer. We need to reset back to higher energy when we drop the signal. In times of high stress, or if we have a long-term pattern of depressive or anxious energy, that resetting can be necessary a few hundred times per day. Yes, really, a few hundred.
Intentionally bringing awareness to my breath a few hundred times per day does not solve the “life is difficult” problem that psychiatrist M. Scott Peck noted in the first sentence of The Road Less Traveled. Rather, it allows me to live with awareness of both signals at once.
This is what I hope for you—to see your stress or depression trying to take up the bandwidth of your mind and simultaneously have the awareness that you are not defined by or completely caught in those lower energies. With time—and much more time than any of us prefers—we can hold the higher signal for longer stretches. More on this approach to depression can be found in The Mindful Way Through Depression (Williams, Teasdale, Segal, and Kabat-Zinn), one of the more interesting approaches to depression I’ve encountered.
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