Depression has become the third largest individual health problem in Australia – more women than men experience depression (almost twice as many) and around one million of us will experience a depressive illness this year alone. In this article we'll look at how the body can be used to create anchors for us and how we can make time in our everyday lives to debrief and prepare for our challenges.
Depression is a malady of our age and is part of our shared psyche – it could be called a spirit of our times. Wherever you are, whatever you do, the spirit of the age is present. Its important to know how you can assist yourself before, during or after depression visits yourself or someone you love. These principles are based on the running of the human body in synch with the energetic flow of life and draw from indigenous wisdom.
1. Principle one is context, context is the surrounding information that gives meaning to a certain event. Context can answer the question, “Where am I?” To build a connection with the land under our feet gives us both feelings of being grounded and centred- powerful wells to draw from when we feel lost or confused.
Shamanic context comes from the regular observation of changing seasons and tides of life. This could be walking daily and observing the change of the earth seasons, redecorating to change the colors or layout of your home, and consciously following the patterns of holiday times, a weekly day off, or a regular weekly event, like Friday date night etc . Our bodily patterns of eating, sleeping and creativity differ season to season, consciously marking the start and end of seasons helping us stay stay attuned to our body's wisdom and get in touch with what's happening here and in the now. To get in touch with the present moment is to build a sense of belonging that anchors us.
2. Principle two is rites, rites are a solemn ceremony that marks the changes in our lives. Rites can answer the question, “Who am I?”. When we celebrate the major passes of our life we birth ourselves consciously. This conscious care and attention to what our bodies are experiencing can offset much of the grief and disillusionment of becoming something we are not ready for or welcomed into.
Shamanic rites mark the passage of girls becoming women then mothers then wise women, boys becoming men and fathers and elders, and communities becoming new expressions of their ancient ways. Acknowledgment and celebration of these transformations gives us anchors to go back to when we experience things falling away or falling down around us. Sharing our life changes with our families and our communities allows us to share the weight and the benefits of coming of age. This kind of community sharing helps us to feel welcomed and supported as we find our newly grown selves in the context of global or even universal anchors.
These two principles can be applied directly to balance and combat depression. Both of these methods hook us into the flow of energy in the world around us and the ebbs and flows of energy in the body that we live in. Happily, building context and honoring our rites can be very simple or as specifically organized as we would like to make them. The time we will invest in anchoring ourselves into our deeper wisdom will depend how much time we have to devote to our selves, how our communities are responsive to such activities and what suits our personalities. There is an spirit that combats the spirit of depression in our age and that spirit is harnessed through honoring our body, honoring our process and consciously marking the events that bring us into being.