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Mindful : October 2013
56 mindful October 2013 health That’s important because the more perspective you have regarding your imbalances, the less they can throw you out of bala nce. Overall, the course of treatment that makes the most sense, for both ordinar y unhappiness and clin- ical depression, brings together a variety of meth- ods. So psychological work can be combined with, among others, physical exercise, guided imagery, artistic expression, yoga, nutrition, acupuncture, and spiritual and meditative practices. Every one of these methods has proven benefits. They improve mood in a sig nificant number of peo- ple—and without side effects or deadening people’s emotions. An integrative approach that carefully combines these various methods to meet a patient’s individual needs is likely to produce better results than drugs, and with less physical and emotional downside. When you say “meditative practice,” what do you mean? Watch your mind work. Watch it thinking that, as in the ea rlier example, you’re never going to have another relationship. When you pay attention like that, you’re no longer so overwhelmed by that thought and therefore less out of balance. It’s a step- by-step process in which meditation and mindful- ness help you obser ve what ’s going on and relax with it. The point is that the more we’re rela xed and in the present, the less anxious and less depressed we’re going to be. Depression can be the dead hand of the past. Our longing for what we’re missing has a hold on us. If we feel helpless about our situation and don’t feel we can change it, we are likely to remain depressed. If we can mobilize our feelings of hopefulness, if we see that hope is justified and act on it, then our mood will improve. As we learn to express our feel- ings, ma ke a commitment to helping ourselves, and reach out to others, we are already on our way. Your book, Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey out of Depression, encourages people to be fully engaged in working their way out of depression— with help, but fully engaged. The hallma rks of depression a re hopelessness and helplessness. I want my approach to be grounded in hope and help people to help themselves. The key is to be persistent—to have patience with yourself. I tell potential patients, “ You’re going to have to do 80% to 90% of the work yourself.” I’ll be here with you, but I can’t do it for you. If someone wants to be a patient of mine, the first thing I do is talk to them on the phone. I want them to understand who I am and how we will work together. Most of all, I want them to feel that they are no longer helpless, that together we can move them out of their depression. If you flee from and suppress the symptoms of depression—with drugs and/or denial—you run the risk of remaining stuck in self-defeating and repetitive patterns, in habits and ideas and ways of relating to others that no longer ser ve you. If you see and embrace each stage of the journey as your teacher—an oppor tunity to see what you’ve been ignoring and need to know—power ful change and healing can and will come. The Call The awareness that we are depressed and that some kind of change, a journey, is necessar y. Guides on the Journey Meeting and choosing the men and women who can help, and developing our own inner guidance and wisdom. The Surrender to Change Allowing and encouraging ourselves to let go of what constrains and freezes us and to move into the current of life. Dealing with Demons Meeting the challenges—self-doubt, loneliness, procrastination, pride, resentment, perfectionism, fear—and finding in them the unique daimon, the source of our own meaning, purpose, and direction. The Dark Night of the Soul Allowing and inviting the deepest life-giving freedom to emerge as we move through the despair that may come to any of us. Spirituality: The Blessing Experiencing the unity and peace, the love and generosity, the connection to something or someone greater than ourselves that can transform our lives. The Return Learning to live ever y day joyously, deeply, consciously, with ourselves and others, in the light of what we have experienced and are always learning. Adapted from Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression by James S. Gordon, M.D. © 2008. Reprinted with permission of The Penguin Press. Finding Our Light James Gordon’s seven stages for the journey through depression. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7