If you’ve ever felt depressed for a long time, you know just how it feels: It seems like life has slowed down and lost its color and vibrancy. You might feel numb and hollow, and more diminished with each waking moment.
Depression makes us lose touch with the joy of living. All of us experience this loss to some extent, but some get back in touch with life’s vibrancy, while others continue the struggle — mostly with themselves.
While going through my own heavy depression bout, I had no idea then that I felt oppressed, not because of others or life itself victimizing me, but rather because of the endless barrage of toxic self-talk, festering core beliefs and deep internal unresolved core wounds. I had created an inner prison of limited beliefs about myself (“I’m bad”), self put-downs (“I’m a loser”) and perpetual judgments about others (“People can’t be trusted”). Before I knew it, life felt like a real jail cell. Despite the oppressive weight of everyday life, however, I knew deep down there was more to life. As I began to explore this elusive something, I discovered new ways to expand my narrow sense of self and consequently came to the conclusion that what “we” think“we” are is a delusion. We are much bigger than we ever imagined. Here are some helpful hints:
1) Reflect on the sky.
Staring at the infinite sky expands your mind and shrinks your problems. Besides, the sky has something mystical about it. Recline in a chair or simply lie down under the sky and lose yourself in the world above.
2) Go “Forest Bathing” (森林浴 sinrin yoku).
The Japanese believe it is beneficial for one’s health to stroll through the forest regularly; it increases feelings of calmness and joy while decreasing anxiety, depression and blood pressure. Give it a try, even if it just means pacing in your backyard.
3) Watch documentaries about other people and places.
Life in a Day (2011) andCosmos: a Spacetime Odyssey(2014) are two such documentaries. They can expand your sense of self, whereas depression tends to make us see ourselves as the center of everything.
4) Listen to ambient, “trippy” music.
The heavy metal and darkwave I listened to in my darker years contributed to my inner angst. Exploring other ways of expanding my sense of self brought me to ambient music, and I’d recommend nature sounds or any instruments used in music therapy. My favorite artists include Enya and Lisa Gerrard.
5) Try Holotropic Breathwork.
This was first developed by psychiatrist Stanislav Grof in the 1970s and is a natural way of inducing an altered state of consciousness that can help your psyche heal itself. Focusing on your breathing is another effective way of grounding yourself in the here-and-now and releasing yourself from the confines of your own mind.