Meditation Explained!

Last week, I attended a talk about TM (Transcendental Meditation) and it reminded me that my last post about meditation was almost 3 years ago! So, I decided to write about this incredible resource today again, and go a little deeper in the explanation of how it works, and how it can help YOU.

brainwaves

I started my journey into meditation about 10 or 11 years ago, it was a slow process for me, and it took many shapes and stages, but along this journey I learned so much about what meditation really is, and it has without any doubt positively shaped the person I am now, and it continues to do so everyday!

I feel, without any doubt, that it is the most powerful tool we can use to live a happier, healthier and easier life. In my experience, meditation is the one practice that will change the world, one person at a time, and I can guarantee you that if you talk to anybody that practices meditation regularly, they will agree with this.

Describing meditation is not a very easy endeavor, as it is one of those things that, in order to be fully understood, it needs to be experienced first hand… but I will try my best to explain it.

Basically, our brain vibrates at different frequencies, a frequency is the rate at which a vibration occurs that constitutes a wave, either in a material (as in sound waves), or in an electromagnetic field (as in radio waves and light), usually measured per second. The states of our mind and brain are very different depending on which frequency they are vibrating at.

If you look at the picture above, there are currently 4 brain frequencies detected by an EEG (although now they are talking about a 5th one called Gamma, but for now we will just focus on the 4 pictured above.)

  • Beta: you are awake, consciously alert, active, fully awake, going about your day.
  • Alpha: you are awake and aware but in a state of physical and mental relaxation.
  • Theta: you are in a state of somnolence with reduced consciousness.
  • Delta: you are unconscious, in deep sleep.

So, basically, meditation is the capacity to go deeper and deeper into these frequencies, by maintaining awareness, it is the capacity to lower the activity in our brains to the point that our mind is thought-free (or almost), and therefore we can create a space of total stillness and clarity within, a space in which we are still awake and aware (as opposed to falling asleep or deeply asleep.)

There are of course different levels of meditation, the more you practice, the deeper your meditation can be. There are also many techniques used for meditation, but the goal is always the same: to quiet your mind and become the “observer” of your mind. You can learn more about all the different techniques by looking at the related articles and books listed below.

Amongst many spiritual traditions it is believed that this space of stillness is where we meet the divine, where we understand who we are, and where the source of all beings becomes one. It is the space also where we can connect to our intuition, our inner knowing, etc.

However, for those who are turned off by all the spiritual lingo, it is important to remember that you can practice meditation and get all the benefits from it, without attaching any spiritual meaning to it.

How can meditation help YOU?

Well, nowadays people all over the world are suffering from a constant state of stress no matter how subtle it is, we are slaves of what Eckart Tolle calls: Psychological Time, our minds are very busy all the time dwelling on past events or speculating about future outcomes, but very seldom focused completely, a 100% in the moment, therefore, our mind chatter is constantly interfering with our reality and this creates inevitable stress.

When we are stressed out (by our own thoughts) our bodies are in a constant state of fight or flight* and therefore our brain is not working at its optimum capacity, and we are more likely to make the wrong choices and react to events in less than desirable ways, let alone the consequences that linger in our bodies (tension, high blood pressure, etc).

Meditation, by the virtue of slowly but surely training our minds to quiet down, will help us regain control over our brain and our body, and be in a state of constant calmness and clarity, as opposed to a state of stress and hurry.

Committing yourself to the practice of meditation will likely be the most important decision you make in your life!

Don’t think that you need to spend thousands of dollars or travel to Asia in order to learn how to meditate, there are wonderful resources that can help you learn without spending your life’s savings. But ultimately it all comes down to how committed you are to improving your life for real.

The 21-Day Meditation Challenge is one of those great online free resources to get you started, and it is going on RIGHT NOW, so you are still on time to join, I highly encourage you to do it, even if it is just out of curiosity, it won’t take more than 20 minutes of your day and it will give you a taste of what meditation is. Register Now

If you live in the DC area, drop me a note and I will be happy to send you a list of the local resources in this area, but wherever you live, I am sure you can find organizations, groups or institutions that offer free classes and workshops on meditation.

Have a Great Week!

*fight or flight and modern stress response explained here

Related Articles Great Books
Meditation, an Incredible Tool (How I discovered meditation) 10% Happier by Dan Harris
A true story and a great approach for the skeptic
8 Basic Kinds of Meditation Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg A great introductory book with a program and a bonus CD
The Chopra Center Meditation Resources How to Meditate by Pema Chödrön
A wonderful beginners guide by a seasoned Buddhist Nun
What are Brainwaves Meditation for Beginners by Jack Kornfield A great beginners book

Announcements

    • 21-Day Meditation Challenge with Deepak and Oprah started 11/03/14 Register NOW you are still on time to join!
    • The Divine Ordinariness of St. Teresa of Avila, Free online Teleseminar starts 11/08/14 Register NOW

Energy Tips for Everyday

WOW! It has taken me a month to get back to my writing! Having a new job, along with my parenting duties and other responsibilities in my life, has left very little time for my writing. Sometimes life’s duties takes us away from those things we really enjoy doing… But today I am back with a post on Energy Tips.

I recently listened to an interview with Donna Eden, author of Energy Medicine: Balancing Your Body’s Energies for Optimal Health, Joy, and Vitality. Donna has been working for 35 years, teaching people how to use energy in order to improve their health. Based on the premise that we are energy and that our bodies are governed by the flow of this energy, by working with this energy flow we can have a lot more control over our health and well being.

Energy medicine has been part of our history as human beings for as long as we have existed in this planet, many ancient civilizations have used it. I won’t go into lengths to explain our energetic body because it would take too long, but I wish to share a few interesting and useful tips that you can start using right now and that can benefit your life. One important thing to know is that our hands, especially our palms can gather energy in a very powerful way, so we can use our palms to bring forth that energy.

If you think of it, “the laying on of hands” is a religious ritual that accompanies certain religious practices, which are found throughout the world in varying forms, and they often represent the imparting of spiritual blessings, power, authority, and healing. Many energy healing practices known today, like Reiki, use the palms of the hands to balance the energy and clear the blockages of another person, the practitioner doesn’t even need to touch the patient to channel their energy. Other eastern medicine practices like Acupuncture, are based on stimulating the body’s energy points called the Meridians, through the use of needles, but those can be also stimulated with the use of tapping, as in Tapping or EFT, you can read more on EFT on the resources shared below.

According to Donna, we still carry within us, some instinctive gestures related to the knowledge of energy healing, because they are engrained in our DNA. For instance, when our belly hurts we often rub it with our hands, or when we are stressed out or worried we may bring our hand to our forehead, even if it is just for a few seconds.

Now, lets take the last example (our hand pressing our forehead when we are stressed), and explain the mechanics of it: When you get stressed you can loose up to 80% of the blood in your forebrain, so, it becomes very hard to think clearly when the blood is not flowing into your thinking brain (also called the prefrontal cortex). This withdrawal of blood happens in order to bring more blood into our feet and our body, so that we can run and escape, because this automatic reaction comes from our origins, when we faced dangers such as: being eaten by a lion, so our body still has this automatic responses, this one is called the fight or flight response.

The problem is, nowadays, we face another kind of stress that is not immediately life threatening but unfortunately, it is more of a constant in our lives, so it keeps triggering the flight of fight response, where we don’t really need it and this can create a lot of complications in our lives and in our health. When our blood leaves our forebrain, we tend to use our back brain more (also called the reptilian brain) which is our primal brain function that helps us survive in life threatening circumstances and that we share with all reptiles and mammals.

That said, when you are under “modern” stress you may react in less than optimal ways, as you cannot think clearly. So, coming back to our gesture of pressing our hand to our forehead, why do we do this? Well, by bringing our hand to our forehead, we can draw the flow of blood back into our forebrain, and we will be able to find our calm again and we will be able to think clearly again. The problem is, most people just make the gesture and then take their hand off.

So here is Donna’s first tip on energy medicine:

When you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or, worried: do bring your hand to your forehead and KEEP it there for a few minutes, as you do this, try to also take deep breaths, and little by little you will feel more in control. I often tell my kids when they are out of control to take a deep breath, but that isn’t easy when you are crying desperately or totally scattered, so the forehand tip, paired with the breathing, is a much more powerful and faster tool to regain our calm.

Donna also shared a 5 minute energy routine to bring your energy back up and keep it flowing in your body, this is a good thing to do as a daily maintenance practice, especially useful at that time of day when you feel your energy dropping, this usually happens around 3 PM for most people, but everybody is different. So try to tune into your body and feel which would be the time of day, where your energy drains, this may also vary everyday.

This routine is short and easy and can really help you maintain a better flow of energy throughout your day, it takes only 5 minutes, once you learn it, you can do it anywhare! So, why not try it today!

If you want to see it, click on the image below and you will be taken to Donna’s video.

DonnaEden

 

Donna has a lots of great tips in her books, recordings and videos, but for now, I just wanted to share these 2 that you can start using right now and can make a big difference in your days!

So, next time you feel stressed, remember to keep your hand on your forehead and breathe…

Have a Great Week and keep the energy flowing!

Related Articles and videos:

EFT:Emotional Freedom Technique (Inspired Post)

What is Reiki Energy and how does Reiki work? (Video)

 


Announcements:

    • 21-Day Meditation Challenge with Deepak and Oprah starts 11/03/14  Register NOW

 

Don’t let the Perfect be the Enemy of the Good!

I remember clearly when I was studying to become a professional photographer, I had an assignment that I could not finish, there was always something wrong with it and I kept starting it over an over (note that this was way before the era of digital photography!) Because I was working with film, I could never see the end result until I developed my film, so the whole process was quite long, and starting over meant adding many hours of work and sleepless nights.

perfectionism

My teacher finally asked me why it was taking me so long. I explained to him that I had to start over 3 times and was still not happy with my pictures. He looked at me with a weary look and said: “give me what you have right now!”
I, of course was not ready to do that, but then he said: “Susana, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good

From that day on, his advice stayed with me. If you are a perfectionist as I am, it is not easy to be content with your work, if you feel you can do better, the problem is: you always feel you can do better! so you are never fully satisfied with what you do.

Trying to do your best is a very good personal quality, however, being a perfectionist is NOT. The expectations you put on yourself, as a perfectionist, are enormous and you are bound to let yourself down over and over. You may spend crazy amounts of time in tasks that should not take you too long, you may procrastinate because you are daunted by the task at hand, you may be often disappointed with your performance, or you may be embarrassed of showing your work to others. These are all signs that you may be a perfectionist.

A few years back, when I was discussing some issues with my therapist, the fact that I was a perfectionist came into the table, and she gave me a simple little tool that I have tried to use ever since, but that I still find hard sometimes. She asked me to do something imperfect everyday and leave it like that, she said that I could start with small things that would not make me too uncomfortable, but by doing them everyday I would get used to the discomfort and would feel it less and less.

So my exercise started with something very simple: I was sending a few letters and I wrote one of the addresses wrong, so I crossed out the incorrect word and wrote the correct one next to it. The mailman would most certainly understand, but I felt really uncomfortable looking at the smudge, normally I would have torn the envelope and started all over with a new one, but I didn’t…. This was the beginning of a series of small exercise to get used to the “discomfort” of not being perfect, and it has paid off.

But just recently I saw myself in the exact same position I was years back when I couldn’t finish my photo assignment, and I realized how silly it all was. My children’s teachers announced me, very last minute, that my kids where having a birthday celebration at school (in the previous couple years these celebrations were optional, and I did not do it because my kids where summer babies, so their birthdays would not happen during the school months) however this time, the teachers made the decision for me, and suddenly, I had a rush of guilt thinking that I had not done it the years before, and that now that I had to do it, it had to be perfect.

The school celebration usually involved showing pictures of the kids (at least one picture for every year of their life) and saying something important or a milestone that happened during each one of those years. So, here I was, with one day notice, going crazy, looking through thousands of pictures in my computer, trying to find the best ones, making sure I had at least one of them for every year of their lives, getting all confused about the dates, wondering if they should be alone in the pictures or with a loved one, wondering if I should print the pictures for the kids to pass along or if I should upload them to my iPad to show them at a bigger size, etc. It took me HOURS.

Then, I had to make a cake (homemade of course!) that was the easiest task, and last but not least, I had to come up with one nice milestone for every year, which was not easy since I had totally forgotten when they did what, where they 9 months or 1 year when they started walking?

Well, I didn’t have time to do anything I had planned that day, but I was ready for the birthday celebration! (I had a pressing deadline, so I was done even if I wasn’t totally happy with it)

So, I get to the school, with the cake, the iPad with all the pictures, the list of milestones for each one (since I have twins) and very anxious about the whole thing! And guess what happened…?

When I get into the classroom and show the teacher all I brought, she tells me: Oh, no, we won’t do pictures this time, and instead of the milestones, we are just going to have every classmate say something they like about your kids, and as for the cake… well, we’ll save it for snack time, as we prefer not to give them treats now.

Of course, she was really kind in her telling me all this, and of course, nobody had asked me to do all that, but I assumed it was going to be like the other teachers used to do it in previous years, but not this time…

So there I was, thinking of ALL the time I had wasted trying to be perfect, and I just laughed at myself and remembered my wise photography teacher. Here is another way to put it:

“Done is Better than Perfect

So, if you feel you might be a perfectionist, or know someone who is, you may enjoy, or want to share this post and the related articles below.

Have a Great Week!

3 Big Perfectionism Struggles for Women

Perfectionism Test

14 Signs your perfectionism has gotten out of control


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    • Dating with Dignity, a FREE online summit for women, starts on October 6th. Register here

 

PDA, what…?

Back in the days, before I became a mom, I used to travel a lot, that was (and still is) one of my passions…I remember often sitting at the airports and watching people come and go. One of my favorite things was to watch the smiles, kisses, hugs and even tears of joy when people were reunited.

pda

So, one day, I was at an airport in the US, waiting for family members to arrive when I saw a young couple run into each other’s arms and kiss passionately, they were clearly happy to see each other, I felt their joy was contagious! and then, I heard the lady next to me (who had also witnessed the encounter) say with a dismissive tone and a grimace on her face, P-D-A!

At the time I was new to the US, and my knowledge of English did not encompass all the many acronyms that people love to use here! so I had NO idea what she meant, but I knew she was referring to that couple. I was puzzled, wondering what could have possibly triggered that lady’s negative reaction.

So, a few days later I asked a friend what this “P-D-A” meant, she told me it was short for: Public Display of Affection!

I had to ask her twice, I could not believe it! I was in TOTAL shock!…

How could that couple’s tender embrace, and that moment of pure human joy be seen as a bad thing? and coldly labeled as P-D-A! I just could not make sense of it… maybe that lady at the airport was just very bitter and lonely, so her reaction was out of anger and frustration at her own life… I wondered.

However, I came to realize over the years, that a lot of people in this country frown upon “PDA” and I still have a hard time with that. I come from a culture where public displays of affection are commonplace, not only among couples but between friends, family members, co-workers, etc. We easily hug and kiss our friends in the middle of the sidewalk if we feel like it, and everybody else does…

OH how I miss that!!!

Is affection between human beings something we should be ashamed of? is there something wrong with it? what is it that makes Americans frown upon it…?

This is still a mystery to me (and probably will always remain a mystery), I just can’t get into that mindset, even though for as long as I have lived in this country I have had to adjust to the culture and therefore limit my “PDA” to the minimum, which is really hard for me!

In recent years, however, I realized that I could not hold back my own nature, at least not all the time, so I decided to show my affection more freely to people (especially those who seem open to it) at the risk of been misunderstood or frown upon.

I truly believe that affection, kindness, compassion, love, etc. should be applauded, should be part of our every day exchanges, and it should be modeled for everyone to see, especially our children! When we are sharing a special time with friends, family or partners, wherever that is, why not show them our love and connection through our bodies? It is one of the most natural and powerful ways to connect after all.

Should there be a limit…? Sure! I certainly do not advocate having sex in public, or being sexually explicit in front of everybody, but other than that: hugs, kisses, winks, holding hands, kind caresses, etc. are all beautiful signs of affection that can be contagious and very beneficial for people. If we could offer these loving expressions freely, I am sure it would have a positive effect on people’s mood, health, and level of happiness all around!

I am a 42-year-old woman, and I am not ashamed to say that when I walk on the street with my dad side to side, we are likely to hold hands or have our arms around each other, same with my mom; just as much as I would give my partner a long kiss in the middle of the street if I feel like it, but this is natural for me, as I grew up in South America, there is nothing weird about it. If you think of it, what is wrong with that? If you do find something wrong with that, please write to me! I am interested in hearing your thoughts and start a conversation!

Today, I encourage you to go public with your displays of affection, my guess is you will feel liberated and the people who receive your affection will be happier!

Anyway, that is just a thought from the mind and heart of the outsider that I am!

Have a Great Week! (hopefully with lots of hugs and kisses!)


Announcements

Book Review of the Month – New!

Many of my posts are often inspired by the books I read, and although I do briefly mention those books in my articles, I though it would be nice to ad a monthly “Book Review” to my website. I truly believe books can change lives, the new concepts, facts, and ideas they present can often encourage deep reflection on our part, and can open us up to new ways of seeing life. Most of the books I read are related to personal growth, relationships, happiness, and so on, which are the topics that inspire my own writings anyway, so I hope you enjoy this new feature and maybe discover a book gem for your library and for your life!

When the student is ready… the teacher will appear

And sometimes… that teacher comes in the form of a book, this has certainly been true for me! But it also means, we may not always be ready for a particular book, or it may not speak to us the way it speaks to others.

I remember reading a book by Deepak Chopra a few years back, I really struggled through it, it did not make much sense to me at the time. However, years later it fell into my lap again and I decided to read it again, to my surprise, the second time around every word made total sense to me, I was amazed.

Especially when it comes to personal growth or spiritual books, we need to somehow be “aligned” to a certain book in order to get its full benefit, so as we change and grow, books will have a different impact in our lives.

This month I will present to you a BRILLIANT book that fell into my lap by total chance, I had never heard of it, never heard of its author, and what’s more: it was written for men by a man, but I still decided to give it a try and I wasn’t disappointed!. I gained new insights into men (the male energy and the masculine nature), and was amazed by the profound way in which the author understands female energy and feminine nature as well. So I definitely recommend this book to men, but also to women!

The Way of the Superior Man

“The Way of the Superior Man” by David Deida

Listed under the categories of Relationships, Spirituality and Sex.

The people who will most benefit from this book are man and women that are in a spiritual path or search, that believe relationships are key to their growth, that want to improve their current relationship in ways that it can best serve themselves and their partners, that want to fully embrace and enjoy their sexuality with no guilt nor hang-ups, that want to better understand the dynamics of feminine and masculine energy.

This can be particularly helpful for men who really truly want to understand women and communicate better with them.

The book’s premise: there is a “Way of the Superior Man” that both includes and transcends the “tough” concept of masculinity of our ancestors, and the “sensitive man” concept of more recent years, a way that frees a man to be both powerful and purposeful, and also feel spiritually alive.

Deida takes the reader on a powerful journey into the heart of the contemporary masculine experience, and explores the most challenging and important issues in men’s lives. He writes with sharp honesty, so the reader needs to be open to certain truths that might infuriate some, but will certainly profoundly benefit those who are open and ready for these teachings.

Here below are a few excerpts from the book, which will help you get a sense of its contents:

“Every man knows that his highest purpose in life cannot be reduced to any particular relationship. If a man prioritizes his relationship over his highest purpose, he weakens himself, disserves the universe, and cheats his woman of an authentic man who can offer her full, undivided presence”

“It is so easy to give her love; it’s what both of you really want anyway. But as a man you are more likely to try to fix her. That is exactly not what she wants, and exactly what will make the situation worse, most of the time”

“The priority of the masculine core is mission, purpose, or direction in life. The priority of the feminine core is the flow of love and intimacy”

“When a man sees a beautiful woman it is natural for him to feel energy in his body, which he usually interprets as sexual desire. Rather than dispersing this energy in mental fantasy, a man should learn to circulate this heightened energy throughout his body”

Click on the book image to go to Amazon and learn more about it. If you decide to read it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and take from it all that can benefit your life and your relationship.

Happy Reading!

 


Announcements

Unfolding the layers of purpose

“Living a life of purpose” is a phrase that I often come across, it seems like a very popular phrase nowadays, but what does it really mean? How do we actually DO that? What is our purpose in life anyway? Living our purpose is easier said than done!

layers

You may see your purpose as the work you do, the career you have built, or maybe the family you are raising, the relationships you cherish, etc. But remember that none of those things can really qualify as your purpose if you somehow feel empty, or feel like something is missing…

Your true purpose in life is your mission, that what fills your life with joy, strength, fulfillment, confidence, and true excitement. This mission lies at the core of your being and it is the very reason you exist, and yet it can seem very elusive at times. How do you find it?

Here is an interesting new concept I read about recently and gave me some clarity on this topic: There seems to be many layers of purpose around our lives, and in order to get to the core and to the deepest truth of who we are and what our mission is, we first need to shed all the layers that cover us, one by one. This shedding process is like a slow unfolding that cannot be bypassed if we are to find our true purpose.

All these layers are superficial layers, and by that I do not mean they are less important, but they are more “external” to our being. Because of the fact that the layers need to unfold, there is an inevitable factor of constant change in order to unveil the truth, in order to reach our essence. You must be willing to change everything in your life in order to move from one layer to the next, and this change is often feared and resisted.

By fearing and resisting the inevitable change, we can get stuck in the process and we can stay stagnant in one of these superficial layers for the rest of our lives which is the same as living a mediocre life devoid of true purpose, no matter how much money we make or how perfect our family life looks like.

Every job, enterprise, career, relationship in your life will serve its purpose; but you may have to move on in order to grow, and that means you may be faced with difficult choices like: completely changing careers, divorcing your spouse of many years, leaving behind a secure job, etc. I am giving the examples of the major changes that will create the most fear and resistance; but there are many other small or not so small changes that still need to be dealt with every day.

The good news is: the journey is more important than the destination, so all these layers of purpose are meant to be lived fully, because they are part of our purpose, the problem is when we feel something is not right, when we feel something is missing, but we are not willing to look deeper, when we are too scared of what we will find and we decide to just stay in the safety of the known, we simply decide to numb our feelings, to distract ourselves with meaningless acts, and by doing so we block the process of unfolding and ultimately our process of growth and fulfillment.

Living our purpose goes hand in hand with living with presence, so if you are present, you are living a life of purpose, it is as simple as that, because that presence will clearly direct your life’s unfolding one step at a time. This is the most important thing to remember because only if we live with presence we will indeed find our true mission.

By living with presence we will be able to live every layer fully and we will have the clarity of letting go when the time has come to let go. After completing one layer, we might not know what to do next and that can be very scary but if we live with presence we will find the guidance, the vision, and the next path to take.

Also, if we live with presence, we won’t be “using” anybody or anything for our purpose, but we will be giving our best every day and in every way. So there will be no victims nor damage in the paths we leave behind, no matter how hard it may be to move on.

At the time of transition though, you will need to pay close attention to connecting with your inner wisdom, by finding stillness to fully BE with yourself, clearing your head of thoughts, and avoiding filling your days with meaningless distractions that will take you away from that connection (ex.: watching tv or using alcohol to numb your feelings)

If you are living your life without purpose (or without presence), you are not living fully because you are not really present. Not being present means you are living in the past or in the future (you are either ruminating about the past or projecting into the future,) you are not giving your full attention to what is going on in the moment, to the people you are with, and to the situations that unfold in front of you.

Our lifetime is a constant process of unfolding layers and it is easy to resist this process, to fear it, but the only reason we fear it is because we are stuck with the expectations or commitments of the past, or we are projecting into an uncertain future and imagining negative outcomes.

So the answer to finding and living your purpose is simply to leave with presence, to pay attention to the moment and to let go of the past and the future, completely let it go. In the richness of the present moment you will find clarity, your will find joy, and you will find peace, and your purpose will unveil.

If you wish to read more about presence and purpose, I have listed below a few related articles and books.

Have a great week!

Related Articles:

Be Present in the Present

Your Senses, A Gateway to the Present Moment

Every Ending is a New Beginning

Living the Life of Your Dreams

Books:

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

The Way of the Superior Man (written for men)

Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential

 

Depression and its tragic toll

In light of the recent death of Robin Williams, I thought it appropriate to open up a conversation on depression. It is so incredibly sad that a wonderful and caring man, a successful actor and comedian, a loving father and husband, has taken his own life to escape depression.

Robin Williams

It is also not surprising at all that he ended his life to escape the dark, dark, dark hole of depression. There is a saying that heaven and hell are part of this human life and not some mysterious “places” that we go to after we die. It is indeed within this human and physical life that we can experience hell or heaven, and both of those places are not outside of ourselves but deep inside.

Depression is exactly that: a place of hell, where there is no light, no hope, no meaning; and the longer someone stays in that place, the worst it gets. The problem with this condition is that many times it goes undiagnosed, either because its intensity is mild to moderate (like in chronic depression, dysthymia, etc) or because people do not seek proper help.

Depression in men is a much bigger problem. For centuries men had been expected to toughen up, to hide their sadness, to repress their tears, to be brave and strong, etc. etc. and all of that conditioning and learned behavior has made men much more disconnected from their own bodies and feelings, which is a very serious handicap, especially when facing depression.

Here below is an excerpt of an article from Helpguide.org, which sums it up well:

“Unfortunately, men are far less adept at recognizing their symptoms than women. A man is more likely to deny his feelings, hide them from himself and others, or try to mask them with other behaviors. The three most common signs of depression in men are:

Physical pain. Sometimes depression in men shows up as physical symptoms—such as backache, frequent headaches, sleep problems, sexual dysfunction, or digestive disorders—that don’t respond to normal treatment.

Anger This could range from irritability, sensitivity to criticism, or a loss of your sense of humor to road rage, a short temper, or even violence. Some men become abusive, controlling, verbally or physically abusive to wives, children, or other loved ones.

Reckless behavior A man suffering from depression may start exhibiting escapist or risky behavior. This could mean pursuing dangerous sports, driving recklessly, or engaging in unsafe sex. They may drink too much, use drugs, or gamble compulsively.”

If you wish to read more, you can see the entire article here: Depression in Men, Why It’s Hard to Recognize and What Helps

I have read a lot about happiness, and most of the literature and new scientific discoveries on neuroscience point to the fact that the state of being happy can only be found inside ourselves and it has little to do with our life circumstances, the same goes for sadness and hopelessness, it is a state inside or ourselves.

However, it is important to point out that there is a great difference between feeling sad, frustrated or hopeless (which we all do from time to time) and having clinical depression.
A clinically depressed person needs help, and whether it is the use of medication (temporary or in the long term), and/or an effective therapy, it is very important to seek help outside of ourselves and especially outside of our minds!

Also, once the depression lifts or gets better, a deep personal and internal work has to begin in order to keep a healthy mind, so as not to relapse.
This inner work is a great responsibility and it takes effort, but it is worthwhile, it will help us to recognize the symptoms early, before they take over again, and it can even help us beat depression for good.

There was a time when mental health was taboo, there was a time where there was NO conversation and NO help for mental problems. Now, luckily, things have changed, but in spite of that, there is still a lot of stigma and denial around this. Too many people are suffering from depression and other forms of mental illnesses that seriously damage their quality of life, so it is time to take responsibility for our mental health and accept our limitations without shame but as an opportunity for growth.

Have a great week!

Related articles:

Taking responsibility for our mental health

The Science behind Happiness


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