Going Through Rather Than Around Depression
Morning Coffee Time with Pat – Monday
On Sunday afternoon Pat and I got home from our 5-day Thanksgiving trip to visit my daughter and her family in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. It had been a hectic visit (with four boys between ages 7 and 13) but pleasant. I was surprised as I sat in meditation on Monday morning that I could feel depression. I was not running away from depression by ramping up activity (a pattern of former times) but rather just feeling it and then exploring its possible causes. What first arose as a cause was that my depression had as its source my sense of not serving a cause greater than myself.
How did I make this self-assessment? There were several triggers for this assessment of not serving a cause greater than myself and subsequent feelings of depression. Yesterday I had received an email from a Pathwork Helper about her not participating in the graduate program with Erena and the rest of us. This led me to believe that all the energy I felt for the Graduate Program, all the work that Erena and I and others had put into this program, and our beautiful experience of that first session two weeks ago, were not meaningful to some in our helper community. I concluded that some Pathwork Helpers seemed to place little value on deepening their Pathwork experiences. I could not understand this in the context of my own positive Pathwork experiences, and somehow I let this rejection of this program by one Pathwork Helper lead me to generalize and conclude that the Graduate Program helped no one, and hence my own life was of value to no one. Of course my intellect could instantly see the distortion in such a generalization and conclusion, but my feelings were ones of depression, sadness, and a little anger and frustration. The latter feelings came from my dismay that a Pathwork Helper would have little interest in Pathwork per se.
Secondly, I realized that my own kids, though struggling in some areas of their lives, are not open to what they call deeper spiritual work. This saddens me and led me to a feeling of helplessness in being of service to them. If I say nothing about Pathwork to them am I colluding with some negative energy in them? If I say something about Pathwork rather than just being with them in their own life issues am I being a forcing current that clearly would push them away? Is Pathwork not really a set of helpful tools after all? Am I in distortion concerning my love for Pathwork? Is my work with my workers, though appreciated by them, delusional and not really serving their lives? This was another source of my ego’s assessment of not serving a cause greater than myself and resulting feelings of depression.
Thirdly, my plate is full of administrative tasks I have to complete for Mid-Atlantic Pathwork, and work needed to get my computer up to date so I can continue my Pathwork Question and Answer session recordings. Is all this administrative stuff really serving a cause greater than myself? Well I suppose indirectly, but I was longing for more direct service.
With these reflections in my meditation, Pat joined me for coffee time and I shared my feelings of depression and my suspicion as to several possible causes. Pat: How are you in relationship with the Greater One you want to serve? Do you have communications or contact with the Greater One? Gary: Good question! At first your question gives rise to fear in me! I immediately conclude that I have NO contact or relationship with the Greater One, or God. I feel isolated, alone, separated from God, from the Greater One. I am fearful of this Greater One or God. God represents Ultimate Authority and I can feel my rebellion against Authority and at the same time fear of such Authority, and guilt for not obeying, not seeking, or not contacting God. Pat’s was certainly the right question for me to consider as I pondered all that it brought up in me.
Then I slowed down. Is this really true? Do I have no relationship with the Greater One? I relaxed. I could feel my connection to the Pathwork Guide, the source of these amazing Pathwork Lectures. Yes, with these Pathwork Lectures I feel connected to a Greater One. And through these lectures I have come to see my inner divinity that often shows up as intuitive truth brought to life within me through resonance with the Pathwork Guide’s teachings in the Pathwork Lectures. Yes, these Pathwork Lectures are a connecting link to the Greater One, to God, to Spirit.
Gary: I could see what just happened energetically. At the beginning of my mediation I rode the wave downward into depression with its hopelessness, fear, and loneliness only to be able to ride the wave upward again as I came to recognize the connection to God within I experience through these Pathwork Lectures. Pat: A Touchstone – touching into the Divine within. It is the Awakening One, Christ Consciousness. How in my life do I make contact with this Consciousness, this Awakened One? How do I provide for myself those experiences of touching into the Divine? Who says “I need help”? Who is saying that to whom? At any rate “Depression” visited you this morning.
Gary: And help came un-beckoned in the form of you. And I could feel my resistance – I don’t want to need help. I might even say I can feel my negative intention to stay depressed! Pat: Our spiritual practices are so important! Gary: Yes, and our coffee time is a critical part of our practice, as is your AIP practice and my meditation and work with the Pathwork Lectures.
Pat: As long as we are human and living in the world of duality that humans live in we shall be visited by depression and other negative feelings. I remember you speaking of the young one in you who, when as a boy his balloon popped, would just cry. There was no help available for him. He was overwhelmed in his body with feelings of aloneness, isolation, helplessness, and powerlessness. The only response was physical – tears.
Pat: I remember the article in the current issue of The Sun magazine we read driving up to Fond du Lac – the interview with Parker Palmer (Open excerpt). Parker mentioned having three bouts of clinical depression and during one of these a male friend would come over and simply massage his feet. Simple foot massage was all that Parker could take in. In this moment I’m tuning toward the waves of depression, powerlessness and helplessness visiting so many in our world. We can dedicate your depression to all who are not able to bring consciousness to these waves of depression. These practices are part of the Buddhist way of meeting suffering in the world. It is so easy to spend our time “on task” in the world and lose consciousness of the deeper meanings of life.
Pat: Having this morning coffee time has been very helpful to me – just to see how this all works – how your being with your depression can be an offering to the world of suffering. Consider that perhaps the most important thing you do in service to the Greater One, to God, is coffee time with Pat. Here we are opening to the sacred.
Our coffee time came to a close, but this theme continued after coffee time as I listened to Pathwork Lecture 82 The Conquest of Duality Symbolized in the Life and Death of Jesus during my workout and exercise walk – this lecture seemed so relevant to our coffee time conversation. Lecture 82 is a Pathwork lecture given on Good Friday and two things stood out for me in my listening. First that Jesus, as true man, was caught in doubt on that original Good Friday when he moaned, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” All of his intellectual knowing notwithstanding, in his full incarnation, that is, in his full human aspect, he forgot what he knew and expressed his truth (“I doubt that God is with me”) in that moment. These words were captured, the lecture says, so that Jesus’ words of truth could be modeled for us. He shared what was true for him through the end, including his doubts, so that we could see that staying in truth through our own Dark Nights of our souls is what is asked of us. It is not our job to cling to a belief when, for a moment, that belief does not feel true to us. Share the truth of our feeling life!
The second point that stood out for me dealt with Jesus’ instructions about being a little child to enter the kingdom of heaven. This Lecture 82 notes that what Jesus meant was that like little children, say for example like me with my burst balloon, we are to feel all of our feelings just the way young undefended children do. They have not yet “learned” through enculturation to numb out their feelings and hold back their tears. It doesn’t mean we, as adults, cry at the drop of a hat in all negative situations, but it does mean we do not defend against fully feeling hard feelings when they arise in us.
The next day (Tuesday), I had a session with my body-worker-therapist Ed Gutfreund (open link). He had just returned from a powerful training session with Bill Bowen (open link) who, from roots in Hakomi and other psycho-somatic modalities, developed Psycho-Physical Therapy. In my session Ed used some of what he learned, built on so much similar work Ed has done down through the many years I have known Ed, and I could experience this body work as a powerful way to integrate body feelings and psychotherapy – right up Pathwork’s ally! This is an alternate methodology to Core Energetics, and something that works better for me to touch into some of my feeling self — feelings such as depression, helplessness, loneliness, weariness, etc. I would say Psycho-Physical Therapy, Hakomi, and other such methodology works from what arises from within the client’s body as he or she gets more in touch with what the body is saying as the mind quiets down. Core Energetics, on the other hand, can work from the outside in, stimulating more externally directed feelings such as anger, rage, and hate.
Shared in love, Gary