”Pilgrimage of Desire: A path out of walking depression”

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“I once read that succumbing to depression doesn’t mean you are weak, but that you have been trying to be strong for too long, which is maybe a form of denial. So much of life happens somewhere in between being okay and complete breakdown—that’s where many of us live, and doing so requires strength.” ~ novelist Matthew Quick

Let’s play a little word association.

When I say someone is DEPRESSED, what comes to mind?

You might think of someone who:

  • Looks or acts sad most of the time
  • Cries often
  • Can’t feel any emotions (positive or negative)
  • Can’t get out of bed or leave the house
  • Can’t work
  • Can’t take care of themselves or others
  • Thinks or talks about suicide

That’s what severe depression can look like, and it’s a terrible and potentially deadly illness. Most people would notice those signs, realize something was wrong, and hopefully get some help.

But depression has many different faces and manifestations.

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I was one of the walking depressed. Some of my clients are too.

We have many of the symptoms of clinical depression, but we are still functioning.

On the surface, people might not know anything is wrong. We keep working, keep going to school, keep looking after our families.

But we’re doing it all while profoundly unhappy. Depression is negatively impacting our lives and relationships and impairing our abilities.

Our depression may not be completely disabling, but it’s real.

Walking depression can be hard to recognize because it doesn’t fit the more common picture of severe depression. But it can be just as dangerous to our well-being when left unacknowledged.

This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive or to diagnose anyone. But these are some of the signs I’ve observed in myself and those I’ve coached:

Nothing is fun:- You root around for something to look forward to and come up empty.

You can’t find flow:- Working on your creative projects feels like a grind, but you keep plodding away.

Your energy is low: –Maybe you’re not getting enough rest because you’re too anxious to sleep, or you’re trying to cram too many tasks into a day, or you’re punishing yourself by staying up. Whatever the reason, you are effin’ tired.

You feel worse in the morning and better at night:-I remember explaining this to a friend, who found it mystifying. In the morning I felt the crushing weight of all the things I had to do that day. In the evening I was temporarily free from expectations and could enjoy a moment’s respite.

You have simmering resentment toward others:-Sure, you’re still doing what everybody asks of you, but you stew in anger the whole time. You are jealous of and bitter toward people who look happier than you feel.

Your self-talk gets caustic:-You say nasty things in an effort to shock yourself into action. You use shame as a motivator.

You feel distanced from people around you:-It’s hard to have genuine, intimate conversations because you have to keep up this front that you are alright.

You deprive yourself of creative work time:– This helps you exert some control and stirs up feelings of suffering that are perversely pleasurable. Also, taking on new projects that prevent you from writing or making art lets you prove to yourself that you’re still strong and capable.

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Jen Lee has coined the term Dutiful Creatives to describe those who are inclined to take care of their responsibilities before anything else.

“If life were a meal, you’d consider your creativity as the dessert, and always strive to eat your vegetables first. Pacing and knowing how to say No are your strengths, but your creativity is more essential to your well-being than you realize.” from Jen Lee

You notice a significant mood change when you have caffeine or alcohol: –A cup of coffee might make you feel a lot more revved-up and optimistic. A glass of wine might make you feel really mellow and even ~ gasp! ~ happy. (That’s how I finally realized that I was depressed.)

You feel like you’re wasting your life:-Some people have a high sensitivity to the inherent meaning in what we do. Creativity coach Eric Maisel calls this our “existential intelligence.” If our daily activities don’t carry enough significance ~ if they don’t feel like a worthwhile use of our talents and passions ~ then soon we are asking ourselves, “What’s the point? Why should I keep going?”

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Why is it hard to admit that you have walking depression?

You may recognize many of these signs in your life but still be slow to admit that you are depressed. Why is that?

Because it feels presumptuous to put yourself in that category when you’re still getting by. You feel like it would be insulting to those who are much worse off than you. You may feel like you have no real reason to be depressed.

Because your pride and your identity take a hit. You have to admit vulnerability and allow that you are not the all-conquering superhero you thought you were.

Because you realize that you and your life need to change, which feels like more work piled on your plate.

Because you are admitting your own responsibility for your unhappiness and that can trigger self-judgment.

Because you might uncover grief or anger at those around you for not seeing and taking better care of you.

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What to do, what to do?

I’ve posted another entry about how creatives heal from walking depression, and here are the highlights:

  • Rest.
  • Make use of medication and other physical treatments.
  • Do therapy.
  • Practice gratitude.
  • Make connections.
  • Reduce your responsibilities.
  • Spend time creating.
  • Change your thoughts.
  • Develop meaning practice.
  • Change your life.

These steps are simple to say, not easy to do, so make sure you get as much support as you can.

 

Pilgrimage of Desire: a path out of walking depression

My life’s work is to help writers and artists recognize their depression and find healing by making their creative work a priority.

As a young adult, I longed to make my mark on the world as a writer. But after university, I got sidetracked by all the demands of ordinary life.

Soon I joined the ranks of the walking depressed. I was working, volunteering, and looking after my family, but I was also desperately sad.

I found the path out of depression by following my desires—to write, to travel, to become a friend and a creativity coach. Eventually, I left ordinary life behind. I thought I’d found my happy ending, but there was more to the story …

”Depression And The Brain”

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”I don’t fear death so much as I fear its prologues: loneliness, decrepitude, pain, debilitation, depression, senility. After a few years of those, I imagine death presents as a holiday at the beach.”

The onset of depression brings about questions and doubts about myself. Things like: “Am I doing the right thing in my life?” “Are my relationships all they can be?” “Am I really a valuable person?”

Depression can answer these questions in some pretty sad and discouraging ways:

You’re on the wrong track for life, change course now or forever be a failure.

You’re dragging down the people you love, best to leave them behind.

No, you can’t possibly be valuable, not with all your problems.

Anyone who has ever experienced depression knows thoughts like these. Thoughts of worthlessness, of utter despair at the thought of oneself, maybe even disgust or repulsion. Depression can really make the mirror a difficult sight to see.

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Every status you have is called into question. Are you a good enough parent? Friend? Sibling? Child? Partner? All of these aspects of life are fair game for depression to leak into and try to poison, and it can be easy to let it. Fighting depression is a monumental task many don’t realize the difficulty of. It’s especially hard when it makes you question your value as a human being, the very foundation of our identity.

Every action I do is brought to scrutiny. Did I make the right decision? Should I have done things differently? What would my life be like if I hadn’t done that? The doubt that comes into play with decisions is also debilitating, as it digs up old feelings of anxiety and pressure over decisions I have to make in life. And all of those things can be used as ammunition to make me feel like I always mess up.

Depression is a fantastic liar. It can tell me all kinds of untrue things about myself — that my life is not worth living and doesn’t have meaning or purpose or value. The truth is none of those things are true. Every life is worthy of its existence, and that includes you. You may be going through some pretty rough stuff. Like, really, really rough stuff — stuff others may not be able to understand. And you may make some mistakes here and there, it’s part of being human. But ultimately nothing can change the fact that you are a valuable person, a beautiful person and strong person to have survived so long through what you’re going through. Don’t let the liar that is depression tell you any differently.

 A Meaning To Live:-

Most people imagine depression equals “really sad,” and unless you’ve experienced depression yourself, you might not know it goes so much deeper than that. Depression expresses itself in many different ways, some more obvious than others. While some people have a hard time getting out of bed, others might get to work just fine — it’s different for everyone.

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I feel like philosophically, I’ve reached this point where I’ve realized life is 100% pointless, so much so that there is no reason to continue living. I have absolutely no desire to go on for another 50 or 60 years like this. I’m convinced that as I get older, my mental health issues are only going to get worse as if they weren’t already bad enough. I believe that everyone who is motivated to live and looks forward to the future only does so because they have invented reasons to live. Supporting a family, making a name for yourself, I’ve realized the only reason humans mourn our dead is because we mourn our own lives losing one more person who lessened our suffering. All of life is suffering. I don’t want to die, because that would remove a part of my loved one’s lives; their suffering would increase. However, I find myself increasingly hopeful that the world ends. That we all die, and everyone’s suffering ends because there is no one to mourn.

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Life is suffering, and death is the only cure for suffering. Why is it so bad to want to die? I feel a biological desire to live, but I recognize it’s only an evolutionary mechanism that I would want to avoid death. The rational part of me believes suicidal idealization is actually the only rational solution to life’s problems. I don’t think that I will ever get better, because it isn’t just depression anymore. I’ve often read about how depression can actually change who you are, it can change your very way of thinking and behaving; your entire outlook on life and the universe. I believe I have reached that point, in fact, I believe I have reached that point a couple of months ago. I don’t have any plans to kill myself in the immediate future, but I firmly believe that my cause of death, whenever I do die, will be suicide.

”Why Do I Feel I Don’t Know Myself Anymore..?”

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”I don’t fear death so much as I fear its prologues: loneliness, decrepitude, pain, debilitation, depression, senility. After a few years of those, I imagine death presents as a holiday at the beach.”

Hello Folks, I am reaching out to anyone there who suffers from anxiety, unwanted thoughts and depression like me.

I feel like I am living in a dark hole and that nothing good ever comes into my life anymore.

My unwanted thoughts are robbing me from having a good and well-maintained life, I am stressing myself out for no reason and I don’t know what to do, I am so scared and when I look into what long-term anxiety can do to the body I burst into tears.

I had a fear of death for quite some time last year and as of the last December, I had a very bad incident of little hours of sleep in a week.

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”A big part of depression is feeling really lonely, even if you’re in a room full of a million peoples.”

It was so bad that I was drinking to pass out but of course, that makes me SO MUCH WORSE! I have been okay with being able to sleep but it’s only because I have taken something to make me sleepy and then the next day I am drowsy and spacey. I am always thinking about fearing of not been able to sleep, it’s so bad that I don’t work anymore, I don’t plan any events with anyone or even see anyone because I panic about not been rested… I wanted to make music with the humblest person I know but because of this fear, I no longer get involved in music anymore.

I just can’t seem to get my mind of this and it’s destroying everyday, I just do the same thing everyday feeling sorry for myself and crying so much it makes my head hurt.

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DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SADNESS AND DEPRESSION:-

Another important twist is that people can feel sad, even intensely sad, without depression being involved. When people experience a loss, they usually feel sad, but don’t necessarily feel depressed. Sadness and depression have similarities, but they have some important differences.

When people are sad and express their sadness, they feel better, whereas when people are depressed, expressing their pain may not give them relief.

When people are sad and express their sadness, they feel better, whereas when people are depressed, crying and expressing their pain may not give them relief. Sadness doesn’t involve mean thoughts about oneself or hopeless or suicidal thoughts, but depression often does. Sadness doesn’t involve distortion in perception, or loss of perspective, whereas depression usually does. Finally, sadness doesn’t interfere with feeling other emotions, while depression often prevents a range of specific emotions.

In my experience, most people who are depressed have some sense that something is wrong, and if they don’t, people around them usually do. It really doesn’t matter whether suffering fits neatly into the DSM diagnosis for depression or not.

It’s not necessary to diagnose yourself or your loved ones. If you or someone you love is suffering, get professional help to assess what is causing the suffering and what would help relieve it.

 

 

”There Is Nothing Shameful About Shame”

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People talk about physical fitness, but mental health is equally important. I see people suffering, and their families feel a sense of shame about it, which doesn’t help. One needs support and understanding. I am now working on an initiative to create awareness about anxiety and depression and help people. 

Shame is a painful emotion responding to a sense of failure to attain some ideal state. Shame encompasses the entire self. The thought process in shame involves self-focused attention. The physical expressions of shame include the blushing face, slumped with head down, eyes averted. It generates a wish to hide, to disappear or even to die.

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Shame is the inner experience of being “not wanted.” It is feeling worthless, rejected, cast-out. Guilt is believing that one has done something bad; shame is believing that one is bad. Shame is believing that one is not loved because one is not lovable. Shame always carries with it the sense that there is nothing one can do to purge its burdensome and toxic presence. Shame cannot be remedied, it must be somehow endured, absorbed, gilded, minimized or denied. Shame is so painful, so debilitating that persons develop a thousand coping strategies, conscious and unconscious, numbing and destructive, to avoid its tortures. Shame is the worst possible thing that can happen, because shame, in its profoundest meaning, conveys that one is not fit to live in one’s own community.

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The Burden of Shame:-

Shame-bound persons, believing themselves to be seriously flawed, without worth, and hardly belonging in the world inevitably have the consequences of their shame-consciousness show up very negatively in many areas of their life:

At the core of the shame-bound person is a failure of self-esteem. As one feels dishonored and without belonging, then feeling good about oneself, feeling confident in one’s abilities is inevitably lost. With one’s boundaries mushy and one’s sense of oneself as “flawed,” one hardly has a self at all, let alone one to feel high regard for. “Shaming” a person makes him as low as he can go. For a person who has been shamed has no way out, his is the feeling of there being nothing he can do to set things right. Something vague, but decisive, has shrunk his soul.

The shame-bound person may become either an offender or a victim, or, as is most likely, one who vacillates from one mode to the other. If his experiences cause him to access his shame, he may take out his hurt and rage on others weaker than himself in his present community of family and friends. For another person whose defense is less aggressive, if she is re-shamed, she may fall into her accustomed role of victim, as she is naturally adept in this guise, having been an actual victim in her original family. Having learned to make a “virtue” of necessity, she has mastered playing the victim for what consolation rewards there are–some sympathy, some self-righteousness. For the offender there is some momentary sense of revenge and power, for the victim, a brief touch with martyrdom–and beyond these meager compensations, the despair of impotence and participation in the continuing of the cycle of shame. The shame of the parents becomes the shame of the children, and so on…

The shame-bound person has difficulty with intimate relationships.

Feeling so bad about herself, she does not wish another to know her, expecting for sure that he will see what a shameful creature she is. So she puts up a false front, she pretends and postures and does all the things she believes others will be impressed by, but she can never do that which is the essence of intimacy, reveal herself to another in open risk taking.

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Depression often possesses the shame-bound person. Depression is the stuck place between anger and grief. The person who feels no sense of self-worth will not know how to get angry, for that would be too much aggression for him who was brought up with such a fragmented sense of being entitled to respect. On the other hand, the shame-possessed person cannot grieve, for it was much too disappointing and painful to dare to believe that he could be genuinely important to another, or vice versa. Depression is marked by alienation and no real opportunity to bring things back together. At the center of depression is the sense of loss, and the shame-bound person carries the greatest loss of all, the loss of a valued self. The loss is made more difficult to emerge from as one recognizes that he is only partially aware of the dimension of his loss, having been deprived of the experience of and the model for respectful caring and nurturing.

The shame-bound person is controlling, rigid, and perfectionistic.

She has had to compensate for having not felt a sense of love. Her experience of “love” is the opposite of the highly touted, idealized concept of “unconditional love”. Shame comes from all “love” being conditional. Which, of course means that the love is never complete, never a comment on the person as she is, but as she pleases her parents by satisfying their expectations and demands. So she attempts to put life in “perfect” order to compensate for the chaos in the relationships of her heart. Not feeling the warmth of love, she needs desperately to control the world and is not able to tolerate deviation. In a loveless world, “doing things right” brings the only rewards she can attain. She lives very carefully, for a slip can cause her to lose her fragile hold on things.

The shame-bound person clings to his image, after all it is the most positive thing he has going for him. He believes that within he has no real self, that he is not loved, or respected, or needed, so he must make himself loveable, appear respectable, and create the illusion of being indispensable to others. He works hard at it. He lives by his false-self, often bouncing between an over- and under-inflated presentation of himself. He does not strive for self-fulfillment, only for self-image fulfillment.

The shame bound person is numb and/or spaced-out. Life is so painful as-it-is that she takes the way of self hypnosis, or enters a self-induced trance-state in order to make her experience bearable. She lives anesthetized, and feeling as little pain as possible. Of course, neither can she feel passion or pleasure.

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Healing Shame:-

Shame is, indeed, pervasive and profound. It doesn’t fix easily, for it is a condition of our psyche and our soul. But with courage, attention and plain hard work healing is possible. Here are some thoughts for healing your shame:

Let yourself learn, through and through, that your shame is not your fault.:- Most of your shame-inducing experiences happened to you early in your life–when you were small and the world of parents and other caretakers loomed very large. Your fundamental feelings of insignificance, the “shame” that goes far back in your mind and soul, appeared long before you had any “choices” in the matter. Shame was your natural organismic response to the burdens and demands that were being visited on you by your family. Believing that making you ashamed would motivate you to behave as they wished (The demands of a dysfunctional shame-bound family are irrational and inconsistent, for the family only knows it is unhappy and does not know what would make things better. The child becomes the scapegoat for the family’s incompetency in solving its problems-in-living.), your parents intended you to feel shame about yourself for your “bad” behavior. Sometimes, they even rationalized that shaming you was “for your own good.” However, what actually happened was that they only succeeded in making you feel bad about being yourself, for you did not possess what they were demanding as you had neither the power nor the talent to change yourself in order to enter into their good graces. But, being children, you could not grasp that your parents were the dysfunctional persons in the family; you knew of no one’s failures but those attributed to you by the grown-ups. Your only “guidance” was that which helped you feel awful–shame–about yourself for failing to produce….I repeat, it was not your fault.

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Face shame, experience it, incorporate it :-As you are your memories, your history, your joys and your talents, you also are your experience of shame. There is no escaping any part of yourself, your shame experiences are in your neurons and your body cells. What you can learn is not to deny or finesse them, but to face them, own them, and incorporate them into yourself. After all, they are only painful memories, not imperious demons. They cannot hurt you again as they did before–though you may believe they can–for you are not vulnerable as you were when you were small. Some things have changed and one of them is the perspective and position you have as adults to confront and not be done-in by the shaming experiences the world offers you.

There is nothing shameful about shame. You have every right to yours. You earned it by surviving in the midst of shaming people. There is a great community of the shamed waiting to dare to trust others enough to be open and vulnerable. Sharing your shame with them will be a way of forming a strong and rejuvenating ties with others. There is no more powerful bond than that of shared shame transformed into a bond of understanding and mutual support for one another’s healing.

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Replace shame with mature guilt :-Guilt has often received bad press, and well it should–if, and only if, you are talking about neurotic guilt–guilt that self-flagellates and changes nothing. If you are talking about mature guilt, then guilt is one of the great inventions of nature. For mature guilt lets you know what is unacceptable, and offers you opportunity to do something about it. Shame, on the other hand comes to you as a feeling so deep and so incapable of your getting a grasp on it that it seems there is nothing you can do. To illustrate: John feels shame that he is not the sort of person who can ever excel at his work. Whatever happens, a demotion, a “blowing-out” by his boss, he senses that this is because he is “basically inadequate,” so he hangs his head and lowers his eyes and dampens his energy. Finding the “smarts” and the courage to re-evaluate himself as “guilty” of inertia and poor training, he begins to create and achieve goals that are possible for him. So if he sets certain standards, and then if he doesn’t achieve them, he can rightly feel guilty that he is failing and can increase his efforts to succeed, or redefine his goals. He has moved into consciousness that his worth can be defined by realistic possibilities, not by the un-focused and “hidden” demands of shame-making expectations.

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Make new parents:- You must learn from experience that you are not unworthy of belonging to the human community and that in order to heal your shame you must create a healthy family for yourself. Think of an occasion when you have stood against those who would make you feel bad about yourself. Think of how you counted on the thought of a friend, or lover, or teacher whose opinion you could depend on to back you in your struggle. It made a difference. It made the crucial difference is keeping you going and anchoring the experience as a positive for you.

You must create a new family. Perhaps this sounds strange, but you are already doing it–clubs, churches, professional societies are efforts; lovers, friends, marriages are efforts; even cliques, cults, and gangs are efforts. The success or failure of your journey to heal your shame will be crucially influenced by your ability to surround yourself with those who think you are lovable, who support you, who back you up in the way you lead your life, who can convey to you that they are for you even when they don’t like your behavior–and toward whom you can healthily reciprocate.

 

”Experiance Depression To Spiritual Awakening”

” In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all, and it often comes with bitter agony. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time. You cannot now believe that you will ever feel better. But this is not true. You are sure to be happy again. Knowing this, truly believing it, will make you less miserable now. I have had enough experience to make this statement.”

~ Abraham Lincoln

 

Becoming spiritually awakened for most people is not a one-time experience and forever after they are awakened and free. People have Near Death Experiences, enlightening dreams, visitations of relatives from the other side, meditation and prayer experiences which uncover their normal awareness to a state of vast brilliant light, a love without end, a realm of being with no observer, only intimacy, and freedom beyond words. The experiences are so real that there is no doubt about their authenticity. Everyone who has a spiritual awakening knows there is much more than our normal everyday reality. There is God. I, as vast and pure awareness, continues long after body and personal story in this life comes to an end.

These experiences can be very vivid, foremost in one’s mind for months and years afterward. Nevertheless, most people who have a spiritual awakening find themselves back in the old shell of their personality, challenged physically and socially like everyone else. An experience of spiritual awakening can be a bright light exposing our normal thoughts and feelings. We may see more clearly our usual selfishness, desires to be comfortable, and everyday worries. Knowing a great love does not make love one’s entire reality. The everyday world can still live around and very much within after a spiritual awakening. The experience of the Divine does not take away one’s humanness but for many highlights it. The inability to integrate how human we are and how divine we are can lead to a state of depression.

Many people after a near-death experience report their reluctance to leave Heaven to return to normal life. “People are not nice there!” This is an understatement, to say the least. Another person finally agreed to return after understanding the other side had no chocolate. There are somethings of real value in being human. The contrast between Heaven and Earth for those who have experienced both can be too much. How do mind and heart carry the experience of Paradise and human suffering? For many, they do not. The weight of this world and weightlessness of who we really are can lead to depression.

Certainly, the power of knowing God is real, feeling life’s essence, understanding the pure love is who we really are, is a life-changing event. The imprint cannot be erased. In the course of normal life with a partner, child, enjoying beauty in any form can be similar inspirational events. When our mental life is turned down and the volume of the heart is turned higher the realm of peacefulness, a connectedness with no borders, no resistance, the experience of letting go, falling into waves of love can be present. The contrast of love’s power and everyday loneliness can, however, be a separateness too difficult to overcome. Depression can be an inability to express one’s self whether human or Divine.

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The contrast trying to play the game of life, doing, achieving, and having success while knowing meanwhile love is the ultimate reality can be confusing, conflicting, and tying heart and mind into knots.

Awakening experiences often happen when we are vulnerable, our defenses are lowered, or literally when brain activity stops. People think to stay in that awakening experience or return to it, they must live in an altered state. How do they do this and take care of everyday life?

Meanwhile, after a spiritual awakening priorities are questioned, goals change, life can profoundly turn upside down. Work, relationships, so many paths become choices. What is important in life? Knowing love is all that matters does not necessarily give us a life of love. The sincere effort, prayer, surrender, understanding, compassion, and every other tool in the human potential box do not necessarily give us the life we want.

Managing an inner life which knows a great love and an outer life which can be anything but loving is a bridge too far for many. They fall down in between the two vastly different worlds. Many give up on being awakened. They are overwhelmed just managing life itself. Others try throwing themselves into their inner world while their daily world falls apart. Neither solution brings inner peace or well being. Depression can be the result.

No, life ain’t always beautiful
Tears will fall sometimes
Life ain’t always beautiful
But it’s a beautiful ride
~ Life Ain’t Always Beautiful,

To meet the challenge of depression after a spiritual awakening requires a new foundation in life. The first cornerstone is a life of choosing joy, daily joy, simple joy, yes fun, freedom — moment to moment receiving the beauty in life. As spiritual awakening brings us to the present, it is easier to be present as we make everyday choices of joy. Relationships, activities, work, and play which nourish our heart and the hearts of others nourish our awakening. As joy becomes a cornerstone of life so does our spiritual awakening.

A second cornerstone for continuing our awakening is a meaningful spiritual practice.The awakening experience can be connected to in meditation. Meditation can be a Near Death Experience without the drama. The overwhelming love we found in awakening is within us. Awakening shows us when our worldly self-has put aside, our inner self, the world of our heart is more present. In meditation, we can free ourselves of our busy mental world by bringing our awareness to the world of our heart. The peace and quiet of the heart is the same peace and quiet discovered in spiritual awakening. Time for heartfully being instead of mentally pressed to be doing is important. In the silence, we can be free of the cultural lack of love around us while absorbing the silence, the vast love is found within us. The brilliant light found in spiritual awakening does not require us to die to be in the light. Spiritual practice is a daily receiving and absorbing our awakening experience, in our awareness, meditation, and letting it spread in every aspect of our lives.

The third cornerstone of our new life is heart full community. Instead of hiding our awakened self or living in fear of being judged, we want a community which embraces and supports our awakening. So often friends can be competitive instead celebrating our light inwardly and the joy we find in the world. Our lightness of wanting to be in the world with others enjoying the lightness of being in everyone. Usually, this is found in a meditation community which is less dogmatic and more heart-based. Aciste is a well-respected organization bringing people with spiritual awakening experiences together for community and support.

And finally, the fourth cornerstone of the awakened life is offering, giving ourselves to those around us. Almost all who have experienced life after death found the most important aspect of this life is what of ourselves we give to others. Service is not only in the big things we help organize and do but very much in the small moments we are present, receiving, and giving to one another. Joy, spiritual practice, community, service give us the foundation for the awakened life to build and blossom in a world that has so few gardens.

In truth, we all are awakened. And we all live in an overly mental world that covers our light. To live beyond the lonely corridors of the mind calls us to live more consciously in the hallways and grand castles of the heart. Without our inner garden honored and cared for, the world we live in is indeed depressing. The gardens call us. The little flowers of life are the rain of Heaven nourishing us and everyone.