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Learning from the Dark Angel of Depression

by Barbara Brennan


Depression is an insidious illness. It afflicts many millions of people who may be in reasonable physical shape yet feel crushed by hopelessness, lethargy and despair.

Up to 25 per cent of women and 12 per cent of men are or have been troubled by it to some degree, particularly in societies like ours that put us under relentless pressure to achieve or simply just to fit in. Across the industrial world, that is a colossal number and there is no likelihood of it diminishing in this ever more competitive age.

There is no single cause for depression. It occurs when an imbalance in brain chemicals call neurotransmitters is triggered and there are many possible reasons why this happens.

Heredity: Depression can run in families. Certainly, researchers have found genes that may be linked to bipolar disorder and are looking for those connected to other forms of depression.

Grief: Losing a loved one, divorce or simply the loss of a job.

Illness: Chronic problems such as heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, diabetes or even a mildly under-active thyroid can cause depression.

Hormones: Given the fact that women are twice as likely as men to be depressed, many experts believe there are hormonal factors in play.

Post-natal: While most new mothers suffer mild mental distress in the weeks following birth, in some it may develop into severe depression.

Drugs, alcohol: While it might seem to people that these should relieve mental anguish, substance abuse actually contributes to depression and anxiety. Many pharmaceutical drugs can also have an effect.

Pollution: To me, this is one of the major reasons why the syndrome of depression is growing worldwide. The pollution of our environment by electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) is getting worse every year. In addition, our bodies simply cannot deal with the increasing toxins and food additives that we absorb as we go about existing.

Stress: When we add our speedy lifestyles to the various pollutants, we create a vast breeding ground for depression. Today, we seem to have an overwhelming number of responsibilities that didn’t exist a decade ago.

In the US, both men and women work jobs apart, hire child care, and come home too exhausted to give much energy to the children. In Japan, many men work double shifts and have very little time for relaxation. In most instances, the financial responsibility falls entirely on the man while home-keeping and child-rearing are the duties of the woman.

Both these life-styles leave little room to build intimate, fulfilling and rewarding relationships, leading to tensions and depression.

For all the people who eventually understand they are clinically depressed and seek some form of treatment, many plough on in their misery, knowing only that they are unhappy and that life has little or no meaning. This lack of awareness is another aspect of the insidious nature of the illness.

Healing it is complex because the causes have so many contributing factors. We need to apply what I call the four quadrants of healing: biomechanical, biochemical, bioenergetic and lifestyle. These are actually key to all healing work.

They involve healing at every level – from exercise and self-care, the elimination of toxins and the intake of appropriate dietary and herbal supplements – to the regulation of the human energy field, releasing toxic emotions and undertaking meditative practices. And more. We need to simplify our lives to reduce the anxiety that feeds depression.

Depression can show up in the human energy field in different ways. For someone using a masochistic defense, for example, it looks (and feels to them) like a huge weight they are carrying around. But basically they depress the energy flow through the field.

Although any chakra can be affected by depression, in many people the higher chakras – fifth, sixth and seventh – appear blocked. This cuts off the inflow of inspiration, creativity and the sense of possibility as well as experiences of pleasure and beauty.

In healthy circumstances, these divine qualities metabolize in the throat as truth and in the heart where they become expressions of love. The creative process also manifests through the lower three chakras, feeding the personal self in knowing who one is in the world (third chakra), positive feelings about oneself (second chakra) and physical pleasure (first chakra), thus helping the personality to grow and have a sense of achievement.

It follows, therefore, that very talented people with blocked or distorted chakras may get little pleasure from their creativity, feeling trapped in their despondency. Vincent van Gogh would be a classic example. While I am sure his third eye was open, he must have had difficulty integrating his perceptions of the world with its life energy fields and his limitations with life in the physical – suggesting chakra dysfunction in the lower three chakras as well.

A hands-on healer can help break the negative loop of conditioned thoughts, emotions and reactions that appear in the field as a mass of congealed energy. This continuous loop plays over and over again: “Things will never work out” or “I will never get what I want.” There are innumerable variations.

A healer can lift a lot of the old stagnant energy and restructure the chakras, allowing the client to take in a new experience. When the vibration of the field is raised, this will break loose a lot of the old blocks. All my students are taught how to charge their fields every day, as well as repair their chakras. This is very helpful. It would also be useful to take up tai chi, chi gong or gyrotonics as a regular routine.

It may be difficult to understand, but for those who are consciously on a spiritual path, depression can be seen as an important stepping stone on the journey, like a dark angel coming into our lives to serve a particular purpose, by reflecting our own dark energy so that we can see it and heal it.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote about denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance as the five stages of death and dying. In my book Light Emerging, I applied these same stages to the process of self-healing and added two more: rebirth and creating a new life.

When denial no longer works as a defense, we get angry at the unfairness of life and the burdens we have to carry. Eventually, our anger runs out of steam and we turn to bargaining, often with God, because we need someone else to sort out our problems.

The next stage, depression, is sometimes called the dark night of the soul, when everything becomes too much and we feel overwhelmed as we drop further into the depths of our wounds. Without help, this can last for years. But when we are able to see depression as the dark angel, the shadow side that needs to be explored, we can enter these tortured places without getting lost and with a new resolve to heal them.

From there, we move into the more tranquil waters of acceptance, a place where great breakthroughs can occur. This flows naturally into the penultimate stage of rebirth where your true light begins to emerge and you see the world – and yourself – from a new perspective, leading to the creation of a new life.

The one ray of light for anyone suffering from depression is that it is healable. When you truly understand that, you are already on the way to being healed. After all, what is dark, other than the unseen and the unknown? Healing means walking into the light and seeing and knowing our true selves in wholeness.

© 2007 Barbara Brennan, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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