This is the second of a two-part series on depression. Read part one here.
Rumi writes 750 years ago,
As you start to walk out on the way,
the way appears.
There is a point of inflection that I’ve observed among depressed folks, as they are considering stepping out on the way, when they must decide if they are ready to see what they’ve never seen before. This inflection point exists for all of us, when we are about to take a leap of faith.
When we decide yes, with all of the risks that entails, the way appears. If the answer is no, then the way never seems to appear. I’d like to describe that inflexion point.
First, we must understand what the armor actually is. (Remember from yesterday’s post, that we protect the heart centre with our “armor.”)
The armor is a matrix of conditions on loving. It is the perfect set of conditions that must be met before we agree to love.
The world has to stop being such a miserable place.
The people around me have to start acting like they actually care.
I’d have to be a different person, without my problems, to deserve love.
We stay trapped, stay depressed, because these conditions will never be met. This is where we must be willing to see what we’ve never seen before.
What keeps us from seeing when we're depressed? First, it’s beyond our current and historical range of experience to believe that the world is a friendly place, so it’s setting off our BS detectors to consider that our cynicism isn’t realistic. That concept is beyond our perceptual range for the moment. We don’t want to choke down any more positive mantras.
Second, if we actually question deep inside, we’ll see we also have an agenda about how things should be, since we’ve been counting on the opposite being true for so long. Many of us have made our identities out of feeling depressed. We’ve romanticized our suffering or pitted ourselves against the sheep. The world owes us for being so shitty, and we won't accept any reconciliation with love unless it fits our version of justice. So we wait, and wait, and wait.... for people to stop being the way they are.
But we don't realize, we're creating them in that way. This fact is literally in our blind spot.
This is the inflection point. Being willing to see what we’ve never seen before. That doesn’t mean that we have to choose to believe something completely outside of our lived experience all on day one. All we need to do at this inflection point is to be willing to consider that there might be something more here than what we’ve realized. We need to be willing to consider that our identities are larger and more powerful than the depressed or mentally ill labels we’ve perhaps taken on.
We could be willing to consider that other people are happier than we are because they are seeing the larger picture. That it's not us who are seeing through some false veneer of the world.
We just have to open the door a crack. A hair’s width is wide enough to allow magic back in.
When we consider that our conditions on loving will not be met, we must find a new way in order to survive. Opening the door a crack means taking the leap of faith, that somewhere at some time, we built these conditions on a skewed perception and it is still worth loving. That life is supposed to be more than this.
We have to make this leap of faith first, begin to take the armor off first, before we will see the world any other way. That’s the paradox of this inflection point. Only when we begin to open the heart centre at this crossroads are we able to receive love and properly groundtruth our assumptions.
Then we begin our first steps out on the way… and the way appears.
When we take the armor off and undergo the hard, uncertain work of transformation, we commit to listening to the heart centre. We make contact with it and say, I’m listening now. You no longer have to shout.
Opening the heart centre brings tremendous energy into life. Part of this energy begins to mold us into a new shape. Something resolute begins to form inside, consequential enough that it begins to draw things around it. Energy, steadfastness, hope. Where we used to rely on the armor, now we begin to form around a strong core.
Sensing into someone’s core who has been through depression and made the transformation it called for is like sensing into an ocean of strength and innate love. The transformed person’s life is anchored with purpose. Time spent together is notably free of the small, unremarkable assaults that we regularly inflict on each other. The soul is profoundly here.
A world without connection is a world too small for us, to paraphrase David Whyte. The assumptions, beliefs, conditions we hold when we’re depressed are too small to accommodate us – that is why we hurt. We cannot take the shape of love in a space so small. That’s why transformation is called for – to grow beyond the confines of the armor.
When nothing stands in front of the heart centre, we use it to perceive the world. Everything looks different, feels different. Then life can begin again, felt as though for the first time.