I’m often asked by my clients about depression, and how I “got out of it.”
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
The hard truth is that it didn’t happen overnight, and I didn’t ease anxiety in the blink of an eye. It took many moments of hard work and presence to move forward.
Would you talk to a stranger like you talk to yourself?
The more I practiced, the more I realized that I wouldn’t even talk to a stranger as cruelly as I talked to myself.
These thoughts brought me pain and tremendous suffering. I knew it needed to change if I wanted to ease that pain and move forward with my life.
Not hating myself all the time was where I needed to start. By not believing that hateful negative self-talk, slowly but surely, I witnessed glimpses of actually liking myself. This gradually turned into love and appreciation for who I was growing into.
It was a moment-by-moment choice that led to real and lasting change.
It was my willingness to use the knowledge that I had gained and put it into action. It was the development of a practice that became meaningful and beneficial for me. It was like one song after another that broke my heart open and made the soundtrack of my life.
In my healing, I committed daily to undoing or turning around 30 years of negative self-talk and self-hatred.
Listening to the audiobook version of Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” (half a dozen times) allowed me to grasp the idea that my life was unfolding in this very moment.
It became clear to me that the unfolding of my life in this moment is the only thing in my control and it’s in this moment where I need to come back to my practice, come back to being a witness and come back to using information in a way that will most benefit and ease the suffering that I lived with for so long.
True relief resides in the present moment
Understanding how to reside in the present moment brought me true relief from depression and anxiety.
I’m grateful that I’m so far from depression and anxiety that the closest I get to those things now are a few waves of sadness or nervousness, which I now know are normal human emotions, and will pass. I no longer hold on to sadness and let it snowball, nor do I let nervousness spiral out of control into the uncertain “what-ifs” of life. I’m now able to witness my mind and the immeasurable role it plays on my emotions.
I see my life as a collection of moments, a collection of thoughts and actions strung together by my every thought and every decision, to bring me to this place.
It’s important to note that that’s also how I got to “rock bottom”—a collection of thoughts and actions got me to that place, too.
Self-loathing and self-hatred took their toll and the struggle to love myself was real, but not even that—the struggle to even like myself—was monumental. I thought I could never get there.
I remember standing in front of the mirror, attempting to practice “self-love” and repeat the words “Cyndi, I love you” and how awkward and disingenuous it made me feel. I laughed and turned away from the mirror, thinking that I could never do that. I could never be one of those people that told themselves that.
Day-by-day, with the help of lovingkindness meditation, I began to slowly turn that hate into anger, that anger into grief, that grief into allowance, allowance into acceptance, and finally, acceptance into compassion. It took this practice, along with my daily meditations, to become a witness to the negative self-talk that was playing constantly in my head. My willingness to see and witness that negative self-talk—no longer believing it to be real—was what allowed me to slowly turn it all around.
The root of my depression
My depression sprouted from ruminating on my past and my anxiety came from worry and fear of an uncertain future.
What’s real is what’s happening in the here and now—not what happened then, and not what’s going to happen tomorrow.
Now is the only moment where I can take steps toward change. Truly being sick and tired of being sick and tired, I decided I needed a new way to live. I realized that nothing that happened to me in the past could affect my ability to be present.
I also knew that what had happened to me in my past was not happening now. It happened in a past present moment and it safely remained there. The problem was that my mind—trapped in that past cycle of hurt—was fiercely hanging on to it and preventing me from moving forward and feeling true joy and peace.
It became even clearer that every thought and every action led me on a path of despair or on a path of tremendous healing. It was up to me to decide where my focus was and which path I wanted to strengthen. I was determined to apply present-moment awareness, mindfulness, self-care and self-love to change the course of my life.
Living a blessed life—truly experiencing joy and peace—began with action in the here and now. It continues to unfold, one moment at a time, and the trajectory of my life is entirely up to me.
The trajectory of your life is entirely up to you, as well. Which path will you choose?