Today I am very excited to bring you a post on overcoming depression written by Joey Klein, an internationally known personal development expert and author of the book, “The Inner Matrix: A Guide to Transforming Your Life and Awakening Your Spirit”. He travels the world teaching his technique of Conscious Transformation to support people in living healthy, happy, fulfilling lives. You can learn more at about him and his body of work at JoeyKlein.com.
Joey Klein’s Tips For Overcoming Depression
The term “depression” is commonly used as a general descriptor to convey that I feel bad emotionally and I don’t know how to relieve it. However, depression itself is not an emotion. Depression actually occurs when we become stuck in a painful or uncomfortable emotion and we don’t know how to step out of its grip.
The way we think is the reason we become stuck in an emotion. Harvard University has determined that the neurological lifespan of an emotion is 90 seconds. An emotion can only survive longer than 90 seconds if it is fed. The food that feeds and sustains emotion is our thoughts. Therefore, it is the way that we think that keeps an emotion alive beyond 90 seconds and keeps us stuck in a painful state.
When we feel a painful lower emotion such as sadness, loneliness, overwhelm or despair, the mind often begins to think about the emotion in a certain way. “Why am I so sad?” “Why is it that bad things always happen to me?” “Life is so unfair.” “Nothing I do ever seems to make a difference.” “Why does no one truly love me?” These types of thoughts sustain the original underlying emotion and keep it alive long past its intended life span of 90 seconds.
Neurologists have a saying, “When neurons fire together, they wire together.” The emotions the thoughts are sustaining fire together over and over again. As a result, a neurological loop is formed in the brain. Over time, we get stuck in this loop and then to compound matters, we try to think our way out. Of course, the thoughts were what caused us to get stuck in the first place so they certainly cannot provide a path out of the painful experience.
In overcoming depression, we must begin to feel the emotion that we are stuck in. As Robert Frost noted, “The best way out is always through,” and when it comes to emotions, there are no shortcuts. We must allow ourselves to authentically feel the emotions we carry. Only then can we begin to shift and change our emotional state.
As you go through your day, when you feel that pain or discomfort you label as “depression”, stop and acknowledge it directly. In that space, say to yourself, “In this moment, I feel _________”; identify the emotion that is present. Then silently affirm, “And that’s okay. It’s a natural human emotion.” If you don’t know what emotion is present, just give the emotion a name. The identity of the emotion is not what is important. What will shift your emotional state is tuning into whatever contracted fear-based experience is present for you and fully feeling that sensation without resistance.
As the painful emotion comes up, remember that it is critical not to think about the emotion. When you think about the emotion, you feed it and the emotion will only grow stronger. Instead, focus on the emotion itself, fully experiencing the sensation that is present. If you find yourself thinking about the emotion, gently direct your focus back to feeling the emotion, as opposed to thinking about it.
As you get close to 90 seconds and the emotion begins to subside, begin to breathe what we call a four-sided breath. As you breathe, focus on a spot, deep in your abdomen, two inches below the belly button and an inch back towards the spine. This spot is your center. Inhale into this center point in the abdomen, breathing in and out through your nose. After you fully inhale, pause to hold your breath for a few seconds and then exhale deep into your center. Finally, pause and hold your breath again for a few seconds. Breathe two or three rounds of this deep four-sided breath. This breath will begin to force the body to shift its state.
Next, consciously direct the mind to focus on all of the reasons you have to be grateful, peaceful and joyful in your life. For food, shelter and loved ones, you can create thoughts of gratitude. Even if you don’t believe those thoughts or you doubt them in the beginning, consciously direct your mind to create these higher thoughts anyway. By doing so, you are beginning to break the cycle of feeding the painful pattern. When the mind begins focusing on reasons for gratitude, peace and joy, the emotional state will follow. Although sometimes it takes awhile, in most states, the shift comes quite quickly. Now you are consciously creating new emotional states and through this work, you are no longer stuck in “depression.”
If you are interested in taking a deeper step into the work, you can begin to sit with this practice for 15 to 20 minutes a day. Find a quiet spot and mentally walk through the events of your day, identify the emotions that were present, feeling each without resistance or thought and after they begin to dissipate, breathing a four-sided breath and consciously creating thoughts of gratitude. Science has shown that six weeks of this type of practice 20 minutes a day is particularly powerful.
During the last decade, I have successfully worked with hundreds of people who reported feeling “depressed” and have seen them shift into higher emotional expressions, once again enjoying states of peace, love and joy. The great news is that at any age, we can begin to rewire our brains through intentional practices and begin to expand our ability to regulate and express emotion. What we think of as depression need not be a permanent experience but instead, with the right training, in a relatively short period of time, it can become a distant memory.
I hope you have found these tips helpful in beginning your journey to overcome depression. If you suffer from depression, you should seek the help of a qualified professional.