My slow climb from childhood to adulthood was not a graceful dance. I didn't drift easily from the rapture of a creativity-fueled youth into a fulfilled womanhood. Contrarily, my teenage years were lumbering, slightly cringe-worthy, and totally melodramatic.
Looking back, I realize that I never wanted to grow up. The adults around me weren't having nearly as much fun as the kids were. Inevitably though, my content child's mind was breached with the reality of maturation, while my body developed strange pubescent mutations. Rejecting this shift, I slowly started to paw my way, bit my bit, into a bottomless rut of self-imposed depression.
The grips of depression didn't seize me overnight. Instead, it was a slow and meticulous dig that gradually dirtied up childhood effervescence. I began questioning my personal worth, the power I had over my lot in life, certain worldly issues, and the purpose of my existence. Although these questions screamed loudly within me, nobody around me seemed to be having these types of thoughts...so I did everything I could do to stuff them down into the anti-chambers of my conscious where nobody would notice them, including me. I was awkward enough as it was, I didn't need to stick out like an even sorer thumb by having such deep questions at such a young age.
"Nothing to see here, folks! I'm normal and totally accepting of the fact that we're ghosts in these meat suits hurtling through outer space on a rapidly spinning rock, just like all you!" (Sike. I'm freaking out!!!)
A theory: Many who have experienced one form of depression or another are inherently not designed to endure strong internal turmoil for long expanses of time. We are sensitive. We want to feel good with such ferocity that we operate with an extremely low resistance-tolerance. Thus, I found my teenage self agonizing over random insecurities and discomforts that genuinely shouldn't have mattered. Oh, the angst!
However, like many who act out in this way, I raged against the major and minor woes of my existence while various internal and external discomforts became greater; it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. The depression pit yawned open wider and threatened to swallow me whole.
As I observed life unfolding around me, my wobbly lifestyle dragged on for some years, producing a roller-coaster of events both wildly pleasurable and uncomfortable. I didn't have a grasp on why some days were great and some were shit. I had no control of my life whatsoever -- it was a crap-shoot grind. Like a sponge, I picked up beliefs from those closest to me, ones that claimed my mental real estate, running circles on auto-pilot whether I liked it or not. Meanwhile, a small but mighty voice in the back of my mind always knew that life was supposed to be meaningful. It would whisper "I am special, I am good, I am worthy, I am made of magic, and there is more to this life. I deserve clarity, joy, and fulfillment." I knew that the end of my childhood was not the end of my effervescence. It couldn't be! I may have had the best childhood anyone has EVER had. But this antagonized me more than it cheered me up. Because I was all too aware that I was not living my very best life, and that I should be. Sound familiar?
This small but mighty piece of my conscious would pop in from time to time with it's freeing thoughts, and I would lurch forward to catch its tail in a white-knuckled grip, hoping frantically that it would take me to wherever it was going...but it's trajectory was too strong. I would lose my grip, getting left in the dust. Little did I know, I only had to clear some clutter, create a cozy home for that voice within myself, and lure it over with love to where I was like a temptress.
At age 17, I began spending time with my first spiritual mentor, my eldest brother, Rain. 18 years my senior, I didn't have a clue what journey I'd be set off on when I agreed to join him at his place one evening to catch up. Feeling raw from an emotional day (*cough*year*cough*), I confessed some of my internal struggles with him. I mentioned my inability to feel joy for long periods of time, how I'd wake up and not want to get out of bed, etc, etc. As if by some divine timing and orchestration, my brother began to tell me things that nobody had ever said to me before. Right there, so close to home, the answers began to unfold. It's a small wonder that I was, simultaneously, willing to listen. To actually hear him. He was my cool big brother, after all.
Rain began to weave together words about consciousness, love, eternality, the nature of the universe. He spoke of the laws of energy, meditation, the power of thought, something called emotional guidance, and about his spiritual journey.
I listened. I cried. I laughed. I cracked open. I was so ready to feel what he was offering me that I laid my shields of resistance down at his feet and absorbed. During the many nights that I returned to his house to sit and listen, I felt ways that I couldn't ever remember feeling in the past. I knew that the small but mighty voice in the back of my mind was wiser than I had acknowledged. But finally, it no longer hurt to know that. I actually enjoyed the desire for a better feeling life for the first time since I was a child. My brother helped me to realize that this voice was some form of inner guidance, as old as time itself, and that I should tune into it and listen.
"Meditate," Rain told me one night, "every day for 15-20 minutes."
He suggested a guided meditation on YouTube, and I nestled into my couch, headphones in, pressed play, and shut my eyes. For the first 15 minutes of synchronized breathing (3 seconds in, 5 seconds out) and gentle spoken affirmations from the guide, I felt good, but didn't notice any significant changes to my disposition. I just felt calm, detached, at ease.
Then, towards the end of the track, it happened. As if I were on a ship at sea, I felt a rocking sensation within me. My inhales and exhales were the ebbs and flows of the waves. I felt adrift on a sea of liquid love, drunk on this immeasurable body of fuzzy, welcoming warmth. It stripped me bare of all thought, all other emotions-- The track ended. My eyes hazily half-opened. I couldn't hit replay fast enough. Quickly drifting back inward, I bobbed to-and-fro for another 15-minute run. I felt like I had hit some sort of lottery that we all have access to, but hardly anyone was. WTF? How had nobody suggested this to me sooner? Why is this not common practice in the western world? Safe to say I was hooked. Spending any spare moment I could find, I slipped back into the waves of what I now call "Alignment". When I sat to breathe, my inner voice was no longer masked by the din of my unwanted thoughts. Gods, it felt amazing to let go of such heavy emotional, mental, and physical baggage I'd been lugging around. Naturally, I wanted more, and I wanted everyone around me to get a whiff of what I was discovering. Obsessively, I took up appreciation practices, stream of consciousness journaling, yoga, and extensive philosophy research.
As impactful as meditation was, it was only the beginning of a long and winding spiritual road, paved with community, teachers, growth, and even more questions. I've learned that we're never meant to "get it done" or to stop enjoying the evolution of our perspectives. I am proud to say that I did manage to surface out of my depressive pit fairly quickly and for good by using these tools. I joyously continue to replace my lackluster belief systems the updated messages from my inner voice.