My post about mindfulness not resulting in happiness got some interesting responses. One in particular on LinkedIn got me to finally come out about what depression can look like when seen from a different perspective. Since LinkedIn discussions are restricted to group members, below is my reply:
I have been thinking a lot lately about depression since I have spent the last few years in the deepest states of my life. Your comment gets right to the heart of my thoughts when you say, “I don’t know if I can say that mindfulness intensifies depression.” I very much appreciate your bringing it up.
In conversation with others who have pursued a similar path as mine, we have been exploring what depression means and whether we may be cured. We experience the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pains, but not the normal reactions to them that get combined in the normal definitions of depression. We actually feel the “pain” more than we ever have, but act normally because the pain no longer controls our choice of how to act.
I was recently coaching a couple that had taken our Bipolar In Order workshop when the man said he was depressed. The woman asked for a better description, but he had no words to describe his emotions. I was reminded of how my wife Ellen used to ask me for more details when I said it was just dark. It seems that many of us can feel strong emotions, but have no words to describe them.
The central principle of mindfulness is to look at things without judgment. As applied to depression, this means to just look at the various physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects as if you were just an outside observer. Adherents of mindfulness often speak of this as “The Watcher.” It is a wonderful practice that increases awareness of what is really happening.
Unfortunately, many claim that mindfulness leads to happiness.