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Depression � An Integral Perspective
By: Pulkit Sharma
Published on: March 21, 2019

Dr Depression is a ubiquitous psychological disorder affecting people of all age groups and cultures. The depressed person usually feels low and sad most of the time and nothing seems to uplift his mood. There are feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness and the person has a strong belief that there will be no change in their inner state. The person feels drained out, tired and has little energy to carry out even the essential daily activities. Even more worrisome is the fact that there is a loss of interest in all activities including the favourite pastimes and the individual wishes to withdraw and stay alone. His attention and concentration diminish, performance at work declines, quantity and quality of sleep in reduced and so does the appetite. The depressed person feels that he has failed completely and may even wish to commit suicide. The symptoms can vary from one individual to another in the intensity, frequency and duration.

What is worrisome is that as per a current report by the WHO, India has the highest number of depressed people in the whole Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region. Depression cases have been consistently on a rise in India with currently more than fifty million individuals experiencing this condition. The standard treatment that is being advocated for this disorder is a combination of psychiatric medicines and psychotherapeutic techniques. In my experience of working in various mental health setups since 2005, this treatment protocol has serious limitations. Although, it seems to help people in the short-run, but over a period of time, people either experience a relapse, develop another psychological problem or have a compromised quality of life. The reason for this outcome is quite clear. Western psychiatry and clinical psychology often try to locate the root of the disorder in the physical being (imbalanced neurotransmitters and hormones), the vital being (overwhelming negative emotions) and the mental being (disturbed thought patterns). Consequently, their interventions are also directed at the lower levels of the being, centered on the body, emotions and the mind and they ignore our true self which happens to be the greatest source of transformation within us. As a result the healing is fractured and incomplete.

The Mother gave us an Integral perspective to combat depression:

There�s a very simple way. Depression occurs generally in the vital, and one is overpowered by depression only when one keeps the consciousness in the vital, when one remains there. The only thing to do is to get out of the vital and enter a deeper consciousness. Even the higher mind, the luminous, higher mind, the most lofty thoughts have the power to drive away depression. Even when one reaches just the highest domains of thought, usually the depression disappears. But in any case, if one seeks shelter in the psychic, then there is no longer any room for depression.
24 February 1954, 6, 32-3

The "Vital" is the intuitive life-nature, comprising of energy, cravings, feelings, instincts and passions. It is governed by intense pleasure-seeking, amassing possessions and low frustration tolerance. As a result, it tries to overwhelm and pressurize us to justify and sanction its demands and movements. Due to this disturbance created by the vital, we are unable to see and follow the agenda of the psychic within us. The "Psychic" happens to be the dynamic representation of the Divine consciousness inside us. It strives to incorporate, change and evolve distinctive parts of our being to enable the manifestation of Divine life on earth. The integral treatment of depression involves moving away from the grip of the vital by nurturing our thoughts and developing a connection with the psychic. In my experience, if the depressed person can follow this approach with perseverance, then they experience not only a lasting relief from depression but a complete personality change.

Higher thought forms

At any given moment, we are bombarded by several negative thoughts that come up from either within us or originate in the outer environment. We passively experience these thoughts and allow them to influence us as per their proclivity. As soon as these thoughts discover a corresponding ambience within us, they form an entity that materializes itself. Consequently, the negative overpowers our consciousness and intensifies our depression further. In order to put an end to our depression, we need to make a consistent and conscious effort in observing, rejecting and changing these thought entities.

We need to look at each negative thought and tell it strongly that there is no space for it and it must leave. Thereafter, we need to create and strengthen a complementary positive thought so that the war against the negative can be won. This can be achieved when we create a detailed and cohesive storyline around the positive thought. Our being needs to see, hear and feel this story in an intense manner. We ought to go over this account again and again as though one is tuning in to one's most loved story. Once we have done our bit to uproot the negative thought form and build a positive entity, the next step is to offer it to the Divine. We ask the flame of Divine aspiration within us to take the particular thought form and mould it as per its wish. By doing so, this narrative develops wings and glides into the universe to materialize itself.

We made two observations. The first is that thought is a living, active, autonomous entity. The second is that in order to contend victoriously with the injurious effects of the polluted mental atmosphere in which we live, we must build up within ourselves a pure, luminous and powerful intellectual synthesis. For this purpose we must bring down into ourselves the highest thoughts within our reach, that is, within the field of our mental activity, and make them our own.
-The Mother
16 February 1912, 2, 79

Connecting to the psychic

The Psychic is omnipotent and can cure any malady in a twinkling provided we are connected to it. However, for a majority of us establishing that kind of a contact with the psychic requires time and consistent effort. To begin with, we need to recognize a key that helps us to acknowledge the presence of the Divine or the higher power. It can be an image, a word, or a sound. Once we have chosen a symbol, we need to invoke it repeatedly with an aspiration that may it help us to connect with the Divine element within us. It can be helpful to summon it the moment we wake up in the morning and also when we are about to retire to the bed at night. Before starting any activity in the day and as soon as we finish that, we can once again contemplate on our key. Similarly, the leisure time that we get between different activities in the day can be put in service of connecting to the psychic. With this persistent effort, the psychic assumes a concrete presence within us and then it becomes very easy to contact it as per our will.

Thereafter, whenever any depressive thought or feeling bothers us, we need to take away our attention from it and direct it towards the psychic. This part within us is a representation of the Divine and knows the truth. It knows the eternal reality that is all beautiful, joyful and pure and therefore it is able to ward off the falsehood of depression and negativity in a moment. As soon as the depressive movement is placed before the psychic, the person realizes that it is a very ordinary movement and has got nothing to do with the inner aspiration and truth. Consequently, the depressive movement ceases.

Hold your head as quiet as possible, do not follow the movement, do not obey the vibration. That is what is needed, just that: faith in the Grace, perception of the Grace, or else, intensity of call, or better still, the response, the response, the knot opening, breaking, the response to this wonderful love of the Grace.
-The Mother
22 November 1958, 15, 371-3

Conclusion

One must remember that the depression always exists in the vital part of our being and not the complete self. In a moment of self-forgetfulness, we wrongly believe that depression has overpowered our self. In order to treat depression, we need to stop identifying with the vital by shifting our focus on to our higher parts. Our thoughts, when nurtured properly can provide an effective antidote to depression. The psychic within us knows that depression is an illusion and falsehood and if we are connected to the psychic then it can terminate the depressive movement instantly.

References

1. The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 2003.


(This article was published in The Awakening Ray.)