How Spirituality Helped Me Overcome Crippling Depression

How Spirituality Helped Me Overcome Crippling Depression Hero Image
Photo: Natalie Sypkens

My youth was filled with ups and downs. I lost my mom when I was a baby and my life was forever changed. This great disruption imprinted a deep loss in my heart and soul that, still to this day, I do not fully understand how to soothe. My family life growing up was highly dysfunctional, toxic, and abusive. For many years, I struggled to find my place in the world, had a hard time accepting who I was, and struggled with severe anxiety and depression.

I am an empathic, sensitive soul, and I often take on what others are feeling. Early on, I learned that I needed to put practices in place to keep me grounded and in touch with my own energy. Finding yoga and nutrition at 20 radically shifted my physical connection to myself, helping me nourish my body and mind with clean foods and restorative poses. But it also taught the importance of my relationship to spirit: to myself, the earth, and all of life.

When I focus my attention on the connection to spirit, my whole life lights up.
 

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This connection began to take precedence over fleeting happiness drawn in from material things and consumerism. I like a well-made product as much as the next gal, but the deep fulfillment that comes from matters of the heart is so much more important to me. The raw beauty of human connection and the love we share with our friends and family is spirit in its purest form. When I focus my attention on the connection to spirit, my whole life lights up.

"The longest journey that you'll ever have to make is from your head to your heart."

The heart is the essence of spirituality. It’s where the soul meets body and we become aware of our inherent life force. It's where we feel deeply, open ourselves to love, and find tenderness when things become challenging. Connecting my mind and body by way of the heart was such a profound step for me. This integration of head and heart allowed me to listen to my intuition, tune into my body’s changing needs, feel more, and think less.

Photo: Sidney Bensimon

There is spirit in all things.

To me, spirituality isn’t based in one specific practice. There is something spiritual about every person, place, and thing we experience. Spirituality is our intimate relationship to nature, the rhythms of the seasons, and our food. Just being alive is a spiritual experience. We can find beauty in just about anything if we allow ourselves to slow down and sink into the moment.

Being spiritual means doing the work to unearth our shadow parts and heal the past.
 

Sometimes, when we have been hurt or traumatized, pieces of our spirit go into hiding. Being spiritual means doing the work to unearth our shadow parts and heal the past so we can move into a more wholesome existence. This includes clearing limiting beliefs, patterns, and negative ideas that we’ve created about what it means to be alive.

There are powerful ways to connect to our innate spiritual essence. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Meditate.

Meditation is a powerful tool for connecting to spirit. For weeks or months at a time, I will take a moment each morning and welcome the day with stillness. Other times, my daily life becomes a meditative practice. I believe that with enough presence and mindfulness, any task can become meditative. Regular mindfulness meditations are helpful for clearing excess mind chatter and connecting deeply to our soul’s intentions.

2. Get clear.

Clean eating and regular movement provide a clear channel to the spirit. I got clear by having the strength to overcome addictions that clouded my mind: addictions to spending, eating, drinking, and drugging. Overcoming addictions cleared the fog that had been obscuring my intuition and self-awareness, providing a clear channel to my spirit.

3. Unplug.

Regularly unplugging from technology and taking space for quiet reflection offers so much clarity. It’s imperative that we allow this space for ourselves. Constantly filling up our time with the distraction and ego projection of social media is a way to avoid the feelings deep inside of us that need attention. Taking everything in moderation is the key to a balanced, holistic life.

Here, doctors weigh in on the health benefits of a spiritual practice.


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