I was depressed.
I was anxious every day and night.
I couldn’t sleep.
I had negative effect on people around me and vice versa.
This is how my life had been from as early as being a child, until a light bulb on my head showed dim signs of light.
“I have to do something”
The walks of awakening
The problem was that I didn’t know what to do. There was only a small amount of motivation to find just about anything that would work.
The only recommendations that I found were books – Ugh. I hated books back then.
So I finally stumbled on the idea of not having to read books, but listening to them.
I decided to pick one audio book: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and went for a long walk. I didn’t have to walk for long until I was completely hooked: Eckharts own story resembled my own too much and I found myself liking he had to offer.
From that day onward, this would become my ritual. Whatever I was doing, like riding a bicycle or exercising, I’d listen to spiritual books at the same time.
Spiritual crash course for dummies
- Notice: The anxiety cycle begins from a thought that arises in our mind due to thought-structures that have formed due to our conditioning. The first thing that you have to do is to become aware of the feeling as well as the story behind it.
- Focus, observe and break: First, focus on the negative feeling, dive into it, embrace it – never resist. Observe the story that your mind is playing through without adding any kind of mental commentary. Break the two apart – the cycle continues because the thoughts fuel the feelings and vice versa.
- Realize: One of the most important realizations for me was to see the difference between reality and illusion. The story isn’t in the reality, the past isn’t in the reality. They are all just images and thoughts in your head. They are your conditioning.
- Accept and surrender: Acceptance of both inner and outer conditions were the biggest breakthrough in my own progress. If you can’t do anything about it, you only have two options: to either surrender or suffer from the bad feeling. I love the word “surrender” because it shows that in reality there’s nothing to fight against.
- Let go: Just let it go, stop struggling. It can be extremely liberating.
- Have trust: The feeling has passed every single time during your life. Know that this will pass too.
- Forgive: Yet another form of accepting and surrendering. It’s often story-related, but it works in my experience on everything. Forgive yourself, forgive people around you.
- Don’t give a crap: Attitude is a real thing – by taking the approach of not really giving a crap about your own thoughts or anxiety can do wonders for you. I’ve noticed that this is best for mild anxiety – for intense ones, it doesn’t necessarily work so well. Life isn’t as serious as you make it out to be so why care?
- Take action: This is a hard one when the anxiety/depression has set its foot to your body. Still, diverting your attention outside of yourself has been used as a cure to depression for ages. It always doesn’t work as you may not find enough motivation, but it’s still worth mentioning.
- Breath: Take deep, conscious breaths and concentrate on every single one. It takes your mind off the madness.
- Focus on present moment: There never has been, nor will there ever be anything else but the present moment. Past and future are only thoughts in the head. It’s practically impossible to be always present, but being as much as possible will improve your mental state.
- Change your attitude towards negativity: Be curious about the story and the negative feeling. This is closely related to observing them, but taking it a step further by giving it a new perspective. Get actually interested in your thoughts, how they form and how they go. At times you may even be amused how out of our control they are.
- There’s no magic bullet: Whenever you are feeling anxious or depressed, you won’t be able to get rid of it instantly, I never have and I never will. The reason for this is that the feeling will always linger for a while before going away. You will have to wait for it to pass.
Start from spirituality
I could have never imagined finding the solution to my problems from ‘spirituality’. Even today I think that the term is way too loaded with misconceptions.
Back then if I had known that the books were about spirituality, I wouldn’t have listened to them.
But thanks to the excellent material, I saw instant changes in my thought processes – not too shabby considering that I had been conditioned to negative thoughts for my whole life.
Little did I know that it was only the beginning of something better.
Continue with self-development
Spirituality, zen and everything related to them are about changing your thought processes to the better. They give you an excellent base for whatever you set out to do.
I felt that life was decent, but there was still a hole left to be fulfilled – where there was previously sorrow, now there was emptiness.
Emptiness was still infinitely better than the depression and anxiety, but I figured that there must be something more to life than this.
Developing myself, my skills and staying active was the right answer to this as it opened so many more doors for me to explore.
Nowadays, instead of going to walks of awakening, I go to walks of improvement, listening to audiobooks related to thriving forward.
And I’m enjoying every second of it.
When you fill the empty hole with motivation, inspiration and action, life transforms from decent to amazing.
1. Start from spirituality
2. Continue with self-improvement