How Led Zeppelin Cured My Depression – A Mindful Approach to Despair

How Led Zeppelin Cured My Depression, sadness, despair, mindfulness and despair, dealing with despair mindfully, how to cure depression ,find hope ,how to be sad ,dealing with depression ,fighting depression ,create hope ,be hopeful

How Led Zeppelin Cured My Depression

How Led Zeppelin Cured My Depression – A Mindful Approach to Despair

Sometimes sadness and despair arrive along with a tragic event. But other times these difficult emotions can spring up at a moments notice.

When this happens it’s hard to know what to do or where to turn. We may feel ambushed by our feelings and confused by their origin. At least that’s how I felt when it happened to me.

Rejection and Fear
The other day I was reading a blog called Strong Inside Out. It’s written by Amy Clover, a fitness professional, and suicide survivor.

Amy’s story is truly inspiring and I realized I’d love to share her story with my readers. So, I sent her an email telling her I enjoyed her blog and requested an interview.

She wrote me back and declined my offer. Her reply was pleasant and she thanked me for my kind words.

As soon as I read her reply, I felt depressed. Partly I felt rejected. But what really bothered me down was my mind’s instant comparison. I looked at her success, compared it to my own struggles and I got caught.

My thought process went down a familiar path:
Why did she turn me down?
She’s probably too busy.
I mean she’s doing an amazing cross-country event to raise money for an amazing cause.
I should understand and feel inspired.
But I don’t feel inspired.
I feel like a failure.
I wish I could do something like that.
But I’m not as attractive as she is.
Hell, I’ve never been especially photogenic.
I have no flipping idea what I’m doing.
It feels like my business is barely growing
Am I doing what I need to do?
Am I actually helping anyone or am I just kidding myself?
Man money is tight right now.
I feel like I work so much.
But I’m not even close to making that happen.
What’s the point?
It feels like there is no hope.

Sound familiar?
I’ve heard many stories of how thoughts like these have led people down the path of despair. When this happens it seems like nothing will help. All you see in front of you is an endless expanse of potential failure and impermanence. And we are left with the question of what to do when our mind tumbles into sadness.

1. Look Who’s Talking
As soon as I notice my thoughts sink into despair, I get curious. I realize that my mind has taken on one particular perspective or voice.

I know this voice very well. And I know from experience that this voice has a very limited view of the world.

This voice often arises at the end of long runs when I want to stop. It arises when I’m stuck with a lingering cold or flu. It arises after any break up or romantic rejection.

2. I am not despair.
In truth, there is nothing inherently wrong with this voice or perspective. It’s just one part of who I am.

The problem is when I identify with this voice. When I confuse this perspective with the truth I begin to believe there is no hope and I get stuck.

So, whenever this voice arises, I try to remember one thing. I am not any one voice or view. I am a complex, unique, and dynamic person. No singular perspective is in charge of my life.

The Question
One way I work with this is by asking a simple question: Have I always felt like this?

When I really think about it, I know that I haven’t always felt like this. I have days when I’m on fire. Days when I believe so strongly in what I’m doing, I won’t let anything stop me.

As I remember these moments I begin to see how limited my despairing, perspective is. I remember that this feeling won’t last forever. And that gives me the courage to maintain my hope.

3. Hear Another Voice
Once I’ve broken the spell just a little I realize I have a choice. I can listen to this sad voice or I can tune into a different channel. The process works something like this.

Imagine you are at a live performance like a rock festival or a symphony. Certain sounds naturally jump out such as the lead guitar, the trumpets, or the violins.

These lead instruments are like the dominant voice in your mind. They are obvious, clear, and powerful. But they aren’t the only sounds you hear.

If you listen closely, you can hear the other instruments. You can hear the drums, the bass, or the woodwinds. You can even hear other background noises, the noise of the crowd around you or the sound of your own breath.

You can try this out right now:
Click the video below and then follow these instructions.


(You can also do this with any song you like. Ideally one with multiple instruments and percussion of some kind. )

As the video starts, first focus on the lead instrument. This should be easy because it’s what we normally hear. What qualities does it have? How does it make you feel?
Then after 20 seconds switch your focus to the percussion.
Listen closely
How are the qualities of the percussion different?
Does it create a different feeling in you?
If you try hard enough you can hear the drums the whole time the song is playing.
And we can hear different parts of ourselves in the same way.

It Goes To Eleven
Despair, sadness, and grief may be playing a lead solo, but if you listen carefully, you begin to hear other feelings and thoughts.

Alongside the thoughts of despair may be mundane thoughts and thoughts of boredom. But there may also be thoughts of encouragement, feelings of compassion, and appreciation for others.

Focusing on these thoughts won’t make your painful feelings go away. But they will help you to see them in context.

4. Don’t push it away
As you work to focus on other thoughts, you have to remember one very important thing: Don’t push away the despairing voice. Why? Because resistance causes persistence.

In Portland, the mountains trap the clouds as the move in from the sea. If it weren’t for the mountains, our weather would be totally different. Resisting our feelings works the same way. When we put up barriers to feeling sadness, we only make it last longer.
When you accept your feelings, you create the space for something new. Just as the currents shift in summer and blow the clouds out to sea. Once you create space in your heart the clouds of despair will move on.

Being mindful means honoring every part of who we are. Even the parts that are hard to deal with.

5. Self Care
The final step in this process is to find a way to process your feelings.

Activities like exercise or meditation are a great way to work with difficult emotions. In addition seeking support, advice, and reassurance is highly recommended.

Accepting that the despair is part of you isn’t about throwing a pity party. It’s about accepting that sometimes you will feel sad and hopeless. And then working to create space for things to shift on their own.

Meditation is perhaps one of the most powerful ways to work with despair. Sitting down with ourselves is itself a powerful symbol of acceptance and compassion for our troubled hearts.

Ok so just to recap here are the steps I take to deal with despair or for that matter any powerful emotion.

  1. I notice that I’m stuck on one particular voice or perspective.
  2. I notice that this voice is limited and that I have access to other perspectives.
  3. I try to expand my perspective to include all the perspective I can hear. Especially the perspectives that counter act the one I’m caught in.
  4. I try not resist my feeling instead I accept that it’s a part of who I am. To be a whole person I must feel both hope and despair.
  5. I do something to help create space like meditating, exercising, talking to a good friend, or enjoying some time in nature. This space allows me to accept despair without resisting and to let it move through me.

A Final Thought – When to get help:

Everything I’ve said above is very true in my experience and for many people I have known. Having said that, these techniques only work well if you have a good base to start with.

If you have past trauma, a history of depression, and especially suicidal tendencies then I would strongly recommend you seek professional advice and help for dealing with your feelings of despair, sadness, or loneliness.

Working to discern and find space around certain voices can help, but for some people the lead guitar solo of despair and hopelessness is stuck on eleven. Mental health professionals, medication, and support groups along with many other things can help you find a way to balance the sound system in your head.

If you feel depressed most of the day nearly everyday, have greatly diminished interest in daily activities, insomnia, constant fatigue, persistent feelings of worthlessness, lack of ability to concentrate, or recurring thoughts of self harm, you should seek help early and often.

Asking for help is hard and it takes real courage to do so. So, be brave and ask for help again and again. It’s a great gift to share our vulnerabilities with others and allow them to support us.

National Alliance on Mental Illness Information Line


Life’s a Be Eye Tee Cee . . . – The 5 Phases of the Suffering Mind

#BPGrumpyKid photo by CoreyAnn working with conflict, sadness, replaying the past, roommates, suffering, observation, mindfulness, mindful fitness, mindfitmove, mindfulness based fitness,So, I’m moving out of my house. It’s all for the best. And I’m actually happy I don’t have to stick around for an awkward month of 30 day noticing. Nothing is worse than having or being a lame duck roommate.

Still I feel defeated, rejected, and sad. It’s funny, because I know I did as best as could be expected. I communicated clearly and calmly 90% of the time. I was diligent in meeting others’ requests. I tried to get along and connect.

Negative GhostRider
But it didn’t work out. And even though part of me knows, that it isn’t my fault. Another part of me feels like King Poo of Poo Mountain

Situations like this are hard because the mind is a blame-placing machine. And in absence of resentment, our minds tend towards depression and subtle senses of self-loathing. It’s hard to see a way forward.

The key is to observe what your mind is doing without judgment. Just this observation alone can reveal what you need. Often the observation itself is a great source of healing.

I engaged in this practice of observation over the past few days. And here are 5 phases I notices my own mind go through during this time.

Phase 1: Total Recall
In this phase, you replay all the key interactions with the person or group of people you’re in conflict with. In each replay, you recast yourself as the diplomat or the sassy bitch.

Though each replay is compelling, nothing changes except your mood and your ability to let the interaction go. You can’t change the past.

Phase 2: Indecision
The mind seeks for a solution to the conflict. It charts how various approaches might play out. You contemplate deep heart felt confessions, strong confrontations, or manipulative subterfuge.

Then you find yourself standing at the top of stairs listening to see if your roommates are in the kitchen. Or maybe staring at a phone trying to decide whether or not to hit send.

No matter what choice you make you will never know whether it’s the right one.
It’s terrifying and you start to realize there might not be a perfect solution after all.

Phase 3: Distraction, Reaction, and Compaction
In this phase, you avoid your feelings by any means possible. This phase is ripe with the seeking of pleasure or sloth.

It involves excessive TV watching, the seeking of sexual satisfaction, engagement in meaningless and repetitive activity, and a dispersed sense of generalized dissatisfaction.

This usually arises because you are unwilling to feel the depth of whatever emotion is arising. On some level, you know you have to deal with what you’re feeling. But on another level, you’re not yet ready.

Phase 4: Sadness, Loneliness, and Dramatic Disenchantment with All Human Existence.
The words that run through your mind are confusing and unconnected. In this stage, you feel a dull ache in your stomach and a hole in the center of your heart. This is a deep and transcendent feeling.

You feel the tension between your deep faith in humanity and the current state of affairs.
You fear you will feel like this forever.

Phase 5: Remission
During this phase, the strength of your feelings and emotions mostly vanish. It may result from absorption in a compelling activity, the presence of someone you feel safe around, or the opening of a new possibility.

The challenge of this state is the mind wants to believe there is nothing left to process and deal with. But often the heart has more to feel even when the mind has moved on.

So, while this phase may be pleasant, it’s important to not try to hold onto it.

The Salvation of Observation
Now here’s the hard part. Other than noticing these states there is nothing else you need to do. As these states shift and change the main practice is to notice and accept.

We watch each state to arise, exist for some time, and then allow it to disappear. Just the act and willingness to observe has amazing healing powers.

Even though I am still caught in this cycle myself, I know my ability to observe my own heart/mind has helped me work through these feelings.

I don’t think it’s going to repair my relationships or be the solution to all my problems. But it will teach me more about myself and what it means to be human.

My hope is that I can use this knowledge to connect, heal, and support others. I believe that even suffering endured with proper attention and intention; can serve my heart and the hearts of others.

How do you deal with setbacks in your life?
Let me know by commenting below.


This Sucks! Zen and the Art of Difficult Emotions

I’m the worst person alive!
Over a year ago, I made a vow to make amends for all my unskillful actions. This process involved doing a moral inventory.

It’s a technique I borrowed from 12-Step work. (In the spirit of full disclosure I’ve never done 12-step work and am not an authority on that process.)

I decided to make a list of every bad thing I’ve ever done. This is super hard. At times, I felt like I was the worst person alive.

Photo of Crying Kid

Tell me how I failed!
The first list I made was long, but I knew there was more. So each night before bed I would sit and say to myself,

“I want to live a life of integrity. I am willing to accept the mistakes I have made. If there is any action I have forgotten and I don’t feel good about, I invite it to come into my awareness.”

After I said this, I would sit in silence for a few minutes. Often something would bubble up to the surface. No matter what it was I greeted it with gratitude and wrote it down.

Make it hurt!
When we start to improve our lives, we open more space. This leads to a sense of freedom and joy. It also allows unfelt emotions to surface.

When these emotions surface, it can feel like we’re moving backwards. In truth it means you are really digging in to real transformation.

The challenge is to face these emotions without trying to fix them. Allow them to arise, feel them, and then be willing to let them go.

5 Steps For Creating Space for Difficult Emotions

1. Set aside time.
You need at least 10-15 minutes, but it’s better to give yourself some wiggle room.

I found that just before bed was the best time for me. It helped me process the day. It also meant I didn’t take these emotions to bed.

2. Find Somewhere to Be Alone
It’s hard to be with difficult emotions around others. They may try to consol or distract you. The point is to just be present with what’s arising. Nature is great, or your bedroom, but if all else fails the bathroom is a good standby.

3. Invite the Emotions to Come In
An invocation can be helpful. State your intention, your willingness to accept what comes, and then invite any hidden emotions to arise.

3. Feel Your Body
If emotions arise, try not to focus on the content. Instead, focus on how the emotions feel in your body. Notice any beliefs that arise especially any absolute statements.

If these emotions become intense try to stay with it, but if your mind starts spinning, focus on your breath or your feet to become grounded.

4. Write it down
Once you have watched the emotion arise, exist, and ebb, write it down. Name the emotions and any beliefs that came with them. This can be a few sentences or much more, it’s up to you.

This gets it out of your head and gives you perspective.

5. Gratitude and Release
Now thank whatever came up for arising. Thank your heart for being willing to feel these hard feelings. Thank yourself for being willing to do this work. Then ask yourself, your heart, and/or a higher power to help you let these feelings go.

Remind yourself that you will do this again soon and that anything else can wait until then.

6. Grounding
Working with difficult emotions can be agitating. Afterwards take ten breaths, do a short yoga routine, or maybe read something inspiring. If you are still reeling try doing something to get in your body: light house work, a more vigorous yoga routine, or a longer meditation.

This practice can be very powerful. It’s not about wallowing, it’s about giving space to the powerful forces inside of us. When we are willing to be with challenging feelings, we gain the courage to face challenges in every aspect of our lives.

Discussion Question: How do you work with difficult emotions?

Disclaimer: For some people this practice is not suggested. If you notice the consistent arising of thoughts involving self harm or suicidal ideation stop using this technique and consult a licensed counselor or therapist before continuing.

If you feel like you need to speak with someone right away call your local crisis line or call A Lifeline Crisis center at 1 800 723 TALK (8255)

Photo Credits