Strange as it may sound, some of the most significant spiritual experiences and learnings I have had in my life came about as a direct result of serious depressions. One day, when I was struggling with my first depressive episode, I found myself tossing and turning in emotional agony on my bed. With no warning, I had a visitation from a celestial being. My mind was racing along with a wide array of negative thoughts about myself and my condition; tears of frustration were streaming down my face.
All of a sudden, I felt the distinct presence of another being sitting on the edge of my bed. My sense is that it was Jesus, but it could have been an angel. It was as though I was being gently held down at the shoulders by this celestial presence and a very distinctive voice said quite loudly: “You have to quiet your mind in order to hear.” It all ended within a few seconds, but I knew exactly what the voice meant. The very next day I borrowed a friend’s tape on how to meditate and started practicing daily. I have never stopped and believe it is one of the things that has virtually saved my life.
When we have a tendency towards depression, it’s particularly important to nurture an inner life. We may not have a choice in being depressed, but we can choose how we are going to deal with it. We may have an illness that ultimately can’t be completely cured, but we can address it constructively. A spiritual path is one of our most powerful tools for containing and combating depression. It helps us to find meaning again; it helps us to remember a sense of the sacred in our lives and in ourselves; it helps us to take one day at a time; it helps us to get out of ourselves and want to be of service to another human being. And when we are mentally well again, it helps us to: keep our lives in a place of harmony and balance; interpret events and circumstances optimistically; open up to new and fresh ways of doing things; wake up to our full creative potential; and serve as a ray of light to the people around us.