The inspiration for creating a ritual varies. Sometimes, the ritual is based on an existing practice. The morning ritual: Modah Ani (I am grateful) comes from the traditional Jewish prayer said upon waking.
Sometimes, I create a ritual because it’s a practice I need. The Comfort/Witnessing ritual is one I am creating to help me deal with depression.
I was diagnosed with depression as a teenager. My depression has always been what I call functional. I go about my daily life just like most people. But I experience my life through what feels like a grey filter. This is especially noticeable in my emotions; I don’t feel strong negative emotions but neither do I feel strong positive emotions. Life feels “blah.”
The words from Hamlet do a great job of describing how experience depression:
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable. Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Yep, that’s depression all right.
There are days when I wake up and just don’t want to get out of bed. Nothing feels worth doing. As I think about what I plan to do in the coming day all I feel is “why bother?” I feel a low-level sense of dread about even the most mundane activities Oh my God I have to do the dishes.
Meds help. I’ve been taking anti-depressants for years and they help with the worst of it. But these grey days still kick my ass. I feel like one of the walking dead.
I wondered whether there was something I could do on a spiritual level that might help. I use two rituals for help when I feel overwhelmed; when emotions are so strong I have trouble being present. But when I’m not feeling much at all…these practices aren’t as helpful.
So I created a practice to specifically help with depression. It involves anchoring in my body and environment, calling protective guides, and with their support witnessing where the depression resides in my body.
I find that when I am strongly supported and protected, I can witness what is going on with kindness and compassion. I’m not criticizing the depression. I’m not trying to fix anything. I’m noticing.
There is something about the process of observing with compassion that is deeply healing. Often too, I discover that beneath the numbness is hurt and trauma that hasn’t been tended. Doing this enables me to emerge from the fog and move on in my life.
It’s important as well that if what emerges is so intense, I feel disabled, that I can reach out to a therapist. This doesn’t usually happen but I keep this as an option.