Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve’s one star,
Sat grey-haired Saturn, quiet as a stone. . .
Knowledge enormous makes a god of me. -John Keats
Lately I’ve been trying to keep to the science and what I find through research, because opinion or spiritual or soul can be a tricky topic to cover. Every one has their own beliefs and doesn’t want someone telling them what to believe, and it’s hard to cover it without the assumption that you are talking religion. Let me begin by clarifying that any time I am righting about my spiritual journey or thoughts, that I am not talking religiously, nor am I encouraging everyone to believe like me. I am merely expressing my thoughts and my thought patterns, what I have discovered is important to my life. This may seem like a little tangent, but later Cowan is going to go into some spiritual/soul talk and I think it is best to keep an open mind and not be turned off by the word, but what ever adjective you want to make you comfortable, but I feel there is no longer a need to shy away from this topic that seems so taboo. Yes your emotional state is just as important as the science and what you eat or the exercise that you do. Yes its okay to evaluate and sort through your emotional state. One of the best things I’ve done is taken time to work on and evaluate my spiritual state. Is it perfect and full of rainbows all the time? No, but it is better, I am more aware, I am more predominantly happy and changing my mood is easier. It’s just about being better each day. Did you know you can be as nourished as possible, yet if you’re stressed to the max you can not lose weight, or even gain weight? Life is that fragile balance between all states: eating/hormones, exercise and movement, stress management, sleep, emotion, and fun (we live in a parallel world where we are constantly striving to balance the two sides). Today’s current theory is to conveniently say that anyone who is depressed is suffering a chemical imbalance. Are we really testing and proving this? It’s like this with all research, whatever is being funded is the information available and it can be turned to support any theory (like the folly that cholesterol causes heart disease). As Plato said:
Let me choose the assumption and I can prove anything.
We then give the short-term relief of a drug prescription, rather than addressing any of the rooted problem. What Cowan points out as the most important step for these trapped individuals, is to learns the rules of the world of mood and that means the world of soul. The world of soul is an airy place, that thus needs motion. Stagnancy just leads to hardening and illness. We get stuck by placing ourselves into one category: I am sad or I am depressed or life is hard. When I say that I am happy most of the time, does that mean that I am never sad or life is not challenging sometimes (especially right now)? Hell no, I feel a rainbow of different moods (just ask my mom who sees them the most), but I don’t let the dark moods take over. I identify them, but don’t let them dominate. When I see them coming I seek out activities that help me sort through my emotions-writing is a big one (I have a whole other blog that acts as like a journal about life’s lessons), as well as hiking to recenter and clears my thoughts. One of the biggest things I’ve learned in my self-evaluation is that at any moment I have the power to change my thoughts. I can change a negative thought to a happy one or a judgmental thought into one of love. I enjoy that Cowan next went into the ancients again, stating that emotions are like constellations with their own mood and influence. The ancient knew this and each planet had it’s own state of mind. The planet corresponding to depression was Saturn: dark, foreboding, heavy, carrying the weight of the world. However, each planet represents a major human mood, but it also has a negative and a positive mood. Saturn’s positive side is insight and wisdom. Cowan then suggests that the treatment for depression is not to suppress the dark mood, but to avoid being stuck in a mood.
How can this person experience the intelligence of Mercury, the beauty and romance of Venus, the expansiveness and joviality of Jupiter, the reflectiveness of the moon, or even the forceful activity of Mars?
We have to pay attention to the world of emotions. He suggest ways to help emotions flow like walks (hmm, just like I do), writing down dreams, or music. Before getting into the Four aspects, the most important thing is to learn to experience your depression as just one emotion among many.
- Nutrition: This time Cowan looks at various nutrients that effect mood. Cholesterol, to start with. Lowered levels through diet or drug, have shown a correlation with increased depression and aggressive behavior (serotonin is interrupted when levels are too low). Another problem is that we’ve been told not to eat animal fats. Therefore, denying ourselves of important nutrients like vitamin A (stored in the liver-the house of Jupiter, the antidote to Saturn. It’s depletion is rambunctious with diets that are low in vitamin A and high in protein. Eating low-fat milk, lean meat, eggs whites and protein powders can also deplete stores), vitamin D (lack of sunshine can lead to depressive states), and EPA/DHA (successfully used to treat depression). To make things worse, our lack of fats, means we usually make up for calories in the form of carbohydrates that flood of system with glucose, lower blood sugar (low blood sugar is frequently associated with depression).
- Therapeutics: check the book The Fourfold Path to Healing
- Movement: Obviously exercise, with it’s endorphin after affects is a positive. Limbs, the metabolic system is connected to your limbs, so extended movements through the hands is great. He suggests fencing, with it’s movement of the extended arm, yet relatively still head. Actually any sport that is rhythmical with limb extension is a positive for depression: dancing, tennis, badminton.
- Meditation: When practicing meditation, take time to realize two things (small to begin with) in your life that need changed. Cowan points out that depression is a signal from the soul that is craving attention- so feed it. Live fully!