DevaTree Blog

Me, In Absentia: My Dance with Depression, Loneliness and Family Upheaval

Posted By K-Bhava on Aug 31, 2021
 

I am no expert in the field of psychology or mental illness. But as a yogi and shamanic practitioner, I know my own imbalances.

I know the sinking, aching hollow of depression when it gapes inside me, and the creeping paralysis of inaction that follows. I know the churning of anxiety in my gut, the electricity of fear at the base of my spine. I know the attachment to circular thought processes around situations I try to anticipate and cannot control—and my husband’s observations about how this takes me away from him.

Me, in absentia. 

Me, circling in the whirlpool of should-haves and might-bes, instead of coming back to the present moment.

I have never discovered a way to eliminate my shadows—but I continue to develop ways to dance with them and learn from them.

There was a time when my husband and I lived apart for some months while he was working afar and I held the household steady. He would come home for the occasional weekend. When I stood at the window, waving goodbye on Sunday morning and watching his truck recede down the street, I was struck by the most profound, painful loneliness. 

The burden seemed too crushing to carry, and it resulted in a lack of motivation to do even the simplest things, like household chores. 

I had to do something with the weight of my distress.

At some point, I began to sit in meditation and breathe with my suffering. Instead of trying to swallow it and suppress it, I approached the ache as a living being. I acknowledged it. I gave it some time and attention, as my breath flowed through me.

I learned how to honour my loneliness and depression, for a little while—but not all day. I would hold them as a friend, a companion, perhaps even as a parent with fussy children, but I also rose from my meditation and moved into the rest of my day. There were limits to the attention I gave it, yet my depression was cared for in the light-filled cauldron of my breath. 

This helped ease the emotional paralysis and loneliness by lifting their unrelenting weight. It allowed me to function and find some peace as I cleaned the house, played music, practiced yoga, or went for a walk and prepared myself for the week ahead. 

When depression showed up again, I honoured it with my breath and more concentrated attention. This became our dance of breath, solace, and lifting weight.

I also grappled for many years with the changing relationships in my family after my father’s death. 

He had truly been the pillar, the glue for many of us. For a while I thought I could be just like him and hold everyone close together. But time, distance, and different perspectives—all powerful tides—pushed and pulled at us. I found myself mourning both the loss of my father and the inevitable erosion of family as it had been.

It was agonizing at times. My mind was unquiet and my emotions often dark. Anger, hurt, deep sadness all around...far more than just mine. There was nothing I could seem to do about it. 

A ceaseless litany of thoughts and stories and whys and what-ifs circulated in me. 

For insight and healing, I turned to shamanic journeywork. I drummed and with that constant, steady rhythm, I entered a relaxed state of consciousness where I could access Spirit and my deepest intuition. I did this often, to gain perspective. 

Spirit, in its ultimate compassion, offered me some important insights: I was not my father. His dreams, his purpose, his path—what we might call his dharma—were not mine. I had my own path to walk. This might seem obvious, but at the time it wasn’t so to me. I was too wrapped up in clinging to the ideal of how I thought things should be, and how I could make circumstances different. 

I learned—begrudgingly at first—that it was not for me to herd my disparate loved ones down a narrow path that led to a single understanding. 

Spirit also taught me to practice opening my clenched hands—to release my anger, resentment, and hurt that everyone didn’t want the same things or see events from the same perspective as me. 

While that has been a halting, gradual process of repeated practice, I have become more skillful as my attachments loosen and my heart grows more spacious. I no longer feel the need to mull over old hurts and blunders in the same way. I no longer bend beneath a load that I never needed to carry. That unburdening allows me to come closer to acceptance—to love myself and others as they are.

My shadows will always be with me. If I don’t pay attention to them, they will find ways to make me notice. 

But with dedication and persistence, the slow steps of breathing, releasing, and finding compassion can help free me from the tyranny of the past. In increasingly graceful rhythm, they lead me out of absentia and back to the present moment.

If you resonate with these words, I’d be delighted to hear from you, in the comments below. 

Walking alongside you,

K-Bhava 

K-Bhava Kristi Corlett is the Director of DevaTree’s 100-hour Whispered Wisdom: Walking Between the Worlds of Yoga & Shamanism, which begins on September 30th.

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12 Comment(s)

Sandra Achilleos on September 01, 2021
Well, this went right to the heart of me! Since I retired, I've been in a state of inertia, just like you described. And obviously this is what I needed to hear today. So thank you, so much. Is there a guided meditation you would recommend for grief, loss and depression?
Kristi Corlett on September 02, 2021
Dear Sandra - you are not alone in this, and wow - retirement is a HUGE life transition. That stirs up all sorts of stored shadows as we take that next step forward into a new journey! I would highly recommend the work of Buddhist monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hahn (who offers such incredibly beautiful meditations), as well as the writings of Pema Chodron. AND... if you want to work together on something, don't hesitate to contact me directly through my website at www.silverbough.ca!
Shukra Tammy Doerrl on September 01, 2021
Thank you K-Bhava for this insightful perspective on the dance of life. I recognized sooooo many similarities to my own journey both with husband as well as my father’s death. Most of my married life has been spent saying hello and then goodbye to my husband as he travelled for work. I spent the better part of my parenting years married but alone. Yoga entered my life when my oldest was entering high school. Yoga, in all its different forms (limbs) has been a truly transformative practice. It too has allowed me to manage my emotions, breath through the difficult ones and when necessary, relax into savasana when that was all I had the energy to do. I am so grateful for its discovery! And in equal measure, I am profoundly grateful to have made so many connections with others through yoga! Thank you for being you ❤️
Kristi Corlett on September 02, 2021
Ah, Shukra! Yes! Yoga is magic, isn't it? My very first discovery when I was undergoing suffering was meditation, which also led me to hatha yoga. I just knew I needed SOMETHING. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and experience. It's such a transformative path that we walk, and I am led to reflect on the meaning of yoga as "to yolk or to join," which reminds me how we are all part of the Divine Light, how it infuses all things. Thank you so much for shining your soul out - I am grateful for YOU!
Tamika on September 01, 2021
K-Bhav, I resonate with your words to my core...so many parallels. Thank you for this sweet outpouring of vulnerability and strength. xOM
Kristi Corlett on September 02, 2021
Mama T! I am so grateful for your words, and I am mindful of the challenge that we undertake in walking the yoga path... one of the most difficult and rewarding things in this life is learning to keep our hearts soft and open despite the battering they often take. You have been SUCH a guiding light for me. Heart broken wide open!!!! Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya!
Kaytlyn Creutzberg on September 02, 2021
Thank you. I so resonate.
Kristi Corlett on September 03, 2021
Kaytlyn - not sure if my first response made it through due to a glitch, but repeating my thanks to YOU, straight from the heart. It is a beautiful thing to know that we walk the path in the company of others who experience similar joys and challenges!
Brenda Lant-Humby on September 02, 2021
This very much resonated with me. I am facing the erosion of my birth family as we speak. Being the eldest and the one who performed my Father's eulogy, at lot of pressure was and is upon me....or so I thought. I am learning to let go and let God. It is sad work and my Father was all about family. Now I cling to my immediate family, husband and children but even that is changing as we become empty nesters. I am also experiencing health issues that were not of my making. All of this culminates in those circular thoughts, hauntings, worries of the future but I must make time to acknowledge and let go. Sometimes it is daily work. I am grateful for a God that always listens, always helps and is always available. I am grateful for the people he has put in my life and for the nature that surrounds me. We always have that to be grateful for. Blessings.
Kristi Corlett on September 03, 2021
Oh, Brenda! You are speaking directly to my heart. I, too, was the one who gave my father's eulogy. And I very much felt like I needed to shoulder all sorts of responsibilities that the Universe never intended for me. I soon found out just how imbalanced the load could become. Your words about the ever-present Divine stir my soul. May you continue to mend, to heal, and to shine that very Divine Light out from within. Thank you for your blessings, and great Peace to you!
Frances on September 03, 2021
Your article is what I needed to hear this morning. I am in the grips of repeated cycles of the mind, closing the heart and holding tight to past hurts. I am not who I authentically am and I hurt daily as I see myself stagnant and my relationships suffer. Thank you.
Kristi Corlett on September 03, 2021
Frances! I have been there so very often myself. There's a wonderful old story about how we have to dig around in the wound to clean it so that it can heal from the inside out. I am discovering that facing my fears and my hurts head-on seems terrifying at first, but oh, the RELIEF once I have begun to move through that dance. Those seeming adversaries (Fear, Anger, Hurt) are worthy - and they can become most excellent allies, as they alert us to what we really need. I have found mantra helpful in some of my circular thought processes. Whenever the thought cycle arises, first I notice, then I re-focus the mind on a mantra, for example "I am the Divine Light." The practice of Metta when thoughts come up of those who have hurt me is also incredibly transformative: May I/you be safe, may I/you be happy, may I/you be healthy. May I/you live life with ease. So much love to you!
Kristi Corlett on September 03, 2021
Dear Kaytlyn - thank YOU, from my heart to yours. It always means so much to know that we exist in common with others who are experiencing similar things. We're not alone.

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