Copyright © 2019 Theresa Bullard, all rights reserved
  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon

4 Holistic Approaches to Overcome Depression and Re-Ignite Passion for Life

 

The Alchemy of Raising Vibration and Loving Life

 

Feelings of depression, anxiety, emotional imbalance, and the like, can drag us down into a dark cycle that drains our passion and joy. This makes creating a life we love seem out of reach. We might feel hope fading, doubts and fears dominating our thoughts, and the ability to stay positive seems like a burden. These heavier feelings lower our vibration allowing apathy to set in. But, we do not need to succumb to this depressed state. We can reclaim our passion for life.

 

Emotions are influenced by many factors. Finding a true sense of balance and creating a life we love requires addressing multiple aspects of life, rather than just one.  Emotional imbalances could be caused from external life stress, biochemical imbalances in the body, environmental toxins, brain trauma, psychosomatic blockages, being out of touch with oneself and our true purpose, and so forth.

 

From a holistic perspective everything is seen from the level of mind, body, and spirit. Imbalances within the psyche influence the soul, which then triggers the emotions that lead to changes in body chemistry. We can shift these imbalances to restore ourselves to homeostasis by using both outside-in and inside-out techniques.

 

Although, at times it may feel as though we’ve tried everything, consistent new habits and practices will help us to transform our reality. The power and the fire of transformation are always within us. We simply must choose to use it and put it into action.

 

How can we reclaim our life to rise out of depression once it takes hold?

 

 

By working with the alchemy of life, we can activate our ability to direct and control the Fire of transmutation. To transmute something is to raise the inner vibration from lower to higher, or from ego to Spirit. “Fire”, in this context, is the symbolic element by which all things transform and transmute.

 

Fire can come from two sources: External or Internal. External fire is generated from outside of us. For example, it can be an outer pressure that pushes us to take appropriate action (such as meeting a deadline or goal), or it can be a stimulus we are exposed to that excites our sensory-nervous system (such as music, aromas, touch, color, images, foods, etc). Internal fire, on the other hand, is generated from inside of us. Certain positive thoughts, emotions, feelings, or subtle energies that are generated from within our soul and consciousness can be utilized in an intentional way to lift us up.

 

When we use such fire, whether external or internal, with purpose and clear intent, we can turn negatives into positives. We can learn to shift from feelings of stress, heaviness, or hopelessness into vitality, motivation, and excitement. We all want to feel better. Happiness and joy are something everyone deserves to have in life. And we all have huge potential to expand to our ultimate life. Yet to do so, we must activate that potential and set it into motion to create the life we will love.

 

Here are four key areas to increase our fire so that we can raise our vibration and create a life we love:

 

KEY 1: Fire in The Body

 

The pioneering research of neuroscientist, Dr. Candace Pert, revealed that brain function is largely modulated by various neuropeptides, in addition to neurotransmitters, which can alter our behaviors and moods. (1) These neuerochemicals can be compared to the “fire” in the body. Certain parts of the brain are equipped with receptor sites that accept specific neurochemicals into them. Some of these brain nodes are associated with regulating our emotional states. Dr. Pert affirms, “Neuropeptides and their receptors thus join the brain, glands, and immune system in a network of communication between brain and body, probably representing the biochemical substrate of emotion.” (2)

 

So, which neurochemicals are most associated with reducing stress and helping lift us up out of depression? (3)

  1. One of the most well-known is dopamine, often called the “reward molecule”, which increases when we experience pleasure or achieve a goal. However, the boost from dopamine is usually short-lived, so it does not give us a sustainable or long-term solution.

  2. Next is oxytocin, known as the “bonding molecule”, which is directly linked to relating with touch and interacting with others whom we trust or feel romance, gratitude, love, or loyalty towards. Increasing these heart-centered feelings will increase oxytocin.

  3. Third is GABA, which helps to reduce anxiety while creating a sense of calmness.

  4. Fourth is Serotonin, which is a molecule associated with boosting confidence and can be naturally stimulated by doing things that bring you a sense of purpose, meaning, and accomplishment.

  5. Fifth is neuropeptide Y, which has a sedative effect for reducing stress, anxiety, PTSD, and depression… (4)

There are others as well, but these are some of the primary ones we can address through natural/holistic methods to build “fire” in the body. Below are some recommended approaches:

 

Exercising

  • Moving the body is an essential aspect of creating fire in the body.

  • It can be as simple as a 20-minute walk or as vigorous as a high-intensity workout.

  • Strenuous exercise as well as alternating between hot and cold temperatures (such as hot sauna and then cold shower) has been linked to increasing endorphins, dopamine, and neuropeptide Y. (5)

  • But, even something as simple as walking has tremendous benefits for moving energy in the body, creating bilateral motion and balancing the hemispheres of the brain.

  • According to studies, walking has been shown to reduce stress and stress-hormones. (6)

  • Physical activity builds the fire in the body and releases endorphins, which cause the body to feel better and reduce pain.

  • In addition to stress reduction, regular exercise can help alleviate symptoms of depression, improve sleep and boost self-esteem.

 

Chi Building Exercises

 

  • Tai-chi, Chi Do, and Qigong are types of movement that also enhance fire in the body. These types of exercises are regenerative and work to integrate the mind, body, and spirit.

  • They work with both yin (feminine) and yang (masculine) energies of the body to balance them.

  • These types of exercises circulate and build the qi/chi, or vital life force energy, of the body to balance and clear blockages and help us feel more naturally energized. (7

  • In clinical studies at UCLA, it has been shown that practicing Tai Chi and Qigong regularly reduces depression and inflammation in the body.

  • This form of exercise involves coordinating gentle movements, breath, visualization and mindful meditation.

  • These exercises are also used in preparation for martial arts, so they are excellent for building the fire in the body and learning how to direct our energy. (8)

 

Yoga

  • Yoga is another form of exercise that helps in building fire in the body and balancing the chakras.

  • A study from the "Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine" suggests that yoga can naturally increase GABA levels, which reduces anxiety. The researchers found a 27% increase in GABA levels among yoga practitioners after a 60-minute yoga session versus those found in participants who simply read a book for 60 minutes. (9)

  • There are many forms of yoga available today. Some forms are more yin (gentle and passive) while others are more yang (driven and active). Yin is more nurturing to the body, while yang is more invigorating. Any yoga practice can be helpful for balancing the body and increasing your fire.

 

Dance

 

  • Dance can also be a great way to enhance the fire in the body.

  • This form of movement is expressive and interactive, allowing us to move in creative, fun, intuitive, and rhythmic ways.

  • Listening to some of our favorite uplifting music while dancing, is bound to help us shift our mood, while also releasing endorphins and other feel-good molecules.

 

 

 

Touch, Sex, and Bonding

 

  • Skin-to-skin contact that is affectionate, intimate, and loving is known to increase oxytocin in our body, which then triggers a sense of bonding, belonging, and happiness.

  • When we isolate from other people, this reduces our oxytocin production and can lower our level of joy. So be sure to stay in touch with people, in the flesh (not just online).

  • Cuddle time with pets can also increase oxytocin levels, so if you don’t have people to connect with, then consider getting a pet.

  • Sexual intercourse and orgasms also stimulate the production of endorphins, dopamine, oxytocin and other feel-good molecules. There is nothing better than sexual passion to light your fires!

 

The priority is to find the forms of physical activity that we love, while creating a life we love. As we incorporate any of the above types of physical movement regularly into our life we’ll begin to see a reduction in the symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety so that we can access our greater potential. When we intentionally choose to move our body in a stimulating way, we’ll build fire in our body. This fire in the body transforms stagnant energies and increases the neurochemicals that leave us feeling elevated.

 

KEY 2: Fire in The Mind

 

The next place we want to bring fire into is the mind. This involves uplifting our thoughts so that we can raise the baseline of our vibration. Each individual has a homeostasis of their energy, thoughts, and emotional state. This all culminates and reflects in our vibration, aura, or presence. We have the ability to raise our vibration and shift our mindstate by building the transformative fire in our thoughts to burn through old patterns. Changing negative thinking to positive thinking can radically improve our mental and emotional health. It has the ability to drastically improve our mood and reduce depressive patterns.

 

Journaling is a simple exercise we can do to improve our thoughts.

  • Take just one hour of one day this week to write down every thought you have. This will give you a glimpse into what is going on in your head, providing insight into which thoughts hold you down and which ones uplift you.

  • Once you have this map of the terrain of your mind, then you can more easily identify what new roads (or neural-pathways) you want to pave and which ones you want to discontinue using.

  • Journaling gives us a way to see the negative thoughts we have so that we can reframe them.

 

 

 

Reframing negative thoughts to positive ones:

 

 

  • Look at your thoughts and notice where you have absolutes that include statements such as, “always” or “never.” Those are great indicators of a limiting belief and something that is keeping you from expanding to your ultimate life.

  • Also look at where there is self-talk of: judgement, complaining, criticism, feeling competitive, insecurity, or thoughts of lack. These thoughts may look like, “I’m not enough…”, “I hate…”, “I’m better than them…”, “I always have to do this...”, etc.

  • When we perpetuate certain thoughts out of habit, they have a biochemical response that reinforces neural-pathways in the brain, keeping us stuck in a pattern of self-sabotage.

  • The saying in neuroscience says “What fires together, wires together.” So if we want to stop a certain negative pattern from wiring any stronger, we need to interrupt it’s firing cycle as soon as we can, and as often as needed, and then redirect towards a new one.

  • Working on reframing negative and false self-talk to more positive thoughts will help us become more empowered in everything that we do. When our thoughts support us we’ll feel happier, more motivated, balanced, and at ease. We’ll notice decrease in stress and depressive symptoms.

  • If we have a negative thought, we can replace it with it’s opposite or reframe it to be positive. When we’re initially making these changes in our thoughts we want to gently redirect ourselves.

  • Some of these redirected thoughts may look like, ”My shortcomings are what make me uniquely what I am. Each day I am getting better and better. I am taking the steps to improve myself and my life, and I love that.”

  • Instead of expecting to go from, “I hate my life,” to, “I love my life,” in one day, progressively work in that direction by changing our thoughts and actions. This first new thought could be, “I am grateful for my life and I love that I am making choices to add to the happiness in my life.”

  • The HeartMath Institute has shown gratitude to be the number one positive state to bring us into a more coherent heart rate and reduce feelings of stress, depression, or anxiety. (10) So bring gratitude and appreciation into your process as you redirect your thought patterns.

  • Eventually, with persistence, things will begin to transform and you’ll find yourself easily thinking, “I love my life.

  • Changing our thoughts is all about practice, persistence, repetition, and patience.

 

Brainwave entrainment can be used to balance out the brain activity.

 

  • It has also has been shown to help reduce symptoms of depression and stress.

  • Beta brain waves are fast or alert brain wave activity, the frequency ranges from 13 hz to 40 Hz. This brain state has been associated with focus, high energy, performance, and concentration. Studies have shown that people who suffer from depression sometimes have an imbalance of beta brain wave activity between left and right hemispheres of the cortex. (11)

  • Alpha brain waves are slower than beta, ranging from 7-12 Hz, and are most often associated with light meditative, relaxed states, such as in qigong, day-dreaming, guided visualizations, or restfulness. Scientific studies have shown that by achieving synchronized alpha states through such things as mindfulness, meditation, or qigong, we can also reduce stress and depression. (12)

  • Increasing harmonized brain activity by using binaural beats and Metamusic will help to rewire neural-pathways and build more “fire” in the brain. For increasing harmonized beta activity I highly recommend listening to Elation, Remembrance, Breakthrough, and/or Illumination Metamusic by “Hemi-Sync®”. While support with alpha and light meditative states can be attained through many of their other albums - some of my favorites are Ascension, Maiden Voyage, Waves of Love, and Touching Grace.

 

 

KEY 3: Fire in The Soul

 

The fire of the soul is about feelings, desires, and connection to our higher self. When we are feeling low, aren’t being treated well, or aren’t fully living into the life we love it is a reflection of our relationship to our self. Fire in the soul is about self-love and self-care. To create a life we love it will require bring love into the soul and fire into the heart. This starts through creating a foundation based on nurturing, caring for, and loving our self.

 

Self-Care

 

  • Our soul has the capacity to be lit on fire, to truly feel the liveliness and warmth of our being.

  • Our personal self-love and self-care routine may include meditation, getting support from friends, finding work that we love, journaling, doing things that make us feel good, reading our favorite book, taking a bath with essential oils, a massage, a pedicure, doing something playful, doing something that brings out our inner child, coloring a mandala book, and the list can go on.

  • When we feel as though we are treating ourself well, it will increase our feelings of self-love and the fire in our soul.

  • This will help us become more magnetic, attract better relationships, and truly live a life we love.

 

Meditation

 

 

  • Meditation is a great practice that gives us the space and time to go within and connect with our true self beyond the transitory states we experience moment by moment.

  • In meditation we are able to come back to the breath, to cultivate our connection to our higher self, and receive great benefits that help with emotional well-being.

  • Harvard studies have shown that regular meditation can reduce stress, depression, and inflammation. (13)

  • Meditation is a form of self-care that connects us to our true self beyond our external world.

  • For some tips on how to get the most out of meditation, I recommend checking out a series of articles I wrote on this topic (by clicking here).

 

Introspection

  • Self-love and self-care really comes down to knowing ourself.

  • Take time to journal or reflect on the following questions:

    • What do I need more of in my life and how can I give that to myself?

    • What would help me feel really nurtured, love, and cared for?

    • What would help me be happy and love my life right now?

    • If I truly loved myself what would I do?

  • The more we come to know ourself the easier it is to take the appropriate actions that will meet our needs.

 

 

KEY 4: Fire In The Spirit

 

 

When we are depressed we are expending too much energy and are not in balance or in alignment with our higher self. Spending time to connect with our purpose and spirituality is the final fire that will help us to live a life we love.

 

Rather than list off exercises, here, I’m going to share with you some of my personal story about a time when I overcame a depression in my life. This was during my early years of graduate school while working to get my Ph.D. in physics. By the time when I realized I was depressed, I employed all the methods above that I knew of to pull myself out of it and reclaim a sense of wellbeing. And while they all worked to improve my situation, some essential key was still missing. Yet the above became the foundation that allowed me to go deeper into the core of where the depression was really coming from. For me, that core was a lack of purposeful spiritual practice.

 

 

 

When I first found my spiritual path I was immersed in eighty hours a week of physics classes, homework, tests, and research. All the work I was doing was predominantly left-brain activity. My right brain, the part of me that was intuitive, creative, and emotionally-connected was getting ignored. Even my social connections were focused on making it through graduate school. Because of all this imbalance, after about a year of it, I found myself depressed.

 

Have you ever experienced on one hand living a life that seems fulfilling in some ways, while simultaneously is stifling your happiness in other ways?

 

I found that when I was out of balance, the depression spilled into every area of my life. I became moody, low in energy, low sex drive, feeling no real motivation, lacking in joy, and not loving my life. I knew that life had so much more to offer and that I had a great amount of untapped potential within me waiting to be expressed. It got to the point where my energy felt so low I didn’t have the bandwidth to fully show up for my life. I realized that the level of stress that came with my left-brain productivity in physics was at the expense of my happiness, my well being, and sense of meaning in life.

 

I realized this was not a sustainable situation for me and was not worth it. So I made a decision to systematically bring everything back into my life that I’d previously had, in order to discover what would restore my sense of balance and joy. I prioritized making time to be social, time for romance and bonding with my partner, time for physical activity and athletics, as well as other creative outlets. Through all of this I came to a place where I was again having more fun, being more creative, taking time for self-care and feeling a renewed sense of balance. However, while things improved, there was still something missing. I felt a lingering lack of meaning and purpose deep within. I still felt a mild depression in the background, despite the fact that my life looked so amazing on the outside. As I was reflecting on the changes I made and wondering what might still be missing, a light switch suddenly turned on inside! I realized that I was missing one thing, I hadn’t yet brought spirituality back into my life.

 

Once I recommitted to prioritizing my spiritual side I found that everything in my life begin to flourish. This was a turning point of self-initiation in my life. I began searching for a spiritual path that I felt could complement what I knew to be true scientifically and intuitively, while also offering me the opportunity to evolve in life and become a greater version of myself. Religion was too dogmatic for me, so I started off with New Age options. Most of it felt too ungrounded to me, and while there were some truths, I found there were also some parts of the various teachings that didn’t fully resonate with me or measure up to what I knew from science. I had already tried putting my focus on science-alone, and already had experienced where that got me. I knew that science, on its own, wasn’t complete or balanced enough for me.

 

I felt I needed a spiritual path that was grounded and practical, had depth, bridged between science and spirit, and was integrative and open-minded. Following my many searches I was eventually guided through synchronicity to the