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The Art of Depression and LIstening to the Soul


By Alison Chester-Lambert M.A.


Depression and happiness are most certainly the work of our Soul and Spirit, and persistent sadness comes from the Soul's need to be heard.

Our mind suffers from depression, but it is not the cause of it.



Our mental wellbeing is something of a balance between joy and struggle. As rather indolent beings we tend to consciously seek out comfort and happiness, but there is no doubt that the unconscious aspect of us will navigate us into depression or the `down bit of the wheel` on occasions. No-one wants to go there, but it happens anyway.


This might be because of tragic loss, but very often we can feel persistently sad and bereft of interest in Life for no apparent reason at all. And this can be the hardest of feelings to bear because we have nothing to point at to justify our depressed state of mind.  


Why? What mechanism requires us to feel unhappiness and anxiety from time to time? Why do we have to suffer loss of spirit? What is the spiritual lesson?


I'm going to attempt to answer that question, but first I want you to consider The Myth of Inanna from thousands of years ago. Briefly, the goddess Inanna descended into the Underworld to meet her twin and eventually returned after a difficult encounter.  


This Sumerian myth is perhaps the first known attempt to make sense of depression, and the symbolism comes from the sky and the rising and setting or disappearance of heavenly bodies. Our lives here on Earth are all about cycles and the Ancients clearly related their spiritual beliefs and experiences to their observations of the Sun and the planets. When bright objects such as the stars, planets and Sun or Moon sank below the horizon they were thought to be visiting an under world or Underworld to give it the name by which we now know it.


Early Indian stories in the Rig Veda talk of the Sun being attached to oxen or horses as it was pulled around the Earth and at some point, comparisons were made between a wheel and a cycle. The ancient Egyptians left us fabulous art which depicts the Sun's dangerous and depressing daily journey into the Underworld and out again. (Cleverly they noticed that the scarab or dung beetle actually navigates using the Milky Way as a guide, so it was put in charge of showing the Sun how to get out of the underworld to the horizon once more.) It was about cycles, both daily and yearly, but the point is that the circular Sun, Moon, planets and circle or wheel-shape became synonymous with dying and resurrection or re-birth.


So what can the Ancients teach us about depression? Firstly that it is cyclical and essential. The wheel of Life turns with us on board. But also that we will eventually be resurrected or reborn as we reach the `up` bit again. Just as the Moon and Sun rise once more, so will our spirits. We just need to follow our dung beetle and grope our way upwards again.


The Spiritual Explanation of Depression


Now let's look at which bit of us gets depressed. We are told it is our mind, but I disagree. Our mind would have nothing to do with feeling depressed if it could. Depression and happiness are most certainly the work of our Soul and Spirit. Our mind suffers from depression, it is not the cause of it.


Depression comes from the Soul's need to be heard.


Obviously, this requires some explanation and the first thing to do is explain that we live in a `duality`, meaning a Universe made up of essentially two opposing energies. The natural actions of Yin/Feminine and Yang/Masculine can be seen all over this Universe. Always there is an emitter and a receiver, or total opposites. Solar radiation reaches outwards in an unstoppable out-pouring, whilst gravity pulls everything towards the centre – eventually finishing up as a `black` hole. (Sun) light and dark (hole). These opposite energies comprise of two elements each – Yin/Feminine is Earth and Water, whilst Yang/Masculine is Fire and Air.


With me so far? Ok now, a human can also be separated into Yin/Feminine and Yang/Masculine and then into four different parts - Body, Mind, Soul and Spirit - and these equate to the four elements. The Body is our Earth element, the Mind our Air element, the Soul is made of Water, and Spirit is Fire element.


The Fire within is our Spirit and has the important job of keeping us optimistic and confident. It is our boisterous Yang /Masculine energy. The Water within contains our Soul, and it plays out the Yin/ Feminine. This is our reflective, cautious, introspective, philosophical inner world. It harbours the past and all its memories, both past life ones and earthly epigenetic ones. It is quiet, gentle, mysterious stuff, but also possibly gloomy and depressive. 


So where am I going with this? Well Soul finds it difficult to get heard, especially in the 21st century when Mind/Air is so dominant.


Our minds chatter away all day and stress out in the onslaught of media information. Our Spirit leaps joyously into growth and a whirlwind of forward motion. Our bodies demand food, procreation and care. So how does Soul get a look in?


In order to force us to take time out and allow a `catch up`, our Souls have to do something drastic to get heard amongst the other chatter from the other elements. So we are forced to have our Water moments, and that generally means an emotional encounter.  

If we are lucky this might mean the arrival of a baby or new relationship slows us to a halt, but it can also mean a time when illness slows us down sufficiently to allow `inner work`. Because we have been playing our exuberant Yang/Masculine Fire Spirit for a while, the Soul demands a rebalance into quiet seclusion.


On the other hand, our Spirit/Fire can burn out and obligingly withdraw for a while, so Soul/Water is revealed and left to cope on its own. The result is the same however; the prominence of Yin and the lack of Yang leave us without hope and optimism. But there is nothing like a healthy depression for some quiet seclusion and a focus on the inner self.


The Age of Information Technology requires a high degree of engagement and mental ability, but the problem is that we use our Air/Mind to do this, so in general the Feminine/Yin is struggling to have its time. Hence we then get depressed for seemingly no reason. Water, at the end of the day will prove to be the victor.


Surely the key to getting the best out of depression is to recognise the Soul's need and act accordingly. Take time out and contemplate your unsung inner world. In other words, accept the depression gracefully. However, I admit this isn't always comfortable. The buzz of the Yang is infinitely more attractive because it covers up our failings and inadequacies with chatter that conceals the difficult feelings. Spirit/Fire doesn't like to `feel` the pain of meaninglessness and aloneness, it wants to rush past it and upwards into glorious light. The dark can be so gloomy. But it is down there in Inanna's underworld that our finest Soul work is done. Whilst you are hanging there, feel around you mentally and get to know your underworld. In the long term, this will give you security and understanding that cannot be gained any other way.


Find the art of depression and listen to your soul.