When the people I teach tell me that they’re depressed I see it as a sign of healthiness and sensitivity. That they haven’t managed to cover over their feelings and fit into whatever their neighbour says they should fit into. My friend and I had the idea of printing t-shirts that say: “Blessed to be Depressed”. You are starting to love life as it is. Seeing this messiness, this confusion, as a road, as our good friend. Trying to discover what it’s really about, without settling for just any answer.
In many cases our call, when it comes, is so accurate, so specific, and it is rarely what we expected. We need to ask ourselves every day, what am I here for? And be ready to dismantle everything – 10 years of university, an entire career or whatever else it might be – and keep dismantling it again and again. It can seem like a huge movement but in reality it’s a tiny movement. We can let ourselves stay caught in our thoughts, in our mind. However, we can also let that be as it is, and at the same time discover that whole other universe which is there and which has always been there.
Many times we have a sense that we have to do it all alone. We feel we need to make a list of what is wrong and then fix it. As if we really know how to! When the sense of connection is alive we understand that that which is too heavy for us to bear can instead be offered up. There is room to say, Look, I have no clue what is going on, I am sad, I don’t understand this and here I am, willing to grow out of it, willing not to stay trapped. When we meet this edge, what we are actually meeting is the blessing of being able to give up on our muscle power, on our strength. We are meeting this point where we can relax, where we don’t know what else can be done and yet there is still a powerful desire to move beyond the trap. It can take a long time for us to understand that we can relax, that it’s ok to relax. We can learn to relax before we get exhausted. There is this sense of whatever impulse is there, whatever movement there might be from our side it’s met by another movement that’s also pulling from the other side.
We often go to a meditation class or retreat because we want some clarity or we hope that we will gain some peace. But usually, if we are honest and doing our part of this dance, the first thing we find when we start looking inside is that there is more mess there than we thought. It’s very important to just simply be there, in this mess, in this “having nothing figured out”. In our lives we give so little time for this space in which nothing is clear, but it feels to me like such a healthy place to be in. On the other hand, when we know almost immediately where we are going, much of the time it’s the same impulse, the same mind inventing the next thing for us to do rather than us feeling for whatever life wants for us.
This moment of being lost, this moment of looking in and not finding any clarity, is the key to our freedom and our happiness. We’ve learned that we should not be a mess but if we listen deeply and closely to this mess there is something very authentic that wants to speak. And it doesn’t have the chance to speak once we have everything set up, have everything figured out, when we have our own rules and our own personal descriptions of everything. So meditation is a lot about the ability to meet this mess, the ability to become real, to stop just inventing one illusion after another in our lives. Instead, to start really listening to what it is that life wants from us. It’s a very different movement, from what I want to becoming silent enough that we can listen to what is wanted.
Gemma Polo Pujol is a spiritual teacher and founder of Dharmaloca, an eco-retreat centre located in the heart of Montsant, Spain. Her first book will be published in Spring 2020.
This article was featured in the Summer 2019 Cygnus Review.