Grandson Logan at 3

POSITIVE ANTIDOTES TO DEPRESSIVE THINKING.     A friend of mine, who is outwardly a successful  family man has been “waylaid” by depression.  Bad enough to make life miserable.  Bad enough to contemplate suicide. I wrote him the following letter and then copied it to another friend who  is in depression and agony over a difficult relationship: 

Living in depression is like living in some kind of never ending low grade hell.  I suffered from 20 years of minor to suicidal depression because I constantly indulged in negative thinking — how terrible my parents or wife was — how screwed up I was — how unyielding the world was.  I was obsessed with the idea that if I only dug a little deeper in the shit, I would find a path to happiness.
     If there is one thing I know today, it is how much of my own and other folk’s suffering is caused by this unskillful indulgent obsessive negative thinking.  

Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology says that depression is primarily caused by indulging in negative thinking  — that the problem is “out there”somewhere with bad parents, bad circumstances, a bad body or psyche, bad luck, bad karma, a bad god.  Buddhism and AA have likewise said for years that we need to drop this delusion that the problem is “out there”

 I tried for many years to blame and fix things  “out-there” — and beat others and myself into submission– into doing it “my way”.  I sometimes had brief tantalizing successes, but eventually (since “out there ” is uncontrollable) it led to repeated failure and then suicidal alcoholism.  But even after a  very successful 12 step recovery, I would sink into negative thinking and depression.

 Today, when I notice I am indulging in negative thinking, when I feel negative emotions — anger-fear – depression, when I feel up-tight or helpless or depressed, an alarm sounds AYOOGA! AYOOGA! AYOOGA!  Emergency!  For I know from bitter experience that if I continue on this negative track I will start attracting other negative thoughts in a swirling sewer of negative thoughts and feelings — and then find other people to support my swirling sewer of negativity.
      And this will trigger my egoic habitual patterns of behavior (long time character defects) — striking out, hiding in the corner, running, hiding, yelling, sulking.  These behaviors may have worked as a child, but as an adult they damaged or destroyed my career, my children, and my relationships. An ego attack, I have learned is a greater emergency that a diarrhea attack. Stop everything and get myself to the bath– breath.

Emergency!  Take one conscious breath.   Let go off all thoughts and bring all my awareness to the feeling of the life giving breath as it comes in and as it goes out.  NOW.  �
      Take another – let go of thoughts and just feel the breath.  And one more. Just feel the breath.     Breathe space into the uptight negativity.  Breathe in life and possibility — even hope.  Take another conscious breath and start coming back into balance — start connecting with the peace and power deep within.   �
      Take another deep conscious breath and connect with those negative feelings and sensations.  Don’t indulge them and don’t run from them. Don’t hide from them. FEEL them deeply — while connecting to my breath – to my own center.  

As I come back into balance – I can remember – “Oh, this is my beloved wife, not the monster enemy from Mars.”  And from a place of balance, perhaps even of compassion or respect or love — I can take action.   �
     I find that just coming into balance myself, can change the dynamics.  I also find that by breathing space into a situation, I start to breath in new possibilities I never thought of when I felt under attack.  

Personally, I find I am doing much better with short term ego attacks – flashes of anger of fear.  But slower fuse situations — depression or procrastination — are tougher.  They are less of an emergency it seems — even though they cause just as much trouble.  What’s another five minutes, when I’ve already wasted an hour or two or ten?

     Well the rule is that when I notice any negative thinking, I need to take action. NOW. 

Breathe.  Breathe in peace.    Breathe in life.  Breathe in possibility. Breathe in better feelings. Then consider one small thing I can do that will help me stay feeling better.  Call a friend.  Meditate. Go for a run.  Pay one bill. Write one paragraph.  Cuddle my child.
      Then repeat the breathing process as indicated. Open my mind to an intuitive thought or inspiration.  And repeat this process every time I start indulging in negative thinking — building my positive thinking muscle. 

A teacher recently said (rather harshly, I thought)  that the cause of depression was laziness.  I continue to indulge in the old familiar smelly negative thoughts instead of breathing and shifting to neutral or positive new thoughts.�
      It is similar to the meditation instructions — focus on the breath, and when you notice that you have lost connection — pat the distracting thought on its little head and bring your attention back to the breath.   

 There are some books from positive psychology that can help support these ideas: 

  • Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman,
  • Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson,
  • The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Anchor.  Shawn’s YouTube/TED video is delightfully funny and his seven principles are taught in companies’ worldwide. 

These are all scientists whose recommendations are based on extensive scientific studies.  (And used in Harvard’s “Happiness 101” course.)  All use such basics as meditation and compassion.  

A strong spiritual connection will also help. I believe we are spiritual beings having a human experience –  and I can thrive as a human being if I stay connected to my Source or Basic Goodness  or God’s love.  (Many other Blogs will be on that spiritual connection.) 

And meditation — especially on the breath — helps me to connect with that Source each morning, and makes it easier to breathe and connect during the day. 

Breath meditation is simple. Take a good seat — spine stretched and upright. �
Relax and take a conscious breath.  Following the air as it goes in — and as it goes out.  �
Then take another — and another. �
If awareness is pulled from the breath by a thought — acknowledge the thought — possibly say “thinking”,  like patting a child on the head — and bring the awareness back to the breath — to taking one more conscious breath.�
Try to at least stay aware for three conscious breaths.  (Some people count to 10 to start with.)  

Do this for 3, 5, 10, or 15 minutes in the morning at a regular time.  Connect with the “Great Reality deep within” early and its easier to do it later — when the depression or ego-attack hits.   The key is to do it regularly.  Its simple but not easy at first.  So be kind to yourself.  Just notice how your (ego) mind resists this simple process.   The ego is suspicious that it is losing control and will come up with all sorts of tricks from itchiness to sleepiness.
    Its gets easier with practice.  Eventually you will be able to just use the breath as an “anchor” while your awareness spreads to your body sensations, sounds, sights, and even thoughts — all with a sense of peae and non-judgement.   

 Retraining our mind  and learning the habit of positive thinking takes determined work. Its mind training and not un-similar to weight training — but the payoff of a good moment, a good hour, a good day, a good life — sure beats the alternative. 

Each negative situation gives us the opportunity to retrain our mindsto permanantly let go of the negative habitual patterns and karma that have blocked us from playing in the Sunlight of the Spirit.  It’s our choice – moment by moment — right NOW!

 Much love as we journey on this path,  Carter.


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Living life as an adventure, not as a trial — one breath at a time.

WELCOME.   This website and blog is dedicated to exploring ways and views that can help us better remember or awaken to our essential spiritual nature — and to really appreciate and enjoy our human surfchildpinkadventure on planet earth — to thrive rather than survive each precious day. The site has several parts:

My bio or story describes some of my personal adventures and explorations on planet earth — how to live life with a sense of fun and curiosity.  The best view I have found so far starts with a deep sense that I am actually an infinite spiritual being that is having a creative human experience — an extension of Source energy. In growing up I become so embedded/ fascinated/ frightened with this physical world I totally forgot my connection with my True Self;  I became convinced I was this vulnerable separate mind and body called Carter.  This website is dedicated to discovering views and practices that help us reestablish or remember our True Selves and the true joy it can bring to every moment of our lives.

Accelerating Evolution describes one of those explorations. The integral theories of Ken Wilber freed me from the idea that to connect with spirituality I had to drop my rationality – to regress to medieval or tribal times.  Instead, I discovered that our desire for a better world and life has led not only to higher technology and economics but to higher stages of morality and spirituality. The Accelerating Evolution model I developed predicts that by the last half of this century these powerful creative forces will open us to the mature rational or integral stage and even spiritual levels of consciousness — and soon racism, sexism and even violence will become as morally repugnant as the infanticide, cannibalism and slavery of our earlier stages. [But the process getting there, like most changes,  may be bumpy!]

Russia Blogs. In the fall and winter of 2010, my wife Franny and I went to Germany and Russia to help build out a new theater in St. Petersburg. I wrote a series of blogs on that adventure.

Current Blogs will deal with my ongoing explorations and adventures. The first one will be based on an email I sent to a friend who was struggling with the spiraling doom of depressive thinking — it recommends, among other things, some of the tools of positive psychology

Carter Vincent Smith