I’ve had more than one person reach out to me on the sensation of emptiness in their life. They feel like a shell. The drive or purpose they once had in their life has faded and they more and more just don’t care anymore. This is one sign of what could be diagnosed as clinical depression. And traditional psychology views this as an abnormal disease that needs to be cured. While traditional psychology is trying to be helpful the very attitude of viewing depression as a disease is a judgmental energy. With judgmental energy the places you feel unwell are not met with healing but instead with harshness, criticism and pressure to change back to “acceptable”. And so this will tend to exacerbate the unwellness we are trying to heal. But there is now a new psychology mindset called PVT (Polyvagal Theory) that avoids the criticism, judgement, and pressure in order to offer healing more profound than traditional psychotherapy.
An article in Psychology Today describes PVT and how these places of emptiness and clinical depression are NOT a disease but actually a healthy message from the more primitive and child-like parts of your existence. The healthy message is encouraging you to pause, find space, find time and come back into wholeness and unity with yourself.
With PVT when the environment and experiences in your life become too overwhelming your VNS (vagus-related nervous system) puts you into a shutdown state. Your vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in your body that connects your brain, lungs, heart and digestive organs. When your VNS goes into shut-down state this is your safety relief valve. Initially this shutting down action may feel very disconcerting and alarming because before the shutdown you will have come from a place of much more activity. But the truth is that this prior state of much more activity will have involved excessive stress, worry and expectations and so was unhealthy. Therefore, this shutting down is an invitation to rest easy and realize this sensation of emptiness and clinical depression is a healthy response to a prior unhealthy lifestyle.
On an emotional level this shutdown is your inner child desperately calling out to you to pay attention, reconnect and listen. There are many times in our lives that we quickly override our fears by rushing through things, submitting to the opinions of others. We may then take drugs or alcohol to numb out our fears, sadness or pain. We may also get easily embarrassed or ashamed of revealing our true selves. When we do these overriding kinds of things we are ignoring our inner child that is the source of play, fun, joy in our life. This is a core area that needs to be fed with love, worth, and safety. It needs to be be seen and heard, received and acknowledged.
When we ignore our inner child we disconnect from him/her and withhold the nourishment he/she needs. Eventually he/she starves and our connection withers. Then the play, fun and joy in our lives withers. Our lives start to feel mechanical, without purpose. We feel like empty shells. This state of being is an unhealthy state from which our inner child as a last resort shuts things down which we will experience as clinical depression.
This is why it’s important to create time and space for playfulness and joy in our lives. Make sure to find playful things that are not high-tech and complicated but rather simple and closer to what a very young child might do. This might be drawing, coloring, or painting. Even more profoundly bring back dancing into your life. Much of industrialized high technology civilization has made dancing feel embarrassing. But it is in fact a fundamental human activity that children do organically that brings back vitality and passion into your life. Read the article “Clinical Depression to Passion” for more on dancing to heal clinical depression.
Modern PVT Psychology describes optimal mental health occurring when we can enter a place of play, trust, safety, rest, and engaging social interactions. These places, especially places of play, is most valued by children. When you can connect with your inner child you become aware of any longings, fears, and beliefs of your inner child and you can fulfill them. And when you do this you create resiliency, confidence and wholeness in your life. When you lose this connection with your inner child you will feel empty, disconnected, burnt-out, lost or depressed. So if there is any area of your life where you feel empty, disconnected, burnt-out, lost or depressed, I encourage you to try the below meditation. This meditation is designed to help you listen to the wisdom that is behind when you are feeling clinical depression. This an updated version of a meditation I had used for myself when I was in the darkest places of severe emptiness and depression. I now share this with you.
Repeat this meditation more than once. As you repeat it will subconsciously reestablish your connection to your inner longings and desires. This will allow you to re-establish purpose and meaning into a life that might otherwise feel empty and depressed.