Radical approach to depression

When I was living in New Mexico studying acupuncture and all the rest, the main axiom for all healing work was clearly to educate the patient in taking full responsibility for their own health and their own state.

When I returned to London 1983 and set up what swiftly grew into a vast, thriving practice, this then became my central message.

But I soon discovered the good people of London hadn’t progressed to the stage of evolution common in New Mexico at that time, which was pretty much then new age central in those early halcyon days of the human potential movement.

Back then people hadn’t started heaving into the anti-depressants like they do now, with upwards of 30% (at least, at least) of the population of the developed countries on them these days. And all they do is numb you to the very internal processes you actually need to be aware of in order to rearrange them into a more harmonious and beneficial configuration, if you want to enjoy life fully.

And after all enjoying your life fully is the quest. Enjoying every moment, including the ones when you’re feeling glum, out of sorts, fed up or so on – enjoying feeling that way rather than fighting it – is the antithesis of depression.

Depression has become endemic. This is essentially due to us being divorced from the natural environment, from interaction with the natural environment in the sense of hunting, gathering, food-growing and so on. In thrall instead to the electronic womb. This comes along with and encourages being divorced from our true natures.

The electronic womb provides seamless reality – plastic money and globalized facilities and systems mean we can move about inured to the shock of the new on encountering foreign cultures. Inured we become dehumanized. Dehumanized we’re inclined to act, to pretend we’re something more than we are. We become self-important. Self-important we overlook the actual importance of the Tao that makes all this be here. We become divorced from our souls.

The soul left unattended, uncared for and ignored, feels great anguish. Yet it has no obvious way of expressing it so it closes down.

This leaves the untethered thinking mind free to indulge in overthink. Overthink leads swiftly to self-absorption, self-absorption to self-obsession, self-obsession to disassociation, and disassociation to alienation.

Closing down it presses in on itself – it compresses or depresses itself.

If we were in touch with the natural cycles, if we were engaged in real and essential labor rather than screen-based activity, if we were expressing ourselves authentically, there wouldn’t be this epidemic. People would get fed up, they’d get glum, their moods would sing between high and low, and they’d take that in their stride without assuming they had a disease. And the drug companies wouldn’t have the trillions of dollars of annual revenues from selling drugs we don’t actually need.

Not that I bear them any grudges or judge them for it. What they do is their business. Likewise what each of us do is our own business. But whether wittingly or unwittingly they’re nonetheless doing humanity a disservice in this respect. Anti-depressants encourage not taking responsibility for your state and thereby disempower you. They encourage you to depend on others for your sense of wellbeing, rather than facilitate it yourself.

The more I’m thinking about it, the more startlingly blatantly clear it is that humanity needs to know some basic truths.

Let me know your thoughts – leave a comment.

66 Responses to “Radical approach to depression

  • And again…. a happy thank you for your sharing!
    Experienced this ‘condition’ in the past.

    What a blessing you Are, dear BD Stephen.

    With a warm embrace from All of Me/Us 🙂

  • Hi Dr Barefoot!

    You forgot who you are
    you forget love yourself
    we forgot love each others
    We forgot where to look for answer

    Your mind so busy
    you can not remember
    or to think
    When you want to know
    like to live
    you will remember

    If you clean your mind
    and ask the question
    you will know
    through the spirit
    the truth who are you.

  • How-dude
    1 year ago

    Hey doc-dude, it’s how-dude here. This touched a nerve and reminded me of something I’d forgotten I’d forgotten. Thank you. Peas and love brother

    • Hey How-dude, man, it’s been a while – how lovely to know you’re there and how the devil are you? Funny that forgetting we’ve forgotten something isn’t it. I often find or actually put myself in situations where I’m required to revisit old skills not used in decades and can actually feel different sets of synapses firing off as the neural pathways clogged with the detritus of time spring back to life. ‘I used to know that’, or ‘I used to know how to do this’ are not infrequent phrases in my internal dialogue, followed by the inner sports coach giving me the rah rah, ‘well if you used to know how to do it, you can do it now, young man’. And now implausibly being 62 you can see why I like my inner sports-coach.

      Love, Doc-dude, respect to the amazing adventure of Bill and Ted and the wonderful relative naivety of that time.

  • Ljerka
    1 year ago

    An almost Marxist approach 🙂 – alienation is the core problem and it gets deeper and deeper. Thank you for the great insight, we all really need to listen to someone who understands the ways of life and how to thrive.
    After reading your emails and your thoughts we have to say “yes, do something” and try to open our mini souls hidden somewhere behind the walls of virtual reality we built all around us.

    • Hi Ljerka, I’m so happy you said that – yes exactly and we must keep doing it so we constantly roll from the soul – and again thankyou, I’ve always held Karl Marx in the highest possible esteem, though of course not without feeling dismayed at how the fruits of his inestimable genius were abused as rationale for totalitarianism, which would have been the last thing he’d have wished for – I imagine similarly to how Jesus would have surely cringed in horror to see how his teachings were abused as rationale for all the historic pernicious behavior of the Church built on his name. Strange how humanity has this tendency to corrupt such ineffable magnificence. This tendency itself is indicative of the turmoil of conflicting inner forces we’re each required to manage. So no wonder we’re so collectively and individually challenged and no wonder we cave in (collapse in on ourselves as in pressing ourselves down) from time to time. Hence the importance of sound method.
      Thanks for inspiring all that too.
      Love, Doc

  • I have to say I get as sick of ‘pill shaming’ as I do of the stigma of mental illness.

    Having moods that swing between high and low is natural. Weeks and months of despair indicate something more serious.

    I very much agree with Pat above. Anti-depressants have given me a reprieve from the misery of depression and therefore a chance to heal myself in other ways – mindfulness, counselling, spiritual work and lifestyle changes. But when I got depressed (this time around) I was living 2 minutes walk from the ocean and surfing regularly, was doing very well in a creative writing PhD and was enjoying life in many ways. I didn’t have the internet or a TV.

    But depression grabbed me anyway, and I did not enjoy reading, writing, the ocean, running outside, yoga and all the other things that used to mean so much. Prozac has empowered me as PART of a strategy to help myself. I think it’s dangerous to rely on them alone and we must have a holistic approach as BFD and Pat talk about. Pills should not be the instant answer, but my own doctors were fantastic and suggested other things before and as well as medication.

    Matt Haig’s ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ is the best book explaining depression I have read; medication didn’t work for him, but he doesn’t denigrate its use.

    • Cathy Turbinskyj
      1 year ago

      Thank you Kat, very very helpful to read your experience. I find this whole issue of ‘pill shaming’ fascinating, and not talked about – ( until now, here) – are we medicalising what’s essentially part of the human condition- ie despair, fear, anger, hopelessness, suicide? Thanks for the book tip – the second time today I’ve heard it mentioned. I salute your courage Kat, and big thank you again for sharing xxx

    • Hi Kat, yes well said and I trust you now understand I’m not slamming anti-depressants, just doing the Taoist dance of cutting through to the very nub of what breaks the mechanism as best I can so we have a chance of addressing it directly. The only thing I’d point out, which may seem at first pedantic of me, but is actually a crucial indicator and example of how the underlying description we ourselves ascribe a situation fundamentally determines the way that experience will continue. Describing it as ‘depression grabbed me’ implies affording depression the status of an entity with a will of its own, capable of grabbing people against their will. This then puts us in the role of victim (to the entity and thus disempowers us and inclines us to seek reinforcement to fight this essentially imaginary demon, however to do so with very un-imaginary chemicals with un-imaginary dangers, not least of which would be the distress and probable mayhem in the unlikely but possible event of the infrastructure collapsing and such chemicals, along with antipsychotics and so on be no longer or temporarily available.

      However were we/you to describe it as ‘I grabbed myself and pressed down on my spirit’, it instantly empowers you as the agent of the pressing down (de-pressing) and hence of the release of that downward/inward pressure.

      It instantly requires we take responsibility for our psycho-emotional processes, in terms of both the tone and the direction these take.
      The next stage then is of knowing exactly what to do in order to take that level of self-command (which is where our Taoist methods or indeed any well thought-through protocol comes in).

      Thanks for contributing so fruitfully to the conversation, love, Doc

  • rachel
    1 year ago

    Wholeheartedly support your natural approach to treating depression, having spent about 20 years from my teens till late 30’s on a huge variety of antidepressants, then tranquillisers and beta-blockers to help the anxiety stemming from supressing the depression, alongside cognitive behaviour therapy that just further added to the ‘don’t feel’ approach – and instead got me caught up in angst to focus more on my thoughts and behaviours, and finally repeated electric shock therapy – which yes does still happen and has left huge long term affects on my body.
    Finally I am starting to unwind the suppression patterns in knowing its okay and good to feel – its still scares the hell out of me after so much patterning of feelings being blocked – and yet when I finally can go there and fully allow intense feelings – then the energy releases into something new. Rarely do many of us now days allow rage, grief, despair, terror their full free flow so they can burst into full release.
    This past month I have by some grace got to spend about 80% of my time in nature, verses before it was about 80% of day in the city. The difference is utterly striking. Today when the fear took hold I simply transported logs and stacked them in a log pile with a kind hearted lady for a couple of hours. It totally reset me.
    Nature, simplicity, physicality, heart centred people and community are the soul food so so many of us are starving for.
    And now to watch the dancing flames in the fire this evening enticing me to do nothing but simply be.

    • Hi Rachel how eloquently put, thankyou. And yes you’ve hit the nail on the head – that it’s ok to feel what you’re feeling – similarly as I see it, to it being ok when a storm comes over. It would be deluded to imagine we could do anything to prevent a storm in the sky. Why would it be otherwise to imagine we could do anything to stop the natural procession of our inner weather cycles. After all our inner nature is the same nature as the nature of logs and hills and rivers and so on.

      And in the same way we learn to harvest the rainfall and turn it to our advantage, and to stay dry, and to warm ourselves from the cold and so on, we can just as easily learn to manage our internal psycho-emotional processes. Yet just as in dealing with the external weather, this won’t preclude bouts of glumness, awkwardness, extreme self-doubt or self-worthlessness and so on, but sooner or later – and with the Taoist methods, sooner, in my experience – we arrive at that point of saying ‘so what’. Joy returns far more swiftly when we are willing to actually enjoy (en-joy – literally putting/knowing joy in it) even the dearth of joy. In other words when we get to the point we’re willing to feel whatever we’re feeling, and think whatever we’re thinking, and to be bearing witness to ourselves feeling or thinking it, purely observationally, impartially (without negative self-judgment), and crucially without jumping to any conclusions based on these feelings and/or thoughts in terms of evaluating our position, worth or status, when we can arrive at that state of compassionate detachment from our ourselves, these internal storms pass in a relative jiffy without leaving much or any residual damage in their wake.

      Moreover and this is important as we none of us live in vacuums even if we sometimes feel we are, when you’re at ease with the procession of internal weather, you automatically afford space for everyone around you to be so too.

      I was at a wonderful glitzy party high in the Hollywood Hills last night among a wonderful array of beautiful faces, all back-dropped by the beautiful array of LA lights stretching in straight lines into infinity, and at first on arriving, felt a bit awkward, as you do, as I didn’t know that many people at the start. My conditioned mind wanted obviously to correct that. Instead I allowed myself to feel awkward and to enjoy observing my awkwardness rather than feel ashamed or scared of it. And in what seemed like the same miniscule amount of time it took me to make that choice, everyone around me, who had hitherto all been very Hollywood-perfect-don’t-get-too-close-or-you-may-see-through-my-disguise suddenly as if as one, loosened up and the atmosphere warmed as if the hot sun had just come out after a sharp cold snap. And the link was tangible.

      Needless to say the benefit of that is that I/you/we all then have a beautiful time, in which we all feel validated, appreciated and valued – three fundamental factors missing when in a depressed state.

      Thanks for inspiring all that, love, Doc

      • rachel
        1 year ago

        One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard you say.
        Am rather blown away by your words here

        I guess we really feel beauty when it touches a resonance in us in this moment

        Its helped me too – in naming the awkwardness – as the package that makes up me appears pretty raw – its like I don’t know how people do this upfront presentation, this small talk – and over and over I feel the disconnect in me to others – and yet now reading your words I realise the knack would be for me to find a way for me to be totally okay fully with my quirkiness and realness – because it does over and over open people up. It also I have been told scares the shit out some people too.

        I got the gift yesterday of sensing another in a caravan nearby was struggling – and going in seeing them slightly tearful – I could have done the polite things and asked what was wrong – instead I I just pulled them towards me and held them and breathed with them as they wept – letting them be ‘more’ rather than less.
        Its beautiful when we manage this – for us as much as the other- yet I don’t often, when really i’d love to be able to be with others emotions like this always allowing.

        I feel emotions in me that I know need to be encouraged more – and yet feel myself surrounded by others wanting me to be less or different – to feel less – and so then the internal pressure builds – of holding back – of it not being okay.. People constantly say things indicating I should feel less. Its ironically all around me. Like the eye of the storm or the end point of ultimate yin or yang intensity when it gives way to another energy – yet most of us – most of the time – dare not go there. We express a bit of fear, a few tears, a quick row with anger.
        Rage, grief, terror – its all mainly held back from in our culture – and then so too the bliss, joy, deep calm – these other fullness of feeling don’t come either

        When I feel my own intensity of emotions rising it still terrifys me – totally – – there is the emotion rising – then too alongside this acute fear of going there- for to hold this presence alone is a lot – I’ve tried it and it just shut’s down – and to find others willing to be with us when we go to the eye of the storm is rare.
        I guess its keeping seeing little by little if even a bit more can be felt and allowed

        Its exhausting for most people dancing around the edges of the storm – years sometimes of low grade depression rather than minutes or a few hours of the intensity that could free it all up

        We tell each other to not get upset, to use our mind to be rationale, to be in the moment, to have a cup of tea…you get my point…mental practices, spiritual practices can all be ways of avoiding that courageous step of going nearer to and entering the eye of the storm, to finally free up what is held there

        You are sharing about using this practice – of accepting and welcoming in everyday emotions – which is a great place to start. And would give all of us confidence to do so – as doing this with mini breezes makes is easier to manage in more overtly stormy weather
        And my heart truly believes that we are a western world – especially us british lot – are mainly still very bound up emotionally – and finding ways to release all this – and really go into the full intensity – not act it out as in violence, addictions etc – yet encouraging and supporting each other to be much more and be fully – might just allow us all to breathe deep and be the magnificence we all came here to be

  • Very interesting if antidepressants help then use them but I can’t agree with a long term use a bit of self coaching or meditation help to cope with symptoms and underlying issues. Sometimes we do t know what we need and so patience is required and time .

    • Yes patience and time are crucial yet the trend is to impatience and shorter attention spans. And yes some outside help can save lives. But fundamentally, reacquainting ourselves with who we really are behind the layers of people-pleasing pretense is the key.

  • Sabine Konrath
    1 year ago

    It makes total sense. Having watched my Mum getting more and more depressed the more she stays in the house, watching TV makes her depression even worse. This overthinking and worry-mode needs to be broken somehow, like a disconnect. I totally agree. More of this please x

  • Ardnahc
    1 year ago

    Nailed it!!! There is nothing in what you said, that can be confronted. I already feel I should get alienated because I can’t adopt the ways of corrupt son of W*or*s that I left.

    • Hi Ardnahc, what’s beautiful is when the sense of being one with the continuum grows and rather than feel alienated by the memes governing the superficial expression of society, we feel a huge sense of belonging to humanity at large at a fare deeper level.

  • Mimi Smith
    1 year ago

    Having been on both sides of the coin I think that mediation has it’s time and place. Eighteen years ago, my husband had 3 massive heart attacks within a 2 month period. We had no insurance (yes, we live in the USA) so all the hospitals would do was stabilize him and send him home. We ended up losing his new business and our home. I had 3 young children and a family to support. I was severely depressed (with due reason I believe) but could not afford the time to take walks in the woods or do any of the many other activities that would have helped. Neither could I go to a new job and burst out sobbing because someone said hi to me. Medication was a blessing at that time. It allowed me to get a job, support my family and survive a particularly tough period. I eventually weaned myself off the medications after about 2 years.
    Fast forward 14 years and I was in the midst of another severe depression. (Still no insurance though) This time I had no young children to raise and a more flexible schedule. I started small with my daily qigongo (thanks doc!) then started back on my meditation practice. I adopted a high strung dog – forcing me to long hikes – fortunately in the woods close by – twice a day. I have added community acupuncture visits as often as I can and I am feeling fine these days.
    Would I prefer that everyone had the luxury of time, availability and support to get through severe depression without medication? Of course. But sometimes medication is what allows us to get to the point where we can take care of ourselves without it.

    • Hi Mimi, yes for sure they are a necessary expedient and thank goodness you had them to help you through because as you say there simply wasn’t time to undergo a healing process then, and how wonderful they held you steady and eventually the healing process is now happening and even more wonderful qigongo plays a part – certainly plays a major part with me each day. Without that and the martial arts and the meditation and so on behind it all I’d be stark raving mad. Some might say, even stark raving madder.

  • Cathy Turbinskyj
    1 year ago

    Well, yes, spot on, dear Doc, BUT…as a 60 year old someone who has struggled all her life with Severe Profound Acute Chronic What’s-the-point-iitis/Just-wanting-to-die, and tried so very very hard to take responsibility for her state; found much help from many sources and practices, including psycotherapy, buddhist chanting, yoga, acupuncture, homeopathy,exercise, working as a gardener for a living – you name it , I’ve tried it – and as a fully paid up member of the Natural brigade, always scoffed at the use of antidepressants/feeling-suppressants – well, it’s time to confess – I’m cheating, I know, and I’ve failed – because about 7 years ago this suicidal gardener chose Prozac, and it simply works – my basic appetite for life, enjoyment in simply being alive, is restored, and that rising damp of acute sadness that used to fill my boots and almost drag me under, is kept at bay. And it’s free! (Now that I’m 60). Yes, I’d love a deep, immersive, radical, RD Laing style therapeutic healing, but that costs, and I’m trying to support myself on £6,000 a year, with nought from State except aforementioned free prescriptions. So hurrah and three cheers for fluoxetine, my little helper. With love, CathArsis xxx

    • In light of which I confess I might have been heavy-handed in stating my position, dearest Cathy, as I’d never wish to induce a sense of having failed in anyone, least of all such a stalwart good person as you – to the contrary – you’ve succeeded and glad you have regardless of what it takes – and in any case you do have me to help and you’re well clued in yourself anyway so you’re a special case in this respect

    • rachel
      1 year ago

      Hi Cathy, it sounds like you may have found a place where you are very happy to stay on the anti-depressants as they get you out of the awful depression / suicidal impulses….and that you have tried a lot…I have a similar history and found a great improvement by taking out foods that were causing inflammation and adding in certain foods – all low cost – that help produce neurotransmitters in the brain. Its seems some people have these missing in their gut / brain. I also found st johns wort as effective and its used in some countries in Europe as their first choice before drugs and also low cost. If me sharing any more feels like it would help feel free to email me rhinks123@btinternet.com. Lots of respect to you for keeping going.

      • Cathy Turbinskyj
        1 year ago

        Dear Rachel, thank you so much for your response, and kind hearted invite to get in touch. I have recently decided to wean myself off the fluoxetine, taking one every other day, as GP suggested, for the next 3 months, and then do a raincheck. Came off it about 3 years ago, was fine for 6 months or so, then the same old misery and desire only to pull the exit cord. I do ask myself why I’m wanting to try again off the stuff, and examine my motives. Hmm.Many warm thanks again, for reaching out, I salute a fellow traveller/warrior xxx

        • rachel
          1 year ago

          Its a courageous step Cathy to follow a path you’ve trod before believing this time it may lead somewhere different. I hope the coming off goes well. I found St Johns wort as effective and found it stared to kick in after a couple of weeks, so if it feels right you may wish to consider it. For low dose st johns wort I gather its flowers in summer and infuse it in oil to make a self massage oil, which is then free. You may be better with a supplement to start. I also have found the gut/ brain connection to be a huge impact. To recover from physical illness I cut out all grains and high carbs and sugars – and within a couple of months my physical health was heaps better – and so I noticed was my mental health state. I then started eating more prebiotic foods – like garlic, onions and such like – and making some of my own fermented foods – so cheap high quality probiotics. I also treat myself with some good quality raw cacao each day as this helps the brain neurotransmitters. I am not for any moment suggesting any one simple approach is an easy fix love, just that these things may add as further support. I’ve done great for years on this until more recently where the high levels of electromagnetic fields have been having a big impact on my body and mind – so that’s a whole new challenge. I found I managed to switch some of the depression and suicidal impulses in particular by having a different relationship to them – not a mental head shift – yet a whole sense of a bigger perspective. I’m happy to share more what unfolded for me here if it feels in any way curious or supportive to you. I am guessing somewhere in you you wish to try coming off the drugs as you long to feel good without them? to be alive for the joy of being alive? and to not risk any long term side effects?, yet it also of course scares the hell out of you too – so you are holding both sides here xxxx

  • Elisabeth Florkowsli
    1 year ago

    How is this different from self love?
    Would that not help, here?

    I agree with your analysis, as far as I can judge, and trust you to offer a solution that does not consist of sending me out into nature to dig the soil. I would not enjoy that as my predominant activity 😉

    • Hi Elizabeth, how did you guess? Yes I was about to send you off into the mountain meadows with a shovel and get you digging. Though jesting aside, if someone was depressed they could do a lot worse for an afternoon’s activity. Provided the earth needed digging there of course, otherwise it would just be a muddy old mess for nothing and the sense of futility (one of the main components of depression) would merely be exacerbated. So yes leave the shovel where it is and continue increasing the love flowing towards your good self

  • Spot on Doc. I’m a psychotherapist (in private practice) of nearly four decades standing (well, sitting mostly). Number one problem – getting my depressed clients to let go the notion that they are ‘ill’.

    We get their innate emotional needs met; get them doing some exercise, preferably outdoors; find some purpose in their lives and lo! Like magic, their ‘illness’ disappears!

    Antidepressants simply ‘zombify’.

    Much love to you, dear bro.


    • Hey Blue, an honor to receive such acknowledgment from one with your experience. Ronnie Laing told me a story about a guy who’s been ‘clinically’ depressed for decades and nothing had helped. They found themselves with Ronnie cracking gags – he could be brilliant comic when in the mood – and had the guy laughing his tits off for the whole sesson. Then looked at his watch and said ‘…well that’s the 50 minutes up, we’ll continue next week”. “But we haven’t talked about my depression”, the guy complained. “You’ve sat here laughing for 50 minutes during which you haven‘t been depressed have you?” The guy didn’t get the profound import of that retort and didn’t come back. The wally. And much love to you too.

  • Joanna
    1 year ago

    I couldn’t agree with you more. This is just another extension of the nannying state.
    Much more attention needs to be put into preventions and from an early age understanding our emotions.

    • HI Joanna, yes isn’t it so. It seem more and mire bizarre to me that we don’t educate infants in how to operate the equipment as surely this is the first priority.

  • Natasha
    1 year ago

    I am always fascinated by what you say. It is amazing reading for me and makes a lot of sense. I don’t know how many people are taking anti depressants these days, I would imagine its a bit of fashion? I must admit I took them last year for three months and then came off them. I needed to lift my mood which they did, so that was good. Think Ms May needs some head treatment. If only we could remove her!!

    • Hi Natasha, I must confess I find it hard to be inspired and filled with resonant compassion in her respect, but I imagine she also often wishes she could remove herself from the position she finds herself in. She does seem to be hugely lacking in that aspect of leadership that rouses the human spirit though doesn’t she – she’s very good at making things seem quite ugly though and we must thank her for that as without that there’d be not such an urge to counter it by making things seem beautiful for everyone instead – I know I’ve been deriving juice from it to fuel my drive to share what beauty I can. I like how you used the drugs to your advantage – that’s what I mean by a useful expedient well used.

  • Samina Hafiz
    1 year ago

    What heart felt and true wisdom Doc . You are so articulate and send the message across so beautiful .
    Believe every word of your wisdom and hope that the world and especially the people around us try to build this awareness. Most of the time people tune you out
    If you talk like that .

    Keep up the great work Doc and may you be showered with blessings for ever!
    Thank you , thank you .

    • HI Samina, what a beautiful thing to say thankyou. Yes we must spread this basic human awareness as an antidote to the burgeoning trend to mimic smartphone apps. And yes people tune us out initially. I find it requires compassionate patience and waiting for the other to ask for help and then only give a tiny bit at first so they want more, otherwise they blank out again – it’s all down to information saturation isn’t it. And thankyou for the blessing-shower wish, taken fully to heart and returned multiplied for you and for everyone.

  • Kathleen McAlinden
    1 year ago

    I am watching yet another news byte about mental health in England. I like what you are saying and it rings true. We have become divorced from our souls – from our own essence.
    The world has gone mad with stupid rules and controls. We can’t think for ourselves.
    I used to work as a teacher but the joy was sucked out of it with so called quality checks, standardisation, mindless administrative duties. Creativity no longer exists. Everyone is stressed apparently. I was only thinking about this yesterday. In stead of getting rid of stress (mindless rules and bureaucracy) we are being trained to deal with it.
    What is stress? I now ‘allow myself’ to be fed up, stew in it and then move on. Before this I would have worried over it all but now !!!
    Loved the article

    • Hi Kathleen, what a great message, thank you for joining in. So succinctly put. Stress is crucial and intrinsic to all motion, to all existence in fact – over-stress however, which is what we’re witnessing, is a description of self-conflict and resisting the inbound flow of information then getting indigestion attempting to process and assimilate it, and then in dealing with the backwash of having not done that properly because it was all too much. And the remedy is actually amazingly simple, it just requires retraining in the correct way.

  • Chris Wicks
    1 year ago

    Sure thing, Doc – I guess you have encountered this study:

    “Identification of an Immune-Responsive Mesolimbocortical Serotonergic System: Potential Role in Regulation of Emotional Behavior,” by Christopher Lowry et al., published online on March 28, 2007 in Neuroscience”

    I love the feeling of grabbing a clod of damp soil and taking a deep, relaxing sniff…!



    • Hi Chris, I haven’t as it happens as I tend to eschew the academic-intellectual position in favor of the pragmatic, let’s just do this Taoist clod-breathing dance and see what happens approach and my observations so far are that it’s by far superior to any more chemically oriented approach.

  • Brilliant and completely agree.
    Thank you xx

    • And I completely agree with you agreeing, dear Ju and thankyou too

  • Pat Harrold
    1 year ago

    I totally agree with your take on our lack of connection with the world. However I use anti depressants regularly on depressed patients. I use the analogy of a 3 legged school; the other two legs being lifestyle and counselling. I am sure that it is therapeutic to open up and to admit that you are depressed, and to have your depression recognised but I think the tablets help too. They give the depressed person the lift they need to get them out of a hole. They do numb you ,but in the majority of cases they are a temporary tool and can be life saving. They may stop the pain and anxiety and give a bit of space to get on with the healing. I have huge respect for what you do Barefoot. I don’t use SSRIs lightly or indiscriminately, but I have seen great results when used correctly.

    • Louie T
      1 year ago

      I agree, society places demands that can overwhelm, there is a place for antidepressants, as well as all alternative options

      • Hi Louie, yes of course but unless we start facing the reality and dealing with the actual issue rather than merely resort to masking hence mitigating it, the problem will continue growing exponentially.

    • Hi Pat, yes of course, they can be an expedient and often a crucial one. As you know my point was that relying on them for a cure isn’t the best way.

  • sahardy1@hotmail.com
    1 year ago

    Hi Doc- this is my gut feeling about depression too. It seems we get in the way of ourselves by overcomplicating everything, when the reality is we have everything we need already.

    • Hey Sahardy, don’t we just. Isn’t ironic how we need reeducating in simplicity . We go numb on the greatest gift there is, being alive, and all we really need is to remember and keep remembering that and all else falls into place.

  • Well depression has existed long before the advent of the electronic age — so not sure I agree with that. But having mood swings certainly doesn’t suit corporate culture or most workplaces, so that is a big problem for a capitalist society. Whether we are kept numb from overwork, overstimulation, or overmedication, overeating, etc…. or we are shut down because there is no place to safely express taboo and challenging feelings, there is definitely alot of change needed in how we’re living, because not only depression but many other chronic conditions are plaguing many people today.

    • That’s a great point Leigh, thankyou for raising it. Mood swings don’t suit the corporate machine it’s true. And yes the various moods or distempers associated with what we now term depression have always been innate to the human condition, of course, but the notion that depression is an illness rather than a self-generated state is a modern invention, As a psychiatric term it only started creeping in to the language towards the end of the 19th century. Before that it was melancholia, distemper or so on.

    • rachel
      1 year ago

      Hi Leigh, I wonder how much depression did exist before the electronic age? A very small percent I imagine compared to now – and often through hard life experiences more – like the loss of a child or extreme poverty. There is much research now – you’ll find plenty of doctors and scientists speaking about it on places like you tube – yet the results have been mainly kept hidden – of the effects of electromagnetic fields and microwave radiation on the body. Plenty of evidence showing it causes depression, anxiety and stress, suicidal impulses and obsessive thinking / addiction. Dr Barry Trower is one uk scientist speaking about how high emf fields have been used in torture to crack people up mentally. And currently we are surrounding ourselves with high emf levels now 24/7. Iit unsettles me deeply at times what we are moving into if we don’t about turn it. So the only way to balance this is as Stephen is suggesting here to up our connection to the natural world, barefoot walking and such like.

  • Judy Kennedy
    1 year ago

    I was recently at a mental health hospital with a client and a person came into the emergency department obviously having a panic attack. She registered at the desk then waited for maybe three hours, until she was called into an office and abruptly returned with a prescription and went on her way. That’s the public mental health system where I live – unless you are a person who knows there is another way and has the resources to avail of those services. I am a psychotherapist and a naturopath. I know that I could have taken her out of that panic attack. There is an important piece missing in our public health care system. There is a huge gap in the availability of any treatment other than a prescription for pills to ‘fix what ails you’. I love your view on depression, but I believe that what medical doctors and pharmaceutical companies do is not only their business. I believe it’s everybody’s business. It is taking advantage of people when they are most vulnerable and in many cases is driven by financial gain and a lack of willingness to see a different way – a way that has been proven over and over again to be successful in treating depression and other mental illnesses. However, this way interferes with the status quo and would require retraining of professionals who hold enough power in our society to not let that happen. So things remain the same and if nothing changes, nothing changes.

    • Hi Judy, yes it’s frustrating and I was being polite – they spent vast sums and went to astonishing lengths to rubbish me in the past so I always feel it best to be polite. And in any case it’s up to everyone to clue themselves in – no one is obliged to go that route. And it doesn’t even have to remain in the domain of any public or non-public health services anyway. To me they are a mere obstruction to be accommodated. This awareness can be spread and help given by regular civilians to each other – hence the way I work, to train everyone to be able to help (first themselves and then those around), just like I imagine it was back in the days of clans, caves and bears etc. They had their shamans and medicine women and men but they had each other to talk to – until very recently in fact – it was TV and all the rest that started changing that, by abstracting life and cramming it all onto screens – and now look, the tiny wee screens the cosmos is being cramped into. Hence why important to provide antidotes based on natural human connection now.

  • Yes, dear Doc, this makes incredible sense. Been involved also in soul-work and what makes your article so pertinent is that I actually see so many young woman divorced from their natural cycles, and suffering hugely at every level. To remember the Tao and the blessings we have is so important, and this is where your various teachings that encourage us and teach us to become familiar with the life-force, with the energy that flows through us is so important. Having to spend a lot of time at my computer screen I was just about to wipe everything off the screen, close the door to any more emails, when I saw your offering, and knew I could not ignore the gem of a wisdom drop. So I laugh, cos it is so easy to get ensnared. But the Tao can also be funny, witty, and beguiling, hence my presence here. Thanks for the nudge, and banish even the slightest hint of a depressive sigh. hugs, LMH

    • Dear Lady, MH, thanks so much for saying. I’m also flattered I somehow bypassed your filters and was fun to engage with for you. And as I was saying to Tiara Chi, though there is an obvious disconnect with a bit of patience the connection is still there to be made – that’s what’s exciting about all this. The actual shift required is relatively so tiny.

  • Edna Parks
    1 year ago

    More, please.

    • Hi Edna, bless you and thanks fir saying, you’re kind. Watch this space – been busy preparing something in the oven. And will let you know if it rises properly.

  • Very topical and rings so true. I spent some years dealing with depression and it wasn’t until I moved to rural Spain and rediscovered the joy in a seasonal life close to nature that “recovered”. A deep joy in small things and daily cycles of the world. Happiness abounds , that’s not to say I never have glum days but they are just as beautiful in their own way.
    You have been my spiritual companion for many years now and always illuminate and energize my journey.
    Thank you , again dear BD

    • I love your articles and insights and am so grateful when you share them. You just get to the truth of the matter in so elegant a fashion. Brilliant. Thank you, I love your body of work and you are a lovely person too. Hope 2017 is a fantastic year for you. X

      • Hey Ger, what a lovely, kindly thing to say. Thankyou so much. Bless your heart 8 million and 88 times over. (I’m in LA and everything’s bigger and more sensational here, but no less heartfelt for it). Not sure if it’s jet lag or just residual teenage complexes surfacing but have been sure everything I’ve written and every bit of music I’ve been working on, is just gobbledegook as I inferred to Dave, so thank you also as for reassuring me on that front. In fact I realize, so saying, with fascination, that because I was 19 the first time I came to LA, without realizing it my inner 19 year old is very present, with all his unresolved insecurities. So I will attend to time-traveling back to heal him. I recall undergoing a massive existential crisis here back then – it lasted a couple of days (I’m a quick state-processer) and what got me out of it was feeling the presence of a kindly older man-spirit, which I reckon was me now, so will attend to tat right away. Such a magnificently brilliant experience being human, hence why I have such an urge always to help everyone know it and stop wasting it feeling messed up about being messed up, and just enjoy it being messed up. And then the mess miraculously un-messes itself. That’s the extra twist of Taoist magic.

    • Hey Julia, what a lovely message, thankyou. Yes it’s reframing our position in relation to the cosmos that’s at the root of this isn’t it. The seasons, the annual procession around the sun, the elements all pointing to the immensity of the cosmos putting our micro-stories back into perspective, along with the visceral sense of nature (the Tao) as our real source of succor, as opposed to the relative trinkets of the electric womb, not that I don’t love a bit of trinketry myself, which is fine as long as we know it for what it is and don’t seek our strength from it. In theory I too live in rural Spain now as it goes – near Granada high up a mountainside above Orgiva and privileged I am for it. In a year plus plus it’ll be the Secret Ashram so others can come and benefit by it too. Where are you on the peninsular?

      • Hi BD, I’m farther North, inland from Gandia. Beautiful Snake Valley, ( river Serpis ).I am so blessed to be here. the Secret Ashram sounds fascinating. Look forward to perhaps visiting one day. 🙂

  • Tiara Chi
    1 year ago

    Spot on the button again dear Doc, timely or what? Offering this salient slant on mind-management is very very key for levels of sanity being regained, with compassion for the honest human condition. This approach and training is needed left, right and centre to help arrest toxicity of mind body & soul – I can feel the love here. Happy to share around and about in the working playground of life. Thank you – again x

    • Thanks for saying dear Tiara. Sitting in a fashionable noisy meeting venue in LA last night I observed how here, where keeping an airbrushed front of perfection seems paramount, it doesn’t actually prevent the soul-level communion everyone craves, it only delays it for an hour or two longer, and eventually once people have overcome their fear (as that’s the reason for the airbrushing) they commune just the same, with me at least. And it’s all about being patient and not being bothered either way, from my own point of view, yet holding the intention for soul-connection to occur. For with that we all bring each other succor. Yet we evidently must also honor the apparently innate need to parade and give that its space too.
      Thanks for your kind words and encouraging sentiment. Taken fully to heart. Bless your cotton socks,

  • Dave Morris
    1 year ago

    100 % agree – as a family physician for over 20 years the best description I have heard of antidepressant is that they “depress the depression” i.e stop the message getting through. Alienation from soul is our greatest challenge

    • HI Dave what a compliment coming from you to at least know I wasn’t talking gobbledegook in your eyes with you experience – brilliant that, depress the depression. I imagine you dispense soul discreetly in your practice just by your presence and intention…and send telepathic elbow-power to add to your cause.

      • I wanted to thank you Doc for this precise timing. I was jus going through some refection on an issue I have been having some depressing thoughts about and looking into some kind of guided meditation to occupy my mind for me..ha..you got me..perfect..i will work through this.

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