When I went to get my first Reiki attunement, we talked briefly about the seven traditional Chakras, or rather, what they have become in modern times. My Reiki instructor mentioned the Crown Chakra–you know; the highest one, the white one, the one that connects human to spirit. She listed a few ailments focusing on this Chakra can help, and at the end of the list was “cosmic depression.”
“What’s cosmic depression?” One of the sculpted, cheery yoga instructors asked. (Everyone except me at that class was a yoga instructor. I was the only one slouching.) Our teacher said “You know how with depression, people think… today sucks, and tomorrow will suck, etc etc?” A few people nodded. “Well it’s like that, but cosmic. So they think about whole Millennia, and the whole Universe, and how it’ll end and it’s all kind of pointless.”
“Jeez.” There was a collective exhale. The otherwise unflappable yogis were mortified.
Oh, I thought. That’s what I have.
At that time, when getting my first attunement and learning about the Chakras, I was just starting on a journey that would lead me down a dark hole and then back out the other side. The journey to deal with a horrific image I saw when I was just 10 years old.
The mind is a fantastical machine, but also a horribly flawed one. What is a superpower in one situation is a debilitating malfunction in another. So much of our anxiety in modern times come from survival reflexes we used in hunter-gatherer days. The ability to fixate can be come an obsession. The ability to compartmentalize can become pure disassociation. The ability to sense danger can become a panic attack.
And the ability to see patterns and then lay them out ad infinitum can turn into an endless, horrific landscape.
I thought I could understand infinity when I was a child. What I did was take a small sample-size, a snippet of time, and loop it, then watch that loop play out endlessly. I felt I could imagine what it would be like to die, to not exist, and to exist forever.
But it was really just an obsessive tendency. Where other people worried about money and relationships going bad, I worried about infinity and death. And just as our anxiety-ridden fever-dreams about losing all our money or having our best friends turn on us are nothing more than stress playing itself out in our imaginations, the same was true for my own where the after-life was a few moments played over and over until the end of time.
There wasn’t anything for me to do with that image, that black hole hanging over my head, except to run from it. So I ran. I had wild fantasies about becoming a famous singer or actress. When I felt the loom of impending doom, I’d just focus on that. I’d focus on the mania and chaos of the moment–I loved chaos. Sometimes I found something more real. Something solid. But it was fleeting, and then I was back to fantasies and running away again.
Finally, I had to face it.
My Uncle committed suicide, and that big black hole was right there in front of my face. It wouldn’t go away that time. All I could think about was how I was going to lose everyone and everything. I moved through work like a zombie (which was quite an achievement considering I was a massage therapist!) Smiled at my friends and my partner. I’d try to explain that I was depressed, but how could I explain the endless spiral I saw every time I thought about life and death?
I actually fended it off for a few years, and there was a time when I thought I had conquered it. I was happy, full of light, positive while also still honoring my depression. But then my situation changed, and all of my support nets went away. Suddenly everything was really difficult. Maybe a healthy person could have handled that change, but I couldn’t. I had a curtain pulled off of my eyes, and there was that black spiral again.
It came closer and closer until I would spiral into my own suicide scare.
But I made it out the other side. A combination of changing the landscape, help from family, and free therapy at a clinic in California gave me a ladder to climb. Oh and a new, more intense form of energy work.
I’m still on my path to accepting death. Aren’t we all? In the mean time, I have given up on both my dreams and my nightmares to seek something more solid–reality. (Says the woman who still believes in tarot, astrology, spirits, astral projecting, etc.)
The answer, as is told in ancient texts, lies right here. In the present. Look around you. No one is fighting with you. No one hates you. Your money is not currently going down the drain. In this still moment, things are much more stable than you think. And the truth is, none of us know what happens next. That’s part of the beauty and the horror of life–the unknown.
Just as I can’t fabricate my future–weaving a perfect picture that is sure to come true–I can’t fabricate death or the afterlife in my mind. My only option is to experience it moment-by-moment. Though it happens to every single person, Death is still life’s greatest mystery.
In the mean time, I am still doing a little dance. I still have to avoid the thought of death–somewhat. But I also had to let go of all my survival tactics from before. I let go of my obsession with fame. I let go of needing to feel like I mattered more than anyone else. On the one hand, we are all perfect snowflakes. Beautiful and intricate in our gifts and flaws. On the other hand, we’re all grains of sand. Both are true.
And I am happy to be alive at this time, and some day, I will figure out what death is like. I’m scared. I don’t like letting go. Somewhere in that final act is grace and poise–perhaps I will find mine when the time comes. But my death doesn’t actually exist yet. All that exists is now, this current unfurling.
You are here now. Your money is not going down the drain. In fact, I bet you have just as much as you did a moment ago. No one is yelling at you or thinking bad thoughts about you. Everyone is fine. And you are fine. And you are alive!
There’s all this pain and beauty, and all we can do is experience it, accept it, witness it. I wish you the best on your path, however it unfolds. And I hope you can find peace, even if just for a moment, right now.