When I was a kid I dealt with more than my fair share of bullshit.
My father liked to drink…a lot. He made life extremely stressful for me and my bro. The constant yelling and screaming in our place made it feel like my head was going to blow up Hiroshima-style. I say that with regret, because my dad’s passed on now. And honestly, I’d rather I didn’t have to mention certain aspects of my past, but honesty has always been my policy. And the honest truth is that the troubles I went through in my childhood are really the beginning of our story.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that what I went through in my childhood was what led me to become the person I became.
In an effort to overcome what I felt was my oppressed childhood I would later take to the stage and tour England, before turning my hand to writing and becoming the spiritual author that I am today. But it’s those early childhood days with my dad, the constant times my family and I took him to hospital, the days we repeatedly nearly watched him die… those are where are story begins.
Because the truth is that those painful childhood days seriously damaged my mind. I spent over two decades battling suicidal thoughts and suffering from what I would call depression, even though I was never diagnosed.
Have you ever had depression?
Feels like you’re falling down a hideous black hole that just keeps on getting deeper and deeper.
When I went through depression I knew one thing with absolute certainty: Your mind can be your biggest enemy.
But no matter how low I went I knew I didn’t believe in depression medication. I believed in a natural cure. I sought out a way how to beat depression by yourself.
My mind led me to suicidal thoughts, to smoking an insane amount of cigarettes, to drinking too much, to never being able to sleep. There were whole nights when I’d just sit there staring into space like a mad man and wondering how long it would be before I died.
Obviously there was pain at that time. But there was also an intense realisation. I realised that my mind was the most powerful force I would ever know. I understood the power of my mind. And I knew that thre is a way how to beat depression by yourself, using your mind.
And your mind is the very same. Your mind might be hurt rght now. But there is a way how to beat depression by yourself, using your own mind, naturally.
Right not your mind may very well be your greatest enemy. You might be stressed, depressed, suffering from anxiety. Maybe you’ll be where I was all those years back. Maybe that’s where you are right now. But by the time we reach the end of this journey together, your mind will be the best tool in your arsenal. It’ll be a constant source of happiness, joy and love. You might not know how to beat depression by yourself naturally, without medication, but the research suggests that you can.
I know. Trust me, I know. I don’t believe most books when they say that either. When people promise constant joy and happiness I generally don’t believe them. And so when I promise that you’re about to find a source of constant happiness, I don’t expect you to believe me. Not now, not at the start of this book. Don’t believe me yet. But do me a favour. When we get to the end of this thing, when you truly have found the source of constant joy and happiness that I’m going to give you, let me know about it. That’d be awesome for me.
Oh, by the way, I thought you might like to share some of the things I’m going to say on Twitter and Facebook. If you see the word TWEET before a quote you can push the TWEET to, well, duh, tweet it.
So where were we? Oh yeah… The night I learnt how to beat depression by yourself…
One night while I was depressed and staring into space I happened to ask myself one very simple question: What am I?
Actually, to be specific, I asked Shakespeare’s famous quote from Hamlet:
“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?
…forgive the poeticism. It’s the result of having been an actor for a decade… we can discuss that later.
But I asked that question, which basically comes down to What am I and what’s this all about?
Normally, back then, I wouldn’t have received any great insight. But for some reason, when I was in the depths of despair, I suddenly had a very powerful epiphany, a real bolt out of the blue that must have struck my prefrontal lobe and ignited a few million brain cells, because I realised something I had never realised before.
I realised the true answer to the question What are we?
And I realised that the answer is one word: Perception.
Me, you, and everyone else, we are nothing but perception, nothing but an ability to perceive the world around us. The world comes to us through our senses, through seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting, and we turn that information into our view of the world. In other words, we perceive. And that is the fundamental part of our existence: perceiving.
That qutoe, above, is the key principle behind how to beat depression by yourself, because once your realise that you are pure perception, you realise you have control over what you perceive, what you see, you have control over the way you view your life.
I’ll put my hands up and admit that that is quite a large pill to swallow, being told that you’re nothing more than perception.
That’s why I’d like to quickly prove it to you.
So if you wouldn’t mind, just indulge me for a sec and do the follow.
This will be our very first meditation session together. Forgive me but I find that a little exciting.
Now then, here’s what I’d like you to do…
Sit somewhere quiet where you will not be disturbed. Close your eyes. Focus your attention on your breathing.
Relax and just watch your breath coming and going through your mouth and nose. Just observe. Don’t control your breathing, just watch it.
Give yourself however much time you need to quiet down and relax.
Now. Do you see how, when you’re completely quiet, you become nothing but pure perception?
If so, congratulations, you just chilled with Buddha for the first time!
A human being, stripped of their clothes, their money, their relationships and everything else we consider integral to life, is nothing but perception.
Philosopher Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” But in moments of quiet, a person does not think. In moments of quiet, when we are brought to our quintessential mode of being, a person is nothing more than pure perception. Or to put it simply, we just observe stuff.
This is scientifically true, because we perceive the world through our senses. And it’s also spiritually true, because our lives are based on the way we perceive the world (more on this later).
We are perception.
Can you imagine how big a breakthrough that realisation was for me?
There I was full of all these hideous thoughts about suicide and general suffering, and then Ping! suddenly I realise that the only thing I have to do is just perceive?
From that moment on I said to myself, “When things get real bad, I’m just going to stop thinking and stop judging, stop being a bummer. I’m just going to sit and perceive”.
Little did I know back then that what I had just discovered was meditation.
Just sitting and perceiving. That, in a nutshell, is meditation.
Meditation might sound like a spiritual or religious thing but it really needn’t be. At its most basic, meditation is nothing more than perceiving the world clearly. Oh, but meditation does happen to be the best way of beating depression.