How to Overcome Depression and Oppression with Meditation and Prayer

Debbie Walker

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I write quite a bit about relationships — with myself and others. However, recently I feel pressured and anxious. Is it because of COVID-19 isolation? Maybe. Are we having a crisis of well-being? Maybe so.

For example, I am a perky thing most of the time. Yet, I felt a heaviness come over me I could not explain. What is going on? So, I set about analyzing this thing I am experiencing. I found it is driving me further into myself to explore my feelings.

Let’s take a journey deep to uncover what we may find so we can pave the way for light to penetrate the darkness.

My Garden

Over time, I developed a method I call "The Garden of My Subconscious." It is an imaginary place where I visualize a large garden in various stages of cultivation. In this garden are rows of fruit trees that are fully developed, and some are yet to be planted.

There are only nine types of trees that grow in my garden. They bear the fruit of love, joy, kindness, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.

When I experience negative emotions such as anger, I imagine myself plowing a row in my garden. For example, as I come upon a rock or root that needs to be dislodged or pulled up, I'll stop and name that obstacle. Next, I place my hands over my heart and tug and pluck until I feel it break free.

Then I plant the opposite, in this case, a joy seed. As time goes on, when I experience anger again, I’ll go to my garden and pluck a joy fruit. It is simplistic, but it works!

Oppression

However, in the times we are living in, the human race is also dealing with negative sentiments on a massive scale. Often, oppression is associated with the suffering of the body, soul (mind, will, emotions), or spirit. Man is a triune being, and I believe your spirit affects your body and soul. The spirit is the immaterial part of humanity that connects with the Divine. We are a spirit that lives in a body and has a soul.

I believe that oppression can affect individuals or nations. Even Merriam-Webster defines it as, “a sense of being weighed down in body or mind://an oppression of spirits.” Some of you may not agree but hear me out.

In the comments I read on Facebook, people write about feeling lonely during this time of imposed isolation. Fear is gripping the hearts of many. It seems that a spirit has fallen over the entire earth. While I was considering these things, I remembered a term I had not thought of in years — zeitgeist.

Zeitgeist is the spirit or essence of a particular time. Is this what we are experiencing? A spirit of heaviness or fear? Zeitgeist is a German word that’s defined in two parts — zeit means “time” and geist means “spirit”. Thus, the “spirit of the time” is what’s going on culturally, spiritually, or intellectually during a certain period.

Even the prophet Isaiah wrote and spoke to his people during a crisis:

“To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…” (saiah 61:3 NKJV)

So how do we eliminate the oppression that weighs heavy on our spirits? With praise or gratitude. I believe we are getting close to the end of our journey and discovering the answers we seek.

Spiritual answers

At this point, a definition of spirit may be appropriate. It is the "principle" of conscious life; the vital principle in humans, animating the body or mediating between body and soul.

In Greek, spirit (pneuma) is defined as wind, movement, or breath. Just as our spirit moves within us, a spirit can move within humanity.

When we look inside our spirits, we may find ways to counteract the spirit of oppression. One way is to give our feeling a name. If we can determine the emotion, then we can do something about it.

For instance, if we are feeling sad, look for the opposite which may be joy. The scripture to rectify sadness is in Nehemiah.

“The joy of the Lord is my strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10, NKJV)

If you are feeling anxious about COVID-19 impacting your family, search for verses about peace. One of my favorites is:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippuans 4:6-7, NIV)

Breath prayers

Another method of tackling oppressive thoughts is meditation and prayer. Mindfulness meditation takes your focus away from the problem and helps you to become present in the moment. We are not worrying about the future.

I turn my attention to what is happening right now, namely my breath. Praying with the breath is a practice of prayer that is thousands of years old. It is used in all of the religions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddism.

One method I have used over many years is the practice of breath prayers. Prayer connects the body, mind, and spirit to the breath. Your breathing awakens your awareness of God so you listen for God’s presence and become open to it.

Breathe, meditate, mutter, or pray short verses that you can say in one breath. For instance, if you are afraid of the coronavirus, pray:

“The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid…”(Psalm 118:6, NIV)

This type of praying will ease your mind, lift your spirits, and become a part of you. The oppressive and heavy spirit that you and I may encounter will dissipate if we look inside and discover the underlying emotions that are causing us distress.

That way you can know how to pray and about what to pray. We need all the help we can get. Prayer and meditation is a tried and true way to counteract oppression and depression.

Who knows, maybe together, we can change the zeitgeist of our times.

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