Lately a lot of people have been telling me they’re feeling down. Or some similar version of that. Words like…feeling blah, in a funk, don’t feel like myself, kind of burned out.
You get the picture. So in this post I’ll try to help you answer these questions:
- Am I feeling down or is this depression?
- Why is it difficult to do anything about it?
- What are the Four Healing Salves and how can they help me feel better?
Right now you might be feeling down yourself.
Maybe you’re getting through your day but you don’t quite feel like yourself. That’s a pretty good indicator that something is going on.
For instance, you might notice a change in your energy. You can’t rely on it to be consistent like it used to be. Perhaps you start the day with momentum but wind up feeling tapped out sooner than normal, ready to plop on the couch.
Could be you feel foggy too; it takes longer for your memory to kick in or your ideas to come out.
And metaphorically, it might feel like you’re carrying around a few heavy rocks in your pocket but when you try to pull them out you discover they’re stitched into the seams of your jacket.
If this describes you, please know you’re not alone.
Even in the best of times, it’s normal to have difficult days when your world seems tinged with tones of gray.
And considering what’s happened globally in the last 18 months, it’s not surprising if you have more of these days than you normally would.
Maybe you also wonder: Is this depression?
It’s an interesting question because there’s been a lot of chatter in the media about just what this thing is that people are feeling. Quite a few articles have sought to name it something other than depression.
For instance, this particular article in the New York Times called it languishing.
Personally, I’m not quite ready to say it’s not depression. That’s because I know it’s normal to back away from admitting that you’re feeling depressed. The word itself scares people.
And while depression can be severe and difficult to manage, it can also be milder and easier to manage with self-help and self-care strategies. (But I’ll explore that in my next blog post.)
For now, let’s say you’re feeling down but not depressed.
And you want to feel better. You want to shake the feeling, but how?
Maybe you’ve looked for advice online. But you’ve seen it all before or you feel overwhelmed by information overload.
Also, it may seem hard to focus on anything or get any momentum going. You want to get into action, you see possibilities for feeling better, but it’s just not happening.
And that experience–being ready to move towards feeling better but continually getting stalled–is why it’s so frustrating and difficult to shake the feeling when you’re feeling down.
Perhaps it’s time to try something different, like the Four Healing Salves.
Watch (or read) what wise woman Angeles Arrien said about the four healing salves, which she first wrote about long ago in her book, the Four-Fold Way…
Among many traditional peoples, if you were to go to a shaman or medicine person or holy person and you were complaining of being disheartened or dispirited, they would ask us one of four questions.
- When did you stop singing ?
- When did you stop dancing?
- When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
- When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?
Because the indigenous point of view is that wherever I stopped singing, wherever I stopped dancing, wherever I stopped being enchanted with stories…or comforted by the sweet territory of silence is where I began to experience soul loss or loss of spirit…
Singing, Dancing, Storytelling and Silence are the four universal healing salves.
All of them possess remarkable restorative powers, especially when you return to them and repeat them over time. Without a doubt they can help you reclaim your spirit from the slings and arrows of modern life. They’re also capable of working their magic on any given day (or period of your life) when you’re feeling down.
The first time someone explained this to me I immediately felt deeply grounded, realizing that I already knew about the healing powers of singing, dancing, stories and silence. I’ve experienced them.
You have too and can return to them almost anytime, anywhere.
Creative Process and Quiet: Elixirs for when you feel disheartened.
Although this is simple and obvious, too often we forget what we already know. So it’s important to remind yourself that this can be easy and you don’t have to make it complicated.
Because if ever there was a time to embrace the healing wisdom of the indigenous point of view, this is it.
In fact, when I started writing this post I had planned to expand on each healing salve. I was going to include quick and creative ideas to weave them into your life.
Maybe I’ll do that in a future post, but for now I want to make it simple, because by their nature all of these things (that you already know how to do) are replenishing and helpful. You really don’t need any additional advice to start with them.
Sometimes the simplest way to begin is to know that others are rooting for you.
It turns out there’s a backstory about this that I’d forgotten.
You see, back in 2010, in my early days of blogging, I wrote a similar post on this topic. And when I revisited it I discovered a gift: the many readers who had shared their voices, experiences and wisdom in the comment section.
As you may know, blogging has changed a lot and comments are pretty rare nowadays, almost a thing of the past. When I rediscovered them, it felt like I’d been mining for gold without even knowing it.
And then I hit the mother load.
At the end of that blog post I had asked this question of my readers: What do you notice when you spend time storytelling, singing, dancing, and in silence?
Here’s what they said…
Wise words from real women (just like you) about the four healing salves.
I notice that I’m happier, more productive. I get to admit that I don’t understand, and in not understanding find new ways to express what I do see and feel. That’s the point for me.
* * * * *
For me it was dancing I never could do, I felt so self conscious. One day I did some healing dancing at a dance session that was set up that way. The feeling of feeling my body move was so delicious. Now I dance and love it. A moment like that unleashes potential, that is what I love doing and the healing is for me.
* * * * *
Storytelling is a powerful healer for me. It’s emptying my inner bucket of what is now irrelevant, filling it with what matters, and connecting it to future sources of wholeness.
* * * * *
It’s interesting that we don’t really understand what’s going on when we’re in it, but then we can look back and notice that magical experience of storytelling and listening.
* * * * *
The idea of the four healing salves is very appealing because I understand the value of each of these. It almost sounds too simple but maybe it’s because healing doesn’t need to be a complicated process like we make it. Maybe the hardest part is admitting that we need healing.
* * * * *
Somewhere along the line we do make a choice to be not comfortable with silence, or to stop singing, and enjoying the stories. I don’t know why. I have done it myself and stopped singing.
* * * * *
Oh I do love the four salves and when I do one of those four things I feel JOY! And that’s as healing as love.
* * * * *
Children naturally tell stories, sing, dance and spend time being silent. I used to wander endlessly through the woods and meadows just looking at things, overwhelmed with curiosity.
* * * * *
I’ve asked myself for years: What promotes healing? Usually I think of altered states. Indigenous cultures know how to create an altered state that somehow seems to let healing slip right on in. Maybe that’s what these four salves do.
* * * * *
Makes sense that we heal ourselves via creativity and that we heal ourselves within the vast openness of silence.
* * * * *
I love the four healing salves! They are easily accessible, free, easy to share with others, all within my ability, all expressions of my heart. And they are all treasured parts of my life.
Back to you now: How do you feel when you spend time storytelling, singing, dancing, and in silence?
Although I don’t have comments open on this blog, I would love to know your answer to this question. Simply email me or reach out through my contact form.