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writer - Kim Petersen

Writers Are More Prone to Depression

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

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Last night, I attended a Shamanic Drumming circle. It had been a few months since I had joined circle. When my friend Catherine mentioned the upcoming session, I didn’t hesitate — something inside me recognized the need for the soul-cleansing and inner-healing these sacred drumming circles bring to my psyche.

It was the black dog.

I knew that spending two hours in a sacramental environment listening to our Shaman teachers speak of shedding, soul-growth and revitalization would provide the perfect outlet to get away from myself; away from thought, feelings and the depression shadowing me.

I have battled bouts of depression in the past as well as anxiety on occasion. As much as I have tried to deny how I’m feeling is as much as it produces feelings of failure — admitting to a decline in happiness seems to equate with being an epic screw-up.

The thing is, I know better. I know how to identify the triggers. I have studied philosophical teachings offered by the great ancient masters of Buddhism; Stoicism; Shamanism and the like. I have spent years learning, practicing and seeing the results produced by raising my awareness through meditation and deliberate pondering, as well as the benefits achieved by controlling my thoughts.

Yet, I am still not immune to depression. Have I failed in my quest for inner-peace and happiness? Did I do something wrong?

Honestly, it is my belief that not many of us manage to avoid experiencing some form of mental dysfunction during our lifetimes — no matter how aware we become or how informed we are. Especially in this day and age.

There is so much going on all the time. Lifestyle has become a fast blur. People have become disconnected; replaceable. We treat one another as if exchangeable goods, never really seeing or acknowledging the precious soul behind the flesh. Never really holding one another.

Internet-based relationships for business and social purposes means we are able to engage with others without actually becoming invested in their authenticity. It means we can pretend that the person on the other side of the screen isn’t real. Feelings become invalidated; people become a dime-a-dozen and avoiding the hook is as easy as deactivating your account or hitting the “block” icon.

Only the joke is on us.

We are losing sight of the importance of connection. Our sense of self becomes tainted by behaving like strangers, ditching good manners, ghosting and treating others less than they deserve.

Where is the organic connection? Where is the love?

Writers are among the most prone to depression, but I wasn’t always a writer and I’m not sure that I was always prone to depression. I’ve always had a solid grasp on my feelings for the most part.

The writing life does something to you. It changes you. We delve into the deepest parts of ourselves, get vulnerable and share our inner-most layers with the world. Writing becomes a channel of self-discovery; a passage of growth and exploration. Sometimes, we soar. Other times, we bleed.

Creating stories has the ability to make you fly.

It is when I am working on my fiction that I’m at my happiest. Yet, there are so many elements about the writing business that can leave us feeling utterly deflated.

Kay Redfield Jamison, who is a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore and author of Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament has reported that writers experience depression more often than non-writers.

It is thought this is due to several reasons.

For one, some writers desire to be familiar with misery, suffering and pain to guide the writing process and give their work authenticity. They may have not experienced the deep sense of trials and tribulations as their characters, so they seek to gain insight by manifesting similar emotions.

Extended hours of isolation, lack of exercise and natural light is another factor to influence depression in writers.

There is also the emotional roller coaster associated with rejection, which is an element familiar to just about every writer — Rejection in the form of editor’s, publishers, agents, readers and peers.

Clinical psychiatrist Alan Manevitz says: “A large part of a writer’s success depends on how other people think of him or approve.”

How many times have you emailed another writer who is further along the path than yourself only to be ignored?

And all you said was thank you.

How often has one of your peers deliberately inserted a subliminal swipe at your work or future project ideas? How many times have you read some trivial heated debate among writers on social media, or heard authors in a position of influence publicly slam the works of others?

I am not sure how success has assimilated a superior attitude.

I don’t understand why some people behave in ways that breed contempt.

I cannot fathom why we feel the need to judge, ridicule or perceive a sense threat toward one another when we’re all in it together — there are readers aplenty. There are words abundance. Limitation is an illusion.

So is separateness.

They say that depression lies in the past; anxiety waits in the future. But I think those blue feelings can strike for other reasons as well. Sometimes, even the thickest skin becomes porous enough for negativity to seep through. Sometimes, people and situations hurt like hell.

If only members of the writing community could see past their own egos long enough to get real, we might be able to hold and support each other long enough to feel the authenticity on the other side of the screen — to acknowledge that the person beyond the screen is a real human with real feelings.

Last night, my Shaman teacher concluded the circle by suggesting we all hug each other. My first reaction was to baulk at the idea. I’m not a hugger of strangers, even when bonding over a sacred alter and making medicine together.

Yet, as the other circle members approached me with their arms wide open and I stepped into their embrace, I realized how symbolic the gesture was and found myself in a state of appreciation — acts of kindness and affection go a long way to healing the invisible threads connecting us.

We may not be able to physically embrace all of the time, but our energy is as tangible as anything in the physical world. Perhaps if writers practiced hugging one another on the energetic level instead of looking for ways to get outraged or feel threatened, our community will become less hostile and more loving; more supportive.

Even if it stretches our comfort zone. Especially if it stretches our comfort zone.


Also published by Curiosity Never Killed the Writer via Medium

Meditation is Sexy

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“With our thoughts we make the world.” – Buddha

One way to access our creative higher-mind is through meditation. I know what you’re thinking – meditation is nothing new and it doesn’t sound as exotic or as sexy as the Tarot. But before you go jumping to conclusions, I’m going to tell you that meditation is extremely exotic and stone cold sexy.

How? I hear you ask. Great question. It is through entering the euphoric buzz offered through meditating that we are able to push through our inner boundaries to frolic with mysterious tales and visit enchanting worlds – and most importantly, we then allow higher messages to flow through to us that inform our daily writing. Is there anything sexier than that? 

Considering meditation has increased in popularity over recent years, there may be a good chance you’re already doing it, have tried it, or popped it on the to-do-someday list. If it’s one of the latter two, now is the perfect time to chillax and get your Zen on.  

 The practice of stilling the mind has been around and exercised by our ancestors for centuries. And for a tradition to stick around for so long, obviously there must be something to it, right?

Apparently, the exact origins of meditation are subject to debate among scholars, but whether this spiritual exercise originated from the Dhyana, Taoists or Buddhists, makes no difference to us writers. It is in the here and now that we can reap the many benefits offered through the continued use of meditation, and where we should take advantage of this limitless well available to us.    

While it comes as little surprise that many people throughout the world are keenly interested in meditating, only a few really understand its true purpose. Most of us are aware of the many benefits meditation provides. Research shows that when we meditate, our brain stops processing so much information. The frontal cortex goes offline, the activity in the parietal lobe slows down, the flow of incoming information in the thalamus reduces, and the reticular formation dials back the arousal signal.

What does this mean? – Loads of mental benefits. Meditation brings the brainwave pattern into an Alpha state that promotes healing and mindfulness. With regular practice meditation helps to:

  • Reduce anxiety and depression
  • Improve emotional stability
  • Increase creativity, happiness, clarity and intuition
  • Sharpen the mind
  • Expand consciousness

But wait, there’s more! The benefits of meditation are not only limited to our minds; our physiology undergoes a change too. Every cell in the body increases with more prana (energy). As our prana increases, so too do the physical benefits. Some of these include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower levels of blood lactate, reducing anxiety attacks
  • Decreased tension in the body – eliminating headaches, ulcers, muscle and joint issues as well as easing insomnia
  • Increased serotonin production that improves mood
  • Improving the immune system
  • Increased energy levels

If you know a little about meditation, the above examples are probably familiar to you. There’s no denying the perks of the regular practice of meditation. Overall, stilling the mind reduces suffering on many levels, yet there is a higher, more valuable purpose to meditation that you may not know – It is through meditating that we strengthen our awareness to and begin to nurture our connection to the source of all creation, and thus open the portal to our higher-creative minds.

How perfect that you have this unlimited resource available at your fingertips!

I know that the prospect of meditation can be discouraging at times. Often, it can be difficult to calm your mind, stop the thoughts and get into a space that is quiet. I’ve been there. When I first started out, I soon gave up after a few tries with the assumption that meditation wasn’t for me. I’m an INTP personality type, which means my mind rests at an almost constant stream of ideas and thoughts – to the point I often drive myself mad. Naturally, meditation was an impossibility for someone like me.

Not so.

I did leave it alone for a while. A few years passed, until one day after studying some spiritual text, I dug my heels in. I found a piece of meditative vibes that suited me, grabbed my earbuds and set off to embark on a journey, determined to nail this baby or die trying. That’s another characteristic INTPs possess – when the conditions suit and we’re feeling it, an unshakable mindset can be our greatest asset. Although, I’m not sure my husband would agree.

Regardless of all things personality-driven, once I had decided to persist, nothing could stop me from my daily meditation sessions. Slowly I learned how to still my mind and release my soul to other-worldly dimensions. The invisible barriers parted more and more until I was able to enter the higher realms and succumb to the joy and peace those places brought, and I experienced the intensity of a love the likes of which cannot be fully articulated. There are no words enough to explain it to those who do not understand. Yet, for those that do understand, no words are needed.

I want you to understand.

The higher realms can seem like an abstract notion – a golden mirage dangling like a transparent carrot you can never quite reach. Truthfully, I can understand the driving thought behind that assumption. There was a time that I may have considered something similar. But I am here to tell you that those other dimensions your physical senses are unable to perceive exist and are as real as the tangible life you are experiencing at this moment. Some would argue that those higher realms are more real than our physical world, but that’s a whole other subject.  

 The main point and takeaways are this – through meditation we can raise our vibration. When we achieve a higher vibration or energy, we begin to disembody from our fleshy exterior, and still our mind enough to enter the great silence. This is where we can feel our connection to all that is and become aware of an intelligence much higher than any of us. When we begin to make the journey toward these higher planes, we begin to dissolve the invisible veil often shrouding our lives; we begin to reacquaint with our authentic selves.

This is where the magic happens. Meditation is like the springboard for your creativity. It is the place where limitations mean nothing and we open a current to receive information and messages, and act as a vehicle to a higher intelligence. This is where art has the ability to transcend art and is truly worth persevering through the sessions it may require to achieve a higher-state of mind.

Now that we know the value that meditation has on opening the pathways to our higher-creative minds, let’s have a look at a few tips to get you in the Zen zone.       

  • Sit or lie comfortably. You may want to invest in a meditation chair or cushion.
  • Close your eyes – or not. I prefer to shut my baby browns and see through the eyes of my soul.
  • Choose a soothing or divine sound that resonates with you. I use the spiritual sounds mentioned in the book Wishes Fulfilled by Wayne Dyer. These sounds are based on I Am, That I Am.  
  • Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe.
  • If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath.
  • Meditate with a focus on creating a current with your creative resource. I will often ease into a session by repeating the mantra “I Am creative writing” or “I Am this pure revelation of everything I wish to know” – keeping my current work in progress in mind.

Meditation is where we find our sacredness and our truths, and with continued daily practice, meditation will help bring balance and clarity into your world as well as magic. As a storyteller, the world needs your magic. Get sexy and exotic with meditation and relish the beautiful experiences that abound in you. I promise you won’t regret it.   


Originally published at Romance University on 07/30/2019