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A minor ephiphany... [Jul. 4th, 2012|08:00 pm]
Elseweb, I was thinking about chronic depression, and (another else-web) wondering what I would tell me when I was, say, 18, about depression.

Chronic depression is a pain. It's like a physical problem, except with a physical problem, well, you typically know if you've overdone it. You have real limits, but you can't be sure what they are, and you can't be too easy on yourself, or you'll fail to realize you *can* do something, but if you're too hard on yourself, you make things worse.

But then I had this realization about how something can be extended.

My first shamanic teacher, March Rogers, would talk about how there's two sources of energy - the cup, and the river. The cup was *your* energy - and when the cup was empty, you were dead. So, you guard the cup, try to keep it full, and you don't spill the cup's energy for anything but your own well-being, out of self preservation.

But there's another source of energy - the river. That is what you should tap into to help others (and, of course, to help yourself).

And that's a very standard, very obvious bit of spirit work. I've never seen anything that smacks of magic or spiritualism that doesn't draw such a distinction, at least to make you aware of the distinction. Some might say that you should use "the river" because, hell, there's more of it, but are okay with you using your "cup" because you'll just re-fill it in good time. But whatever, they agree that there's something that's yours, that drains, and something that's "out there" that you should tap.

(I'm sure there are traditions and teachings that don't make a distinction, of course - I'm just saying I haven't heard of them. There's lots in the world I haven't heard of!)


I was pondering that and that's when I had a minor epiphany.

No matter how crappy I feel, if there's a problem with SQL Server, I can dig in and do some good. Sure, if I'm wiped, I'm not as good as when I'm fresh, but the idea of digging in to a problem I have a shot at understanding, and putting my brain power to work on it, investigating various leads and thinking about what they mean - that's energizing.

Journeying is often energizing for me. There are limits, but ask me to journey for you, and I can often do it, and often feel a bit better for having done so.

Ask me to do something of service - oh, you're too sick to clean your kitchen, and you just feel *clobbered* looking at it in this state - well, I'm not happy cleaning kitchens in general, but I know how, and I can do it, and it has a nice beginning and a nice ending.

And I realized that these things are things that map to my life's version of "the river". These are things that make me stronger, and better. These are the things I need more in my life.

And there are, of course, cup draining activities. Boredom is *huge* here. Make me sit through a boring meeting? My emotional "cup" is draining. If I'm willing to get on a bus for 12 hours to see you, it must be true love (a mix of discomfort *and* boredom). Being social can be cup draining if I don't have a role to play, and don't have some close friends nearby.

An important thing to realize is that these aren't things to be avoided... they're things to be managed. I mean, sure, if you can skip a boring meeting where you really aren't needed, sure, skip it. But you can't work too hard to avoid these things because then you lose your chance to strengthen your coping mechanisms, you lose your chance to maybe figure out what part of them is draining, and seeing if you can minimize the drain. And you can't not live your life for fear of a drain on your cup (but if the drain is too deep, you may have to decide if you need to modify your life a bit to avoid that particular drain).

But they are things where you need to be careful about how full your "cup" is before you start, and determine what your cup can handle along the way.

So, this metaphor - cup and river - can also be used to help determine how to live your life with chronic depression (or with any other problem that demands cup (/spoon?) minding.

[User Picture]From: firecat
2012-07-06 05:42 am (UTC)

Another way

Since starting my meditation practice, certain boring activities are no longer so boring and don't drain my cup. I didn't work on this consciously, it just happened.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2012-07-13 04:52 am (UTC)

Re: Another way

Nod. In fact, regular meditation helps me avoid cup draining in a lot of circumstances. I really have to start doing it again. Thank you for reminding me!
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