I don't feel like a chronicle of my experiences of depression are useful or necessary at this juncture, but what snapped me out of this one is of note, at least to my mind. I have been fortunate to have learned a number of helpful meditative practices in the last eight months or so and decided that, for the first time, a journey would be appropriate. I've never worked with a shamanic practitioner but with a little advice from a friend who does this regularly and my intuition to guide me, I started a very strange journey which is at some points difficult to recall. The purpose of the journey was to find the root cause of my recurrent depressive episodes and thus be able to address it more effectively.
From the time that I lost any ego/control and simply became an observer, here is what I recall: (It is dream-like in its surreality and I would imagine that, like a dream, I was dealing in metaphors that spoke to my reality, although I don't care to make any effort to interpret them.) First I spent time in a lake. I wasn't the only being there, but I don't remember who/what else was there. I was concerned about being under water for too long but my intuition told me to just remember that I started life in the womb with gills and that I could still use them. After some time underwater I emerged to talk to Ganesha. (He is the Hindu god that one prays to before praying to any other god and is regarded as the remover of all obstacles. His mother is Parvati and his father Shiva, the god of destruction.) I don't remember what was said or done.
After our initial interaction I stated the intention of my journey: find the root cause of my depression. At that point my back was opened and my seventh thoracic vertebrae removed and shown to me. It was completely shattered and dirty. Parvati then replaced it with either a new or healed vertebrae and then closed my back. And that point I returned to speak to Ganesha again and this time he was many times my size. (I usually picture him human size, if at all.) He is an elephant headed god with a four armed human body and, for the second time in recent meditation, and ended by falling asleep on top of his belly with his trunk in front of me, protecting and shielding me.
That is what I remember of the journey. Interestingly, my yoga teacher has identified my t-spine as the place in my body with the least flexibility. This isn't the first meditation that focused on this part of my body and I have found increasing physical flexibility with each subsequent meditation and healing. Likewise, there have been multiple yogic experiences in which the physical act of entering and working through a pose has facilitated a meditation, journey, or significant and intense emotional state during which I maintained a typical state of consciousness. (The latter has always been unpleasant because conscious attachment, logical assessment and extreme discomfort make if difficult to learn from and/or release the feeling, as opposed to a detached meditative state where I can notice without judgement and then let go.)
I will never cease to be in awe of the mysterious ways in which our minds work and the ability that we have to heal ourselves.