When you’re sad or depressed or ‘down’ or in a heavy state…
This is a rich opportunity to investigate the nature of experience — to ‘vipassanalize’ the self.
“Vipassanalize” is a term I learned recently from Frank Yang.
I highly recommend reading his recent posts on Instagram if you’ve gone deep into non-duality / awakening practice.
He’s on some next-level shit, and he’s hilarious.
To vipassanalize any aspect of experience is to see it clearly, such that it dissolves.
It is to penetrate to the deeper nature of what is going on, such that what appeared to be solid is revealed to be ‘empty.’
It is to deconstruct everyday experience to begin to see the deeper truth residing within it.
So what does that actually mean, in practice?
Well, let’s say you’re feeling sad, depressed, or hopeless…
Sit down, close your eyes, start breathing from the belly, and follow your breath for a minute or two initially to relax your nervous system.
Now, begin to look closely, scientifically, phenomenologically, at what is actually happening in experience.
Let go of words, concepts, definitions, categories, conditions, identities, personality, and so forth, and simply observe what is going on.
What you will notice over time, as you practice more and more, is that there is an immense openness in which all phenomena are arising and falling away.
There is a field of pure awareness, pure presence, pure being-ness, in which all objects of perception arise and fall away.
Over time you start to realize that you are that witnessing field.
You are the unsayable space-less space of pure formless awareness…
And everything that appears within the space of You, is entirely comprised of You — entirely comprised of pure awareness, pure being-ness.
Everything is simply the same un-pin-down-able energy-appearing-within-consciousness, or consciousness-appearing-as-energy.
Awake-God-Energy, the Totality of Being — call it what you like, words can only point at it.
And you are That.
To begin to realize this, again, look closely at the “depression” or whatever other texture is arising…
A good pointer is to “view yourself from the distance of the sun.”
And what is “depression” when viewed from the distance of the sun?
It’s just another texture, another ambiguous clump of sensory data.
It’s a sticky, dense, prickly, or heavy coagulation of energy moving through the system to be released.
Except what often happens is that the mind generates a story to rationalize the presence of the feeling, of the texture…
And then the sad, self-pitying story reinforces and fuels that texture, creating a feedback loop.
To short-circuit this feedback loop, you need to drop the story, or see directly that the story is empty.
Empty = nebulous; not-solid; having no fixed or pin-down-able meaning.
As Byron Katie likes to say (paraphrasing), “Suffering occurs when we believe our thoughts.”
Suffering occurs when we are identified with the stories our minds are telling about who we are and what is happening.
When you look really closely at your own mind, you can notice how awareness has been conditioned to latch onto thoughts — to be ‘hooked’ by thoughts.
A thought or story appears about such-and-such person doing X or Y to me, or needing X or Y from me, and BOOM, suddenly we’re off to the races…
Plummeting down a rabbit hole of spiraling thoughts that keeps us stuck in the same loop of self-identification.
The most core thought with which we are identified is the “I” thought — the idea that “I” am a separate, distinct, finite being named Jordan with solid, pin-down-able attributes and a solid, pin-down-able life story.
This is not the case.
Meditation is the art and practice of being no one, which is what we really are.
In being no one in particular, we are freed to be no-thing and everything at the same time.
So, returning to the case of depression, what you want to examine with a microscope are the stories your mind is running that are perpetuating the heavy textures of energy.
Watch closely how your mind latches onto stories and invests them with a sense of self and a sense of importance.
In truly weightless reality, nothing is heavy and nothing is more important than anything else.
Look for the self to which the stories are referring:
Where is this character that is supposedly so important and solid and who has been through so much miserable shit?
What you eventually start to see is that this character is an illusion created by the ceaseless firehose of story-telling in your mind, which gives off an ambient illusory flavor of “me-ness.”
When you start having moments of cessation — where thoughts and self-ing entirely stop, for even a few moments — there is no character anymore.
In those moments there is only This — This-Here-Now, Infinity, un-pin-down-able radiance.
And you see that it is all You.
And then you laugh, most likely — because you’ve had your first glimpse of Freedom, and it was staring you in the face all along.
Freedom is to see directly that all reality ever is, is un-pin-down-able radiance dancing upon the omnipresent 3+-d projection screen of awareness.
That’s the punchline.
When you’re able to drop the stories that create self-perpetuating feedback loops, energy is free to flow more easily through your system.
This is why David Hawkins’ ‘Letting Go’ technique is so useful:
It is essentially a practice of dropping mental stories as much as possible and simply feeling the impersonal energy-textures moving through your system as fully as you can.
This short-circuits the feedback loop and allows these energies to be dissolved and released.
For particularly dense or heavy energies like anger or aggression, I also find that more active releases — such as running, punching a bed, screaming into a pillow, singing loudly to loud music, dancing wildly, and so forth — can be very useful for clearing this stuff as it arises in the system.
As you become increasingly free, you may not need techniques so much anymore, as you’re more and more of a ‘clear channel’ through which energies can flow easily and automatically.
Awareness itself — the burning flame of clear seeing — is the most powerful healer and can clear your backlog of unresolved psycho-emotional-energetic baggage, once the flame is ignited, if this is your pure intention.
Though of course there are also many fascinating cases in which various teachers or gurus have apparently had quite powerful awakenings, yet retained certain stubborn clumps of unresolved trauma that led them to act in non-integrous ways.
Ongoing humility, sincerity of intention, and openness to ever-deepening realization, are essential.
There you have it.
This is the essence of how you vipassanalize, or “see through,” depression.
See that it is simply a feedback loop of energetic textures + false mental stories.
Expand beyond it.
Notice how much more is always going on.
Be infinite openness.
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About Jordan Bates
Jordan Bates is a Lover of God, healer, mentor of leaders, writer, and music maker. The best way to keep up with his work is to join nearly 7,000 people who read his Substack newsletter.