Here is a letter from one of our students about how training with us helped him work with his depression, and helped with the difficult process of coming off anti-depressants.
I took the prescribed anti-depressant SNRI medication venlafaxine HCI (‘Effexor’) for 11 months between January and November 2013 reaching a peak daily dosage of 150mg. The medication served to lift me from the lowest point of a depression into which I had slumped following a personal trauma and gave me the boost of energy with which to begin to engage in other more holistic forms of treatment.
It was soon after commencing the medication that I enrolled in an introductory AuthentiCity meditation course led by Peter and Trisangma Watson. Although I had undertaken meditation training in the past, their presentation was unique in that they shared very specific skilful techniques for cultivating the attention of the mind with concomitant, simultaneous introspective and extrospective awareness. I responded very strongly and immediately to the practice.
By following the daily practice I was able to observe almost immediately a number of positive results, most notably that I was beginning to stabilise my mind and create mental space with which to begin to observe some of the fluctuations and ruminations of my mind without becoming immediately consumed by or reactive to them. This created a powerful platform for strengthening the overall power of my mind to direct its attention and awareness to my other activities throughout the day and night as well as becoming spontaneously more aware and attentive whilst engaged in these other activities. Furthermore, this practice empowered my mind to redirect its attention towards more peaceful and functional states of mind such as gratitude, as well as loosen the hold that negative mental states may otherwise have on me due to having become aware of the transience of such mental states.
In my experience, one of the most insidious challenges of depression is that one becomes engulfed in a mental darkness – which leads to a physical lethargy and a physical and emotional isolation – that is typically so consuming that one is not even aware of what is happening, let alone able to begin the process of navigating a way out of the fog. Accordingly, simply becoming more fully aware in the moment of the content of my mind, as well as what may be happening in my body, became the starting point for me for cultivating a process of more genuine healing and recovery.
In this way, I have been able to bring higher levels of focus and efficacy to the other aspects of a more healthy and balanced life such as a following a good diet, entering into more positive relationships with others, suitable physical exercise, a wholesome working life and taking proper rest.
Specifically, in my own recovery from depression and successful withdrawal from Venlafaxine HCI - a notoriously difficult drug to discontinue due to its withdrawal symptoms – I was able, due to the training received from Trisangma and Peter, to establish the foundation of sufficient self-awareness and to cultivate the mental strength and level of attention to partake of the range of synergistic mental and physical measures to facilitate recovery. My daily concentration and mindfulness practice as informed by my training with Trisangma and Peter has been a powerful, if not fundamental, part of my recovery.
AuthentiCity's method of training is precise, concise and exceptional in its understanding of positive states of mind and how to cultivate them. For example, they encouraged me to commence the meditation practice with relatively brief daily sessions so as not to overwhelm or exhaust the mind, and to inspire what they call the “positive feedback loop” by way of rejoicing for the small successes in each practice session rather than placing one's attention of the imperfections of one's fledging meditation practice. This skillful method in particular has had a remarkably powerful effect on my mental health. Further, additional nuances of the instruction were suitably provided at graduated levels so as not to overwhelm the student and to facilitate a sense of empowerment by being a very achievable practice that one may joyfully embrace with noticeable reward.
I heartily recommend AuthentiCity's programmes for nurturing mental health.