Turning the Tables on Depression


    Depression is a serious malady, affecting about 18.8 million Americans, or 9.5 percent of the U.S. population. Ten million American children are currently taking antidepressants. And these numbers represent only those who have actively sought help, not the millions of others who remain undiagnosed.

    So let’s cut to the chase: A lot of people need help.

    According to conventional medicine, one of the outcomes, or effects, of depression is a lack of desire. The conventional medical model tells us that when we are depressed, we lose desire not only for our basic needs, such as food, sleep, work, and cleanliness, but also for things that once excited us — activities such as long runs, travel, crossword puzzles, movies, music, sex, political activism, or watching our favorite team play on Sundays. According to the prevailing approach toward depression, if we treat the depression, the desire for these activities will inevitably return.

    But according to Kabbalah, conventional medicine has it exactly backwards. This is why: “Kabbalistically, lack of desire is the cause of depression, not the result of it!” And this can make all the difference in how to approach depression.

    Kabbalah is the 4,000-year old body of wisdom that addresses both the spiritual and physical laws of this world. I like to think of it as a technology for life, because it’s grounded in principles that can be scientifically proven and are also highly effective on a practical level.

    When it comes to depression, I have my own personal story to share. In 2004, my father and teacher, Rav Philip Berg, suffered a stroke. Until then, he had represented an unshakable strength and power that lay beyond physicality. He was our modern day superhero — one who effortlessly traversed the physical and spiritual terrain of this universe.

    Today, the simple fact that he walks and talks and teaches is a miracle. But the Rav is not the same Rav I knew. He has quietly transformed from a real live superhero at the forefront of a movement into an historic man in the background who once did something that had never been done before. For me, my father just left. And when he left, for the first time in my life I felt alone, with a big, ugly black hole that I now had to face every morning of every waking day.

    A dark, empty one

    I found myself depressed. My cave was a dark, empty one. My depression was compounded by the expectation that I placed on myself and that I felt from others, which was that I wasn’t supposed to be susceptible to depression. I had all the tools at my disposal to bounce back, right?

    I spent the better part of the next two years of my life researching and writing Rebooting, my new book about depression. It was while doing this work that I really began to understand what had happened on that life-changing day. That day was the beginning of an entire chapter — my first real, personal test of how the system of Kabbalah works. Writing a book about depression helped me face the pain, wake up from shutting down, and see what the Rav’s illness had come to teach me. I could not have written a book or shared this wisdom with people in such a sincere and honest way if I had not gone through the darkness myself. I have experienced firsthand what I discuss, and I have used the tools that I suggest. And it’s through the process of using the tools and sharing that I am on the other side of depression today.

    So what, exactly, is depression? It arises when we constantly feel like victims of our experience rather than directors of our lives — when we feel helpless and hopeless about our ability to effect change. Depression rears its ugly head when we don’t want to face our GARBAGE — those unconstructive aspects of ourselves that are crying out to be noticed and turned into gifts.

    We all have these types of traits, and most of us would prefer to ignore them. But depression is a sign that the cost of doing so has become too great — that it’s time for a change.

    Whenever we avoid a situation, deny it, ignore it, argue that it does not exist, instead of facing it, dealing with it, and growing from it, we shrink our own desire to be alive, to engage with life. We shrink our connection to the Light. This decreased connection with the Light leaves us in greater darkness, in depression. And Kabbalah is meant to be a technology to help you transform your garbage, transform your escape into darkness back into pursuit of the Light.

    Some basic principles

    In Rebooting, I outline basic information about depression, some basic principles reflecting the Kabbalistic way of understanding and engaging life, how to overcome the illness using the power of Kabbalah, and half a dozen resources that heal. In addition, I offer six exercises that you can do to proactively engage with depression and its sources, and work through it.

    Conventional methods for treating depression attempt to control its symptoms, an approach that certainly has its merits. Kabbalah, however, provides the tools to truly face the challenge of depression on a daily basis and beat it. Kabbalah uncovers depression at its very root.

    To demonstrate our commitment to readers, we’ve set up an unprecedented service — free phone support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from anywhere in the world. If people call 1-800-KABBALAH in the U.S., they will be connected to a trained instructor who can help clarify the chapters, explain and help them with the exercises, and help them further understand how to use the book, and Kabbalah, to support their lives. The phone service is not a crisis hotline, though the people who staff the line are able to handle such situations if they arise. Help is available in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian and Hebrew. We have call centers in various cities around the world, and calls are routed to centers where staff are on duty throughout the day and night. Many of these people are Kabbalah instructors. Some have managed Kabbalah centers in key cities around the world, and all of them are in constant Kabbalah training. There’s no charge for the call or the service, however international callers will have to pay normal phone charges to reach the U.S.

    Remember that, Kabbalistically, the cause of depression is lack of desire. If we are depressed and believe we need to overcome our depression to reignite our desire, we might spend many years searching for the source of our depression. But with this new Kabbalistic perspective, we already know the source of our problem. The amazing news is that this is a state we can remedy. When you reconnect with desire, you reconnect with life and with all of its depth and richness.

    So if depression has you in its grips, I invite you to turn to the wisdom, exercises, and resources now available to help you rekindle desire. I hope what I’ve made available, including my personal story of how the process of Kabbalah brought me out of my pain, helps to guide you safely through the darkness to find your own divine brilliance.

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