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Gina Murdock: Combatting the diseases of despair

Gina Murdock
Lead with Love
Gina Murdock
Courtesy photo

It is not a surprise to me that one out of three Americans suffers from depression. Think of it, one out of three of your friends, family members, co-workers or yourself are depressed. And some of these people, up to 500,000 in the past decade in our country alone, are so depressed they end up killing themselves. We’ve all felt these statistics way too close to home. 

Last week we hosted a speaker as part of our Murdock Mind, Body, Spirit Series at The Aspen Institute who said she knows the antidote to all this suffering. From my own experience, I 100% believe her, and she has over 20 years of Ph.D.-level clinical and medical research and over 100 peer-reviewed articles to prove it. The spiritual, or “Awakened Brain” as she calls it, is neuroprotective against the diseases of despair — anxiety, depression, suicide. This is big news. Time to pay attention. 

According to Dr. Lisa Miller of Columbia University, if you believe in something greater than yourself and you have a connection to that thing — it doesn’t matter what you call it or how you connect with it via prayer, meditation, dancing, whatever — you are up to 80% less likely to be the one in three Americans, or one in four people globally, that suffer from these diseases. 



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This information comes through a middle-aged mom who happens to have every pedigree you can imagine. She suffered, like I did, with infertility. It rocked her world like it did mine. She came through it, as I did, stronger and more “awake.” And through her research she proved what many of us already know: that suffering is a doorway to spiritual awakening and that having a spiritual orientation to life is essential to living fully aware and awake in gratitude. We all desperately need to wake up and remember our innate spirituality. This is the antidote to the diseases of despair. 




I think it’s important to claim a definition of spirituality, like Dr. Miller does in her work, that is completely open and autonomous. One can be spiritual and religious, or one can just be spiritual and not religious. It doesn’t matter what you call it or how you practice it. 

To know we are loved, held, guided and never alone is our birthright and we can see that in one another so we can be loving, holding and guiding to others, and never leave anyone alone, Miller says to describe spirituality.

Her research revealed that spiritual experiences become visible in the brain in three significant ways: a reorientation of attention, a sense of love or embrace consistent with intimate attachment or bonding, and a sense of self that is both distinct and part of the greater oneness. 

While it’s sadly no surprise to me that there are so many depressed, anxious and suicidal people in the world, it is also not surprising at all that the antidote to this for many people could be tapping into our innate wisdom and connection to all things through our spiritual brain. It is one brain, essentially, and just like you may remember toggling the knob on your old radio before everything went digital, we have to find the signal to tune into amid all the static. The signal is always there, just like the sun is always shining even if it’s cloudy or stormy. 

To me, tuning into the spiritual brain is resonance; it is the language of the universe that we are all a part of. It feels light, joyful, ecstatic. It is synchronicity; it is a change of perception, a stroke of insight, a gut feeling, intuition, inner knowing.

These things are real. This is who we are. The reason we are suffering is because we’ve forgotten this, and not only that, our society encourages us to forget it and just buy stupid things that we don’t need and spend all our time and money trying to look a certain way so we’ll feel better about ourselves.

When I say choose love, which I say often to myself and others, I mean this. Choose this. Choose to know what you already know. You are loved and you are not alone. And for those that need proof, Dr. Miller’s got that for you.

Gina Murdock is the founder of Lead with Love, an Aspen-based nonprofit dedicated to shifting culture from fear to love. For more information about Lead with Love, go to http://www.ileadwithlove.org.