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Video: Mariel Hemingway shares her struggle with depression

  1. Closed captioning of: Mariel Hemingway shares her struggle with depression

    >>> now, actress, author and mother of two, marial hemingway wowed audiences in "manhattan" and was only a teenager when she was nominated for an academy award . but her family has had a troubling history with mental illness and suicides, including her grandfather ernest and her sister, margot. mariel is an advocate for mental health awareness, she's written a book with bobby williams called "the willing way." good morning.

    >> good morning.

    >> nice to be here.

    >> the history i talk about, is there any way something like that doesn't impact every aspect of your life from the time you're growing up?

    >> absolutely not. i've spent my entire life, a documentary called "running from crazy" because i literally have been running from crazy my entire life. i felt like what if i wake up and i don't know i'm nuts.

    >> you said something in the pre-interview, you said you were living with depression every single day and didn't know it until you weren't depressed anymore.

    >> exactly right.

    >> what did the difference feel like?

    >> i have to say that my partner, bobby williams , has a lot to do with it. it was like coming into -- i mean, it's like being in darkness. you don't know that was the life i had but when i realized that i could come out of that through lifestyle choices which is really why i got involved in the book with bobby.

    >> so now that she's not running from crazy, she runs with crazy. which helps out a lot.

    >> this concept you can choose a lifestyle and relieve some of what might be considered mental illness , a medical condition , a physical condition, a hormonal or chemical condition.

    >> absolutely.

    >> do you really believe in this?

    >> i absolutely do.

    >> talk about the mcclain over at harvard, said about 200 years ago that's what they did. it was about work sunshine --

    >> psychopharmaceutical drugs, they honored me and i was a little -- i was hesitant only because i truly believed that the piece that is missing is lifestyle, what you eat, how you think, whether you get outside.

    >> getting fresh air , eating the wholesome foods, adventure in your life.

    >> yes.

    >> you're believers in that.

    >> absolutely. i have mariel in yosemite climbing. you want to talk about not being crazy anymore that makes her not crazy anymore.

    >> makes you present.

    >> you also talk about the need to play and laugh.

    >> absolutely.

    >> what are the things that you avoid in your life now that you think could be triggers for darker times?

    >> well because my family was so full of addictions, there was a tremendous amount of alcoholism, i never was a drinker. i know because i have addictive personality that i don't do addictive things. i don't eat sugar. i don't drink. i don't, i would never do drugs. i'm very careful about how i live my life but i think that's a piece of mental balance. brain chemistry is affected by our food, by our thinks, by whether we take silence, like you said whether we get nature.

    >> you have two daughters, i think they're in their 20s now.

    >> yes.

    >> was it at all possible as a mom watching them grow up to not hyperanalyze every mood they went through, knowing your family history ?

    >> you're correct. i mean i did have moments where i was afraid, because i've been afraid my entire life, but what i realized is when you can break that curse or that chain of dna and genetics and stuff like that and i truly think that you can, once i did that, i feel that i released them from that, you know, they're going to have their own problems and nobody's going to say they're not going to have days where they're sad but i don't think that i've passed on this depression.

    >> and in terms of you personally, you have fears at all that depression will come back?

    >> not at all anymore because of my lifestyle now, because of the willing way and the way that we live our life, i feel like, you know, i feel like, i mean my life is just starting over . it's just amazing.

    >> nice to be able to say.

    >> it is.

    >> it's a pleasure mariel and bobby nice to meet you..

    >> pleasure for me as well.

    >> the book is called "the willing way."

TODAY books
updated 4/4/2013 5:25:38 PM ET 2013-04-04T21:25:38

In “The Willing Way,” Mariel Hemingway and Bobby Williams help readers tap back into nature with tips for stepping away from the frantic, everyday experience in favor of simple, mindful life. Here's an excerpt.

Meditation Made Easy:

Meditation requires you only to show up and get quiet. This can be done anywhere, any place, any time. It can be done in stillness and in movement. The movement can be anything-writing, painting, dancing, running, walking. It can happen during athletic movement or an event and, of course, while laughing and playing. It's the commitment of being fully connected anywhere. People connect to silence in many ways, and finding stillness during activity is an amazing experience worth working on.

Changing Lives Press
You can create a special area. You can stand, sit, kneel or even lay down-whatever helps you to connect, relax and tune in. Whether moving or sitting still, you still connect to the same pure place, and the experience of who you are reveals itself. The more you connect, the more powerful you become. When not moving, you can engage in meditation with eyes open or closed. With your eyes open, you can focus on what is in front of you whether it is a flower, the flame of a candle, a tree, a mountain, the clouds, your breath on a cold day or even ants crawling on the ground. Silence is profound, and it is in and around everything. The goal is to still your mind. Any kind of action that you do quietly with internal stillness is a meditation-the monks find stillness and meditation in everything they do-listening, smiling, making a bed, chopping wood, gardening, painting a picture, walking in Nature.

Mariel: When I first started meditating, I did it for only five minutes at a time. Then every couple of days I added one more minute until eventually I was up to 20 then 30 minutes twice a day. While I find that this really works for me, it may be too much for others. It's about finding what length of time is right for you. Start with five minutes like I did and see where it goes from there. Initially, sitting alone with yourself may feel uncomfortable. Start slowly. Even two to five minutes is a good beginning. You'll find that you'll be able to be quiet in many places-and in time, with or without other people around you. You will notice that silence is everywhere. You can enjoy moments of silence anywhere from the beach to the bus stop, from waiting in line to going for a walk. Take the time when it is given to you. Observe your inhales and your exhales. Breathing is always a way to check in with yourself.

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Listen to your thoughts; do you feel angry, happy, sad, hungry, thirsty or bored? And then ask yourself, "Who am I being right now? Is this my choice?" Make a conscious choice to be what and who you want to be in this moment.

Be curious about quietness. See how loud it can be-the buzz of a bee or a fly, a hum from the electronics in the room. Notice these sounds, but don't hold onto them. They are the white noise-the backdrop for the sound of your inner voice. Allow yourself to have every thought and feeling as you meditate, making nothing bad or wrong. Though we may find some thoughts shameful, judgmental or embarrassing, this is merely a reaction of the unconscious mind. For instance, as you begin to quiet yourself for meditation, you might think to yourself, "There is no time for this. . . ." Guilt has no place in your silent time. Simply observe that thought-don't give it a negative or a positive charge. It has no power in this moment. Let it pass. The idea is to be the objective observer of what surfaces in your mind. Oftentimes these thoughts are unconscious and reactive to what someone else has told us and not at all what is actually taking place now. Make it your goal to see things for what they are rather than what you think they are. Remind yourself that you will always have Live Silence 51 thoughts; it is what you do with them when they come up that matters. Allow them and let them go. When you do this, you might have an epiphany or "aha" moment that you are not your thoughts. This is profound.

As Miguel Ruiz teaches in The Fifth Agreement: A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery, when we believe false ideas, they pull us away from our authentic Self. In meditation, we can let go of the power these ideas have had on our lives. We can allow our feelings and thoughts to rise without judgment and watch them go. It is our practice not to buy into feelings that cause anxiety or pain. We are fine for feeling them, and we are even happier (if not healthier) for letting them go. We can choose to handle them in a constructive way. When we accept our feelings as natural, normal, healthy and productive ways of communicating with our inner Self, we are much less likely to act out on them inappropriately in ways that hurt ourselves or others.

Acknowledging and accepting our feelings leads to acceptance of our entire being. When we are aware of how we show up in our lives day to day, we are more able to have healthy, productive relationships. How can we understand and have compassion for others when we can't understand or care for ourselves? Our relationship with our Self is the most important one we have.

From THE WILLING WAY by Mariel Hemingway and Bobby Williams. Copyright © 2013 by Mariel Hemingway and Bobby Williams. Reprinted by permission of Changing Lives Press.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive


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