In Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling came up with a powerful metaphor for how to deal with hopelessness and fear when your soul is engulfed by bad news. And it helps you to change your energy in 5 minutes.
In the Harry Potter universe, Dementors are entities that feed on human joy.
As someone who has battled with depression for many years, Joanne Rowling captured her experience of dealing with hopelessness in the “Expecto Patronum” charm – a powerful magic that repels negative energy.
There’s only one power Dementors cannot withstand – the power of a person’s inner light informed by their happy memories. This inner light doesn’t allow one’s soul to be engulfed by darkness.
Those in whom this inner light is strong repel Dementors – joylessness, hopelessness, sadness, despondency. And they can change their energy in 5 minutes!
But where does this inner light come from?
Remember the scene where Harry Potter is learning the art of Expecto Patronum from Professor Lupin?
Lupin asked him to look for a happy memory with the potential to transform his present moment into a celebration.
Harry tried hard several times but all in vain – even with a Boggart (a shape-shifter taking the form of a Dementor) he would still faint.
“By the way, what were you thinking of?” Lupin asked after Harry regained his senses.
“The first time I flew on my broom.”
“No, no. It’s not strong enough. Think of something else.”
And then, suddenly, Harry thought of his mother and father talking to him and felt his heart leaping with joy.
This time, the charm worked!
A powerful light flashed out of his wand as he thought of his mom and dad. The “Dementor” was pushed back into his chest.
Are Dementors real?
Just turn on the news, and you will know.
What do we do when our souls are engulfed by bad news – from outside and inside?
We need to master the Expecto Patronum charm!
How do you find your Patronus?
The best way to find your inner Patronus – those happy memories and thoughts that are strong enough to dispel darkness – is to start listening to yourself and noticing things, activities, memories, or situations where you felt most loved, happy, or enthusiastic.
The key is to find something that gives you an elevated emotion.
It doesn’t even have to be a real memory. Harry said in his case, it may have been just a dream.
It could be a vision of something you want to see in the future.
It could be a place you visited in the past or want to visit in the future.
It could be some people that you have been happy with.
It could be an activity that puts you in the flow.
As you go through those memories/dreams in your mind keep asking yourself, “Does this feel good/uplifting?”
There’s an inner voice that always guides us through this process, letting us know if this or that thought feels good.
Usually, the strongest thought gives you a felt boost of inner energy.
If necessary, repeat this for 5-10 minutes every day, asking yourself: “How does this memory/activity/thought/situation feel?”
The best indicator of your possible Patronus is this: your heart leaps when you think of it.
For as long as you think about it, there’s no hint of negativity in your consciousness.
All is clear.
You find yourself smiling.
You breathe freely.
What is it for you?
Playing the guitar for your friends?
Reading a good book?
Climbing a mountain?
Listening to Mozart?
Your Patronus will come whooshing right out of the Enchanted Forest as soon as you hit the right thought that makes your heart skip a beat. And it can change your energy in 5 minutes!
Am I celebrating this moment as a gift or am I abandoning it to go to the next one?
The most important thing is how I feel right here right now.
If there’s enough joy, laughter, and song in my heart, no evil can creep in from outside.
No Dementors can break my defenses because they can’t approach the inner light.