Meditation for depression could almost be a rallying cry of our times.
Though depression goes unnoticed in large parts of the population, it is quite endemic and affects most of us at some point in our lives.
It affects more than 21 million American children and adults annually and is the leading cause of disability in the United States for individuals aged 15 to 44.
According to the medical profession, depression is a complex disease that can be caused by a number of factors such as abuse, conflict, death, genetics, certain medications, serious illnesses, major events and other personal problems.
While all of the above stated reasons are true, I feel there is another significant cause - our increasingly 'disconnected' lives.
The statement sounds contradictory to the reality of the super connected world we live in today, where everyone is one 'ping' away from everyone else, 24 hours a day.
But, if you think about it closely, this always-on 'connectedness' has achieved nothing more than hideously disconnecting us from ourselves.
Where is the time and leisure anymore to think about things really important to us? To reflect deeply upon the spiritual questions facing us?
Or to invest in building four great friendships, instead of having 876 friends (shall i say, casual acquaintances) on facebook?
Not to mention the constant anxiety generated by technology's short-term rewards and instant gratification, which is subtly disorienting, and leads to repeated cycles of euphoria followed by long depressive stretches.
But before we make technology a convenient scapegoat, it will behoove us well to look at the real reason for our malaise.
After all technology is only a tool invented by man. It can't possibly run our lives without our explicit permission first.
I tend to think that our obsessive use of technology in the outer world is simply a reflection of our ingrained patterns of obsessive thinking in our inner world.
We don't live with our mind, we literally live in and for our mind.
The resultant frenzy needs constant feeding with ever new sources of distraction. And technology provides a ready solution with smart phones, tablets, social media, instant news, twitter updates and what have you.
The scourge of our times is excessive thinking and self-justification.
Instead of focusing on our physical, emotional and spiritual needs, and the feelings that accompany them, we wallow in excessive thinking.
Rather than let the emotion flow and express itself appropriately, we shift our attention away from the experience of the raw emotion in the moment to the story or the distraction that our mind fabricates, where we are always right and others, always wrong.
Such habitual patterns of mindless thinking and self-vindication turn the perfectly legitimate feelings of anger and hurt into poisonous blame and resentment, and sadness into debilitating despair and depression.
The medical reasons cited for depression are always part of our lives in one shape or form, but it is how we react to them that determines whether we suffer from depression or not.
To avoid depression, break out of your 'thought-cycle' and stop inflicting the mental carnage on yourself.
How to do meditation for depression?
Start by paying close attention to the centre of your being - the vertical line running through the middle of the body linking the throat, chest, upper belly and lower belly. This is where you experience your needs, feelings, instincts and intuition.
Your sensitivity and vulnerability reside in these centres/chakras.
Allow your breath to flow and feel the sensations in the throat, centre of the chest, solar plexus (upper belly) and navel (lower belly). Maintain a compassionate curiosity while doing so and drop any story of judgment, analysis, speculation or anticipation.
Simply feel the sensations inside your centre.
By fully experiencing the emotions in your centre, you develop resilience - the ability to face challenges with equanimity without overreacting or under-reacting to situations.
Facing our emotions this way is a very real and practical way of
developing self-esteem and self-confidence.
Try and do this regularly throughout the day. Check in on your centre-line often by asking "How am I doing inside?" and then let your breath flow.
Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is the scientific study of the impact of thoughts, feelings and behavioral patterns on our immune system.
It has been found that needs, feelings, thoughts and instincts are mediated by chemicals called nanopeptides, which also regulate our body's defense and healing mechanisms.
The more our emotions flow and are expressed appropriately, the better our health and wellness.
For patients with recurrent major depression, who had experienced three or more previous episodes, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy approximately halved rates of relapse and recurrence over the follow-up period compared with patients who continued with treatment as usual.
Meditation results in infertile women having a 42% conception rate, a 38% take-home baby rate, and decreased levels of depression, anxiety, and anger.
Depression was negatively correlated with stress management behaviors, spiritual growth, and interpersonal relationships in participants of a mind-body infertility program.
Meditation for depression brings awareness and breaks the cycle of self-focused thoughts. It helps in letting go of any guilt, shame, pain, anger or hurt that may be festering inside.
As we get 'out' of ourselves and start living in the moment, in the now, we truly start seeing, hearing and feeling all that is going on around us.
And that fresh awareness frees us from depression.
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