A study carried out by the Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed almost 18,000 previous studies on the effectiveness of meditation as a treatment option for depression. The conclusion was that although meditating isn’t a total treatment for depression it can be just as helpful as anti-depressant medication.
The art of meditation has been observed by many cultures for thousands of years. When one thinks of meditation they usually picture a Buddhist Monk sitting high atop a mountain peak with legs crossed, elbows resting on the knees; thumb and forefinger pinched together. However, many people around the world from all different backgrounds practice meditation.
The benefits of meditating include..
- Focusing on the now and not being stressed about time
- Developing a closer bond and understanding of yourself
- Getting yourself to relax
- Connecting with a positive place deep inside
Although prayer and meditation can carry the same, powerful energy, meditation is all about silencing the mind and putting oneself in a state of conscious awareness. Even many family doctors will recommend practicing meditation to relieve stress, anxiety and depression, because it’s free and can be quite pleasant.
Using Meditation To Treat Depression
Again, meditating isn’t a perfect cure, but when combined with SSRIs, exercises, a good diet and techniques for seasonal depression – it can be quite the powerful combination.
Here’s what to think about if you are interested in practicing mindful meditation
- You need to schedule time for yourself. Just 15 minutes can do wonders for your body and mind.
- Try to be consistent and make a commitment that you will meditate every day for 15 minutes.
- The research conducted in the study mentioned earlier had several thousand participants meditate for up to 8 weeks and noticed a major change in mood.
- Try to go somewhere quiet. If you can’t – consider noise canceling headphones.
- Sit in a comfortable position. It can also help to wear clothing that is soft and light to the skin.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
- Breath in deep through your nose and slowly exhale through your mouth. Try to keep your breathing even in tempo, both through the inhale and the exhale. Sometimes it helps to count your breathing.
- Be aware of your physical body as a whole. Try to be conscious of how your fingers, hands, arms, shoulders, head, legs and feet feel. Feel them getting heavier and heavier until the tension is released and your aren’t reliant on these sensations anymore.
The first few times you attempt to meditate you will notice that your brain is running rampant with crazy thoughts. This is normal. By focusing on your breathing, that little voice in your head will start to disappear and you will eventually reach a state of pure silence and pleasant calm. This is the point of meditating; to release outside bonds.
Meditating takes practice, but gets easier with time. Don’t focus on asking questions, trying to discover a higher power or anything like that. The point of this kind of meditation is relaxation and quiet.
But Will Meditating Help With My Depression?
That cannot be answered blatantly by just saying yes. However, many times when a person comes out of a state of depression they feel that they have a new perspective on life around them. It’s very common to feel a loving state of calm and to feel suddenly uplifted. If you make a commitment to yourself to keep practicing this for the recommended 15 minutes a day, then you may get to experience this feeling more and more.
Set A Timer
Set a timer on your clock or cell phone for 15 minutes. The first time that you meditate you’ll probably be focused on when the timer is going to go off and you may feel a little impatient and think “this is taking too long”. This is normal, but after a few tries you will most likely be amazed at how quickly the 15 minutes flew by.
Because the process can be so pleasant and a person may want more of this feeling, many people choose to up the time and go with 30 minutes and sometimes more.
Is Meditation Dangerous?
No, and it’s certainly not hypnotherapy like we typically think of. In real hypnotherapy you are in control of yourself and can come to whenever you like. Meditation is much like this. It’s simply a point of relaxation to reach and you can pull out of it with no effort. It is extremely harmless.
One Final Tip
Some people may find that having ambient music helps them relax and to get into the right state. There are many CDs designed to be played at places like massage clinics. These should be perfect for relaxing if you’re interested.