Meditation in the West became popular in the past few years. While lots of people tend to think it is the practice for people that are into alternative therapies, it gained more and more acknowledgment within the general public. Practice of meditation has been around for thousand years and has its roots in eastern philosophy. Buddhism and Hindu are the first religions that have recorded texts in which meditative procedures and techniques were described. Meditation can take many forms and every ancient culture was cultivating its way of meditating.
There is lot of research evidence that meditation helps in depression relief. The best way to approach treating anxiety and depression is with cooperation with the doctor or mental health professional as meditation should be used in addition to the depression and anxiety treatment not instead of. As per research, while meditation does help in managing anxiety, depression and pain, it does not offer help with other problems such as sleep, weight or substance abuse. Research was published by John Hopkins School of Medicine and while positive effects of meditation on anxiety, depression and pain can be modest, they are still seen across multiple studies.
Meditation is not for everyone as it is a discipline that requires daily attention and time. Researchers concluded that meditation has no harmful side effects, it is free and something that people can easily do at home or in a group setting with the instructor if they prefer.
Meditation is different for everyone and people will experience different things.
Depression is the most common mental illness and up to 80 percent of people who experience a major depressive episode may relapse. Mindfulness meditation in addition to antidepressant works that way that once the person is off the medication it will rewire the brain in order not to relapse into depression but focus on now and become aware of one’s own feelings.
In order to be mindful, a person needs to accept the situation, meaning that attention is paid to the thoughts and feelings without judging them or thinking that there is a right or wrong way to think or feel in a given moment. We need to have the ability to feel that we are fully present, aware of surroundings and actions and not being reactive about the events that are happening around us.
Mindfulness meditation is practiced sitting either cross legged on a cushion or on a chair with the back straight. During meditation our eyes should be closed and attention to the movement of breath through the body. Breathing in and out and being aware of the breath as we breathe in and then breathe it out through the nostrils.
Mindfulness should be practiced on daily basis in order to get most benefit out of it. When you bring the awareness to your body and notice what you experience through your senses or your state of mind via thoughts and emotions that means that you’re being mindful. The research supports that when brain is being trained to meditate mindfully every day, physical structure of the brain is being remodeled at the same time.
In order to practice mindfulness and meditation we need to set aside some time and space in order not to be disturbed. Sometimes even 15 to 20 minutes a day can make all the difference. No special equipment is required to meditate. A person can be sitting or lying down, it’s a personal preference.
When meditating we should observe the present moment as it is without any judgement. When we notice any thoughts and judgement cross our mind we should simply acknowledge it and let it go. Then, we should return to observe the present moment as it is and focus on our breath. The more we practice to return to our breathing the more we will be able to achieve awareness of the present moment. We should never become upset if we cannot achieve focus our attention to our breath and awareness at all times, it is only human for our mind to wonder. In order to successfully meditate, we should simply focus on shifting the attention to our breathing every time when we realize that our thoughts took us somewhere else that is not our breath and awareness.
It takes a lot of practice to successfully meditate. The focus is on breathing not only because it is always there but because we can use it as a starting point or an anchor to our meditation.
In order to meditate, a person should sit comfortably and straighten upper body but not stiffen. We should notice what our arms are doing, as palms should rest on the legs or wherever else it feels natural. We should soften our gaze, which means to drop the chin down a little and let the gaze fall gently downward. Eyes could be either open or closed. We should feel our breath and its physical sensation, the air moving through our nose or mouth, the rising and falling of the abdomen or the chest. We should notice when the mind wanders off from the breath, simply acknowledge it and get back to our breath. Come back to your breath over and over again without any expectation or judgement. Finally, when you are ready, gently lift your gaze and open your eyes if they are closed. Take a moment to become aware of your surroundings and notice how your body feels at the present moment. Notice your thoughts and emotions.
While the mindfulness meditation is not cure for depression it definitely helps eliminate the symptoms and promotes healing and wellbeing.
There are various YouTube channels that will offer guided meditation for relief of stress, anxiety, depression and various mental illnesses. We should all choose what feels right for us. We should listen to the tone of the voice of the guided meditation instructor, whether we find it soothing or not, and whether the words in the guided meditation are relevant to our situation. Depression usually manifests through self-destructive behaviours and feelings of helplessness or worthlessness, or overall lethargy towards future. Mindfulness leads to increase in self-compassion. While meditating, a person is learning to appreciate themselves for who they are and to become aware of the life that flows through their body. We should not worry about the future or dwell over the past experiences. We should live in the Now. In the present moment. While practicing a mindful meditation, one is also helping themselves healing their mind.
And isn’t that what we all want: a healthy mind and a healthy body?