Meditation for Treating Depression
When it comes to depression, many people think that the only way to treat it is with therapy and medications. Even though these things are quite helpful, there are alternative treatments that can work for many people. One of those treatments is meditation.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a way of helping a person focus their attention in a way that will help them feel calmer and gives them a clearer awareness of their life. Philosophies in the East have always recognized the benefits one can receive from meditation for many centuries. Now, meditation is practiced a lot in the West and those who practice it believe that it does have many positive effects on one’s health.
Two Common Techniques
There are two very common meditation techniques that are most often used and those are mindful and concentrative meditation:
- Mindful is a meditation that is influenced by mindfulness-based stress reduction or MBSR. It doesn’t focus on just one purpose. Instead, people are made aware of all of their feelings, thoughts, images, and sounds that might be passing through their minds.
- Concentrative is a type of meditation that includes the most common known as TM or transcendental meditation. This type of meditation will focus on a single sound, mantra, image, or even a persons breathing.
Both types of meditation will usually include slow and regular breathing while you sit quietly for about twenty minutes.
What Can You Use Meditation For?
People often use meditation to treat a variety of both mental and physical problems that can include:
- Addiction and its behaviors from drugs and alcohol
- Depression, stress, and anxiety issues
- High blood pressure
- Pain control
Is It Safe?
Meditation most often involves just sitting quietly for some time and taking in deep breaths, those who can’t sit for a long time comfortably or if they have respiratory issues may find meditation difficult. Also, those who may suffer from ADHD or suffering from schizophrenia, might not be able to do meditation effectively. Otherwise, it should be safe and relatively easy for most.
According to research, there is thought to be no negative side effects or any kinds of complications when meditation is practiced. There also tends to be no negative side effects when it’s combined with medical treatments.
Instructions for Simple Mindful Meditation
If you’re interested in trying mindful meditation yourself, whether it’s for depression, or just to learn how to calm down and relax, here are a few simple instructions that will help you learn how to do some simple mindful meditation.
First, you will want to either sit on a chair or sit on the floor upright. You will also want to make sure that you pick a room that will not have any distractions. You also don’t want to face anything that might be stimulating like your TV or even a window. It’s best to just face a wall that’s blank if you can.
Once you find a good spot you want to make sure that you are comfortable in your seated position. You will want to be able to focus only on your breathing and not how you are feeling physically, so you need to be comfortable. If you pick a chair to sit in, make sure it is solid and doesn’t wiggle. Try to sit as straight as you can so it’s easier to breathe.
Once seated in a comfortable position put your hands on your thighs facing down. Make sure that your eyes are open a little bit and put your gaze on the floor or the wall in front of you. Also, make sure that your hips are higher than your knees are.
Start By Focusing on Present Moment
Take a few minutes to just sit and get your mind to focus on the present. While you are doing that make sure to become aware of your environment, your body, and your posture. Your mind will try to wander but when it does, just gently urge it back to your thoughts about your environment and body.
Now Feel Your Breathing
Once you’ve finished focusing on the present moment you should next turn your attention to your breathing. We take breathing for granted and now is the time to learn to focus on how the air actually goes in and out of the lungs:
- Focus your attention on your breathing. You don’t have to change how you are breathing, just pay close attention to the natural rhythm of it.
- While breathing you still need to keep paying attention to your environment and your body along with breathing. At this time you should try to spend a few more minutes focusing on the present moment and breathing.
- Next, you may want to try to practice diaphragm breathing. You can do this sitting or lie down. If you want to do it sitting you need to make sure you sit straight as possible so it’s easier to breathe. Put one of your hands on your chest and then the other hand on your lower stomach. Next, you will breathe in a way that your hand on your stomach will rise while the one of your chest will remain still. Make sure to breathe through the nose and then out through the mouth. Repeat this until you feel nice and calm.
Allow Thoughts to Flow Through
After you’ve done your breathing and focusing on the present for a few minutes go ahead and let your mind wander just a bit. When the thoughts begin to flow in, don’t judge them or analyze the thoughts. Just allow them to come into your mind and to flow out freely.
- There might be a lot of things that start to arise during meditation. They could be memories, concerns, worries, and so on. Never try to control these thoughts. Just allow them to naturally come and then leave on their own.
- Again, don’t judge the thoughts that you have. You also don’t want to try to work through them. Just let them happen. It’s alright to name them as they come to mind but just let them go after.
Length of Meditation
Although the most common amount of time that most people sit down to meditate is about 20 minutes a day, it is also suggested that you have a goal to try and set aside one session a week that lasts about two and a half hours. This is particularly helpful for those who are using meditation to help improve the symptoms they are experiencing with depression.