Have you been depressed of late? Fret not because meditation can help you manage it.
Meditation was found to help in breaking the connection between two regions in your brain that get overactivated when you are depressed – the medial prefrontal cortex or the me center (that gets worked up with stress and anxiety), and the amygdala or the fear center (that triggers the adrenal glands to produce cortisol) (1).
Before we proceed to how it works, we need to understand depression and its causes.
What Is Depression?
Depression is quite complicated. We cannot just break it down to one definition. It occurs due to a mixture of biological, psychological, and sociological factors.
Let’s have a look at some common factors that trigger depression.
Causes For Depression
- Abuse – physical, emotional, or sexual
- Some medicines that you take can increase the risk of depression.
- Fights, arguments, and conflicts with loved ones and close friends
- The death of a loved one
- Depression can even be genetic.
- Any significant changes in your life, either good or bad
- Feeling lonely or ignored by others
- Coping with serious illnesses can be exhausting and draining. Depression sometimes becomes a consequence of this.
- Those with substance abuse problems also suffer from depression. In fact, they are more inclined to do so.
Although it is not easy to pinpoint the exact reason behind depression, there are certain methods that can work well and help you manage it. One such method is mindful meditation. According to a study, mindfulness-based meditation helped improve depression and anxiety in chronic pain patients (2).
Let’s understand how to do it.
- Sitting Position
- Placement Of Limbs
- Breathing Manner
- Flow Of Thoughts
1. Sitting Position
Sitting upright is important. It could either be in the Lotus position or the Half-Lotus position. Or even on a chair. You can lean on a wall and use cushions.
Whatever it is, make sure you are comfortable and able to concentrate on your breathing. Sitting upright makes breathing easier.
Also, do not face anything that will stimulate your mind like TV or a window. Choose a place with no distractions or face a blank wall in the corner of a room.
2. Placement Of Limbs
When you sit down, make sure that your hips are higher than your knees. You might need a cushion for this. Place your hands on your thighs, facing downward.
Keep the eyes half-opened with the gaze down. Get used to and feel comfortable in your sitting position. Spend some time to focus on the present moment.
Concentrate on your body posture and surroundings.
3. Breathing Manner
Shift to observing your breath. Feel and become aware of the natural process of breathing. Notice the air coming in and out of your being.
Give your complete attention to it. You do not have to breathe in a particular manner or be conscious of it. Breathe naturally and observe the process.
As you do this, keep in mind to be aware of your body and surroundings too. Stay at the moment and breathe. Get back to focussing on your breath if your mind wanders.
Diaphragm breathing is another good option if you want to slow down your emotions and feel calm. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your lower abdomen.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Your stomach should rise and fall while the chest remains still. Breathe in this manner until you calm down.
4. Flow Of Thoughts
After a while, let your mind flow. Allow it to wander and have ideas flowing in and out. But remember not to judge or analyze them.
Do not control the thoughts whatever they might be. Either long-lost memories, something you saw on TV, worries, concerns, etc. Most importantly, do not judge your thoughts. Accept them and learn to gently redirect your mind to your breathing.
If you meditate in this manner regularly, you will notice an improvement in your symptoms of depression.
Remember, meditation is a part of the depression-treating regimen and not a one-size-fits-all solution.
Make it a point to consult a mental health professional before you try anything on your own.
You are not alone in your battle with depression. One in 15 adults suffers from this. Depression pulls you down, negatively affects how you feel, think and act. It decreases your ability to live well. It is not a good place to be, and you must fight it.
Try mindfulness meditation. Here’s hoping that it will work for you. Let us know about your experience in the comments section below.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
What if the calmness I feel after meditating hurts my depression?
That could be a possibility, and you should be wary of it. It is best to initially practice under the guidance of a certified yoga teacher until you stabilize and become good enough to manage on your own without any glitches.
How often do I practice mindfulness meditation?
Practice mindfulness meditation every day for a certain amount of time that works well for you.
1. “How meditation helps with depression”, Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School
2. “Observing the Effects of Mindfulness-Based Meditation on Anxiety and Depression in Chronic Pain Patients”, Psychiatria Danubina, US National Library of Medicine
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