Depression and MindfulnessOctober 24, 2014 - BY Greg HarmanSHARETo beat back the Great Bleakness that is clinical depression takes a lot of falling sick. But I have found that there are the symptoms—cold sweats, inexplicable and uncontrollable fears, racing heartbeats, body aches and cramping, and the ultimate seduction of self-destruction—and there is the illness, perhaps best characterized as our body, mind, or spirit wrestling with yearned-for transformation. While I’ve watched my mind and body weave in and out of despair for years, I’ve only recently come to accept Rumi’s advice about descent for its own good. While the 13th-century mystic poet urged his readers to abandon their fear of falling with the promise of a great healer “descending from the heavens” to meet them, I’ve found the mindful journey to be an illuminating one even when faith in such a higher being falters. Just as the inhabitants of polar regions need an unusually large number of terms for subtle variations in snow to navigate their frozen landscape, a robust language is required to survive the terrain of emotional malignancy. Before I could act on Rumi’s message and begin to learn the language of illness and healing, I had to be taught the skills of self-perception. Any time one recognizes these stirrings can be an invitation to “fall sick” and impartially witness the body and mind reacting to these subtle movements. That said, simple, nonjudging observation has allowed me to finally start to see my depression not as my enemy but as my body’s way of simply asking for attention.
And that’s where I find the “great healer” at work, bearing witness to my erratic thoughts and embracing, not shunning, my trembling body and mind. April 17, 2013 by Marsha Lucas, PhD 1 Comment Mindfulness is entering the lives of many new young people as it’s added to school curriculums around the world.
Mindfulness, the practice of cultivating focused awareness on the present moment, has been shown to have a number of benefits, including emotional stability and improved sleep.
Researchers at the University of Leuven study looked at the experiences of 408 students from five different schools in Flanders, Belgium, all between the ages of 13 and 20. The researchers found that students who adhered to the mindfulness program exhibited decreased symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression both immediately after and six months after the program. Mindfulness can be integrated into Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approaches, to manage distressing thoughts that exacerbate negative mood, panic, or anxiety. Both Anxiety and Depression have serious behavioural side effects, due to the sufferer being bullied by distressing thoughts and emotional reactivity, and thus withdrawing from everyday activities. To make an appointment with Abra Garfield try Online Booking – Loganholme or call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129. Mindfulness for Pain ManagementDid you know – Mindfulness Meditation can be helpful in the management and relief of chronic pain? One of our Psychologists, Dr Amanda White, was recently interviewed by the About Pain website. To make an appointment with Amanda to learn how Mindfulness and meditation can help with your chronic pain issues, you can book online, or with any of our Mindfulness psychologists, by calling 1800 877 924.
But breathing is so vital to our wellbeing, that we really do need to give it our attention. How Mindfulness changes our brain structure to enable us to embrace life with greater ease and joy, more presence and optimism. Teacher:Steve Brown is a counsellor and psychotherapist who studied Mindfulness Meditation in India, Thailand and Nepal in the 1980's and has his own personal practice of over 30 years. He uses Mindfulness techniques in his counselling and psychotherapy, and has been facilitating Mindfulness groups for the past 18 years. Before discussing mindfulness meditation technique, it is important to understand the concept of "mindfulness." Mindfulness is a state of present awareness.
As we go through life, most of us quickly lose the pure aliveness that is evident in the face of a healthy infant.
Whether we are pleasure seekers, or spend our time numbing our painful feelings, the loss is the same. Listen to Samples of my Guided Meditations and Healing Sound Meditation You can get the introductory 15-minute guided mindfulness meditation recording (part 1) if you sign up for my Free Newsletter - "Mind Over Matter." Just put in your email address and you will be immediately directed to the page where you can listen to, or download the meditation.
It may be helpful to read the rest of this page first, to get a better understand of the mindfulness meditation technique - or jump right in and try it now.
Sit comfortably, with the spine upright and supported and the head balanced naturally, looking forward with eyes closed gently. Set up an introductory session for psychotherapy or instruction in mindfulness meditation technique and yogic meditation. Caution: Any intensive meditation, including the use of the mindfulness meditation technique described above, is not to be done if you are experiencing active thoughts of suicide. Research on mindfulness meditation and depression shows how this all-natural depression therapy can work as well as drugs to conquer depression. There has recently been an explosion of research in the area of meditation and depression, just as meditation’s popularity is rapidly expanding across the globe. Meditation, a simple technique that concentrates and calms the mind, is indeed a highly effective strategy for the treatment and prevention of depression, studies show. Most people identify so strongly with their minds and thoughts that they believe they are their minds and thoughts. Asian cultures were the first to practice meditation, which has historically been a core component in many spiritual practices, such as Buddhism.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, a mindfulness-meditation program that also integrates tools of cognitive behavioral therapy, has been shown to significantly reduce depression symptoms in numerous studies.[3-5] Typically taught to groups of depressed patients in an eight-week series of weekly two-hour sessions, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy teaches people to become aware of and note upsetting thoughts and feelings and to conceptualize them as mental events instead of an internalized realistic representation of themselves or the situation they are in. Are you ready to explore meditation as a treatment for your depression or as a way to prevent it from coming back?

When you recognize that your attention has strayed from the breath to a thought, a physical sensation, or a sound, gently bring your attention back to the physical sensation of the breath going in and out of your body at your anchor spot. Sometimes, instead of returning your attention to your breath, a physical sensation becomes so compelling that you may want to let go of your focus on the breath and bring it the sensation with the same attentive quality that you brought to the breath. You can also do this with a thought or emotion that has become so compelling that you can’t keep your focus on the breath. Keep repeating steps four through seven until your timer goes off, using the physical sensation of the breath going in and out of your body as an anchor to return to over and over again.
In addition to practicing mindfulness meditation on your own, you may want to look into practicing with a group or taking a class. If you’ve tried mindfulness meditation or another type of meditation for depression, how did it work? Tagged with anxiety, clinical depression, cognitive behavioral therapy, depression, depression anxiety, depression research, depression symptoms, for depression, Meditation and Depression, suffering from depression, symptoms of depression.
If this were really true there would not be a debate in the meditation communities, which has been going on for years, about long time meditators taking antidepressants so they can sit.
For the depressive, there is often no choice about sinking into despair—darkness so overpowering that it would shock the uninitiated. Yes, the symptoms are beastly, but beyond them, what is the illness—or, more compassionately described, the imbalance?
Applying mindfulness to depression allows us to discover the language of our own unique suffering. That includes medical terminology, certainly, as well as the frequently more evocative names we create to understand how our bodies and minds operate in the flux of turbulent emotions. This was a decade before I began to talk openly about my struggles, and this woman, a close friend of my now ex-wife, was one of the few I had allowed into my circle of suffering.
In just a few minutes, this short, plump woman with a perpetual twinkle of kindness in her eyes explained the philosophy of Buddhist meditation. It has taught me to recognize the subtle movement of energy that can presage a potentially dangerous shift in thinking. It is an invitation to learn how one functions and name what one is experiencing, and then to breathe in healing breaths and open up to calming thoughts. This victory is even more relevant as studies show that mindfulness helps reduce teen depression.
Now, some schools have started incorporating mindfulness programs into their curriculums, teaching kids as young as five years old how to use body scans, mindful breathing and attention to their thoughts and emotions to become more focused. At the beginning of the study, the students answered a questionnaire designed to reveal symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, and were then divided into a test group and a control group.
Whereas before the training, 21 percent of the test group and 24 percent of the control group reported symptoms of depression, after the mindfulness training, 15 percent of the test group versus 27 percent of the control group had depression symptoms. The Mindfulness approach is used to view the self and world with acceptance and without judgement, to address behavioural avoidance.
Mindfulness helps to reduce this cognitive bullying and re-institute present moment focus on functional behaviours. A relaxed state of mind, in which we are conscious of our experience, including sensations, thoughts and feelings, breathing, and surroundings, all with an attitude of non-resistance, peace and acceptance.
The fascination and wonder that we may still dimly remember of early childhood, fades as we conform to the standards that we think the world expects of us. It's ok to sit on a chair, or on the floor, on the knees or cross legged with support, such as a pillow.
The ego is the constellation of thoughts, emotions, and self-images that we cling to at all costs, in an effort to sustain our personal identity and importance. Please seek the guidance of a mental health professional with experience in meditation before starting such practice. In each case, the mental activity involved is the act of paying attention; and, at all times, the instruction is to pay attention with an attitude of curiosity and compassion, even when (or, especially when) negative judgments naturally arise within the mind.
A growing number of people suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, and other psychological problems are turning to meditation, particularly mindfulness meditation, to feel better both mentally and physically. This article will first briefly discuss meditation and mindfulness, and then review the research on mindfulness meditation and depression. Although meditation is rooted in Buddhism, practicing it in no way requires an adherence to Buddhism or any adaptation of personal faith. Shift your attention to the thought or emotion and just patiently watch it without judgment. Wherever the meditation takes you, meet your experience with curiosity and open-heartedness, not judgment.
Many hospitals, medical clinics, and mental health clinics offer mindfulness-based classes. It was a revelation to me that I could observe my own thoughts dispassionately, like a curious stranger, unattached to the fearsome or mundane creatures floating in and out of my mind. In the past, I may not have known anxiety was building within me until I was washed away in panic so thick I couldn’t find my bearings. I don’t know how many depressive episodes I’ve been able to avoid thanks to these new skills. The practice has shown me that I embody a rich universe of crazy complexity where strange spheres grind and collide.

According to a recent study, such programs could be successful in leading to reduced depression-related symptoms among adolescents. The test group followed an in-class mindfulness training program which consisted of instruction in mindful breathing and body scan exercises, sharing experiences of these exercises, group reflection, inspiring stories, and education on stress, depression and self-care. Six months later, 16 percent of the test group and 31 percent of the control group showed signs of depression. Mindfulness also helps with coping with the emotional aspects of anxiety and depression, involving acceptance.
A chore that must be done, a temptation that must be indulged or new desire that must be fulfilled.
The body must become still and remain still for a period of time for the mind to start to calm down and deeper states of awareness to be experienced. So much suffering could be alleviated simply by placing mindful attention on the breath, focusing on the belly, or the area of the heart.
The breath leads us into an expanded state of Self-awareness that can feel like the death of what was known as "self." So we resist because of our attachment -- our fear of letting go -- fear of the unknown. In one of the most popular and beneficial kinds of meditation, called mindfulness meditation, you focus your attention by intentionally bringing it, in a non-judgmental manner, to what you’re experiencing in the present moment. Even during inevitable periods of doubt, self-judgment, difficulty, and depression, meditation helps you to recognize that this is not who you really are. Practicing first thing in the morning is preferable, but any time you can fit a quiet twenty minutes into your day will work. They are not a fixed part of your identity–they come and go in the mind in an ever-changing flow.
Or look for a meditation group that practices mindfulness or insight meditation in your area.
This awareness helps bring calm and clarity to the pressures of daily life and leads to a fuller acceptance of the pleasure and pain, fear and joy, sadness and happiness that life inevitably brings.
But to fall sick mindfully, to observe our experience of depression—that skulking trickster, part physical malady and part creative storyteller—allows us to learn its language.
I’ve also learned to recognize when ruminating over past failures or future fears is turning into a debilitating downward spiral. Mindfulness engenders faith in the perfection of the moment, and allows each new experience to be felt fully, without the reactive, self-critical, controlling mind. Let the chest rise last, filling up from the belly first, like a vessel filling with water. They breathe out with great force, through pursed lips, as if getting ready to lift a heavy weight. Learning to better focus your attention on what you’re experiencing in the present moment allows you to live more fully in the moment. 5 Natural Antidepressant Strategies. Here’s what to do: Find a comfortable position sitting on cushion on the floor or in a chair. You may also want to seek out a cognitive therapist who specializes in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.
And some people with depression who begin a meditation practice will find that it is not helpful. Perhaps more practically, it’s also taught me that sometimes a story is just a “story” to be labeled and discarded; a feeling can just be a “sensation” to be recognized and allowed to retreat again. Any mindfulness meditation technique will require some discipline and perseverance to get the results. This fear is usually quite unconscious, yet it affects everything we do and feel, keeping us imprisoned by the invisible chains of the mind. Discover safe and totally natural strategies to help your brain recover your body's natural good-mood chemistry in our report 5 Ways to Solve the Depression Dilemma.
Look online and in the Natural Health Advisory Doctor and Practitioner Directory for a provider near you. Give meditation a try for a couple of months and feel the difference it can make in your life.
To be able to label them before the mind gets locked into obsession—to be able to feel the almost imperceptible onset of jitters and know a stronger pulse of anxiety isn’t far behind—is an important skill.
Happiness then is nothing more than a concept defined by whatever beliefs we hold about success or failure.
Let them arise and dissolve, like clouds drifting across a blue sky, noting what comes with passive curiosity, and return to the breath. But mindfulness meditation may be very helpful for some people with depression and I hope this article encourages some people to try it. But just beneath the surface of boredom is agitation, restlessness, sadness, emptiness, fear -- and joy. Maybe we read novels, or self-help books, and tell ourselves that wea€™re gaining wisdom, though we never seem to find the satisfaction wea€™re looking for. Wea€™re afraid now to open ourselves up and look within, for fear that what has been stuffed down will overwhelm us, even drive us crazy.

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