Fighting Depression with Mindfulness and Meditation

Meditation is a tradition that has been practiced all over the world for centuries.  Meditation existed long before most of the current religious practices and has been included in many different kinds of ceremonies and practices for a very long time.  The idea behind mindfulness meditation is to look at your thoughts as they come and go without judgment and without directing them.  This is a practice in living in the present and only the present.  For people who suffer from depression, this is helpful because it forces you to ignore the past and ignore the future.  This is good for people with depression because the past and the future are causes for much of the difficulty experienced during depression.

How Mindfulness Combats Depression

Depression can make you hyper sensitive to your own thoughts.  You could be dwelling on past events such as a time when you did something incorrectly, said the wrong thing at the wrong time, or embarrassed yourself or others in some way.  You could also be worrying about the future such as the potential for doing something incorrectly, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, or embarrassing yourself or others.  Mindfulness meditation encourages you to leave the past and the future alone and focus on the present.  You are meant to close your mind to anything other than the thoughts that come and go in that instant without regard for where they will lead other than to be curious about what thought may come next.  As your thoughts come and go, if a thought comes along that you particularly like, you can choose to hold it for a few moments or to let it go with the rest.

Two Types of Mindfulness Meditation

There are two basic methods of mindfulness meditation – Quiet Mindfulness Meditation and Active Mindfulness Meditation.

Quiet Mindfulness Meditation

With Quiet Mindfulness Meditation, you will learn to disengage from unhealthy thought processes and learn to focus on the present in a healthy and more productive way.  To start, you should find a comfortable position in which to sit or lay down.  Either is acceptable as long as you can be relatively still for a little while in that position.  Take some time away from distractions such as your cell phone or your noisy neighbors.  Cultivate some quietness.  Most people find it useful to keep their eyes closed so that they are not distracted by visual stimulation.  Focus on your breathing.  Notice the feel of the surface beneath your body or the sound of the air around you.  Let your mind keep thinking about your breath.  When your mind begins to wander, slowly bring it back to your breathing.  The process of the mind starting to wander and then bringing it back into focus is very valuable.  It allows you to notice that you have stepped away from your goal and work toward bringing yourself back.  It is meant to be a non-judgmental training tool.  Quiet Mindfulness Meditation is best practiced for approximately ten to twenty minutes per day.

Active Mindfulness Meditation

Active Mindfulness Meditation is much more active as the name indicates.  It is meant to connect your actions with specific mindful thoughts.  You will learn to take your normal, everyday activities and infuse them with your mindful mental awareness.  For example, if you go for a walk in the evening.  Many people participate in some kind of exercise because it is good for the body and helps maintain your healthfulness overall.  When you go for a walk, you probably think about the things that happened during the day or the things that need to be taken care of tomorrow.  The time is mostly used for planning, preparation, and rehashing.  But you could be using this time for Active Mindfulness Meditation.  As you walk, focus on the movement of your feet, the ground underneath you, and the sounds of cars or animals or the air.  You can start to focus on how, as you walk, you are walking toward a happy and healthy life and walking away from negative thoughts and feelings.  This is translatable to any of the mundane every day activities that you undertake.

 

Meditation is meant to help you live in the present and remove negative thought patterns that are so harmful to people who suffer from depression.  Practicing either of the two techniques discussed above can help a depression sufferer fight and work toward regaining a normal life.