In today’s busy and stressful world, more and more people are suffering from depression. While depression can vary in symptoms and severity, depression can leave you feeling “blue”, unable to pursue your normal routine and lifestyle, and find that your energy levels are decreasing, then you may have depression. Of course, if this is the case, we do advise you to seek medical help. However, meditation has been proven to aid the symptoms of depression, which this post shall explain.
How Can Meditation Combat the Effects of Depression
Several scientific studies support the theory that meditative practice helps alleviate symptoms of depression. This is because major triggers of depression are increased levels of stress and anxiety, which meditation has been proven to alter the reaction to these feelings. Dr. John W. Denninger says that “Meditation trains the brain to achieve sustained focus, and to return to that focus when negative thinking, emotions, and physical sensations intrude — which happens a lot when you feel stressed and anxious.”
Another region that triggers depression is the amygdala. This area is commonly known as the area that triggers the “flight or fight” response in our bodies. This area of the brain can trigger our cortisol levels to rise when it perceives danger – which can, in turn, cause depression symptoms to start if these levels are continually high. Meditation can help break the connection between these areas in our brain, which in turn can positively affect our stress levels and cause them to fall.
So, How Do I Meditate with Depression?
Ultimately, the main aim of meditation isn’t to push aside or block negative thoughts. It’s to recognize and acknowledge these emotions while understanding that you don’t have to react to them. Instead of being reactive to situations or scenarios, learn that you are in control of every thought, feeling, and moment within your own life. You can do this through key meditative exercises, like breathwork, movement and flow, and inner focus.
Meditation Exercises That May Help With Depression
Several meditation exercises can help with depression, as shown on Health.Com. Let’s look at three examples:
Loving Kindness Meditation
Loving-kindness meditation focuses on positive and loving thoughts both to yourself and others around you. Studies have shown that this method of meditation leads to a more positive outlook, greater compassion, and fewer negative thoughts. It also might help inhibit self-criticism and negative thoughts.
This is one of the most popular, oldest, and well-known methods of meditation. It involves meditating while focusing on the moment-to-moment awareness of what is happening in that present moment. You use your breath to create a calming anchor, which in turn helps you focus while alleviating stress and anxiety. In fact, the Society for Integrative Oncology recommends mindfulness meditation for alleviating depression and anxiety.
Breath Awareness Meditation
Breath awareness is one of the fundamental components of successful meditation. This type of meditation specifically focuses on breathwork and uses it to ground, center, and calm the mind. Breath awareness meditation can increase mood and lower emotional reactivity. It can also take place anywhere, in a crowded space, or whenever you can steal a moment to focus.
Body Scan Meditation
This type of meditation involves focusing on different parts of your body at separate times. Try breathing slowly and intentionally while shifting intention to different parts of your body as you process through the meditative process. This type of meditation has been linked to fewer depressive relapses while also aiding those who suffer from bipolar disorder.
Meditation has many links to aiding the symptoms and severity of depression. While some meditation types might be more powerful in aiding these symptoms, it’s ultimately about finding the right way of meditation for you and your own needs, lifestyle, and purpose.