We live in interesting times. On the exterior, we live in a vastly advanced society with impressive social structure and the ability to innovate. On the exterior, we have hundreds of differing medicines and procedures to help us deal with a myriad of physical ailments that could affect us. As they say, beauty is only skin deep.
With the recent attention placed on depression with the untimely passing of Robin Williams, we are forced to begin looking more into our interior.
Depression is a formidable opponent for millions. If left unchecked, depression can also lead to stress, illness, feelings of hopelessness, and feeling like there is no way out. Brain chemistry is also effected by depression.
From a neurological standpoint, most effected by depression show reduced alpha activity in the frontal lobes. Alpha brainwaves are one of the most common brainwave patterns among those who meditate. This presents an opportunity to use the advancements of our modern society to help explain how you can use meditation to being you out of a depressive state.
It should be understood that meditation, although simple, will not offer relief as quickly as some modern medicines. If you are feeling depressed you should first consult your doctor. That being said, many medical professionals are now beginning to see more scientific proof that meditation can help with depression. Because of the increase of proof backed by research in neuroscience and many published articles, it is hard for even the most trained of doctors to dismiss its benefits.
Knowing that meditation causes an increase in alpha brainwave activity and that those with depression show reduced alpha wave activity in the frontal lobes helps many to place belief in their meditative practice. Learning that meditation is a spiritual practice backed by scientific and medical research can help reduce our inner skeptic. Believing that meditation will help reduce your depression is the first and most important principle of practice. Through your belief in its methods and faith in its practice, many argue that intention alone can promote healing.
In order to use meditation to bring you out of a depressive state, the first thing you must do is believe meditation will work. This trust in its purpose must come from your heart. This is a very important step. You need not know everything there is to know about it just yet, but you need to trust that it can and will work for you.
Once you have the desire to improve your mental health and mood with the aid of meditation, you need to simply start practicing. Find a time of day you can commit to for daily meditation that will be easy to adhere to and will not cause stress. If you are stressed out finding time to meditate or a place you will not be disturbed, this can make it more difficult to enter meditation.
Because the alpha brainwave state is the goal and alpha is a state of relaxation, it is important that you be relaxed. Have fun with it, meditation is intended to be a pleasurable and relaxing practice. Don’t be afraid to jump in head first and have fun with it. Do not worry if at first you find it hard to clear your mind and relax. If you remember learning to ride a bike, you probably realize not all things are perfected on the first try. The results will come.
While in meditation, visualizing is also an important tool. Close your eyes and relax while trying to picture what you perceive to be pleasurable. We all like different things. Not everyone wants to picture themselves on a beach. While visualizing, it is important to make it personal. What place would you love to visit? What activity might you enjoy doing? Have fun with your visualizations and be playful in their construction. In your mind, you have the ability to be at ease.
You can also mix sitting meditation with relaxation or meditation music to achieve good results. There are hundreds of options available when selecting music for meditation. This music does not always have to be soothing new age music. For starters, think about music you love that always makes you feel good or relaxed. Using meditation to bring you out of a depressive state is a very personal undertaking. Simply go with your intuition. Do whatever feels right and feels good for you. There are thousands of different types of meditation, all with volumes of research and resources.
From the formless meditation called Shikantaza to the more involved zen or mudra meditations, it is very possible to find a practice right for you. The most important thing is to start meditating with the intent of using meditation to bring you out of a depressing state. Believe in your goal and in your purpose. The type of meditation and the details of your perfect practice will then begin to unfold for you with less effort.
You may even find that solutions will come to you. Look for people, places, and circumstances that present an opportunity for you to learn meditation or a related practice. Meditation mixed with visualization, soothing music, and the belief in oneself can have a tremendous impact on depression.
Other forms of moving meditation such as Tai Chi, Yoga, or Qi Gong can greatly complement sitting meditation. These practices focus on a calm mind, relaxing the breath, fluid movements, good posture. These practices also teach how to discover and control the theorized life force of the human body. In most practices, this life force is called Chi. The confidence gained from learning how to control ones vital life energy and the grace that can come with these practices can help many individuals overcome depression by anchoring accomplishment.
Meditation also has no bad side effects or risks other than the possibility of falling asleep. In today’s fast paced world, most do not get enough sleep. I believe we could all use a little more rest and relaxation each week.