Meditation has been in practice since ancient times and used to cure several health conditions. You cannot gain results from meditation overnight but with regular practice, one can see significant improvement in their health condition. By learning how to control your thoughts and energy flow, you can heal your body faster. Let us discuss how meditation plays a key role in bringing you out of depression.
Role of Mediation in Combating Depression
You can find several meditation techniques online that can help you fight depression and anxiety. But, practicing it in the right way is essential to gain benefits faster. Most research stories suggest that meditation therapy may be beneficial for patients with clinical depression disorders, including those going through a major depressive episode.
For example, a survey was run on Brazilian students and it was found that after performing meditation for six weeks, the percentage of depression and anxiety symptoms was way less in students. In fact, various studies have also stated that meditation is good for clinical settings and treating depression. It is known to change brain physiology which aids in treating several illnesses.
But remember that starting a meditation practice does not imply giving up on any medications or other treatments you may be receiving for depression.
Let’s discuss the different types of meditation practices you can try for depression and anxiety.
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness Meditation is one of the most powerful and popular practices that helps you keep control of your thoughts. With regular mindfulness meditation, you can keep yourself calm and get rid of negativity. This therapy helps you focus on the current day and acknowledge your thoughts and feelings.
In fact, mindfulness is the root of many other forms of meditation, and it may have the most supporting scientific data. Research has indicated that practicing mindfulness meditation can help lower stress, anxiety, and depression.
All you need to do is keep your focus on your breathing and attune to the sensation of air as you breathe in and out. As air enters and exits your nostrils, feel your stomach rise and fall. Observe the difference in temperature between the inhaled and exhaled breaths. Witness your thoughts and accept them as they cross your mind during the practice. Try to focus on your breath and the present situation in this practice.
2. Loving-Kindness Meditation
The goal of this type of meditation is to cultivate a loving and compassionate attitude toward both yourself and other people. This kind of meditation has been linked to decreased depression, a more upbeat attitude, fewer negative emotions, and increased compassion, according to several studies.
Additionally, as self-criticism is the root cause of many mental health conditions, this meditation type may help reduce it. Reductions in self-criticism were found in one study to persist for at least three months following the conclusion of the actual meditation sessions.
Compassion meditation, a related style of meditation, emphasizes unconditional compassion and has also been connected to happier moods and fewer negative emotions.
All you have to do is make some time for yourself, close your eyes, let your muscles relax, and take deep breaths. Picture yourself in total emotional and physical well-being as well as inner serenity. Imagine being completely in love with yourself, appreciating everything about you, and realizing that you are perfect just the way you are. Imagine that you are breathing out tension and breathing in feelings of love as you concentrate on this state of inner peace.
Regular practitioners of loving-kindness meditation can improve their ability to forgive, connect with others, accept themselves, and a host of other skills.
3. Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy
This variation of mindfulness meditation combines cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, with meditation. One of the most popular types of therapy for depression (as well as other mental health issues) is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on altering negative thought and behavior patterns.
MBCT was initially created to help individuals with recurrent depression avoid relapses; however, additional research has indicated that it may also benefit those who are actively depressed.
A 2018 study of a similar program called behavioral activation with mindfulness (BAM), which combines mindfulness training with behavioral therapy, discovered that it lessened depressive symptoms like mood swings, changes in appetite, and sleep patterns.
Basically, this method assists people in reviewing their ideas without getting bogged down in hypothetical or potential future events. MBCT promotes mental clarity and gives you the skills you need to more readily let go of unfavorable ideas rather than allowing them to reinforce your depression.
The efficacy of MBCT can be attributed to the integration of mindfulness and cognitive therapy. While cognitive therapy teaches you to stop automatic thought patterns and process emotions in a healthy way, mindfulness helps you notice and recognize your feelings.
4. Breath Awareness Meditation
A basic element of many different types of meditation, especially mindfulness meditation, is awareness of your breath. Focusing on breathing exercises for as little as fifteen minutes a day can improve mood and reduce emotional reactivity. Furthermore, you don’t need to schedule a specific period of time to focus on your breathing: Many people find methods to bring their awareness of their breath into their daily lives. You can perform it while lying down, sitting, or standing, and with or without your eyes open.
5. Transcendental Meditation
A mantra is silently repeated for fifteen to twenty minutes (or more) in a quiet, dimly lit room without any music or distractions as part of transcendental meditation. Make sure you turn off or put on silent before you begin, and take precautions to ensure that neither pets nor family members will disturb you while you meditate. For added comfort, you can burn incense or light candles in your meditation area.
Many people across the globe practice Transcendental Meditation to combat depression and anxiety. It is even helpful in improving your sleep quality, pain management, focus, and self-esteem, and lessening the severity of existing health problems.
6. Walking Meditation
Walking is beneficial to your physical and emotional well-being. Still, a strolling meditation might elevate you to a new plane.
In one study, aerobic walking combined with three times a week of Buddhist meditation for a 12-week period not only decreased depression but also enhanced flexibility and balance in a small group of older adults. In other studies, younger adults’ anxiety was also reduced by 10 minutes a day of meditation either before or after walking.
If you don’t want to try the practice of sitting and meditating, try the walking meditation as it helps to wake us up. Movement meditation offers further insights when practiced in conjunction with sitting meditation.
7. Body Scan Meditation
Selecting various body parts to focus on in order is known as body scan meditation. You can practice this in various postures, including sitting and lying down, with your eyes open or closed, just like you would with breathing awareness. Concentrating on deep breathing in and out is as important as focusing on various body parts.
It appears that body scanning is associated with less intense reactions to stress and improved observation of thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
In a study examining body scan meditation and other mindfulness practices, bipolar individuals who engaged in formal practice even once a week experienced a reduction in depressive relapses.
Yoga appears to help with anxiety and depression by combining physical postures with breathing exercises and meditation. Chanting is a part of Kundalini yoga, which has been shown in studies to be beneficial in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder. Kundalini yoga contains methods for controlling fear, letting go of anger, and substituting constructive thoughts for negative ones.
Another study discovered that yoga and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) improved sleep and quality of life while reducing panic, anxiety, and depression in patients with generalized anxiety disorder. Consult your physician prior to beginning yoga. As opposed to meditation, which is usually risk-free, yoga occasionally leads to injuries. Make sure the person teaching you yoga is qualified.
9. Repetitive Activity
While cleaning up may not be a formal form of meditation, engaging in repetitive tasks, such as scrubbing pots and pans, with awareness can help you achieve a more relaxed state of mind.
This theory is supported by at least one study, which found that “mindful dishwashers” exhibited greater mindfulness and lower levels of anxiety compared to those who did not wash up mindfully.
Many find that picturing positive things instead of negative ones helps them feel calmer. You can conduct guided imagery meditation or visualization under the guidance of another person, or you can use one of the many recordings that are available online to guide your session.
You can also use imagery to alter your memory of unpleasant experiences. Rescripting, or substituting happy endings for unpleasant memories, has been shown in at least one study to improve self-esteem and quality of life. The participants were instructed to find positive phrases and words to replace negative ones, imagine their moods as symbols or creatures and then change them into something more positive, and revise past events in their minds.
To focus the mind, chants or the periodic chimes of a gong are used in many meditation traditions.
Chanting and yoga are examples of “active-type meditative practices” that have been shown in one study to activate brain regions related to mood regulation and emotional control.
Though it has been practiced for centuries, Western medicine is only now beginning to recognize and comprehend the advantages of meditation as a therapeutic tool. The expanded consciousness that comes from meditation, in theory, may have profound effects on individuals suffering from anxiety and depression.
Recall that starting a meditation practice does not imply giving up on any medications or other treatments you may be receiving for depression.
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