Depression is a psychological ailment which can result in serious consequences if not treated properly. Depression causes a person to withdraw from social activities. They will continue to feel acutely sad and frustrated which completely destroys any positive outlook. That person’s productivity typically spirals down to zero and many depressed people lose their job. However, antidepressants are usually prescribed to overcome depression. But, medication has side effects and sometimes patients get back into full blown depression because they choose to stop taking their medications.
Mindfulness and Living in the Present Moment
Your mind oscillates between the past and the future. This is the major cause for stress and anxiety. It also leads to depression. You think of the past failures and then immediately project them into the future. Your mind goes back and forth from the past (which is the reality) to the future which is a construct of your mind. Mindfulness teaches you to remain in the present moment. Living in the present relieves you from depressing thoughts, which are manifestations of your past. You must enjoy what is happening here and now. Imagine that you are eating an apple. Usually, we are distracted and unaware of the texture, smell, color and taste of an apple, even though we are eating one. When you remain in the present you enjoy and delight in all your senses. Look at the apple. What is its color? Apples come in different beautiful colors. Apples have English green to deep velvet red color. Have you ever smelled an apple? Feel the subtle smell enter your nostrils. Enjoy the moment. How does the apple taste? Take a bite and savor the texture, feel and graininess inundate your mouth. Take your time. Let your senses soak in the experience. You will enjoy deep relaxation and sometimes a sense of euphoria will overcome you. Extend the experience of mindful presence to other activities in your life.
Pre-depressant people or those likely to fall into depression can benefit greatly from practicing Mindful presence. You must treat the past as something over which you have no control and what is going to happen in future as mere conjecture. You should not extrapolate the past and project it into the future. Mindfulness teaches you avoid the pitfalls of your memory and opinions.
Removing negative and depressing thoughts using Mindfulness
Your mind is always occupied – with good and bad thoughts, noble and evil thoughts, with positive and negative thoughts. This is normal. It’s when the balance between the good and bad is lost, that your behavior and attitude towards life becomes dangerous. Depression is essentially a negative state of mind. You feel sad and wretched when you are overwhelmed by negativity. Mindfulness techniques help you to release this negativity and rescue you from depression.
How to practice Mindfulness to combat depression
Probably, combat is too strong a word to be used in the context of mindfulness, but depression itself has to be countered with a strong antidote.
You must sit on a hard surface, like floor or chair, holding your body and back erect. You can take the support of a wall or chair to keep your back straight. Have your hands folded in front of you or in any comfortable position. Your body must be relaxed.
Take a deep breath in and exhale slowly. Feel your body getting energized when you inhale. Let your body relax totally with each exhalation. Feel the coolness of air in your nostrils when you breathe in and the warmth of air when you breathe out. Why does the air feel warm when you breathe out? This is because of the life force within you. Breath is life and breathing is a continuous life process. Continue breathing a few times till your mind and body, both are relaxed. People with depression can benefit greatly with simple mindful breathing exercises.
You will be able to calm your senses by focusing on your breath. Do not force your breath. This is important. You must breathe normally while you observe your breath going in and coming out. Some people may go into deeply meditative state when you are devoid of thoughts. This thoughtlessness is a goal which can be achieved after some months of mindfulness breathing practice. This calms your nerves and makes you more resilient to face the world. The feeling of depression slowly vanishes when you experience this state of tranquility. You must extend this practice of mindfulness breathing whenever you start getting feeling depressive thoughts. All negative thoughts will vanish and you feel more relaxed.
Depression is caused due to an agitated mind. The solution therefore lies in calming your mind and fortifying it against negative thoughts. Mindfulness, by living in the moment and using breathing techniques, can be beneficial to people suffering from depression. These mindfulness practices must be continued for a few months before the results can be observed. Mindfulness is not for people looking for overnight success. Please keep in mind that Mindfulness is not a cure for depression, but it can help heal and reduce the effects depression causes.
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