Living our best life requires an investment in our health. It requires a lifelong commitment to practices that keep the mind and body nourished and restored for the increasing demands of this world.
The essence of meditation is singular – to cultivate mindful awareness. It is true that anyone who meditates regularly receives profound benefits on all of these levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
New research also shows that mindfulness meditation restores the brain. A landmark study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital found that as little as eight weeks of meditation not only helped people feel calmer but also produced changes in various areas of the brain, including growth in the areas associated with memory, empathy, sense of self and stress regulation.
Mindfulness practice allows you to be more intentionally aware of the present moment, which gives you space to pause before reacting automatically to others. Instead of becoming distressed about rejection or criticism, you are able to step back to understand your own automatic reactions. Awareness gives you more choice in how to respond, instead of becoming swept up in escalating negative emotions.
Meditation is not easy, and if it was, it would not be able to deliver to you the peace and well-being that it does once you get the hang of it. Like all worthy endeavors, it takes practice, patience and even some hard work in order to benefit from its invaluable insights.
One core belief of Buddhism teaches that both happiness and sadness is the responsibility of each individual, which also means that we all have the complete control to change our lives. Meditation is one the the oldest practices in history and has been used for centuries to heal the human spirit, calm the mind and even cure and aid physical paid and emotional suffering.
* Next Week – Getting started with mindfulness and letting go of your depression*
The wisdom of mindfulness and Depression
When looking at depression we must look to our minds first: our mind is the creator of happiness and the creator of sadness.
There are many aspects of the mind but two stand out. The first is the ordinary mind: this aspect of the mind that thinks, plots, desires, manipulates, that flares up in anger, that creates and indulges in waves of negative emotions and thoughts, that has to go on and on asserting, validating and confirming its ‘existence’ by fragmenting, conceptualizing and solidifying experiences. This aspect of mind continually projects outwards.
And then there is the nature of mind: this aspect of the mind is hidden deep within our own mind. Enveloped and obscured by the mental scurry of our thoughts and emotions. It is free of grasping, asserting, validating and confirming. It is the part of mind that is at peace. When we look inwards we will see that the mind can free you from your negative emotions and thoughts. Looking inwards will create a complete shift in our attitude towards our life and the world we live in.
We are so addicted to looking outside ourselves that we have lost access to our inner being. This aspect of ourselves that has the potential to recognize peace and find freedom from our chaos. Mindfulness practice will slowly teach you to settle down, learn how to work with your mind and guide you towards peace. You will be able to change your mind from a depressed state to a calm state.
Daily mindfulness practice is an uncovering process – a way of meeting ourselves personally. Mindfulness allows you to discover that potential is one of the fundamental characteristics within us and we can gain a deeper sense of understanding ourselves and creating peace of mind. Your mind becomes the most powerful tool you have!
Getting started with mindfulness and letting go of your depression
Recognizing that you can train your mind to calm down begins the process of overcoming your depressed state of mind. In order to gain wisdom in overcoming your sadness or depression it is important to recognize how valuable your life is! Every human life is a gift and recognizing this begins a valuable process to gaining peace of mind and ultimately happiness!
Depression can be worked on in mindfulness meditation. Learning to become mindful is a big step. Mindfulness gives you better perspective of what is happening in the present moment. You want to begin your process of understanding by noticing what triggers your sadness and/or depression? This includes looking back over what might have been the cause and condition. By understanding the ongoing cause, you will be able to remove the cause. Frustration, dissatisfaction and fear can be a cause and they can keep the mind depressed and searching endlessly.
Practicing mindfulness allows you to recognize the moment your sadness or depression starts to arise. The moment you ‘catch yourself in the act’ of sadness, start to train your mind to let this sad thought go. Learn to breathe through your sadness or negative thought. Breathing consciously with the whole body focused on the ongoing rhythm of breath in and out, will calm the body and in turn will calm the mind. The more attention given to your breathing, the less attention is available to fuel your sadness or depression.
This sounds good in theory but how can this practice really change your depression? Slowly the wisdom of calming your mind guides you and you start to see how your mind can change from a depressed state to a calm state. You start to see how identifying your harmful patterns of thought, training your mind to calm down, will bring a positive state of mind.
Next week – The wisdom of mindfulness and Depression
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