Meditation as Adjunctive Therapy in Depression
"Meditation and CBT help us see how our own thoughts create distress -
we can begin to see the negative messages we send ourselves and the
mental traps we get caught in. Mindfulness helps us see our thoughts,
feelings and bodily sensations without engaging them. It allows us to
‘be’ with our experience, without judgment. .. we get out of the cycle of trying to "fix" ourselves or "figure out" the problem that is us.”
Ms. Stone explained that the meditator sees the thought but does not identify with it. When we are in cycles of negative thinking, our brain releases a cascade of chemicals affect every area of function in our mind and body. These cycles activate stress hormones, but with meditation we can begin to reverse this negative cycle and learn to calm the mind, sending new messages for our whole being. That’s how meditation aids recovery from depression. Ms. Stone recommends this book - Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness, available with CD from Powells.com and other locations. It gathers the wisdom of four internationally recognized experts in these alternative therapies – Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, John Teasdale PhD, Zindel Seagal PhD and Mark Williams, PhD.
The techniques described help the person face what is bothering them at the core of their being without judgment. Facing these raw truths about ourselves can be quite painful and that is where psychotherapy is so helpful for support.
“Mindfulness meditation is a way of looking at the patterns of body, emotion, thought and behavior and see how they all interact to create experience and perception, “says Ms. Stone. "We learn to stop running from what is bothering us, and to begin to look directly at the habits of thought and reaction that create feelings of sadness, fear or anger that get locked into our mind-body response. One outcome of this non-judgmental awareness is that the person can face what is bothering them at the core of their being without judgment.
Facing these raw truths about ourselves can be quite painful and that
is where psychotherapy is so helpful for support and insight. Undertaking meditation when in an acute depression is not recommended- it’s better to star t when a person begins to feel less depressed.
Other complementary approaches are helpful in the treatment and healing of depression are yoga, breathing techniques and, diet and exercise. Each person needs what works best! Mindfulness mediation has extensive research to back it up. All of these approaches help us connect with ourselves in the present moment and realize we can have some control over our responses. With depression we are in a contracted pattern - these techniques help us unlock that pattern and open up to our self. They create a sense of intimacy with our self - which is healing."