An ancient practice followed for thousands of years, meditation has picked up steam in recent years as one of the most effective techniques of relaxation and stress relief and to calm the mind. Benefits of the practice include; it can relax your mind from depression, reduce stress, enhance focus, and boost productivity among umpteen others. Meditation is also believed to be one of the most popular techniques to eradicate mental health conditions like anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and depression as it helps control negative thoughts and difficult emotions, rewiring the brain to think right.
As unfortunate as it is, depression is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders that plague many lives. It can show up in a variety of ways, following symptoms such as a generally low mood, feelings of anger, sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness, depressive episodes during certain times of the year, loss of interest or pleasure in most normal activities, reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain, anxiety, agitation or restlessness, trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things, and much more.
It can affect anyone and everyone, from children and teens to older adults and elderly people. Treatment is essential to feel better, especially seeing a therapist, seeking help with medication, and making lifestyle changes that relieve symptoms. Adding meditation to your treatment can also make a vast difference.
How does meditation help to relax your mind from depression?
While meditation isn’t a full treatment for depression, it’s a supportive technique that can help alleviate the symptoms of this mental health disorder. Essentially, meditation is a practice to relax your mind to be more aware of the present instead of being lost in difficult thoughts and feelings and to relax your mind. This leads to gaining new perspective and insight, letting go of judgment, and not getting too caught up in the mind making symptoms of depression much more manageable.
Since stress and anxiety are major triggers of depression, meditation can be employed to fight these feelings, training the brain to achieve sustained focus, and return to the present state of being when negative thoughts take over. Studies have also shown that meditation can change certain regions in the brain that are specifically linked with depression. The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), the place where you process information about yourself, becomes hyperactive in depressed people leading to worrying about the future and pondering over the past. For those who feel stressed about life, the mPFC runs in overdrive.
Another part of the brain that gets triggered during depression is the amygdala, or “fear center.” This part controls our fight-or-flight response, which pushes adrenal glands to release the stress hormone cortisol in response to fear or perceived danger. During depression, the mPFC gets triggered due to stress and anxiety leading the fear center to respond in a rise in cortisol levels to a perceived danger that’s in your head. Meditating can help combat these triggers and bring your levels of stress and anxiety down and relax your mind.
What are the benefits of meditation for depression?
The benefits of meditation extend further to just becoming attuned with your inner world. It has a vastly positive influence on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Here’s how:
1. Changes your response to negative thinking
Depression can lead to some seriously dark thoughts. Feelings of hopelessness, anger, or worthlessness could take over, making you feel down in the drains. Meditation counters this thought pattern by increasing awareness of thoughts and experiences and calms the mind. It cuts down your self-criticism, and self-judgment and allows you to let these feelings and thoughts pass to relax your mind. No, you don’t pretend to not have such thoughts or not feel such feelings, but you acknowledge them in a healthy manner, provide them a safe space in your mind to exist, and let them go without going into a hole of overthinking.
2. Learn how to manage depression more effectively
Awareness of the present moment can equip you to notice the oncoming of a depressive episode. Since meditation trains you to pay attention to your thoughts and emotions, you can catch yourself when you go into a negative dark hole and train yourself to reset these thought patterns. You can also notice increased irritability, fatigue, or less interest in things that you like as a sign of a depressive episode and consciously work towards self-care activities that make you feel better.
How can you meditate to relax your mind?
For someone who hasn’t tried the practice before, meditation can feel daunting. But rest assured that it isn’t something that requires a lot of in-depth training. It’s pretty straightforward and easy to do.
Start by getting comfortable:
- Find a spot for yourself that you feel most comfortable in.
- This could be a corner in your home, your bed, your balcony, anything.
- Sit down and relax your mind and body.
- Close your eyes to relax your mind.
Begin with breathwork:
Take a few slow deep breaths through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Pay attention to how your breath feels as you breathe deep and breathe out. Listen to the sound of your breath to ground yourself.
Don’t worry if your thoughts wander, it’s extremely normal. Just notice when they do and redirect your focus to your breathing.
Move from breath to body:
Eventually, as you grow more relaxed, move your attention from your breath to various parts of your body to perform a body scan. Start it wherever you like, from your heart to your chest, to your face. Some prefer to start with their feet and work their way upwards while some start with their hands or their head.
As you breathe in and out, notice how your body feels. Notice the sensations like aches and pains, tensed muscles, and raised heartbeat. Imagine air coursing through your body, releasing the tensed muscles and stress loosening its grip. Once you’ve finished scanning your body, return your focus to your breath for as long as you’d like to continue.
Try this healing meditation by world-renowned spiritual guide BK Shivani to start your meditation journey.
If you’d like to learn more about meditation, you can try the ThinkRight.Me app to find masters that guide you seamlessly through the process.
Read more: Quick & Easy Meditations For Beginners