How meditation helps me live with depression

Three years ago, I came to the realisation that I needed to seek out help for my mental health. I was angry, sad and feeling very intense low moments that resulted in me wanting to harm myself.

Help though would cost hundreds of pounds, which wasn’t affordable.

Ever felt like this? You know you need help and you want to get help but help also has a high price tag attached to it?

This led me to seeking meditation as a form of self-remedy to my depressive episodes. Meditation is not just about Buddhist monks chanting a mantra and trying to end the cycle of dukkha (suffering). It is about mindfulness.

As I came to learn, meditation was actually about being aware of the present. It was about coming to terms with your feelings and not wishing them away but learning to live alongside them and not letting them rule your mental space.

I had experience with meditation as I had travelled to India a couple of years before and had the opportunity of meeting some monks who practiced guided meditation. However, I remember feeling uncomfortable with the sitting position and unable  to focus on my breathing. It is good to find what works for you, whether this is with a teacher or meditating on the floor of your room.

Close your eyes. It is easy to get distracted when we have our eyes open. Closing your eyes and learning to focus not on physical material things but on the movement of your body is a positive start.

Breathe in and out. Take deep breaths in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Be aware of the passing in and out of your breath. Focus on this and the way it makes you feel.

Thoughts. There will be distracting thoughts, especially if this is your first time. Bring yourself back to the present, back to your breathing. Thoughts do not define us no matter what we are feeling in the present moment. They are just thoughts and we must differentiate what is truth from what is just another depressive episode.

Body + Mind. Learning about body and mind awareness is also useful. Focus on any physical sensations felt in the moment. This technique involves mentally scanning your body and making it more attuned to what is being experienced with the passing of each breath.

Sounds. There will be distracting sounds around you, don’t get lost in them. Remember that you should not focus on them. It is more about being in tune with your body and realizing that your thoughts do not define who you are.

Time. Meditation is like any new thing you pick up. It requires practice and patience. Rather than focus on how long you are meditating for, choose to focus on how well you are. It can be as little as 3-5 minutes each day.

Falling asleep. It is easy to drift off while meditating especially for beginners. If this happens, don’t worry, not everyone can be used to quiet spaces for stretches of time.  Once you notice yourself falling asleep, just focus back on your breathing. Also consider meditating for a shorter period of time or at another time of the day.

Repeat. It is good to establish a daily routine. The more you meditate, the easier it gets with each session. Choose a time of the day and just stick to that each morning or evening. Whenever you feel another depressive episode, regardless of where you are, you can tune into the movement of your breath.

I know to an extent that depression will always be a part of me, it lives in me. However, meditation has helped me claim my power back and tackle it. I would love to know what you do for your mental health, let me know in the comments below.

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