Meditation for Depression & Anxiety

Meditation for Depression & Anxiety

Meditation has had a roller coaster of history here in the West, not Colorado specifically but Western civilization as a whole.

Ups and downs in popularity, conflation with the hippie and drug movement in the 60s and 70s, countless books, YouTube videos, and neuroscience studies have all contributed to its peaks and valleys.

But what is the truth about meditation, and what is meditation for depression and anxiety?

This blog will break down what meditation is, what it is not, and how it can be used for depression and anxiety.

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Myths & Facts

Before jumping right into meditation for depression and anxiety we need to take a look at what meditation is in itself.

Myth: The goal of meditation is to empty your mind.

If you've heard of meditation or seen any kung-fu movies, you've probably heard someone say you have to "empty your mind."

After about 2 seconds of trying to do that you'll most likely get frustrated and quit.

That's because it's impossible to empty your mind completely.

Fact: The goal of meditation is to practice re-focusing.

The latest neuroscience proves that the practice of mindful meditation is more accurately a practice of refocusing. 

The goal is to bring your attention back to a specific focus (on your breathing, a certain object, or a spot on the floor or wall) after your mind wanders. 

In fact, the more times you are able to refocus after your mind wanders the more neuroplastic your brain becomes; the more neuroplastic you are the younger, healthier, and stronger your brain is.

So, why use meditation for depression and anxiety?

What Meditation Does

It's not a far cry to call meditation a cure-all for mental health, as well as many physical health ailments- below, are just a handful of the proven benefits of meditation: 

1) Reduces inflammation

2) Reduces stress

3) Increases optimism and self-perception

4) Increases problem-solving skills

5) Lengthens attention span

6) Improves memory 

7) Increases compassion

8) Improves sleep

So, how do these benefits tie into depression and anxiety?

Inflammation, stress, pessimistic thinking, poor self-perception, limited problem-solving ability, short attention span, lack of compassion, and poor sleep are major contributors to both depression and anxiety.

Depression and anxiety hijack the mind into obsessing over the past or future which completely removes you from the present. 

Mindfulness meditation is the refocusing of your attention away from those ends of the time spectrum and onto the present moment.

The repeated process of daily practice increases neuroplasticity which then allows for greater problem-solving skills, clearer thinking, and better planning on top of lowering stress, improving compassion, and altering self-perception.

How to Start

So, here's the best part, all of the benefits mentioned above can be achieved in as little as 5 minutes a day.

That's it!

5 minutes a day! 

Here's how to do it:

1) Sit or lay down in a quiet area where you won't be interrupted

2) Close your eyes

3) Notice your breathing 

4) Count each breath until you get to 10, then start over

Whenever you lose track of your breath or you notice you're thinking about something else, gently bring your attention back to your breath.

Remember what we said earlier, the goal of meditation is to re-focus, and trust me, you'll get plenty of practice in 5 minutes.

That's it! For 5 minutes!

It doesn't get any easier than that and the benefits are profound.

Conclusion

Depression and anxiety are the most common mental disorders in the world and can be devastating.

Spending 5 minutes out of your day can help you improve your depression and anxiety by improving your neuroplasticity, compassion, attention, patience, problem-solving, and so much more.

When you start, your attention will be all over the place- be kind and patient with yourself.

Remember the goal is not to stay focused, it's to refocus.

The more times you bring your attention back to your breathing, the better you're doing. 

So, take five minutes a day and change your entire life.

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January 28th, 2023