how to use mindfulness techniques for depression?

how have people used mindfulness is a practical way.? I think the idea of just acknowleding a feeling and not getting wound up by it might be usefu,, as part of my problem is that I get cross and miserable ABOUT being cross and miserable in the first place..! How to use the technique in a day to day situation when the miseries hit?

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  • You might find 'Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman useful - it comes with a set of CDs and is basically a course that you can follow.

    Mindfulness is partly about being aware of the difference between you as a person and your thoughts ... and the thoughts come and go and that's something you can't control, but you can control the way you react to them - like getting cross about them as you say above - mainly by being aware of what is going on. The real aim of mindfulness though is actually about being able to live in the present - the hear and now - rather than being caught up in regretting the past or planning/fearing the future and actually being more aware of all of the sensations you are feeling rather than being caught up completely in the tide of your thoughts.

    I found the book really useful in being able to apply mindfulness to dealing with my depression. There are still things that throw me though - the befriending meditation talks about being happy and I'm very much aware that the idea of being happy is something that makes me feel very uncomfortable - because it always seems so fleeting and the next thing is the crash but actually what's going on is that I'm getting caught up in my fears for the future so I have for many years found it impossible or at best extremely hard to actually enjoy being happy in the now. ... and actually that is the first time I have put it in those terms and really seen what is going on.

    My inroad to mindfulness meditation wasn't through any type of meditation that was about shutting everything out but was actually about listening to what is happening around me and learning to do that without judging the 'noises' through the colours of my emotional responses but just letting them be sounds. If I'd come to the book and the meditations without that route then I probably wouldn't have got so much out of the book as the meditations tend to focus on breathing - being aware of your breathing and how it affects your body as a starting point (idea being that if you are alive you are breathing so it is a bit of a constant in an ever changing world) - however, when I'm upset, my breathing gets very tight - realised that through the course - as if I want to stop breathing completely so I'd always found that concentrating on breathing was really difficult.

    Don't know if any of this makes sense ... you might find it useful to see if there is a local Buddhist meditation group that you could join as a back up rather than just relying on a particular group - it's also possible that there may be some MBCT groups available in your area which would give you the support of a leader - but most of it is really about just getting to the point where things actually go 'click'. the way in is different for different people - so your journey is likely to be totally different from mine - but it's a journey that I definitely think is worth taking.

  • Also wanted to say that the fact that you recognise that you are getting cross about being cross means that you are quite a way down the road to achieving mindfulness.

  • thanks there is a local buddhist centre. They are doing a session soon on letting go of negative feelings, so will phone them to book. One more step in shacking off the rubbish coping mechanisms I'd developed, seem to have made every mistake possible. hay ho takes a while to change the habits of a lifetime I guess.

  • Sounds like you are being a bit hard on yourself. Coping mechanisms are just that - ways of coping. Different ones are suitable for different situations but it takes a while to figure out which ones fit with which situations ... and all of us have a tendency to stick with the ones that have worked in the past either in new situations where they aren't appropriate or when something else crops up that means we can't use them. Last year I was relying heavily on running as my coping strategy and then I broke my ankle and couldn't run for several months - but it took me all of that time to remember that meditation was another option so I really didn't cope well at all in that period.

    Here's another example of how I've used mindfulness in the last few weeks - I have a little play (about 10 minutes) of various pieces on a cello each morning. A few weeks ago I realised that I was rushing through it because it felt as if I had so much to do before I went to work and then I stopped myself and realised that actually I was playing the cello for me and rushing through was conterproductive on so many levels. Still catch myself rushing but do slow myself down now rather than getting caught up in the rush.

    Hope that it all goes well.

  • Hi I have read the book Gambit refers to and agree that it is really good. I have also done a mindfullness course. Personally I find that I cannot do the meditation because I feel to wound up to lie back and think about breathing and feeling what is going on in my body. I am willing the session to finish and that seems to be my main focus. The meditation starts off at about 3 minutes which is fine, but gradually it builds up to about half an hour. If you are able to relax and concentrate on breathing then it would be really helpful.

    Having said that even if you cannot get on with the meditation the course is another valuable tool in your approach to depression. I would certainly give it a go as we are all different and different things work better for different people.

  • When I first started meditation the whole idea of just sitting and breathing would have been really hard for me - I started off with meditations that come from exactly the opposite angle and actually concentrated on being aware of what is happening around me - and to be honest that is probably still my preferred approach to meditation. Always found it much easier to look at meditation as being about re-connecting myself with the universe so focusing on my breath didn't quite work. May be it is the same for you.

    It's prefectly fine just to do a meditation that is short - it doesn't have to be an hour. The important thing is the awareness of what is happening right now - I put cream on my feet to moisturise them - at the most it's a couple of minutes in the day - but I treat that as a meditation and concentrate on how good my feet feel whilst I'm doing it.

    Another thing I really like doing is just standing in the street or on a path, turning to the sun with my eyes closed and feeling the warmth, or if the sun isn't out just standing there and seeing what I can hear around me - just what sounds are there and using that as a way of connecting with things. I often find it useful to pick a particular sound - particularly if there is a bird there - and just observing the rhythms and cadences ... like doing that on the train - just listening to the engine as the train picks up speed and then as it gets slower.

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