Archive for December, 2011

Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

anxious travelerChristy Matta, MA is a fellow Psychcentral blogger, has worked in mental health for almost 20 years and has a confession, “I am an anxious traveler.”

Millions of people struggle with anxiety around traveling in one form or another and right now we’re in the peak period of the year in regards to air travel. I have a tip to help find freedom from anxiety that comes out of the new short enhanced eBook (fancy term that refers to an eBook including video instruction within the book available on IPad, Nook, and Kindle) Mindful Meditations for the Anxious Traveler. I created this $.99 enhanced eBook to be a mindful companion along the journey to more peaceful and restful travel:

Here’s the tip:

We’ve all heard the adage that “It is what it is,” but I like to add another piece saying, “It is what it is, while it is.” This speaks to a larger reality that whatever exists is impermanent, including our fear. When automatic worried thoughts of panic and worry begin creeping into your mind, saying “it is what it is, while it is” pops you out of autopilot, into the present moment, and reminds you that this feeling is impermanent. This reminder helps you to not get so wrapped up in it and can give you the choice to do a short mindfulness practice to calm your body and be kinder to yourself.

That’s what this is all about. We know that in between a stimulus and response there’s a space where the brain is rapidly making snap judgments and decisions about how to react. If there is a fear around travel, it’s going to be inserting judgments in that space through a worried lens. (more…)

3 Steps to a More Meaningful Life

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

With the moments of life seemingly becoming more fleeting, there’s never been a more important time to cultivate or become more aware of the meaning in our lives. Therese Borchard, author of Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes, wrote a past post 7 Ways to Prevent Burnout. In this blog she summed up a book by one of her favorite authors, Robert Wicks, who laid out a path toward integrating spirituality into daily life in an effort to prevent stress and live the lives we want.  Definitely worth the read and if you have any aversion to the word “God” or “spirituality,” just replace that term with “higher self” and see how that works.

In 2005, I conducted a national study in an effort to see if people could in fact cultivate what I called “sacred moments” and see what effect that had on their stress and well-being. Lo and behold, in practicing 5 minutes a day for 5 days a week, for 3 weeks, there was a significant positive effect in stress reduction and well-being. What was so fascinating to me was that for many it allowed them to touch a sense of spirituality when they felt they had never been able to do this before.

A quote from one participant:

“[I experienced sacred moments] through this process. I never noticed any Spiritual moments before this. [The words] unique holy and worthy of reverence was not within the scope of my intellectual reaction of things. To be able to pray was something that I was not willing to [do]. What I like about [the sacred moment practice] is it allowed me to explore spirituality in a nonthreatening manner and for me that was special and unique.”

If you want to give it a spin, here were the same instructions the participants were given:

  1. Choose an object – This object should represent something special, precious, or sacred to them. Almost anything can be sanctified and considered a sacred thing. According to Emile Durkheim (1915), known as one of the originators of modern sociology, “By sacred things one must not understand simply those personal beings which are called gods or spirits; a rock, a tree, a pebble, a piece of wood, a house, in a word anything can be sacred” (p. 52).
  2. Mindful Check-In – Begin each practice by taking a few moment to be conscious of the breath and then slowly bring attention to the physical body, thoughts and feelings, hearing, seeing, tasting, and smelling. Just be aware of whatever you notice.
  3. The Sacred Object – After the mindful check-in, gently shift attention to the sacred object and being open to what was sacred in the moment. There was no maximum time specified for this exercise. Instructions to participants permitted them to go longer than the suggested 5 minutes and asked them to simply make a log of the time.

Cultivating this practice is a very personal experience and at the same time sacred moments are shared by millions around the world.

As always, don’t take my word for it; go into this practice with a beginner’s mind, letting your judgments reside at bay, and just noticing whatever arises for you in the moment.

Please share your thoughts, emotions, and stories below. You interactions provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

10 Quotes to Keep in Mind as You Begin 2012

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I like to draw on the wisdom of others at times to get a point across.

In moving into 2012 we can allow these to be seeds to water throughout the year.  Enjoy!

  1. “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” ~ Dalai Lama
  2. “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” ~ Dalai Lama
  3. “There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
  4. “It is what it is, while it is.” ~ Elisha Goldstein
  5. “If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” – Pema Chodron
  6. “As soon as we wish to be happier, we are no longer happy.” ~ Walter Landor
  7. “The fact is, we are not islands and we are far more connected than we know” ~ Elisha Goldstein
  8. “There is no enlightenment outside of daily life.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
  9. “Realize that this very body, with its aches and it pleasures… is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, fully alive.” ~Pema Chodron
  10. “After the ecstasy, the laundry.” ~ Jack Kornfield

May this be a year for you filled with ease, happiness, safety and getting in touch with the clarity and wisdom that resides within, realizing The Now Effect.

What are some other quotes that you resonate with? Please share your thoughts, quotes, and questions below. Your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

You Can Train Your Mind to Be Happy

Friday, December 16th, 2011

woman readingSo you spent your life working hard in elementary school, maybe pushing through to university and thought, well once I land this job then I’ll be happy, or once I get married, then I’ll be happy, or once I get a divorce, then I’ll be happy. The reality is, the conditions for happiness are all right here, right now, but it’s not enough to say, “Just dip into the now and happiness will arise.”

There are too many conditioned forces at play from past experiences that compromise the ability for “the now” to be a source of happiness. But we can train our minds to relate to “the now” in a particular way and train our minds toward happiness.

The moment you step into the now and recognize that you have a choice in how you want to relate to your life, you have entered into a new state of clarity where opportunity, possibility and a greater sense of freedom open up. This is The Now Effect at play.

You have stepped aside from all the preconceptions and snap judgments that usually automatically influence your next move and reconnect with the intention to live as if it mattered.

The only time we have is now and so we choose to take each moment as an opportunity to train ourselves toward happiness and greater freedom. We can start to recognize the spaces of awareness that all around us. It’s amazing how as we intentionally practice and repeat this these spaces begin to drop in on us like moments of grace throughout the day.  This is when it gets fun.

There begins to become a familiarity with the fact that we don’t have to believe everything we think and we’re not the movies in our minds. We have the power and choice to prime our minds for good, toward greater kindness, compassion and forgiveness, rewiring the bias our brain has toward automatically fixating on the negative. In the difficult moments we recognize the snap judgments that exacerbate the pain and see that we can choose a different and healthier response. Perhaps most importantly we experience the delusion of disconnection and a greater connection with ourselves and others. This is the basis for happiness.

As we begin training in the Now Effect, a deeper layer begins to emerge where these states of mind that we actively cultivate or that pop in on us spontaneously begin to become more pervasive traits of our personalities.

If you’ve been a regular reader of my blogs, you know that groundbreaking science is pointing us to the fact that we have the ability to use our intentional attention to change the architecture of our brains in very adaptive ways. That may be the neuroscience behind this deeper, more pervasive layer of the Now Effect.

The Now Effect: How this Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life with embedded videos for practice is available for pre-order now. May this be a time to understand that there is no better time than now to get started with priming your mind to what really matters.

Enjoy!

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Woman reading photo available from Shutterstock.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

You Can Train Your Mind to Be Happy

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

So you spent your life working hard in elementary school, maybe pushing through to university and thought, well once I land this job then I’ll be happy, or once I get married, then I’ll be happy, or once I get a divorce, then I’ll be happy. The reality is, the conditions for happiness are all right here, right now, but it’s not enough to say, “Just dip into the now and happiness will arise.”

There are too many conditioned forces at play from past experiences that compromise the ability for “the now” to be a source of happiness. But we can train our minds to relate to “the now” in a particular way and train our minds toward happiness.

The moment you step into the now and recognize that you have a choice in how you want to relate to your life, you have entered into a new state of clarity where opportunity, possibility and a greater sense of freedom open up. This is The Now Effect at play.

You have stepped aside from all the preconceptions and snap judgments that usually automatically influence your next move and reconnect with the intention to live as if it mattered.

The only time we have is now and so we choose to take each moment as an opportunity to train ourselves toward happiness and greater freedom. We can start to recognize the spaces of awareness that all around us. It’s amazing how as we intentionally practice and repeat this these spaces begin to drop in on us like moments of grace throughout the day.  This is when it gets fun.

There begins to become a familiarity with the fact that we don’t have to believe everything we think and we’re not the movies in our minds. We have the power and choice to prime our minds for good, toward greater kindness, compassion and forgiveness, rewiring the bias our brain has toward automatically fixating on the negative. In the difficult moments we recognize the snap judgments that exacerbate the pain and see that we can choose a different and healthier response. Perhaps most importantly we experience the delusion of disconnection and a greater connection with ourselves and others. This is the basis for happiness.

As we begin training in the Now Effect, a deeper layer begins to emerge where these states of mind that we actively cultivate or that pop in on us spontaneously begin to become more pervasive traits of our personalities.

If you’ve been a regular reader of my blogs, you know that groundbreaking science is pointing us to the fact that we have the ability to use our intentional attention to change the architecture of our brains in very adaptive ways. That may be the neuroscience behind this deeper, more pervasive layer of the Now Effect.

The Now Effect: How this Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life with embedded videos for practice is available for pre-order now. May this be a time to understand that there is no better time than now to get started with priming your mind to what really matters.

Enjoy!

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

A Secret to Happiness: Einstein

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

einstein happinessIt seems like an increasing phenomenon that a number of individuals are finding themselves with a psychic emptiness at some point in life. There is some kind of dissatisfaction, an uncertainty as to why they feel so unhappy and what will help them feel more complete. This runs rampant with people who have acquired some kind of success in life and find their minds saying, now what?

Some people call this a mid-life crisis, but it can happen at all different times of life. What’s missing?

Albert Einstein once said:

“Try not to become a man of success but rather a man of value.”

Today we’re driving our kids more than ever to be “successful.” But what does this really mean? Somewhere along the line we’ve become confused as a culture and lost sight of what really matters. The test is simple, what makes us feel good? Not in a hedonistic way, but more in line with the Greek term eudaimonia. This can be translated more as a meaningful happiness.

So what’s missing? An understanding of personal values. The key question is: What do you believe is important in life? Is it helping other people, being honest, working hard, being compassionate, spending time with family or people in your community, or maybe being mindful?

This isn’t just a cursory question, it’s one to take seriously and then take an inventory of your life seeing where it lives and where it’s missing.

What would your life look like if you were actually living in accordance with what you valued? Visualize this and let it be your guide toward a happier life.

Sometimes life can truly be that simple.

Sometimes you’re living your values and not even taking a moment to be mindful of it. Think about where in your day to day you are actually living in the way you think is most important.

Right now, stop what you’re doing and take a minute to look forward toward the rest of the day. Where are you living your values? Where is an opportunity to stop in line with them more?

Take this moment to live as if it mattered.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Einstein’s formula photo available from Shutterstock

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

Mindful Solutions at Work (Video)

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

woman with laptopThere is no doubt about it, today’s business is a round-the-clock atmosphere. We are hounded with external pressures, overwhelmed with information overload, asked to deliver more with less, work longer hours, and have less personal time for renewal activities. What is the result?

Self-inflicted attention deficit disorder, exhaustion, lack of focus, reduced health, and burnout. This leads to lower job satisfaction, morale, and productivity. Hardly the results we want.

Did you know that over 50% of the workforce in the US says Job Stress is a major problem in life? This is twice as much as ten years ago. We also have 50% greater healthcare expenditures and corporations are losing over $300 Billion annually because of work-related stress! What’s going on here?

In an age of so much distraction, the old approach of time management at work is being thrown out the window in favor of attention management. Mindfulness is a practical way to get this.  Just think, how has the inability to control attention gotten in the way at work for you (not to mention in your personal relationships)? We’re often spending time worrying about a multiple future projects or dwelling on regrets of past ones. This makes it difficult to really concentrate on a task or another person at work. When we multi-task, we are paying attention to many things and while this may seem like a good thing, we’re actually losing quality, efficiency, and time.

Corporate America has started to take action, with companies like Google, Apple, Aetna, Nexterra, Intel, Twitter, Facebook and many others leading the way integrating mindfulness into the workplace. Many of them are harnessing the power of technology to bring mindfulness to their workforce to help them reduce stress, increase focus and be more productive.

Smartphone applications have come out to help us take advantage of technology to integrate more of this into our daily lives.

For example, if you have an iPhone, you can get many Mindfulness Apps that are available to integrate mindfulness into your life. The Mindful Solutions at Work Program just got released that introduces simple practices to integrate into your day, keeps track of your practices, and even sends email reminders of how you’re doing to help you stay on the path.

Here’s a fun 2 minute video that shows you how this works in daily life.  

One of the major reasons that corporate America is grabbing onto this is because the science is there that backs it up.

Now we can all let our experience be our best teacher. As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interactions create a living wisdom for us all to benefit from. 

Woman with a laptop photo available from Shutterstock.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

Mindfully Taming the Anger Within

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

angry womanA past article on NPR explores the age old question of whether it’s therapeutic to act on your anger. Alex Spigel writes about a woman in San Diego who has built a store for the sole purpose of letting people in, covering them in protective gear, and giving them plates to smash to vent their anger. He then brings up new research by professor Jeffrey Lohr of the University of Arkansas that points to evidence that says venting this anger isn’t effective and the anger just continues to return.

I love Alex Spigel, but sometimes these topics can be oversimplified. It’s kind of like much of the spirituality research out there that measures level of spirituality by church attendance. Just because someone goes to church doesn’t mean they’re spiritual, they could be doing it out of family obligation or a longing for community.

What’s not explicitly spelled out here is the difference between anger and aggression. Just because someone is expressing anger, it doesn’t mean they are aggressive or hostile. He points to this briefly when he says “Now, to be clear, Lohr isn’t pro-repression. Repression, he says, can also be bad for you. The key is to speak out your anger without getting emotional about it. Basically, we’re not supposed to yell at anyone anymore.”

To be clearer, there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling or expressing anger. Whenever we’re frustrated or irritated we are feeling angry. We can be angry for a myriad of things from our partners making plans for us without asking to being abused as a child.

How we express this anger does make a difference.

Daniel Goleman writes about how the expression of anger can be a good thing. It is at times our outrage over injustice that moves us to action to help. It is our anger over the atrocity in Darfur that creates the motivation to help out, or maybe it’s the anger in getting abused that leads to the cry out for help, or if you’re a teenager, maybe it’s the anger over mom or dad just opening your door without knocking that leads to a discussion around new boundaries. Goleman calls this “constructive anger.”

It’s not that we need to express anger without emotion, because then we’d be like robots. It’s that we need to learn to express anger without acting out with aggression. It’s this aggression that may breed more aggression. In his book Taming the Tiger Within, Thich Nhat Hanh writes about how anger could be held mindfully. We can see our anger as a child within us that needs to be taken care of. He endorses the idea of noticing when you’re feeling aggressive, taking time-out to care for that struggling emotion and then returning to the scene in a calmer state. At this point it is more constructive to express the anger.

It’s the differentiator between anger and aggression or hostility that makes the difference. Learning to become aware of the space in between the stimulus and our reaction is a practice that can get better over time. The next time you notice anger, see if you can take a moment to pause and breathe and acknowledge your anger, without judgment.

This anger is not good or bad or right or wrong, it is simply an emotion that you are experiencing right now. If it is very strong, excuse yourself from the situation, see if you can practice being kind to yourself in this moment as you are struggling. Sometimes we find that underneath the anger is sadness or another emotion. Feel free to write out what you are experiencing. Sometimes getting it out on paper can help stop it from swimming around so much in the mind.

When you have calmed down, return to the situation and if it feels right, express what made you so upset. See if you can also see the other person’s perspective.

As always, please share your thoughts and questions below. Your interactions here provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Angry woman photo available from Shutterstock.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

From Trauma to Transformation: An Interview with Jack Kornfield

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Jack Kornfield He stands alongside an esteemed group of elders such as Thich Nhat HanhSharon SalzbergPema Chodron, and Joseph Goldstein in bringing mindfulness to the west. Not only that, he also holds his PhD in clinical Psychology which makes him so relevant to the connection between mindfulness and psychotherapy.

He co-founded Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachussets and is a founding teacher of the well known retreat center Spirit Rock, in Woodacre, Ca. He has taught in Centers and University settings worldwide with teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama. He is also author of many widely popular books translated in over 20 languages, his most recent are Bringing Home the Dharma and A Lamp in the Darkness. Others include, A Path with HeartThe Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and PeaceAfter the Ecstasy, the Laundry and his newest book The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology.

Today he talks with us about the connection between East and West psychology, his work with Dr. Dan Siegel, and how his own trauma in life has influenced his work with himself and others.

 Elisha: You are a well known as a leader in the continuing dialogue of Eastern and Western psychology and are very skillful in how you marry the two. With all of the suffering that many of our readers experience, how do you see each supporting the other and where do you see this dialogue heading in our culture?

Jack: The suffering that is experienced by people is described in the Buddhist tradition as the first noble truth of the Buddha. The Buddha says that life entails a certain measure of suffering and no one is exempt from that. There is pleasure and pain, gain and loss, praise and blame, fame and disrepute. Human happiness and mental well-being doesn’t come from avoiding these changing circumstances, they happen to all of us. True happiness comes from the openness of heart, compassion, resiliency and mindfulness, the wisdom that we bring to it, that gives perspective and meaning. In eastern and Buddhist psychology there are many kinds of trainings in compassion, in mindfulness and a balanced perspective that make it possible to hold our suffering in a wise way. We can also learn how to release suffering from the body and emotions and transform its energy.

In Western psychotherapy, much of the same is true. The biggest complementary difference between east and west is that most of western psychotherapy is done together with another person. At best we can call it a kind of paired attention or paired mindfulness in which another person is helping to direct your attention and encourage your capacities to be with your experience with greater wisdom, greater balance, greater understanding, and greater compassion.

With Eastern practice you can have the same paired experience working with a teacher to a certain extent, but then much more emphasis is put on continued trainings and practices that you do regularly and frequently on your own. These capacities develop strongly through practice over and over again. East and West complement one another in this way.

Elisha: Speaking of marrying East and West, can you tell us a bit about your work with Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Siegel, author of The Mindful Brain and upcoming book Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation. I heard you were running a new online 6-week online course on Mindfulness and the Brain through Sounds True.

Jack: The beautiful work that I’m able to share with Dan Siegel describes this same wedding of East and West and particularly of modern neuroscience and the neurological basis for the capacity for resilience, authentic presence, and for interpersonal attunement,demonstrated in a lot of the neuroscience research. The capacities for wisdom and compassion that I teach about can also be understood from Interpersonal Neurobiology how all this happens and how it fits both in eastern and western perspective. Dan too teaches how it can be developed and learned, changing us and changing our lives.

Elisha: Like many of the readers of the Mindfulness and Psychotherapy blog, in your new book, The Wise Heart you mention that you had your own confused, painful and lonely family history. How has that history influenced your work on yourself and with others?

Jack: It’s influenced me a great deal. When I shifted from studying science at Dartmouth, from studying organic chemistry and mathematics to Buddhist and Asian studies, it was partly because I was looking for way to deal with my inner suffering and trauma. I had the pain of living in a family with a violent and abusive father and the underlying fear I carried. Much of my training in the Buddhist monasteries was in lovingkindness and equanimity and mindfulness. But first I had to learn how to deal with fear, hurt and trauma. Also anger, which I didn’t know I carried, which I suppressed a lot. My father was so full of rage I didn’t want to be like him. Lo and behold I discovered that it was not just in him, but was in me as well.

So over the years of training and practice, I began to explore the trauma I carried and the ways to release trauma out of the body, out of the stories, out of the emotions. This healing is built into the practices of mindfulness, compassion, lovingkindness, and forgiveness. I began to explore them in the east and then after the monastic training I began working on my doctorate and clinical work and training in western psychology

Now when I work with people on meditation retreat or individually and they bring their trauma or their painful history or their unfinished business I am able to sit with them and know it from my own experience.  There are many ways to transform and release trauma and my  dual training  gives me a good sense of what is going on in them, and a good way of marrying the skills from the east and west. I have gotten trainings from being in the presence of a skilled therapist who would call my attention to movements or emotions that were unconscious to me that really made a difference.  In trauma work someone would encourage a bodily release and there weren’t even words for it when it would start to come out. I now have those experiences and skills to marry East and West, to intuitively listen to what is most helpful to the person in front of me.

Elisha: If you were sitting across the table from a person who was experiencing deep emotional suffering in their life right now, what advice or suggestions would you give them.

Jack: Very little advice to start with. I believe the most important thing I can do is to be fully present as I sit with them and not to try and advise them. To sit and be present, even to hold their hand or if they were not open to it, hold them in my heart and let my own experience resonate with theirs. To bring myself to their experience with as much compassion and care and perspective and deep breath and love as I could. To start with words I’d be curious, what is your suffering, and what are your tears and anguish and trauma? I’d want to know and not impose any advice, without first clearly hearing what they knew and where they were and what they were looking for.

And then perhaps from this shared capacity to be present I’d want to communicate a deep trust that we can open to it all and move through the experience of suffering. I’d want them to know that their experience is part of their humanity, part of the difficulty and the gift of human incarnation and we are all called upon to bear our sorrows as well as our joys, and that we can bear them and they’re not the end of the story. That our sufferings don’t define us and we don’t have to be so loyal to our suffering that we don’t see that there is a greater mysterious majestic dance that we’re a part of so that the communication of trust as well as the capacity to be present is there.

Because it is as William Blake says that in the minute particulars that goodness is transmitted, not in the general or the ideological, but actually in the presence itself.

Elisha: So much gratitude for all your work and from me in this moment. I’m really grateful for your life and the work you put out, for touching me and so many others.

To the readers, as always, please share your thoughts, stories, and questions below. Your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

Depression: Medicate, Meditate or Both?

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

The World Health Organization estimates that by 2020, depression will be the second largest issue in ill health worldwide. Clinical depression is defined as a persistent depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure for at least two weeks along with a number of other physical and psychological symptoms. These could include poor sleep, loss of appetite, a sense of hopelessness and others.

Studies have now found that the more often a person experiences depression, the more likely they will be to experience it again (70-80% chance of relapse for people who have suffered two or more episodes). Depression doesn’t usually occur alone and is often mixed with other issues such as anxiety and panic. So what do we do, medicate, meditate, both?

The Psychiatric field has found medications that increase the flow of certain neurotransmitters in the brain that can help relieve these feelings of depression. However, because of the relapse rate, the American Psychiatric Administration had to come up with three phases of treatment with medications: acute, continuation, and maintenance.

Acute medication treatment was aimed at relieving symptoms during a depressive episode. Continuation treatment was for prescribing medication for 6 months after the episode had passed and maintenance was to prescribe for up to 3 years. So what’s the problem here? What happens after 3 years? What about the people whom medication doesn’t agree with or unable to take?

Medication was not meant to be a permanent solution to mental health issues because they don’t target the supposed causes of the episode itself, but more to help relieve symptoms for a period of time so people who are suffering could cultivate the stability and skills to support themselves moving forward. Medication can be a wonderful support; however, it’s important to also cultivate the skills to work with the potential relapse of depression moving forward. This is a more effective long term strategy.

Based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale developed Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)  for depressive relapse. Teachers of this program support participants in cultivating mindfulness meditation skills to foster the ability to be more nonjudgmentally present to thoughts, feelings, and sensations in daily life. In doing this, people learn a new way of relating to their distress; rather than avoiding it they learn to approach it and live in the midst of it. This has profound consequences for what follows.

When we spend our time hating and cursing our distress it’s as if we are sending negative energy into a blob of negative energy. What happens? The negativity we’re sending is food for that blob and it only grows. We don’t realize that the way we are relating to our depression, adds to it. It’s difficult to grasp this concept if we’re in the depression and that is why this approach is best when the episode is lifting or has lifted. Here is where medication can be supportive.

Working with mindfulness and meditation in this way is only one approach toward depression that is showing encouraging results  in studies for preventing depressive relapse. However, there may be other ways that are supportive to you. If you are in interested in mindfullness and mental health, you may also want to check out author and blog writer Therese Borchard’s popular Mindful Monday blog every Monday in Beyond Blue.

Please share your thoughts and stories below as your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com