Mindfulness Therapy for Depression
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The Buddha recognized this problem over 2600 years ago and he taught that what proliferates our emotional suffering (dukkha) is this habitual tendency to ignore these unresolved core emotions and patterns of thought and belief. We need to wake up to our emotional suffering and not avoid it; we need to turn toward our pain and embrace it rather than beat up on ourselves with harsh inner judgement and aversion; we need to learn to be totally present with our trauma and fear rather than trying to escape into sensory diversion. And, thus he taught about mindfulness, a very powerful and subtle form of awareness that I define as non-reactive awareness and engaged presence.
Mindfulness is not just awareness, but rather the combination of awareness and compassion. Imagine a mother rocking her crying baby. She is completely tuned-in and aware and non-reactive, which allows he to be fully present for her baby, listening and learning. She also feels a positive warmth and love, which naturally infuses into her conscious awareness. She responds spontaneously to her intuitive perceptions of what will comfort her baby. This is engaged presence. Simple awareness does not have this property of responsiveness, it is cold and indifferent; mindfulness is anything but cold and detached.
Science, religion and life experience tells us that this quality of conscious presence is transformative and healing. We know this and we admire it when we see this quality of being in the relationship between a mother and child or two people in love with each other. Yet, what do we do to our own inner pain, to our negative thoughts, memories and beliefs? And, therein lies the problem. The core emotions that fuel our depression can never transform and heal while we continue to treat them as the enemy, as a disease, as something wrong or bad. Instead, we need to treat these parts of our self in exactly the same way as described above; we need to become a loving and conscious presence for our pain just as the mother for her baby. This heals; this transforms; this resolves trauma, fear, anxiety and grief.
Mindfulness meditation, as the Buddha taught it, is simply this, the application of conscious awareness combined with natural compassion to dukkha, those parts of our experience that are in pain and need our conscious attention. It is not, and I emphasise, not a process of emptying the mind of thoughts, emotions and memories, but rather the process of changing our relationship to this content of mind, from being reactive to being responsive; from ignorance to awakening; from hostility to love. If there is depression, we meditate on the depression, holding it in that space of non-reactive awareness that is mindfulness; if there is grief, we hold that grief like a baby; if there is anger, which often accompanies depression, we hold that anger without becoming caught up in the story. This is mindfulness meditation.
In conclusion, treat your inner core emotions in the same way that a mother cares for her baby. This is what creates the right inner conditions that will facilitate transformation and healing and the eventual resolution of those core emotions. When they are healed, then the depression will resolve itself and you will naturally discover the positive qualities of your True Self.
Try and see for yourself. Learn how to apply mindfulness for healing your depression.
Peter Strong, PhD is a professional Mindfulness Therapist, teacher and author of The Path of Mindfulness Meditation (Amazon, Kindle). He provides Mindfulness Therapy Online via Skype. For further information about Online Mindfulness Therapy, please contact Peter through his website: http://www.counselingtherapyonline.com.
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