You’ve probably heard of or even tried meditation, but there’s a new kid on the block: mindfulness meditation.
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In this type of exercise, you’re not trying to be calmer or more relaxed. The goal is to see things exactly how they are in your life, according to “Psychology Today,” and it’s currently being used as part of cognitive therapy approaches by professionals to treat mental illnesses, including depression.
During a study conducted by Oxford University, researchers made a stunning discovery: Mindfulness meditation might be as effective as medications when it comes to preventing you from suffering a relapse of depression. 47 percent of the subjects using medication were prone to relapse, compared to 44 percent of the subjects just using mindfulness-based therapy.
Depression is a complex, reoccurring disorder that requires a multifaceted approach, and as pointed out by study author Willem Kuyken, as many as four out of five people suffering from it will relapse without continuing treatment.
The use of mindfulness meditation as part of a behavior therapy program helps people with depression identify and handle feelings that can lead toward relapse if left unchecked.
While mindfulness meditation does not appear to be more effective than medications at preventing a depression relapse, it might work just as well and give you a non-pharmaceutical option. Try the three simple mindfulness meditation tips below to help focus your mind on the now.
1. Start With Your Body
Mindfulness meditation has three aspects: thoughts, body and breath. You need to start with the body first! Find a quiet spot in your home; perhaps the corner of a room that’s not usually used or even some free space into which you can fit in an open walk-on closet.
Setup an altar with photos of things from the meditation tradition you like or just leave it blank. An open wall in front of you is fine, as long as there’s nothing distracting on it like a TV. Decide if you want to sit down right on the floor, or use a chair or cushion. Whatever you chose should be stable and not uneven or wobbly.
Sit down with a good, upright posture but not too stiff. Place your hands on your thighs, facing downward. Your eyes should rest on a spot that is four to six feet away from you. Think about your body and current environment, and when your thoughts begin to wander refocus on those two things.
2. Mind Your Breath
Pay attention to the way you breathe. Unlike traditional meditation, there’s no special breathing technique and you don’t have to focus on it intensely. About 25 percent of your attention should be dedicated to your breath, as you need to pay attention to your body and surroundings at the same time.
Just feel it going in and out of your body and don’t worry if you notice you’re controlling it to a degree.
3. Focus On Your Thoughts
It’s only natural that the odd thoughts are going to pop up during mindfulness meditation, from what you’re eating for dinner to news events and what’s going on in your favorite TV show. The key here isn’t to suppress your thoughts or clear your mind but to notice what is happening.
Once you’re so caught up in your thoughts that you forget where you are, bring yourself back to your body, setting and breathing. Don’t be upset when wandering thoughts occur, as your goal is to become more aware of what’s happening around you and not stopping yourself from having random thoughts.
If you’re new to mindfulness meditation, begin light, around 15 minutes a day. As you practice, move yourself toward performing the exercise for 30 to 45 to 60 minutes a day.