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The practices and traditions of the East continue to infiltrate the West with the rise of alternative medicine during the start of the 21st century. One of the alternative self-healing practices is mindfulness meditation, which is becoming increasingly popular in the treatment of many spiritual, emotional, and physical ailments, including depression and anxiety. Mindful meditation, or mindfulness, was traditionally a spiritual practice that was started by early Buddhist cultures centuries ago. Like nearly every activity today, the practice of mindfulness meditation is now becoming a global activity.
Mindful meditation can also be carried out by those who practice the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The only difference is they focus on, or become centered upon, on the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the One True God as their religion teaches. That is actually the goal of mindful meditation, to become centered or balanced and learning to simply focus on the present.
A Closer Look
If you look closely at depression and anxiety, you can clearly see that anxiety is fear based and usually concerns thoughts about an uncertain future. Consequently, depression is closely related to an event, typically a traumatic one that has taken place in the depressed person’s past. Therefore you can see how learning how to center your life in the present moment can ease psychological illnesses. This is especially true for anxiety since it pertains to fear of the future. Meanwhile, depression, in many cases, coexists and is a byproduct of anxiety. In the cases of past trauma, a depressed person may still need counseling or talk therapy, and possibly medication.
While mindfulness meditation can be a useful tool in helping a person who suffers from depression to learn how to keep himself centered, it should not replace medication that is normally prescribed to treat depression. That being said, you should still follow your doctor’s instructions and take your medications as prescribed. Mindfulness meditation is not designed to replace conventional medicine, it merely enhances it when combined with it.
Up until the past few decades, mindfulness meditation was a spiritual practice. That is until a man named Jon Kabat-Zinn introduced the practice to non-religious individuals with his Mindful Bases Stress Reduction program. Jon Kabat-Zinn travels around and leads seminars on how to carry out the practice. Many companies adopted this program to help their employees learn how to center themselves so that they could manage the stressful demands of the hectic workday in this competitive, globalized economy. Also, it isn’t just businesses that use Kabat-Zinn’s MBSR program - Schools, hospitals, and other public entities also utilize these techniques to promote health and wellness.
Mindfulness Meditation & Positive Thinking
Mindfulness meditation only requires about twenty minutes per day to be set aside for light stretching exercises and some deep breathing. This is done to help clear your mind, relax, and keep you centered in the present moment so that you don’t get all caught up in the demands of the marketplace. Mindfulness meditation can also include positive affirmations, or a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which can literally change the way your brain works since human nature is hard-wired for negative thinking. This explains all the negativity on the news as well as the commercials for psychotropic drugs that feed the pharmaceutical industry. Not that the drugs in and of themselves are bad for they have their place in the healing process, but they should be combined with therapy for a more enhanced treatment. This is due to the long term side effects of many of the drugs that are out there.
For anxiety, mindfulness meditation works the same way. By keeping the anxious person centered, they are able to clear their mind and not think about their fears. This can also enable them to face their fears, which is another feature of CBT known as Exposure Therapy. Many of our fears are completely psychological.
What is Irrational Fear?
Most people, when asked, will be the first to tell you that their worst fears hardly ever come true anyway. By training your mind to face your fears and focus on the positive, which is part of mindfulness meditation, you will inevitably come to experience what is known as the Law of Attraction. This means that by being positive, you will literally repel any negativity in your life.
Likewise you will also attract more positive thoughts, feelings, and circumstances into your life. It goes with the eastern theory that the world is made up of energy; the kind of energy that can manipulated by our own thoughts. Like anything else, energy can be manipulated into something good or something evil. It depends on whoever is doing the manipulating.
Lastly, since the primary symptoms of depression are basically negative thinking, training your brain to think positive by centering yourself in the present through mindful meditation can change your whole outlook on life. You will come to discover that the human brain is the most powerful organ in the human body. It’s a shame that we only use about ten percent of our brain, even the smartest among us. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone used all of their mental capacities?
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