Over my 30 years of practice as both a coach and psychotherapist, there is one constant tool I have suggested to hundreds of clients to help address so many different kinds of issues and stressors.
The tool is so amazingly simple that people often overlook it, or discredit its power.
What tool am I referring to? The simple, ancient practice of meditation.
Meditation can be considered a spiritual practice or a tool for stress reduction, or a way to enhance self-awareness.
Meditation is the practice of training your mind to focus on the present moment. There are many different types of meditation, but they all share the common goal of helping you to calm your mind and become more aware of your thoughts and feelings.
Studies show that meditation has a number of benefits for your physical and mental health. For example, meditation can:
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Improve your mood
- Boost your self-esteem
- Improve your sleep
- Enhance your focus and concentration
- Increase your creativity
- Promote relaxation and well-being
In addition to these benefits, meditation has also been shown to change the structure and function of your brain. For example, studies have shown that meditation can:
- Increase the thickness of the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for decision-making, attention, and emotional regulation
- Reduce the activity of the amygdala, which is the part of the brain responsible for fear and anxiety
- Increase the activity of the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory
These changes in the brain can lead to long-term improvements in your mental health and well-being.
How Meditation Helped Me Overcome Depression
I struggled with depression on and off throughout life. I tried many different treatments, but it wasn’t until I started meditating that I found something that really helped me to manage my depression.
Meditation calmed my mind and soothed my emotions. I learned to observe my thoughts without judgment and to let them go without getting caught up in them. This helped me to reduce the amount of stress and anxiety in my life, which was a major trigger for my depression.
Meditation, coupled with a simple practice of keeping a gratitude journal helped me develop a more positive outlook. I began to focus on the good things in my life, and to appreciate simple pleasures. This helped me to feel more hopeful and optimistic, which was also important for my recovery from depression.
If you are struggling with depression, anxiety or PTSD, I encourage you to try meditation. It may not be a cure, but it can be a helpful tool for managing your symptoms and improving your overall well-being.
Here are some tips for getting started with meditation:
- Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
- Sit in a comfortable position with your feet on the floor and back straight.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
- Notice the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe in and out.
- If your mind wanders (as it will!), gently bring it back to your breath.
- Start with short meditation sessions of just one minute.
- Gradually increase the length of your meditation sessions as you become more comfortable.
There are many different types of meditation such as EcoMeditation which was developed by my dear friend Dawson Church. You’ll find free, online audio recordings of this. You can also look into mindfulness meditation or Transcendental Meditation or many other forms. Find one that works for you. There are many guided meditations available online and in apps that can help you get started.
Meditation is a practice that takes time and commitment. But if you are willing to put in the effort, it can be a powerful tool for transforming your life.
I hope this blog post has helped you to learn more about the science of meditation and how it can change your brain and your life. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.