Guided Meditations for Depression
Meditation can be a great tool to add to your toolbox if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. Although meditation does not substitute for qualified clinical care, it can be a great addition to your self-care program. Here are a few practices and guided meditations for depression we love. If you’re struggling with anxiety as well, One Mind Dharma has some great meditations available on their page Guided Meditation for Anxiety, Stress, and Worry Relief that we highly recommend.
The American Psychological Association reports that mindfulness shows promise in helping treat symptoms of depression. Multiple studies have found that mindfulness practice can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. This is because of several effects of meditation.
First, meditation can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. When we are experiencing depression, stress can make it much worse. The reduction in stress from meditating can dramatically increase symptoms of depression and allow us the opportunity to heal. With continued practice, meditation can dramatically reduce stress and anxiety, thereby helping our depression.
Also, meditation has been found to be successful in reducing relapse into depression. That is, those who experience a major depressive episode may be less likely to have another episode with a mindfulness-based intervention than those who do not.
Another way mindfulness meditation helps with depression is in the way we respond to our experience and thoughts. Meditation can help us not become overwhelmed by the thoughts that arise and allow ourselves to let them go. Through compassion meditation, we can learn to be kind and gentle with ourselves rather than judging ourselves harshly or beating ourselves up.
Body Scan Meditation
The first meditation practice for depression that we like is the practice of body scans. A body scan is a form of mindfulness practice in which we look at different parts of the body to see what is present. This can be useful in working with depression as it is a relatively simple practice and can keep us engaged. As we practice body scans, we learn to be present with what is arising in the body and not as reactive.
Self-compassion is a wonderful practice for dealing with depression. In self-compassion meditation, we work on responding to our pain with love and care. Our natural tendency is to avoid the difficult experience and avert from it. With self-compassion, we turn toward the pain and acknowledge it with gentle and kind awareness. This takes practice and cultivation, but self-compassion can help greatly.
Tonglen is a beautiful form of Tibetan meditation in which we use the breath to help us extend love and kindness toward ourselves and others. This can be a great way to connect with compassion and use mindfulness of the breath to help ourselves center in the present moment.
Mindfulness of the Mind
Finally, we have the practice of mindfulness of the mind, or thoughts. In this guided meditation for depression, we practice bringing awareness to the thoughts as they come and go. This can be overwhelming in moments, but it helps us to recognize the fleeting nature of thoughts and not buy into each one that arises. Over time, this practice helps enable us to detach from the thinking mind and allow thoughts to go naturally.