Tag Archive: Thought


A new theory for why Buddhist meditation makes us feel good

Meditation

Booze. Cigarettes. Gambling. The human brain is vulnerable to all sorts of addictions. And thinking might be one of them. That’s right – in many Buddhist texts, the endless stream of rumination that runs through the mind of the average person isn’t merely a distracting habit, but a genuine addiction that befuddles the intellect and inhibits spiritual development. In a new article, a leading neuropsychologist makes the same claim – that we’re all addicted to daydreaming, and that the neurology of our addictions is the same as that of addiction to drugs. What’s more, certain forms of Buddhist meditation may release the brain’s chemical hold on itself, releasing us from our addictive daydreams.

The article, published this fall in Religion, Brain & Behavior, outlines a novel model for how meditation works. As such, it doesn’t present any new empirical research, and only reviews prior studies. But its author, Bowling Green State University psychologist Patricia Sharp, is deeply read in the neurophysiology of reward, addiction, and meditation, and her synthesis of material across related disciplines is both rich and compelling.

Sharp’s argument hinges on the claim that, as Buddhist scriptures teach, life’s rewards tend to lose their sweetness over time. For example, people who get rich tend to enjoy a quick spike in happiness – but that spike doesn’t last very long. Pretty soon, their happiness levels tend to return back to where they were. Their new riches don’t make them any happier than they were before. Thus, the pleasures of the world are inherently, well…disappointing.

What’s innovative is Sharp’s claim that thought itself – particularly the ruminative, daydreaming style of thought that consumes nearly half our waking hours – fits this same pattern. Each individual daydream might offer a little internal reward, such as when we fantasize about accepting a trophy or scoring a date with the office bombshell. But over time, the constant barrage of imagined experiences begins to lose its luster, to become unrewarding – and maybe even to inhibit our ability to feel pleasure in general.

Sharp doesn’t mention the First Noble Truth of Buddhism in her paper, but she’s referring to something pretty close to what it calls dukkha, or suffering – the fundamental unsatisfactoriness of life. Dukkha means that all the things we crave and become attached to can’t actually deliver on their glorious promises. Whether it’s rich food, sex, alcohol, wealth, or mere fantasies, the objects of our cravings always leave us feeling dissatisfied after we attain them.

Offering a neurobiological description of this basic unsatisfactoriness, Sharp points out that the nucleus accumbens – a part of the brain that plays a central role in reward and motivation – receives dopamine inputs from other regions such as the ventral tegmental area and the medial substantia nigra. Together, these regions form a circuit that enables reward-based learning, or conditioned responses. Think Pavlov: train a dog to understand that the sound of a bell is always followed by dinner, and pretty soon the dog learns to salivate when he hears the ringing. Inside his brain, dopamine projections into the nucleus accumbens (yes, dogs have them too) have learned to fire in in response to the predicted reward. The dog literally gets a little burst of happy chemicals when he hears the bell, because the conditioned responses have worn grooves into his reward circuitry.

The problem? “Overlearning.” If you fire the same circuits often enough, their reward value starts to decline. The job of the nucleus accumbens, in this model, is to reinforce adaptive associations between stimuli and behavior. Dopamine in the nucleus accumbens may serve as a “biochemical stamp” that marks connections between stimuli and behavioral responses. Once the right pattern has been established, the brain doesn’t necessarily need that dopamine signal anymore – the pathway is already there. So the reward signals fade away, suppressed by inhibitor cells that project from the nucleus accumbens back into the midbrain, where they down-regulate dopamine release. The reward pathway is still there, entrenched in the brain through a network of strong, habit-worn connections. But the reward itself – dopamine – is gone. This process may explain the “hedonic treadmill” effect so unpleasantly familiar to us all, in which initially pleasurable or exciting stimuli lose their appeal over time.

One particularly nasty result of this hedonic treadmill effect can be compulsive, addictive behavior. Think about a rat obsessively pulling a lever to deliver cocaine – or a glassy-eyed casino-goer stuffing quarters into a slot machine. These compulsive behaviors arise from long-established reward pathways, now devoid of dopamine but still connective and active. Sharp argues that both chemical addiction and simple habituation to everyday rewards result from this gradual down-regulation of dopamine projections to the nucleus accumbens.

What’s more, our habitual fantasies and daydreams may follow the same pattern. Each time our minds wander, we start to fantasize, plan, and construct imaginative scenarios. Many of these imaginative scenarios come with their own little pulses of reward, as the hippocampus and other limbic regions carry excitable signals into the accumbens. Over time, our brains crystallize patterns of thought that repeat the same types of thoughts and daydreams over and over. Initially, these crystallizations were motivated by dopamine flushes in the reward system. But eventually, the dopamine rewards taper off – even though the thought patterns are still there. We’re left with a compulsive, clinging re-running of the same old thoughts, a repeating of the same mental scenarios obsessively. Worse, the holistic effect may be a general drop-off in happiness, because we’re indulging in lots of mental activity that offers no rewards. Our daydreams may be literally inhibiting pleasure. In Sharp’s words,

our constant engagement in compulsive, repetitive thought patterns tends to cause an ongoing, powerfully conditioned decrease in dopamine release, so that dopamine is chronically below what would be expected in the absence of these ongoing mental patterns.

The solution? Meditation! In particular, Buddhist samatha, or shamatta, meditation entails intense mental absorption and the cessation of thoughts. Sharp suggests that such meditative states, while difficult to achieve, may serve to break up established patterns of connectivity within the brain. These patterns, or “attractor networks,” are sort of like long-established wrinkles in your favorite shirt. You might put the shirt through the wash, but if you leave the shirt draped carelessly over a chair…well, the same crease shows back up again. Likewise, our habitual patterns of neural connectivity – in which the same clusters of neurons are activated synchronously – are always waiting to reappear.

In contrast, previous research has shown that intense meditative states synchronize activity across networks in the brain. These whole-brain patterns of synchronization are structurally similar to certain epileptic seizure states, in which normal, localized patterns of connectivity are suppressed and global synchrony takes over instead. These epileptic states, Sharp suggests, flood the brain with acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that can boost signal connections between cells from widely separated regions in the brain. In an acetylcholine-soaked brain, established knots of habit-bound connectivity may be temporarily relaxed, replaced with more general, dynamic connectivity across the entire cortex.

The overall effect of samatha meditation, then, may be what Sharp calls a “general loosening of the existent attractor networks in the brain.” Importantly, this loosening may be exactly what we need in order to experience bliss. Attractor networks in the brain are tight knots of connections. When the nucleus accumbens is activated by a long-established circuit, it sends signals back to the midbrain to inhibit dopamine production. Thus, when long-established knots of connection are suppressed, these inhibitory signals go silent. The dopamine can start pumping again. And we start to feel good. This, Sharp suggests, is how meditation works its magic: by releasing our brains’ constrictive holds on our reward systems, and allowing the normal flow of dopamine to start up once more.

Sharp’s model is speculative and theoretical. It appears in print alongside with a half-dozen response commentaries from experts, many of which are critical. It doesn’t offer any new empirical data. But it’s fascinating. And it suggests exciting new possibilities for research, and for thinking about how the brain works. Nowhere else has the time-honored Buddhist claim that our daily obsessive thoughts and mind-wandering are actual addictions been so forcefully presented in modern biological terms. Sometimes, speculative science is the most interesting – and the most groundbreaking.

Now for a confession: recently, I’ve nursed curmudgeonly concerns about our growing American enthusiasm for Buddhism and “mindfulness” training. I’m nervous that claiming Buddhist identity has become a marker of upper-middle class bourgeois sensibility, set against the hopelessly uncool Christianity or Judaism of the establishment. (Bizarrely, the bourgeoisie in the United States suffers from the chronic, and dangerous, delusion that it is somehow not the establishment – as evidenced by how canny companies sell their goods by showing off how countercultural and rebellious they are.) And I’m wary of the assumption that all mind-wandering is necessarily bad. We don’t all need to be “mindful” all the time. In fact, as recent research has shown, lack of daydreaming can even hurt us.

So Buddhism may be a little trendy these days, and our conversations about mindfulness could use more depth. But just because something is trendy doesn’t mean it’s bad. Buddhism has produced some of the most powerful psychology the world has ever seen, and its practices and insights are, frankly, invaluable. Sharp’s fascinating model gives us another useful insight into why.

 
Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/scienceonreligion/2014/12/a-new-theory-for-why-buddhist-meditation-makes-us-feel-good/#ixzz3LF18zTu4

I get a newsletter from The Happiness Club. They have support groups all over the U.S and in other countries to help them learn ways of changing their thoughts and behavior. I found a good story here from one of the clubs about changing your perceptions of frustrating situations. She describes a small change in perception that can add up to big results if we practice it:

Shared Thoughts To Keep Us All On The Happy Track.

Sharing an e-mail received from Elisa, an individual that attended a Happiness Club meeting in Fairfield.

Thursday, January 23rd’s meeting presentation: “Creating a Brilliant 2014 for ourselves,” was terrific. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

I believe Lionel made it clear that night that we are responsible for our own happiness and that truly the thoughts we think (although they seem so automatic, natural and 100% “correct”) are under our control and can lead to happiness….or not. We just have to overcome our conditioning and habitual way of responding!

Here is one result: this morning getting onto the Merritt Parkway, I had a tailgater on me. So I naturally slowed to a crawl (lol). But then I started thinking that this woman didn’t get up with the intention of ruining my day (as we discussed last night)….I started thinking of other reasons why she was tailing me …things like maybe her son got hurt and she was rushing to the hospital, maybe she got up late and was going to miss her train.

Suddenly, my thoughts changed from grumbling to trying to figure out how I could help her! How could I help her get to her son? How could I help her catch her train? I got out of her way in a loving manner and with godspeed.

The lesson here: all these reasons I ascribed to her for her behavior were just thoughts in my head. The grumbling thoughts made me feel angry and seek revenge (Yes, I know this is hysterical). The compassionate thoughts made me want to help her. So this day, which thoughts will I choose?

I don’t think my change in perspective as described in the tail gating incident would have occurred if I wasn’t in the meeting last night. So again – thank you. Elisa

This newsletter is packed with inspiration so I would encourage you to read the whole thing. You can subscribe to it here

In addition to positive articles on their website, they also have a media section that is worth checking out.

I have a confession to make. I usually don’t find time to read inspirational stuff. Then I wonder why I feel so bad and negative. Duh! I am making a resolution to read at least one inspiring thing a day! I hope you will join me!  Happy Thoughts! 😉

Joel Osteen You may think there is a lot wrong...

Joel Osteen You may think there is a lot wrong with you, but there is also a lot right with you (Photo credit: symphony of love)

Enhanced by Zemanta

For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.

Cynthia Occelli

Just like the seasons, people have the ability...

Just like the seasons, people have the ability to change (Photo credit: symphony of love)

 

Last night I lost the world, and gained the universe.

C. JoyBell C.

 

The more you hide your feelings, the more they show. The more you deny your feelings, the more they grow.

Unknown

 

The intensity of the pain depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment.

Eckhart Tolle

 

Pain can change you, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a bad change. Take that pain and turn it into wisdom.

Unknown

Are You Challenged?

Are You Challenged? (Photo credit: Celestine Chua)

 

If you can’t change the circumstances, change your perspective.

Unknown

 

Change is inevitable. Growth is intentional.

Glenda Cloud

 

All great changes are preceded by chaos.

Deepak Chopra

 

In chaos, there is fertility.

Anais Nin

 

Life is a process of becoming. A combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.

Anais Nin

 

To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.

Pema Chodron

 

Change is the only constant.

Heraclitus

changing fate

changing fate (Photo credit: CrazyFast)

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Self Compassion

Kristin

Kristin (Photo credit: j3sspwnsj00)

 

I found a great article on www.tinybuddha.com Enjoy!

 

Self-Compassion: Learning to Be Nicer to Ourselves

Editor’s Note: This is a contribution by Bobbi Emel

Be gentle first with yourself if you wish to be gentle with others.” ~Lama Yeshe

Several months ago, I sat in a large workshop audience being led by Kristin Neff, a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research.

She directed us to divide up into pairs for a self-compassion exercise. I turned to the young woman next to me. We introduced ourselves and returned our attention to Kristin.

Following her instructions, my partner closed her eyes while I sat looking at her. Kristin led those of us with open eyes through a loving-kindness meditation that was directed at our partners.

Although I did not know this young woman, I could feel my heart open wide to her as compassion arose within me. I felt warm and loving toward her.

Then it was my turn to sit with closed eyes. As Kristin repeated the meditation and I felt my partner’s loving gaze on me, I started to hear a voice.

Not a psychotic one, mind you, but that familiar voice that so often takes up my internal space. It had started chatting quietly but zoomed to full volume within seconds.

“You don’t deserve compassion! You don’t make enough money! You snap at Andrea all the time! You just need to get yourself under control!”

Sigh. So much for self-compassion.

But that was the point.

After the exercise, Dr. Neff asked, “How many of you found it harder to feel compassion toward yourself than the stranger sitting next to you?”

Just about everyone in that huge group—including me—raised their hands.

What is Self-Compassion Really About?

When we feel compassion for others, we feel kindness toward them, empathy, and a desire to help reduce their suffering.

It’s the same when you are compassionate toward yourself. Self-compassion creates a caring space within you that is free of judgment—a place that sees your hurt and your failures and softens to allow those experiences with kindness and caring.

And yet, with all of the wonderful things that come along with being kind to ourselves, we find it hard to actually feel it.

Why? Why are we so lacking in self-compassion?

4 Mythical Beliefs about Self-Compassion

The deficiency in self-compassion is likely brought about by these four untrue thoughts:

1. I’m just indulging myself if I’m self-compassionate.

That’s what my inner voice wanted me to believe during the workshop exercise.

But I’ve learned something important that helps me with that little critic—the difference between self-indulgence and self-compassion.

Self-compassion involves your health and well-being. Self-indulgence is about getting anything and everything you want without thoughts of well-being.

Self-compassion is about becoming aware of and sitting with your pain. Self-indulgence numbs and denies your pain.

2. I won’t be motivated if I don’t criticize myself.

Somewhere, deep down, you and I might actually believe that we need that inner critic to keep us motivated in life; that without it, we too easily stray outside the lines.

And it’s also possible that the critic evolved to help keep us safe from harm.

But guess what? We don’t need it anymore. Being compassionate with ourselves allows for a much healthier, kinder motivation.

As Kristin Neff says, “While the motivational power of self-criticism comes from fear of self-punishment, the motivational power of self-compassion comes from the desire to be healthy, to reduce our suffering.”

3. It’s selfish for me to be compassionate toward myself.

Many people, women especially, are taught to put others ahead of themselves. Self-compassion can seem like the opposite of what you “should” be doing: taking care of others.

But how will beating yourself up help you be kinder to others? The source of our compassion will only be more authentic when we are able to show compassion to ourselves first.

4. Self-compassion is for wimps.

Put on your big girl panties and stop whining!

Man up!

Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!

Our society tends to reward toughing things out more than it does being kind and nurturing to yourself.

But the truth is that the strongest people are also the ones who can buck cultural norms and feel genuine compassion for themselves and their circumstances.

3 Ideas to Create Compassion for Yourself

Throughout the last ten years of her research, Kristin Neff has found three main ways to generate more compassion for yourself.

1. Be kind to yourself

The best way to think about being kind to yourself is to think about a friend.

Go ahead. Do it now. Visualize your best friend.

Now imagine she comes to you and says she is hurting because she was passed over for that promotion at work that she’s wanted for so long.

Would you say to her, “Well, it’s probably because you didn’t work hard enough. And you’re too mousy. You should have spoken up about wanting a promotion a long time ago.”

What? You wouldn’t say that to a friend? Would you say it to yourself?

It’s more likely that you would hug your friend and say, “Oh no! That’s terrible. I know how long you’ve been hoping to get that promotion. Come on, let’s go get some coffee and talk about it?”

You can be kind to yourself in this way, too. Treat yourself as you would treat a friend who is suffering.

Just as you would hug your friend, soothe yourself as well. Put your hands over your heart or locate the spot in your body where your hurt is hiding and gently place both hands there.

Speak kindly to yourself. Call yourself by an endearing name.

“Oh, honey. I’m hurting because I wanted that promotion so badly. This is a really hard place to be in right now.”

2. Embrace your common humanity

Many times when you criticize or judge yourself, you feel isolated. It seems as though you are the only one in the world who has that particular flaw.

And yet, we are all imperfect. We all suffer. And so we are all connected by our shared humanity.

One of the wonderful outcomes of self-compassion is our enhanced sense of belonging, the feeling that we are all in this together.

The next time you are looking in the mirror and not liking what you see, remember that you are an integral part of a flawed, wonderful, wounded, miraculous human tribe.

3. Be mindful

How will you know that you are suffering if you are repressing your pain, rationalizing it, or busy with problem-solving?

You must allow awareness of your pain to enter in. Being mindful is about noticing what is happening in the moment and having no judgment about it.

Notice your hurt and just be with it, compassionately and with kindness.

And note that trying to make pain go away with self-compassion is just another way to repress pain and hurt. Self-compassion is about being with your suffering in a kind, loving way, not about making suffering disappear.

We will always have pain. But as Shinzen Young has noted: Suffering = Pain x Resistance. The more you resist your pain, perhaps by trying to make it go away, the more suffering you will experience.

Mindfulness allows you to stay with the pain without the resistance.

Near the end of the workshop, Kristin led us through one last exercise called “Soften, soothe, allow.” It combines all three of the components listed above to help generate self-compassion.

After thinking about a difficulty we have, Kristin directed us to find the place in our bodies that held our problem and then place our hands on it.

I placed both of my hands gently over my heart.

Then, we were encouraged just to be with our pain—not try to rid ourselves of it—and allow kindness and compassion to surround it.

As I sat meditating on something I have always considered to be a character flaw, tears arose under my closed eyelids and soon splashed down my face.

It was the first time I had ever felt kindness for myself about this very raw area rather than listening to my inner critic. The pain I felt was actually okay when held in this compassionate space, I didn’t need to be ashamed any longer.

The soft waves of compassion surrounding my heart had healed me of my shame.

I now choose self-compassion in my life, especially when that inner voice starts up.

Will you?

About Bobbi Emel

Psychotherapist Bobbi Emel specializes in helping people face life’s significant challenges and regain their resiliency. Download her free ebook, “Bounce Back! 5 keys to survive and thrive through life’s ups and downs.” You can find her blog at http://www.TheBounceBlog.com and follow her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/bobbiemel) and Twitter (@BobbiEmel.)

Go directly to this article here

******************************************************************************

Thinking

Thinking (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

 

I came across an interesting article from Natural News that I want to share. Usually I don’t like their articles because they are very anti-medication and anti-psychiatry. However even in the worst places you can always find a gem! This fits in well with my ideas about positive thinking and how we should not force ourselves to think a certain way. It also discusses the fact that we actually need to pay attention to our negative feelings because they are our teachers, not our enemies.

Spiritual, psychological and holistic reasons to  avoid the positive thinking mentality

Monday, March 11, 2013 by: Mike Bundrant

(NaturalNews) Mention a problem to just about anyone and you’ll be inundated  with positive advice. “Things will get better soon. Just keep a positive  outlook. Chin up, my friend! Behind every dark cloud is a silver lining. When  one door closes, another opens. Your attitude determines your altitude. You’ll  be fine. Everything turns out for the best in the end.”
Positive thinking  dominates our conscious minds. When we have a thought we can control, we try to  make it positive. This is a massive problem; it may be humanity’s deadly flaw.  All those negative thoughts you cannot control, therefore, have a basis in unconscious negativity, an area we are motivated to avoid, especially  since the advent of the positive thinking culture.
What is unconscious  originates outside of our awareness. What is outside of our awareness is outside  of our control. To control negativity, we need to be able to see it, focus on  it, confront it, deal with it – NOT avoid it.
The positive side of life  is valid part of the story. Denying the rest of story goes against  ancient spiritual wisdom, psychological evidence, common sense and sets you up  for a lifetime of disappointment and self-sabotage.
Look at the world around you. Look at  your own mind and behavior honestly. It is not all positive. Focusing only on  the positive and denying the negative is a recipe for disaster. The disaster is  in full force all around us. We continue to deny it at our own peril.

We need holistic thinking, not positive thinking.

Positive thinking is  the act of thinking good or affirmative thoughts. Many people engage in positive  thinking to rid themselves of negative thoughts, even though it is the worst way  to get rid of them.
Positive thinking goes against holistic  thinking on so many levels. Holistic thinking embraces all of life, the  positive and the negative, to the point of transcending them. By transcending  them, I don’t mean avoiding negativity, but achieving balance between these  opposing forces that are not going away, no matter how much we pretend  otherwise.
Focusing solely on the positive  empowers the negative, because the negative and the positive are connected. It  works like a teeter-totter. Sit on one side and the other pops up. Put equal  weight on both sides and you can live in balance and harmony.

Lessons from Taoism

Taoism teaches us that the seeming opposites in  life actually give rise to each other. Many natural dualities (such as female  and male, dark and light, low and high, cold and hot, water and fire, life and  death, and so on) are thought of as physical manifestations of the yin-yang  concept.
Christian apologist C.S. Lewis spoke highly of the Tao in  his book, The Abolition of Man: The Tao, which others may  call Natural Law or Traditional Morality or the First Principles of Practical  Reason or the First Platitudes, is not one among a series of possible systems of  value. It is the sole source of all value judgments. If it is rejected, all  value is rejected.
Denying negativity – especially our unconscious  attachments to it – is a flat rejection of the Tao.

The Old Testament lays it out clearly, in Eccelesiates 3: 1-8

There  is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the  heavens:
A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time  to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to  build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,  a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time  to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to  keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be  silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war  and a time for peace.

If a “positive thinker,” as opposed to  (theoretically) King Solomon, had written Ecclesiastes, here is what we might  have gotten:
A time to be born, but you never have to die if you  see the glass as “half-full.”
A time to laugh, but weeping is not  necessary because nothing in life is sad if you have a positive mental  attitude.
A time to search, and never give up regardless of the  evidence.
A time to love, but we’re not comfortable mentioning that other  word.
A time for peace, so let’s pretend there are no bad guys in the  world.

A time to heal, but we’re not comfortable admitting there  is such a thing as killing, or even suffering.
If we are going to  deal with the negative before it swallows us, we need to learn to focus on it,  intentionally. This involves learning how it operates in our own psyche. We need  to face it productively, rather than ignore it. Facing negativity can change  your life for the better in ways you have never imagined.
When you face  negativity – including the natural negativity within you – with open eyes and an  open mind, you naturally put your magnificent intelligence to work to solve  problems, not deny them. Self-sabotage, which results from an unconscious  attachment to negativity, becomes a thing of the past. .

Learn more:  http://www.naturalnews.com/039430_thinking_positive_mentality_holistic.html#ixzz2OTv5q3ua

Depression Buster Meditation

Meditation

Meditation (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn_BE_BACK_on_3th_SEPT)

Many of the symptoms of depression have to do with the dwelling on the past. Guilt, regret and loss are often the primary feelings you may have when you are depressed. On the other hand, anxiety and worry about the future may play a part, too. While medications help, they may not entirely get rid of all these symptoms.

Blue-Colored Glasses

People are creatures of habit. You may have learned certain ways of thinking and believing, mostly from your childhood. While some people wear “rose-colored glasses”, seeing life from a positive perspective, others have “blue-colored glasses”, seeing only the negative side. In other words, everything you experience is filtered through your own perceptions. One of these misconceptions is the idea that the past equals the future. People who struggle with depression often become hopeless because they don’t see that anything they do can make a difference in their lives. But if you change your perspective just a little bit, you can see that this is not true.

A Word About False Feelings

Feelings are just that, feelings. They do not necessarily have any bearing on the reality of the situation. Feelings are not facts! It is important to understand that when you are depressed that you may not be seeing things accurately. Having said this, do not beat yourself up for thinking the way you do. You may have an underlying chemical imbalance that needs to be treated. Trying to think positively at this point may not be possible. But if you can acknowledge that your feelings are lying to you then you leave a space for hope to grow for the future.

Meditation for Living in the Now

As I have said before, when you are depressed you may be spending your time ruminating obsessively about the past and/or the future. It is important to break this cycle because it keeps you spinning lower and lower into the black hole of depression and anxiety. This simple exercise may help. It is not a miracle cure but a tool to be used in conjunction with medication and therapy (or whatever your treatment plan is.)

  1. Go to a private place and either sit or lie down, whichever is more comfortable. Do not worry if you fall asleep (this is a good meditation to use before bed, too).
  2. Take a few abdominal deep breaths, then settle in to a normal breathing pattern.
  3. Put your attention on your breathing. Feel the sensation of your breath going in and out of your lungs. Spend a little time on this until you start to feel relaxed.
  4. Now bring your attention outwards. What is the room temperature, is it hot, cold, or comfortable? Focus all your attention on this sensation.
  5. Then move your awareness further outwards. Notice how quiet and peaceful it is in the room. Let that peace move into your body with every breath.
  6. Continue to notice other things in your environment, such as the softness of your bedding or the comfort of your chair.
  7. After immersing yourself in these sensations for a few minutes, you may realize that you are no longer thinking about the past or the future, instead you are fully present in the now.
  8. Repeat this phrase silently to yourself, “There is nothing to be upset about in this moment, in the now. As I pay attention to my breath and my environment, I see that there is nothing I need to think about right now. I let my worries go, now, if only for this moment.”
  9. Spend as much time as you need in this meditation. Remember this is a process to enjoy, rather than a task to be mastered.

Using this technique a few times a day is like giving your mind a break from negative thoughts and feelings. But this is not meant to replace professional help. If you are feeling suicidal seek immediate professional help.