What are the best types of meditation for depression?
As a meditation instructor, I hear that question a lot. I used to suffer from depression years ago. Nothing helped. Then I started meditating.
Meditation stopped painful emotions that were basically killing me. And not only did meditation help depression, I got so into it I started to teach other people to use meditation for depression.
So let me show you how to stop depression with meditation.
Here is what I am going to share with you today:
- Video of this article
- My complete guide to meditation
- Best Meditations For Depression
- Easy Meditation For Depression
- Buddhist Meditation For Depression
- Mindfulness For Depression
- Best Guided Meditation For Depression
- Guided Imagery For Depression
- Science Showing How Meditation Helps Depression
- Benefits Of Using Meditation On Depression
- Stopping Depressive Thoughts
- And you might also like to read my guide to helping someone with depression.
The Best Types Of Meditation For Depression
There are many self-healing meditation techniques.
Many meditations can help with depression. The most basic is breath-based meditation.
When you focus the mind on the breath you silence your thoughts, which helps you to escape from depression and anxiety [read: Best Techniques For Anxiety].
The following scenario paints the picture:
Like a cup, if the mind is full, nothing more can be put in it. No new information can enter a full mind. A problem. Because just as the body needs water, the mind needs new information.
Meditation empties the mind. Then, new, healthy, positive information is free to enter.
Meditation helps us let go of what is there, and put something happier and more pleasant in its place.
Essentially: out go depressive thoughts. In come healthy, happy thoughts.
A Very Easy Type Of Meditation For Depression
Spend 10 minutes trying this simple exercise. It will clear your mind and help you to start feeling relaxed.
- Find somewhere quiet and peaceful where you will not be disturbed.
- Sit with good posture.
- Close your eyes and focus your mind on your breathing.
- With each inhalation, imagine bringing new energy into your body.
- With each exhalation imagine breathing out any negative and depressive thoughts.
- Take 108 breaths in this fashion.
This is a very simple exercise for depression. It’s the type of mindfulness exercise advocated by Deepak Chopra, and Doctor Oz
More Effective Meditations For Depression
Now we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at the best meditation techniques for depression. But please bear in mind that meditation does pose some risks to your health.
Buddhist Meditations For Depression
Many of the best types of meditation come from Buddhism.
Buddhist meditation techniques help train the mind just like you train your body when you exercise.
With these techniques you will take control of your mind and stop depressive thoughts and painful emotions.
Here are the best Buddhist meditations for depression (see the link above for complete guides to all these techniques).
Meditation Techniques for depression #1: Anapanasati
“Anapanasati” is the proper term used to described breathing meditations.
This is one of the best types of meditation for depression. And it is the best place for all newcomers to start meditation.
The basic process of anapanasati is about focusing on the breath to relax the mind, and then focusing on the feeling of calmness.
Anapanasati is fairly easy to do, and it creates a deep sense of relaxation.
If you’re wondering why does meditation help depression, try this technique. You will feel calmer and you’ll see why mindfulness is so helpful.
Meditation Techniques for Depression 2: Smiling Buddha Technique
Smiling Buddha meditation is a moderately advanced technique that is best for people who have some experience meditating.
It is a technique specifically designed to create happiness. It involves a combination of mudras (hand position) and mantras (repeated words) to create deep relaxation and happiness.
The reason this is a good type of meditation for depression is because it boosts positive emotions.
- Read my full guide to Smiling Buddha Technique.
Meditation Techniques for Depression 3: Zen Walking Meditation
I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that when you’re feeling down, a nice long walk helps a lot.
A walk gives you the chance to escape and allows you to clear your mind.
The only thing better than a walk is a Zen walking.
In Zen walkng you walk up and down a path while meditating on the sense of movement. This allows you to get some fresh air (important for depression). It clears the mind and brings calmness and relaxation.
This is the best type of meditation for depression when you’ve been stuck inside too long.
4. Loving Kindness Meditation For Depression (Metta)
Scientific research shows that Loving Kindness Meditation is very helpful for depression (source).
Loving Kindness is type of meditation in which we focus on giving and receiving compassion.
To do a loving kindness meditation:
- Close your eyes and think about someone (being either by thinking of yourself or someone close to you whom you like)
- See this person happy, smiling
- List 5 nice things they have done for you in the pat, things that made you feel supported
- Imagine extending love and kindness to this person
- Say the words “May [name of person] have love and kindness. May they be happy, healthy and successful. May they also have the strength to overcome troubles in life. I love [name of person]. I am one with [name of person]”
- Imagine the person sending loving kindness back to you.
- Repeat the process with a second person, third person and so on.
- The first time, aim for 10 people.
Mindfulness Meditation for Depression (5)
Mindfulness isn’t a specific meditation technique. It’s more an attitude which encompasses a wide variety of techniques.
This is the type of meditation Deepak Chopra, Dr. OZ and others advocate.
Essentially, mindfulness is awareness. You simply focus on the present moment.
When you practice mindfulness you train yourself to let go of thoughts and to focus on the moment. This is very powerful for depression and will help you to escape your thoughts. I particularly recommend mindfulness if you are suffering from negative thought depression.
The NHS tells us:
When we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh things that we have been taking for granted.
6: Guided Imagery for Depression
Visualisation meditation is one of the more advanced types of meditation for depression because you have to use your imagination.
Essentially, visualisation can be defined like this: imagining specific things to produce specific results.
Let’s say, for instance, that you wish to relax. You may choose to imagine a relaxing scene of a beach.
Try this now and you will become relaxed and happy.
- Imagine standing on the beach beside the ocean
- Sea the waves lapping to and fro at your feet
- Hear the swoosh of the waves
- See the horizon
- Feel the warm sand at your feet
- Taste the crisp air
- Say to yourself, “I am relaxed and calm. It is a good day”.
Visualizations like this train the mind to think about positive, relaxing things. This brings calmness and inner peace. Unquestionably one of the best types of meditation for depression.
Meditation Techniques for Depression 7: Body Scan Meditation
When you are depressed you lose touch with the present moment.
Depression makes you get lost in those ruminating thoughts.
Comparatively, when we are happy with live in the moment.
Living in the moment essentially means being focused on reality rather than what is in your mind.
Body Scan Meditation gets you in touch with your body and puts you back in the present moment.
It’s fairly easy to do. Ideally do it lying down, though you may stay seated if you prefer.
To do a body scan meditation, you move your focus around your body. You may also consciously relax your body as you go (this is similar to the technique call “Progressive muscle relaxation”).
- Begin with your feet. Focus you mind on your feet.
- Notice any sensations in your feet.
- If there is tension ask your feet to relax.
- Imagine breathing air into your feet and having them relax.
- Continuing this process, move your focus progressively up your body, from feet to ankles to legs to pelvis to stomach, chest, arms, hands, neck, face and head.
- Reverse the process from head to toe.
This if definitely one of the best types of meditation for depression
8. Mantra Meditation For Depression
A mantra is a sacred sound that is meditated on.
There are two types of mantras, both of which are applicable to depression.
The first is a sound mantra. For instance the mantra “Om”
Try this exercise:
- Close your eyes
- focus on your breathing
- recite the mantra OM
- Feel the sound reverberating in your body
- Focus 100% on the sound.
- Chant “Om” 108 times.
The next type of mantra uses a sentence.
You can use any sentence you like. For instance, you may recite “I am feeling calm and relaxed.”
You then recite this mantra repeatedly while focusing on the words.
This helps you to create the reality of the words, such that, for instance, saying “ I am calm and relaxed” will make you calm and relaxed. Easily one of the best types of meditation for depression.
9: Best Guided Meditation For Depression
There are many excellent meditations for depression on Youtube . Here is one of the best:
10: Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is massively helpful for depression.
It is a form of therapy that combines mindfulness with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). And in my experience it works wonders.
The reason I love this method so much is that you get the best of both meditation and CBT. The meditation aspect slows down your mind and makes you feel more relaxed and peaceful. The CBT aspect then changes the way you think so you can stop depressive thoughts.
This method has made a huge difference in my life. And I seriously recommend that you try it. The link above has a complete guide so you can start doing it today… as in, right now.
With MBCBT you will completely revolutionise your mind.
What Science Says About Using Meditation Techniques For Depression
Why does meditation help depression?
In a recent trial published by The Lancet medical journal, 424 British adults were given either depression medication or therapy either take pills or try therapy.
Half the test group were allotted to pills and the other half to sessions of mindfulness.
The latter group stopped taking their medication completely after a winding-down period.
The results are impressive.
“The relapse rates in the two groups were similar, with 44% in the mindfulness group and 47% for those on the drugs,” reports British newspaper The Guardian.
Lead author Willem Kuyken, professor of psychology at the University of Oxford said, “Our hypothesis was that [therapy would be more effective than pills].”
The results showed that meditation is equally as good as medication and that meditation does offer an alternative option for people trying to overcome depression.
Nigel Reed, who has been suffering from depression and who took part in the study, says, “Mindfulness gives me a set of skills which I use to keep well in the long term. ”
The study also showed that mindfulness might work better than pills for those people who are at high risk of relapse.
- You might like to read about the shocking placebo research.
Benefits Of Using Meditation For Depression
Yes, meditation helps with depression. Big times.
In fact, you get a ton of benefits from meditation. Just take a look at some of these benefits:
Meditation does all this:
- Massively reduces anxiety symptoms
- Stops negative thoughts
- Helps with post traumatic stress disorder
- Helps us let go
- Boosts the immune system
- Promotes inner peace
- Prevents and relieve anger
- Increases communication between parts of the brain.
- Helps to stop painful emotions
- Reduces sadness and grief as well as other negative emotions
- Relieves sadness
- Prevents loss of appetite
- Offers relief from agitation
- Stops restlessness
- Helps control thoughts of death, suicide, and self harm
- Cures insomnia
- Helps with bipolar disorder
Medication VS Meditation For Depression: Does Meditation Help Depression Better Than Medication?
Another question is: Does meditation help depression better than medicine?
Professor Roger Mulder, of the University of Otago New Zealand, believes that mindfulness should be offered as a therapy for patients. His reasons is that meditation lowers costs and has less side effects.
“We have a promising new treatment that is reasonably cost-effective and applicable to the large group of patients with recurrent depression,” says Mulder.
Mulder states that drugs are not working as expected.
“Despite the increased use of drugs, the long-term outcome of mood disorders has not improved in the modern era.”
And yet despite these facts the pharmaceutical industry continues to force pills on people. And that despite the mounting placebo research.
Current best practice, endorsed by Nice (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) is to encourage people with a history of recurrent depression to remain on antidepressants for at least two years.
So here’s what we know:
- Meditation can be as effective as medication for depression
- Meditation doesn’t have the side-effects medication has
- Experts recommend people with depression try mindfulness and meditation
Naturally, you will want to consult a healthcare professional to see what the best option is for you.
But do be aware of the possible side-effects of medication.
The full list of side-effects from anti-depressants
- increased appetite
- weight gain
- loss of sexual desire and other sexual problems
- fatigue and drowsiness
- dry mouth
- blurred vision
- Weight gain
- Loss of sex drive
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty urinating
- Sun sensitivity
- Increased heart rate
- Weight gain
- Sleep disruption
- Abdominal pain
You Can Also Stop Negative-Thought-Depression With Meditation
The best types of meditation for depression help us to stop negative thoughts.
You can stop negative thoughts depression with meditation. In fact, one of the main reasons why meditation helps with depression is because it helps us control negative thoughts.
I wanted to know precisely how much of an effect these negative thoughts have on us. So I researched. And was shocked by the answer.
EocInstitute [one of the leaders for science-backed meditation articles] tell us, “Scientists estimate the number of human thoughts at around 50,000 per day — meaning a negative, depressed mind can literally generate dozens of pessimistic thoughts per minute! READ MORE
Stopping negative thoughts can have a huge effect on depression.
You need to stop negative thoughts so that you can find peace and calm. You need to find a new, positive way of thinking.
One way to change your negative thoughts is to use mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy (MBCBT) for positivity. This is a powerful way of boosting the positive thoughts in your mind, while reducing the negative thoughts.
And that is basically how meditation helps depression.
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Paul Harrison is a meditation teacher, author and journalist based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential. Don’t miss Paul’s inspirational and enlightening book: Your Best Meditation