If you’re reading this article, there’s a more-than-likely possibility that you struggle with mental health. And if you’re like me, which I’m willing to bet you are, you’ve searched time and time again on the internet for some sort of magic fix for your struggles.
You’ve probably heard everything by now: herbal tea, yoga, special diets, etc. You’ve probably also heard of a million and a half mental health “cures” like certain supplements (spoiler alert: if something says it cures depression, you should take it with a grain of salt). You may find some relief with these, there is no doubt about that. But you’ve never found any sort of magic cure or else you wouldn’t be reading this right now.
Unfortunately, sometimes the scariest thing is exactly the right thing to do. This is the driving principle behind mindfulness meditation: not to cure thoughts of depression or anxiety, but to allow your brain to process these feelings as they are so that you can move on from them.
What separates mindfulness meditation from the less-comprehensive remedies? What separates it from the so-called “cures?”
Work. Mental health cures that magically wipe away your condition or symptoms don’t exist. These things simply don’t go away on their own. It’s an unfortunate reality, but it is our reality.
Mindfulness meditation is an active attempt to tap into what’s causing your problems and confront it. Much like taking psychedelics to experience ego death and confront the dark parts of your own psyche, mindfulness meditation can be a grueling process that aims to address the root causes of your symptoms rather than putting a band-aid on them and hoping that cures you.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do this on your own. Mindfulness meditation doesn’t require you to reinvent the wheel, rather simply just come along for the ride.
Helpful sites and resources like Mindful can serve as an introduction to this new way of thinking. According to Mindful, this is how to get started with mindfulness meditation:
- “Take a seat. Find a place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you.
- Set a time limit. If you’re just beginning, it can help to choose a short time, such as 5 or 10 minutes.
- Notice your body. You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, you can sit loosely cross-legged, in lotus posture, you can kneel – all are fine. Just make sure you are stable and in a position you can stay in for a while.
- Feel your breath. Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes out and as it goes in.
- Notice when your mind has wandered. Inevitably, your attention will leave the sensations of the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing this – in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes – simply return your attention to the breath.
- Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back.”
Depression Cured, Right?
Nope. That would be nice, but unfortunately it’s never that simple.
Mindfulness is not a cure. It’s just another tool in your growing arsenal of ways to compete with your symptoms.
It won’t make you better overnight. Like any discipline, it takes consistent practice and commitment.
Don’t let this discourage you. Mindfulness is a way for you to confront your greatest challenges in the comfort of your own house. You can start and stop anytime you want – if it gets too much, call it a day and try again later.
Mindfulness, when given proper time and commitment, empowers you to change the way your symptoms affect you.