Illustration: Kagan McLeod
Meditation is a proven stress-reliever, but it can also remedy those struggling with depression, weight loss and marital problems. Read on to find out why—and how—it can work for you.
Meditation for Depression:Why It Works
People who struggle with the blues tend to see sadness as a problem they need to fix. When the emotion wells up, they begin to ruminate over such questions as "Why am I feeling like this? What does this say about me? Will I ever get better?" But the brooding only causes more pain. Meditation can help quiet those thoughts, says psychologist Mark Williams, coauthor of The Mindful Way Through Depression. It teaches the mind to experience emotions without judging them, and people who are vulnerable to depression learn to avoid falling into whirlpools of counterproductive thinking. "As a result," Williams says, "the sadness tends to dissolve much more quickly than it might have otherwise."
How It Works
Williams and two colleagues adapted founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School Jon Kabat-Zinn's MBSR program to create Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), a blend of meditation practices with therapy techniques to reshape self-critical thoughts. In the two-month course, participants meet for class once a week (topics include "Staying Present" and "Automatic PIlot"), and do one hour of meditation "homework" (like a visualization) each day. Clinical trials have shown that MBCT, which costs about $500, is as effective as antidepressants at reducing the rate of depression relapse. Go to MBCT.com to learn more. If there are no courses in your area, you can follow the program in The Mindful Way Through Depression.
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