Depression often refers to feelings of sadness. The effects are quite numerous. Lack of energy and appetite, feelings of hopelessness and despair, low energy, loss of vitality and the zest for life. It is often caused by life events that we have had a negative reaction to. Sometimes not living up to our own mind-made expectations of ourselves and others opens the door to such suffering; however, there are other triggers that may not be so obvious. Dehydration, lack of sleep, smoking, poor diet, relationship expectations, etc. are just a few of the additional triggers to depression. Knowing its symptoms may be more important than its causes, as there are so many factors contributing to the disorder.
Anxiety, thought-provoked feelings of worry and dread resulting in nervousness and unease. Usually caused by thoughts of upcoming events, regret or despair.
Though different from depression, anxiety is a close neighbor that often accompanies depression or triggers it.
Unlike depression, some experts point to the fact that some anxiety can be normal as well as healthy, especially when it leads to positive decisions when it comes to potentially negative or even dangerous situations. All that being said, the student of meditation applies a different set of pointers as they focus on these issues.
The student sat with the teacher and said, “I spend so much time in thoughts in my mind, worrying about future situations or tasks left undone. I compulsively think about what people think of me… am I good enough, have I done enough, are they true to me, do they like me, am I loved? I judge myself over past deeds and situations. I feel so much anxiety. I feel it throughout my body, like a physical nervousness that I can’t describe.
The thoughts then deepen to dread and despair as I struggle to find a way out of the stress and tension. With no hope in sight, my thoughts turn to a state of depression that leads me down a hopeless spiral that drains me of all my energy and even moments of not wanting to go on.
Sometimes these thoughts and feelings come and go; at other times I feel as though I have been and will be stuck there forever.”
The teacher gently laid their hands upon the student’s and said, “Yes, I understand. I will promise you no magic cure. As a student of meditation, you would do well to make the connection between the thoughts that are going on in your mind and the situations those thoughts lead you to. Your anxiety and depression are triggered by the stream of thoughts going through your mind. I, as your teacher, and you, as the student, use meditation practices to separate us from the stream of thought. The more we observe our minds, the more we separate from it. Through continued practice, the realization that we are not the thoughts, nor the negative reactions produced by them, comes forward and aids, if not eradicating the negative effects of our conditioned, programmed minds. You are not the stream of thought any more than you are the depression and anxiety the thoughts are causing. Practice your meditations. If you don’t know how, learn how. If the meditation isn’t working, then meditate more. Meditate until you wake up from the nightmare of depression and anxiety caused by your mind. You are not your mind; you are something else.”
A meditation with a mantra, try this out, here and there, when it comes to mind, or not. Try it if and when you are tangled up in thoughts that lead you to anxiety and depression. When such thoughts come to mind, focus your attention on something (as you would normally do during meditation) and repeat to yourself, “Look at what my mind is doing to me now.” Say it aloud or in your head. Say it once, say it 10 times, say it a thousand times. Say it until you don’t have to anymore. Until your conscious self helps you to realize the negative thoughts rising in your mind are beyond your control. You are not those negative thoughts. You are something else.
It’s a new day. Your day. ••