Meditation and Mental Health

by Jessica B. September 4th, 2012 | Mental Health
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These days more and more people are turning to prescription medication for anxiety disorders, social disorders, depression, and other forms of mental illness. While these medications are invaluable in treatment of these disorders, they are not a great ‘permanent’ solution to the problem.

There are many forms of meditation and anti-anxiety practices that can be used in combination with medication, or as a first step in a treatment plan for more mild cases. Meditation can be used alongside a regular therapy program, and it does not necessitate any religious affiliation.

1) Join a meditation group – If you need a little encouragement to take that first step, you can always join a meditation group. You may find a group at a nearby yoga center (a meditation class does not necessitate actual yoga practice) or at a nearby Zen center. Or you can begin on your own at home.

2) Take the plunge – You don’t need much to begin meditating, basically just a quiet place where you can focus on yourself. You should be focusing on good posture, calming your mind (perhaps by repeating a mantra – your mantra could be anything from ‘relax ‘ to ‘sitting on the dock of the bay’ to a traditional Hindu mantra – over and over again). This should help you clear your mind. Take deep breaths and close your eyes. Stay in this position for a scheduled amount of time. Start with 5 minutes a day and work up to 15-20 minutes a day.

3) Don’t give up – Quieting the mind is difficult for people not suffering from anxiety or depression, and it can be even harder for those suffering from an illness. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work the first time, and don’t give up. The goal is to have a clear mind, and you will know when you get there. Even setting aside 5 minutes a day to breathe deeply and focus on your internal self can be positive. You will get there. If it helps, you can light candles, turn on peaceful music, and dim the lights.

4) Use a meditation recording – If you are having trouble relaxing on your own, you can use a relaxation tool. You can listen to someone walk you through a guided relaxation exercise which can help to focus an otherwise distracted mind.

Remember that meditation can be a helpful tool in coping with mental illness, but in many cases it is not a great replacement for medication. Speak with your doctor to determine if you can use meditation as a complementary treatment or as another form of treatment for your illness.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.