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Meditation and Depression

written by: Stephanie Mojica • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 2/21/2010

Meditation and depression usually don't go together, as meditation is often a natural depression reliever. Hollywood yogi Ravi Singh often states in his Kundalini yoga and meditation videos that "meditation is the mind's medicine."

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    Overview

    Meditation and depression might go hand in hand at first, as any spiritual practice is rarely an instant "magic pill" to make sad feelings and experiences disappear. But with an honest effort, likely you'll be amazed at the changes in your mind and body. Just a couple of minutes of meditation--virtually any technique--can help create lasting peace even in the face of medical or other life challenges.

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    Kundalini Yoga and Meditation

    For those not offended by the use of mantras (some religious faiths may frown upon chanting and mantras, though many forms of meditation do not go against most people's religious beliefs), Kundalini yoga and meditation is one of the fastest ways to find lasting internal and external strength.

    Yogi Bhajan helped popularize Kundalini yoga and meditation during the 1960's, encouraging people to use the techniques instead of trying to find spiritual experiences through drugs such as marijuana and LSD. Centers have popped up all over the world, especially the United States. Traditionally an Eastern practice, a Kundalini meditation can incorporate specific breaths, hand postures and seated positions. The actual yogic exercises aren't required, though these are also very helpful in alleviating depression.

    Videos exist all over the market, especially those by Ravi Singh and Ana Brett such as "Navel Power." But you might also consider getting started in an in-person class. The good news is once you see the techniques--either on video or in a class--you can do the practices as you like at home. Most Kundalini yogis meditate at least seven minutes a day, especially in the ambrosial hours before the sun rises.

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    Basic Meditation Techniques

    You can start combining meditation and depression right now and maybe make your depression a thing of the past. Simply sit or lie down in a comfortable place where you will not be disturbed. Count your breath from 1 to 10, starting over at 1 if thoughts cross your mind. You can do this for as little or as long as you wish, and may notice an increased calm even after one short session. But if not, don't give up; sometimes it takes time for meditation to really work as the "mind's medicine."

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    Further Tips

    A lot of people, especially those who are depressed, anxious or suffer from bipolar, may have difficulty feeling fully "meditated" at first. Even experienced practitioners report in classes that it can be difficult at times to stay focused.

    The aim is to try. No one is perfect; criticizing or judging yourself for not being a "perfect meditator" will be counterproductive to your self-help efforts. If you have a hard time physically or emotionally staying still, that's okay. Keep trying. Even short periods are better than nothing, and as time passes and your depression lifts it will get a lot easier to meditate deeply for longer periods.

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    References

    “Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E.: Kundalini Meditation.” http://www.edgarcayce.org/ps2/kundalini_meditation_J_Van_Auken.html
    "Mayo Clinic: Using Meditation for Depression." http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/meditation-for-depression/MY00687
    "McMan's Depression and Bipolar Web: Meditation and Yoga for Depression and Bipolar." http://www.mcmanweb.com/meditation_yoga.html
    "Wildmind Buddhist Meditation." http://www.wildmind.org/applied/depression
    • Hazy Moon Zen Center, classes and retreats taken in 2008 and 2009.
    • Golden Bridge Yoga, Los Angeles, classes taken in 2008 and 2009.
    • Yoga West, Los Angeles, classes taken in 2005 and 2009.
    • Zen Center of Los Angeles, classes taken in 2008 and 2009.
    • Santa Monica Yoga, Santa Monica, California, classes taken in 2005.
    • Seek Balance Kundalini Yoga, Virginia Beach, Virginia, classes taken in 2005,
    • Numerous Ravi Singh and Ana Brett DVD's including "Navel Power."
    • Numerous Snatam Kaur CD's including "Grace."
    • "Kundalini Sadhana" various artists CD.