Mindfulness and Depression

by Peter Carlson on June 18, 2015

Continuing to explore how Buddhist mindfulness and lovingkindness practices can help address mental health issues that are epidemic in our culture, this week’s topic is about the nature of depression from both a modern and Buddhist perspective.  Peter described the general symptoms of depression, and the Buddhist concept of the cause of distress being craving and clinging.  It was suggested that a major element of depression is a preoccupation with distorted views of self and of life that are negative in their impact.  This preoccupation is driven by the misperception that a sad or despairing feeling is a true and permanent rendering of someone’s personality.  Mindfulness meditation enables a person to view their troubling emotions and distorted perceptions objectively and channel attention to accepting the emotion without negative self-talk, and substituting more beneficial thoughts and behaviors.   The Buddhist concepts of impermanence and non-self emphasize that self organization is dynamically changing, and that clinging to a particular view is disabling.

Peter and other shared their depressive experiences in the past and how mindfulness and lovingkindness practices benefited their recoveries and resilience to current stressful events.  Peter described various contemporary psychotherapies that combine mindfulness with standard clinical techniques.

The recording is longer than usual, due to the enthusiastic participation of those attending the meeting.  Immediately after this post, the notes prepared for this talk will be posted, including several self-help books involving using mindfulness approaches for alleviating depression.

Next week’s topic will focus on Buddhist understanding of addictive processes, which go beyond the normal descriptions of addictions as being drug related, and how mindfulness practices can be of benefit for preventing addictive relapse

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