Before even considering taking depression medication it’s best to look at ways of curing depression naturally, of which one of the best are Buddhist meditations for depression.
This simple guide will help you to get started in using Buddhist meditation for depression. It’s always best to start with breathing techniques because they are the simplest place to begin. To do a Buddhist breathing meditation, go somewhere quiet where you wont be disturbed, sit comfortably and with good posture. You may notice that when you are focussing on your breathing certain thoughts come to mind. If we try to stay with being with things as they are, if we try to stay present and aware, sometimes the mind calms down.
The Buddha’s experience was the final end point of everything in his lifetime(s) that preceded it — his meditative practice, his ethical development, his philosophical understanding. This isn’t to say you won’t have profound experiences during deep meditation or on prolonged retreats.
Roshi’s words resonated because I’d recently completed a teleconferenced Dharma course offered through an on-line organization. Often the number one thing getting in the way of meditation practice is our idea about how our meditation practice should be going. The Pali Canon speaks of five hindrances (panca nivara?ani) or obstructions during meditation: sense desire (kamacchanda), ill-will (byapada), sloth and torpor (thina-midda), restlessness and remorse (uddhacca-kukkucca), and doubt (vivikiccha).
Ill-will includes resentments from the day that carry over into our practice as well as anger arising from emerging memories of past hurts. Sloth and torpor refer to mental states of dullness, boredom, sleepiness, and lack of alertness. If we keep drifting off into dreamy mental states, can we watch the process of beginning to nod off again and again, and invest energy in observing the process? If these “hindrances” persist, if we remain “caught,” if we are the victims of a “multiple hindrance attack,” can we stay with this process without getting discouraged or disturbed?
It’s said that when we practice meditation we are actually practicing three separate skills: 1) staying with the object of meditation, 2) recognizing when we’ve drifted off, and 3) returning to the object without fuss or judgment.
The poet William Blake wrote in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell that “if the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.” Keep watching your mind just as it is.
Why practice either piano or meditation despite the fact that I’ll never advance beyond amateur status?
So it was with great interest that I read a recent scientific study suggesting that even very modest meditation experience can make measurable changes in the brain. The study is called “Short-term Meditation Induces White Matter Changes in the Anterior Cingulate,” and it will appear shortly in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
In this study, forty-five college students received a mere 11 hours of training in what the authors called “integrative mind-body training,” or IMBT.


After the college students received the 11 hours of training, the researchers performed a type of brain imaging scan called Diffusion Tensor Imaging to examine the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) of their brains. So, fellow amateurs, keep up with your meditation practice, even if your practice is not perfect. Still, for those of us who love and respect hard science, its nice to see science “validate” what we already know from our own introspection. As you sit down to meditate, the first things you may notice are sensations, sounds, and  thoughts. These thoughts generate and maintain a series of corresponding emotional states: irritation, boredom, frustration, worry, and so on.
All of these thoughts and their ensuing emotional states are mental objects we can attend to, just as we can attend to the itch on our face, the sound of the boom box, or the feel of our breath.
Cravings and impulses are transient mind states that pass on their own if we do nothing to satisfy them. Learning to be mindful of mental states that lead to harmful behavior and the thoughts that generate and maintain them is a first step towards liberation.
We rediscover our bodies in meditation.  It’s as if a previously silent realm has begun to speak.
The brain normally privileges vision and hearing and assigns a lesser priority to somatic sensations (unless they are quite strong) arising from the body.  The brain also prioritizes sensations and perceptions that are socially relevant, or that pertain to either our safety or successfully attaining our goals. The best way to understand the mind is not by reading about it, but by observing it directly.  Doing so means making a space in one’s life to take the time for observation. 3) Memory – Remembering facts about birds, images of birds, past memories of having heard birds, etc. This process of one sensation setting off a volley of subsequent processes (which in turn sets off a new set of subsequent processes) is called mental proliferation.  Proliferation is the normal state of the human mind.
Consult a doctor before practicing these techniques and be sure to follow the instructions carefully. Now close your eyes and focus on your breath as it enters and leaves through your nose and mouth. By “somewhere else” they mean their fantasy of whatever-it-was the Buddha experienced at the moment of his Enlightenment. Our experience is the end product of everything leading up to this moment in our lives — our virtues and vices, our sleep patterns and eating habits, our discipline and skill, the quality of our relationships and our health. The ACC is responsible for monitoring and resolving conflict among competing response tendencies. We limit incoming visual and auditory sensation and suspend (or at least try to!) goal-directed striving. We become aware of feelings of warmth and tingling in our limbs, aware of our pulse and the circulation of our blood.  All of these sensations compete for our attention in an ever-changing kaleidoscopic cacophony.  How is it possible that we didn’t even notice this world before, except when we were ill or in pain? We’ve caught ourselves in the act of being ourselves once again!  We begin to appreciate that this is who we are and will seemingly always be.  We cannot transform ourselves into another kind of being.


One moment we are observing our minds, and the next moment we are off in a daydream, the intent to observe all but lost.  It can be a bit alarming to see how hard it is to keep the mind on track. Therefore, in order to become who we desire to be, we must first clean ourselves from the inside; so that we can get rid of all the negative energies that have been holding us back in the past.
Some people hear voices in their head, some see negative images, others have a general feeling of depression. For instance, you may recite “I am feeling calm and relaxed.” You then recite this mantra repeatedly while focussing on the words. His head is filled with thoughts of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday — the family he has not seen for ages, the tasks remaining to be done. Sometimes the energies that are roiling the mind are too intense to be conquered by our weak intention to be present. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox. Neglected streams of information blossom into awareness.  For many first-time meditators, listening to the body can come as a revelation. It is only when you discover your true self that you stand well positioned to embrace all the possibilities and opportunities that lie all around you. This helps you to create the reality of the words, such that, for instance, saying “ I am calm and relaxed” will make you calm and relaxed.
The goal is not the elimination of these thoughts and emotions, but developing our capacity to observe them in a kind and interested way. The only thing that’s clear is “just do it.” Whether the sitting is “good” or “bad,” just do it. We are not the masters of our own house, and learning to work skillfully with the energies at play is the work of a lifetime. But this whole idea of “getting better” is part of the problem, the endless self-improvement and self-manipulation game. I tell William to lighten up, that getting lost and returning is the very heart of Zen practice. I tell Matthew that his passionate anger is understandable, but can he sit with it and see what it is doing inside of him?
The world is, at times, a violent and terrible place, and we are only one drop of water in this storm-tossed sea. Can we see what’s possible for us to accomplish as this one drop — committed, firm and resolute — but without grandiose aspirations to omnipotently control the ocean?



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