Practical Meditation


Does meditation have any effect with depression?

The complete question was as follows:

"Dear Roger....Soon after being introduced to Samantha discovered Vipassana which felt less restrictive and so I began practicing that. However the problems I'd been experiencing, although less acute, were still there. In the intervening years, I gave up on meditation many times, often for several years, because although I would sometimes get wonderful results after intensive practice, I always seemed to come back to my old depressive mind state and fall into tying to nullify the pain with food, TV or whatever. This just made the depression worse and I'd end up in depression for months ,sometimes.....I guess I'd like to ask you what thoughts you might have about what I have told you..."


With regard to the pain and depression you spoke of. Consider this:

When we get sick with a virus or a `bug`, we bear the physical pain, emotional bleakness and discomfort without it affecting our sense of esteem - we know that it is a temporary condition that will go away, so we just bear it.

But when we feel the discomfort and pain of depression or anxiety, because it seems to appear from within ourselves, we panic - we call ourselves "depressed", thereby claiming it as a part of our Self, and solidifying it`s presence in our life. By hating it so much, we develop fear of it, and by fearing it so much, we develop attachment, thus ensuring that depression and psychic pain will remain instituted within our life.

But if you look at it clearly, depression is no different to being sick - it is a set of uncomfortable body sensations, and a pollution of feelings and thoughts, none of which is true. Also, it is caused by circumstances that are beyond our control, and the physical discomfort is no worse that that of a viral illness or `bug` - so why do we fear it so much, why the drama?

I think it would help if you treated your psychic pain as just a temporary fact of your life - that will change if you allow it to. Accept that, for the moment, these particular textures of being that you experience are your life. Stop trying to use meditation to `get rid of it`, and begin instead to use meditation to explore it - to understand it - to accept it. And here is the twist - the paradox. It is only when you accept the way things are now, that change will occur.

What is holding the depression and pain in your life is your struggling, dislike and non-acceptance - they are what is causing the pain you speak of to keep re-occurring.

You see, life is not against you. Your mind, body and life are always trying to help you. Your mind and body are natural self healing mechanisms, and nature is the same. Left to their own devices all things will heal, adjust, find balance. But the problem is that we meddle and stop this self healing from happening. Because we fear some things, and desire other things, we are always attaching to things that should be left in flow, in flux, able to change on their own. We fear our pain, so we tense up around it, and struggle with it, and in so doing, we hold it in existence - the natural adjustment of change cannot work its magic.

By acceptance, I am not saying that you must begin to like the pain, or look for it - just try to let go of not liking it it. Choose to have no particular view. Just see it for what it is. Let it be that, one day you felt happy feelings - the next day you feel painful feelings - different textures of being, no more, no less. This acceptance is the first step to letting go.

This is why acceptance is so powerful. When we accept, we have no attachment - and in that letting go, things are free to be what they are - to appear, and then disappear. And those things that are out of harmony with the flow of nature, if left to themselves, slowly fall apart and disappear. It`s only by learning not to fear, and not to desire, but to accept things as they are, and accept that they wqill change, that life begins to work for you rather than against you. Your body, your mind, and you life become your friends, and help you instead of always appearing as things to struggle with.