I just wanted to add my thoughts about meditation and how it has been of assistance during depressive periods and also periods of mental ill health. When thinking of meditation the more popular notion is that meditation will calm your mind and relax you, and it does. But when practicing experienced meditation taught through a religious setting, then one also gains an insight into how we see ourselves. Our thoughts. Our desires. The idea of the self, and how it relates to the world.
This extra bit is more like investigation because you are also sitting to relax the mind but you are observing your thought patterns, and the emotional thoughts that appear and disappear. This is what is handy when it comes to experiencing deep depression and mental illness, where you may be experiencing strange or disturbing imagery or thought processes.
The way I have benefitted is that when experiencing an overwhlelming depressive state that seems to consume me I decide to sit. Not because I think it will relax me but because I want to investigate this depressive state as you would a cloud. That way I remove the expectation that I want to push away the misery and ‘expect’ happiness to arise.
When I sit to investigate then I just observe what is happening in my mind, and my body, and allow it to be. Sometimes I will even look at my watch and note the time before I start. Then say after ten, twenty, or thirty minutes, if the mood or thought has gone, then I know it is just a wave, a weather pattern. And when the next one comes along I know that it is finite and will eventually leave.
It can also apply to what may appear like disturbing thoughts brought on by ocd and anxiety which can appear quite horrifying and monstrous but are still images from your own mind. In this way the meditation allows you to just watch the image and see it change and watch it disappear.
I have tried this while experiencing heavy nightmares while coming off medications. I may wake up feeling fearful and anxious wondering where that image or dream came from. Then I just grab my pillow and get out of bed and sit down almost as a challenge to the anxious and fearful state.
I say to it,’Where did you come from?’, ‘How long will you be here?’ and, ‘When will you leave?’ Then sit and watch. This way I am not adding any layers to the experince. Just feeling the breath coming through my nose, and feeling my belly go out and then in. It’s possible to even stay in bed and just stare at the ceiling watching it dispassionately. Maybe even compare and contrast with previous thoughts. Note how different it was from the last one. How it seems to come from nowhere.
When I think, ‘how can I think of such thoughts?’ I remember that all the disturbing images have been seen in films and books that I have read or watched over the years. Although they appear more real I label them, ‘visual panic attacks’. That’s what i call them. This helps me to be neutral towards them as they rise and fall. Let’s be clear that this is not a be all, and end all, to do on your own. I am quite sure you have already visited the doctor. Are receiving therapy, and if you can’t afford therapy then talking to one of the free telephone lines available. And of course its not a replacement for prescribed medication.