Depression… few speak of it and even fewer know anything about it. For me, Buddhism is the answer. The Buddha explains how the mind works and why it works the way it does. Depression can destroy your life and the lives of those closest to you yet the Buddha has the answers for those who care to investigate.
Admitting you have depression is the first, and most important step you must take. It is a difficult one to be sure. Admitting you need help is incredibly difficult, maybe even more so if you are male. Admitting that your mind is messed up and out of control is even more intimidating. Being prescribed antidepressants and antipsychotics can be frightening, especially when you realise you may be on them for years. But the Buddha does have the answers, and the meditation practices he taught definitely have tangible benefits. I know… I use them.I have dealt with depression and anxiety for the last 7 years. I also had an episode back in the 1990’s that lasted about 4 years. I have been on high doses of various medications for those 7 years but nothing has helped quite so much since I took up reasonably regular practice of simple Breath Meditation. I am calmer, I am more at peace and my mind is clearer. I am able to take on situations that would have tipped me over the edge a year ago. I have been able to take some of the pressure off my partner with the day-to-day running of the flat. All-in-all Breath Meditation has been the best thing for me since I succumbed to depression all those years ago.
The mind, in its purest form, is basically at peace. With no sensory input, there is no disruption to this peace. It is only sensory input that upsets the apple cart, and with todays current media storm of sensory overload, 24 hours a day, it is hardly surprising that there is also an increase in mental disorder. We cannot (unless we become a hermit) escape the capitalist drive to sell, sell, sell! Social networking has hooked the race into the internet in every way possible to the point that I often see parents walking down the road, face buried in Facebook or Twitter, whilst their child is screaming for attention in their buggy. It is a horribly saddening situation. Those children are going to grow up feeling unloved and unappreciated. They will become the dispossessed in future years and probably end up in prison at some point, all because their parents thought more of AppChat and Facebook than they did of them.
Taking 10 or 15 minutes out of the media maelstrom and finding yourself again, maybe once or twice a day, will make you a better, more balanced person. You will find that you actually enjoy life more. You will have more interest in those around you, and you may even learn to put your phone down for five minutes without panicking.
I have found that I have lost interest in the more gory horror movies. I find myself drawn more to life affirming entertainment, with less violence and less mindless chatter. I have more time for the garden, I enjoy cooking more and I find my thoughts going more towards what I can do for my family than what they could do for me.
Don’t get me wrong, Breath Meditation is not a cure-all. It will not solve all your life’s troubles, but it WILL make a difference if you spend some time with it. It is called a practice because that is exactly what it is. You practice it. It can take a life time to become proficient but that does not mean you will not gain almost immediate benefit. Patience is the key-word for meditation, and that patience will pay-off. Take my word for it.
May all sentient beings find peace.