A Little Progress Is Still Progress
Take meditation one breath at a time. If youre aiming for long sessions of meditation, try shorter ones to start.
If youre mind wanders sometimes, thats OK. Try for less and less each session. Meditation takes practice and a bit of progress each time is all thats needed to become better at it.
Ready to go all in with meditation? These are some solid starters:
If youre already obsessed with Yoga with Adriene
Begin your meditation practice with something familiar: her 14-minute anxiety meditation.
If you have 15 minutes and need to escape the rat race
This guided meditation from the podcast Breathe People was designed to tackle anxiety, stress, and burnout.
If you have 30 minutes to kill and you need to really clean house
This full-service meditation for anxiety and stress from Mindful can help bring you back down to Earth.
If your anxiety is starting to build and you need to walk away
Give this 8-minute meditation a listen and emerge from that hall closet/bathroom stall/parked car as the centered badass you are.
If your anxiety is raging and you need to fall asleep, like, now
Heres a 3-hour session to help you off to dreamland.
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Best For Relaxation: The Honest Guys
The Honest Guys
- Cost: This meditation, as well as Clarke’s other offerings, are free and available on YouTube.
- Features: Calming imagery and background sounds.
Why We Chose It: The Honest Guys offer free, simple meditations with breathing techniques to help quell anxiety.
Soothing guide and background sounds
Reassuring for anxious users
Only one video
A bit generalized
Like many others who swear by this guided meditation, Rick Clarke’s voice is alluring because it isn’t distracting. He begins with deep breathing and points out that thoughts of anxiety and stress are common.
The key to success with this guided meditation is to allow yourself to be in total peace with your surroundings. As you feel more relaxed, Clarke counts down from five to zero, and each number takes you deeper into relaxation. At the eight-minute mark, youll notice the addition of chimes and he stops talking. This allows you to focus on your breath while calming your body.
As the chimes fade out and the only sound you hear is the waves, you have the option of drifting off to sleep, continuing in this deeply relaxed state, or resuming your day.
This meditation and Clarke’s other offerings are free and available on YouTube.
Need Stress Relief Try Mindfulness Meditation
Have you ever heard someone say that they cope with having a lot on theirmind by doing mindfulness meditation? Sitting still with your thoughtsmight seem intimidating at first, but experts say this practice is one ofthe best ways to cope with stress.
But what is it?
Mindfulness meditation is a form of present moment awareness, explainsNeda Gould, Ph.D., associate director of the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center AnxietyDisorders Clinic and head of a mindfulness program at the Johns HopkinsUniversity School of Medicine. Its about paying attention in the presentmoment to what is here in a nonjudgmental way without fixating on thepast or dwelling on the future.
Johns Hopkinsresearchhas shown that this practice of nonjudgmental self-awareness is one of themost effective ways to improve mood and anxiety. Gould and her colleaguesare also researching how mindfulness meditation can address problems likemigraines.
The good news: With practice, anyone can do it. The even better news forwomen is that some research suggests the practice may hold more benefitsfor them than for men.
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Mindfulness Meditation May Ease Anxiety Mental Stress
- By , Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
My mom began meditating decades ago, long before the mind-calming practice had entered the wider public consciousness. She liked to quote sayings from Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen Buddhist monk known for his practice of mindful meditation, or present-focused awareness.
Although meditation still isnt exactly mainstream, many people practice it, hoping to stave off stress and stress-related health problems. Mindfulness meditation, in particular, has become more popular in recent years. The practice of mindful meditation involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and then bringing your minds attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future.
But when researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD sifted through nearly 19,000 meditation studies, they found 47 trials that addressed those issues and met their criteria for well-designed studies. Their findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that mindful meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain.
How Can Guided Meditation Relieve Depression
Despite the level of efforts recorded over the years at curbing the effects of depression, it is still a significant cause for concern in the modern world, affecting up to 4.4% of the worlds population. Indeed, 4.4% may sound like a small figure, but when it has to do with the worlds population, 4.4% covers over 300 million people all over the world! Depression goes beyond just the feeling of sadness or joylessness. It is the complete absence of physical, mental, and emotional energy combined with a strong sense of hopelessness, helplessness, and self-criticism.
Depression usually comes along when anxiety has stayed too long. At this point, there is a steady flow of stress hormones in your bloodstream. The brain is also forced to become accustomed to this lingering feeling of fear and danger and does very little to dispel it.It ultimately leaves you feeling unsafe and sad to the point that youre no longer willing to fight it. The longer you stay in depression, the harder it becomes to get out of it. However, guided meditation has proven effective in helping depressed people gain relief over time.
As a relief mechanism, guided meditation trains your brain to develop a level of sustained focus, and the ability to shift your thinking from negativity. Indeed, it does not teach your brain to forget or get blind negativity. Instead, it teaches your brain to recognize negativity without getting overwhelmed by it.
How Much Do Guided Meditation Classes Typically Cost
Many guided meditation classes that made it into our top picks are available for free, but services like Headspace and Calm offer memberships in addition to free trials and select meditation recordings.
The cost of in-person classes can range from $20 to $150, with an average of around $55 to $60 per class. This depends on the length of the meditation and experience of the instructor. You can also download meditation apps, which range from free to $15 per month. In general, this fee gives you access to guided meditations, deep breathing exercises, and self-guided recordings.
How Can It Help
Meditation for depression? If you feel a little skeptical at the suggestion, youre not alone. You might even think it sounds like a recommendation from the people who say depression will improve if you just Smile more! or Think positively!
Sure, meditation alone wont make your symptoms vanish, but it can make them more manageable. Heres how.
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Meditation Script For Depression
Practice this meditation while lying and bent flat on your back and tucked under the covers.
Hit pause if you need to and come back when youre ready -really making sure that youre very comfortable.
Once youre ready, place your left hand over your heart and your right hand over your left hand and softly close your eyes. Let your breath be soft and natural. Make sure that if youve been holding your stomach in that you just let it be loose right now.
This helps your breath be natural and easy.
If you can, fully expand your stomach on every inhale and contract on every exhale.
In this moment, just allow yourself to focus inwards, being present with your hearts energy center located directly in the middle of your chest and a couple of inches inwards. As you breathe softly, just stay present with this energy center.
In this moment, allow yourself to feel whatever small sense of appreciation you can feel. Feel this appreciation towards yourself for being here right now for showing up for this Even when you are experiencing depression. This is no small feat and it is worthy of you feeling appreciation towards yourself for it.
Letting go of judgment towards yourself, letting go of judgment about the world around you and just letting whatever is be and as you do this let your breath deepen.
Keep focusing on your heart as you breathe softly and gently.
Anytime a thought passes, just let it go and return your awareness back to your heart, back to your breath.
Best Guided Meditations Of 2022
- Best for Deepening Your Practice: Tara Brach
- Best for Beginners: Headspace
- Best for Skeptics: Ten Percent Happier
- Cost: Calm offers a 7-day free trial with an annual membership for around $70. Or, if you want meditations for life, you can pay about $400 for indefinite access to the app.
- Features: Calm background waves, individual exercises.
Why We Chose It: Calm is a quick and easy meditation for anxiety through a flexible app.
App offers more individual exercises
Levitts class gets right to what helps anxiety
Calming waves in background
Need a subscription
App isnt the most intuitive
If you live with anxiety, adding one more thing to your day is enough to trigger thoughts of worry, stress, and panic. The good news? Calm offers a meditation from Tamara Levitt that only takes 10 minutes.
This meditation is perfect for a morning routine to help prepare your mind for the day ahead or at the end of a hectic day to help ease stress and anxiety. At the start, youll get right into body awareness and deep belly breathing. Then, you’ll focus on calming racing thoughts. She often pauses to let you just focus on breathing , which can be difficult for someone with anxiety.
You might notice thoughts arising about the past, the future, or something you should have said or done. Her advice? Dont make an effort to look for thoughts, but when they arise, simply notice them.
Feeling anxiety? Online anxiety support groups can help.
Benefits Of Meditation For Depression
If you live with depression, you may experience a range of signs and symptoms, from deep feelings of loneliness and worthlessness to trouble sleeping, eating, and socializing. Meditation is believed to help support you through some of these effects.
At its core, its a way of training your attention so that, instead of finding yourself lost in difficult thoughts and feelings, you can gain new perspective and insight, says Laura Coleman, meditation expert and founder of Be. Modern Meditation.
As you train your ability to stay in the present moment, without judging it and getting caught up in your mind, the symptoms of depression become more manageable, she continues. wakes up your awareness to the full range of your experience, rather than focusing on the negative.The benefits of meditation extend further than just helping you become more in tune with your thoughts. Research indicates that meditation can have a positive physical influence on the mind and body including in some areas involved with depression.
It Helps Change Your Response To Negative Thinking
Depression can involve a lot of dark thoughts. You might feel hopeless, worthless, or angry at life . This can make meditation seem somewhat counterintuitive, since it involves increasing awareness around thoughts and experiences.
But meditation teaches you to pay attention to thoughts and feelings without passing judgment or criticizing yourself.
Meditation doesnt involve pushing away these thoughts or pretending you dont have them. Instead, you notice and accept them, then let them go. In this way, meditation can help disrupt cycles of negative thinking.
Say youre sharing a peaceful moment with your partner. You feel happy and loved. Then the thought, Theyre going to leave me, comes into your mind.
Meditation can help you get to a place where you can:
- notice this thought
- accept it as one possibility
- acknowledge that its not the only possibility
Instead of following this thought with something like, Im not worthy of a good relationship, meditation can help you let this thought cross your awareness and keep going.
Its a leaf floating along the river, not a whirlpool sucking you down. You can return to enjoying the moment without getting trapped in a cycle of increasingly distressing thoughts.
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What Is Mindfulness Meditation
Meditation can be defined in many ways. But a simple way to think of it is training your attention to achieve a mental state of calm concentration and positive emotions.
Mindfulness is one of the most popular meditation techniques. It has two main parts: attention and acceptance.
The attention piece is about tuning into your experiences to focus on what’s happening in the present moment. It typically involves directing your awareness to your breath, your thoughts, the physical sensations in your body and the feelings you are experiencing. The acceptance piece involves observing those feelings and sensations without judgment. Instead of responding or reacting to those thoughts or feelings, you aim to note them and let them go.
Mindfulness classes and mindfulness-based therapies provide the tools to put those concepts into practice. Such programs might include breathing exercises, yoga and guided lessons to help you become aware of your body sensations, thoughts and feelings.
Much of the research on mindfulness has focused on two types of interventions:
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a therapeutic intervention that involves weekly group classes and daily mindfulness exercises to practice at home, over an 8-week period. MBSR teaches people how to increase mindfulness through yoga and meditation.
- Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is a therapeutic intervention that combines elements of MBSR and cognitive behavioral therapy to treat people with depression.
Move From Breath To Body
Eventually, begin shifting your attention from your breath to the various parts of your body to perform whats known as a body scan.
Start your body scan wherever you like. Some people find it more natural to start with their feet, while others prefer to start with their hands or head.
Focus your awareness on your body, moving from one part to the next. As you continue to breathe slowly and deeply, note how each body part feels.
Do any areas hurt? Or feel tense?
If you notice an unusual or troublesome sensation, like tension or aches, you can add a visualization exercise.
Imagine yourself sending relaxing breaths to that part of the body. Picture that tight muscle loosening and pain easing. Getting more comfortable with your bodily experiences and sensations can help you become more tuned in to changes as they come up.
When youve finished scanning your body, return your focus to your breathing for as long as you need.
If youd like to learn more about meditating effectively, you can always take a class or find a meditation teacher. You dont need to necessary venture out or fork over money, though. There are plenty of free resources online.
You can find some guidance here, or check out the resources below:
Theres really no right or wrong way to meditate. If youre looking for some extra pointers, though, these tips can help.
Practice At The Same Time Every Day
Making meditation a habit can help your success.
Its OK to start small. Even 5 minutes a day can help. Try commit to 5 minutes every day at a time that works well for you.
Maybe you do a body scan in the shower every morning or do a sitting meditation right before bed. Maybe its the last thing you do before getting into bed each night. You might have to try a few scenarios before you find the most effective approach to meditation, but thats OK.
Once you find the right approach, youre more likely to stick with it.
Guided Meditations For Stress Anxiety And Depression
This series of guided meditations will move you gradually through a process of turning off everything that is creating the way that you feel, then helping you induce deep relaxation, release and inner peace in order to promote profound inner change. This meditation album is a key part of our 3-week program called Yoga for Chronic Stress, Anxiety and Depression.
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Meditation For Depressive Feelings
An important part of meditation practice is to learn how to explore your feelings without being completely overwhelmed by them. When using meditation for depression, this becomes extra challenging because depression usually comes with strong and painful emotions. Sometimes wed rather avoid painful feelings than explore them. Here are a few examples:
- Whenever Sebastian gets an uncomfortable sensation in his stomach, he starts cleaning, doing the dishes and other chores to distract himself.
- Whenever Olivia feels lonely, she starts drinking.
- Whenever John feels anxious, he starts obsessing over his relationships.
Now, ask yourself this question:
- What behaviours do I use to distract myself from painful feelings?
Becoming more aware of these behaviours is the first step towards exploring your feelings. If you dont know when youre running, its very difficult to stop.
Nice work. Youre on your way to becoming an experienced meditator and helping your mind gain more focus, manage strong emotions and protect you from depression.