About Depression – excerpts from the Buddhist masters

With most problematic states of mind, and certainly with depression, we often have a tendency to maintain the problem by self-confirmation.  What I mean with that is often repeating to oneself things like “I am depressed”, “I feel miserable”, “Life sucks”, “They are bad”, “I hate myself”, “I can’t do it”. The problem is that when we repeat this often enough, it will all come true! These kind of self-obsessive thoughts blind us to the needs of our family and friends, and we do nothing to help them. As a result, we receive less positive feedback and love from them, and also less simple satisfaction and joy of making them happy.

In Buddhism, we use meditation to improve our state of mind by habituating ourselves to a positive state of mind, but repeating the above sort of tantrums throughout the day will only keep us in the same negative state. Just imagine what happens if a perfectly happy woman suddenly starts saying to herself “I feel miserable, I hate myself” once every five minutes…

Instead, positive affirmations can have a strong therapeutic effect; “I love my family”, “I don’t need to grow hungry”, “Other people are much worse off than me”, “I can help others”, “I am OK”.

So a simple technique is to forbid yourself using the word ‘depressed’ and your standard negative expressions, but replace them with more positive phrases. It takes quite a bit of mindfulness in the beginning, but with a bit of persistence you can talk yourself into a better mood!

From Ven. Thubten Gyatso:

“Should you flush your Valium and Prozac down the toilet? No, not yet. Begin with small actions to help others – empty the garbage can without being asked, clean up your own mess in the kitchen, polish the shoes of others. Smile occasionally. Gradually build up the courage and determination to confront your self-cherishing mind and declare yourself a slave and friend of all living beings. Then you will extract more joy from cleaning up somebody else’s mess in the kitchen than you will ever get from watching television. Not only will this lift your depression, it will place you on the path to bliss.”

READ MORE AT Depression – a Buddhist view.

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