Meditation for depression

Depression tends to take people into the dark places of their own minds. Consequently, any form of meditation that is basically about stilling your mind and noticing your thoughts, will not help. There are times when noticing that you are thinking in a depressive way will be useful, but it can easily reinforce the experience. Further, depression tends to undermine concentration and create feelings of apathy and pointlessness, which can make some meditations technically very difficult.

On the whole, meditation that takes you out of yourself is the most useful. Techniques with the potential to distract, and inspire can help shift a mood while anything that makes you more self aware can perpetuate it.

I recommend deliberate concentration on something other than the self. Anything you like will work. It could be a houseplant or the view from a window, an oracle card, an object – natural or created. Skies, landscapes, birdsong, the feel of grass under your hand. Whatever appeals to you.

Then simply sit with it and pay it a lot of attention. Notice the details, let those details fill your thoughts. If your mind derails you, just take a few deep breaths and go back to what you were doing, or let your attention shift to some other external thing. Do it for as long as you feel comfortable.

In this way, the benefits of slowing down are available without the hazards of introspection.

Physical meditation practices, and recorded visualisations and pathworkings are also worth a thought. I wouldn’t recommend trying to do visualisation from books as the odds are you won’t have the concentration, but a friendly voice on a CD will keep you on track if you want to do something more creative with your brain.

Don’t push yourself into anything that doesn’t feel right. Being gentle with yourself is very often essential for getting out of a depressive hole, any pressure to ‘be spiritual’ or ‘be disciplined’ about something uncomfortable can leave you feeling worse off, not better.


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

8 responses to “Meditation for depression

  • Ryan C.

    Thank you so much for this! I have depression, and have always struggled with meditation; both the motivation to do it and the introspection and rumination on depressive thoughts it seems to lead to. I’ve always felt like a “bad pagan” for not getting into meditation, but maybe I’ve just not tried the right kind. Would you put things like yoga or walking meditation into the category of meditative practices that take you out of yourself? I enjoy both of those much more than sitting still!

  • Rick Finnet

    Thanks for this excellent and really helpful advice! Regarding the use of oracle cards, I’ve always found it magically settling to look at anything painted by Will Worthington. They’re like gateways to something I can’t quite describe, but am always happy to hang out in. Echoing a point that I think was made above, trying to meditate and feeling that we’re just not “getting it,” and then feeling worse about ourselves because of this, is one of the worst possible things we can do to ourselves. This seems to only tighten the knot in very painful ways.

  • juliebond

    Good advice, thank-you!

  • On not being a downer | True Pagan Warrior

    […] a wise Druid once observed that this particular kind of brain fog comes from a cycle of negative introspection, and that […]

  • shreyadahalblog

    Thank you for the advice!

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