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Mindfully moving past depression

I’ve written blogs about depression. For example:

The Deep Dark Hole of Depression

Finding Meaning in Life When You’re Feeling Depressed

Moving Past Sadness or Depression I

I’ve also written about mindfulness:

Mindfulness Exercises

Mindfulness through your Breath

Living Slow: Living in the Moment

Mindfulness can be a great way to move past depression. As I wrote about in the Deep Dark Hole of Depression, depression can exert its control over us by getting us to focus on the past or future, to ruminate about things which we may or may not have control over, and to get us living in our heads instead of where we are.

Depression can use all sorts of tricks to try and wheedle its way into our lives. When we worry about what’s going to come, what may happen, all the things we have to do, or all the ways we might not be successful, depression grows. It grows when it can distract us from what we’re doing in the moment to focus on the past or future, when it encourages us to judge ourselves harshly, when it gets us to operate on auto-pilot, and when it convinces us that our efforts, our lives, or even our worlds are meaningless. Depression longs to create dark storm clouds in our head and to make anything we do seem like we’re moving through quicksand.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness offers something very different. Mindfulness involves completely engaging in what’s happening right now. It’s not just being present. It’s immersing ourselves completely in where we are and what we’re doing. It means being part of the moment in every way possible–through our eyes, our ears, our nose, through touch, and with our mind.

Dog Walking

One of the ways I really enjoy being mindful is with my dogs. I could think of it as a chore and a pain and try to get it over and done with as quickly as possible. I could choose to go on automatic pilot and get lost in my thoughts of the past or the future, or worry about this thing or that thing.

What I do instead is fully immerse myself in the walk. I throw the ball for my dog, Tucker. I get so much pleasure from watching him so excitedly and fervently chase after the ball and bring it back to me. I love looking up at the mountains, noticing the light that plays on them, and watching the snow blow off the peaks and cornices. I pay attention to the sound of the wind as it dances through the trees and I attend to the sound of the snow as it crunches beneath my feet. I pause and watch my blind dog, Nori, as she sniffs about. I feel the cold as it blushes my cheeks and breath in the fresh mountain air.

Walking the dogs is something I have to do every day and I use mindfulness to recharge and refresh me as I do.

Mindfulness in Every Day

There are countless opportunities for us to be mindful. As an experiment, choose something from the list below to do mindfully each day, or choose something else from your own life:

  • washing the dishes
  • eating a snack or a meal
  • having a shower or bath
  • drinking a cup of tea or coffee
  • walking down the street
  • driving to or from work (or walking, or taking the bus or train)
  • getting ready for bed
  • getting ready in the morning
  • lying in your cozy blankets in bed
  • sitting in your favourite chair
  • playing with a pet
  • walking a pet

How does this help?

Mindfulness brings us back to the present moment, but more than that, it takes us away from ruminations, worries, awfulizing, and catastrophizing. It enables the cob webs to clear so that we can truly live our lives instead of thinking about it.

Mindfulness is not “la-la-land.” It gives us the opportunity to focus our attention right now. Tangental thinking is shrunk to nothing.

A passage by Thich Nhat Hanh may make it clearer:

“Peace can only exist in the present moment. It is ridiculous to say, ‘Wait until I finish this, then I will be free to live in peace.’ What is ‘this’? A diploma, a job, a house, the payment of debt? If you think that way, peace will never come. There is always another ‘this’ that will follow the present one. If you are not living in peace at this moment, you will never be able to. If you truly want to be at peace, you must be at peace right now. Otherwise, there is only ‘the hope of peace some day.'”

And you?

What do you think? What do you do now that’s mindful? What’s something you’d like to try? I’d love to hear your comments!

 

 

 

 

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