Mindfulness for depression: Learn these practices for self-compassion and acceptance
Here are some mindfulness practices to deal with depression and cultivate self-acceptance
Researchers have found the efficacy of mindfulness in reducing depression and regulating mood however, it's crucial to understand that mindfulness is not a quick fix for depression but rather a lifelong skill. By mastering mindfulness, you develop self-awareness and effectively recognise negative thought patterns.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Manish Behl, Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence Expert and an ICF PCC Leadership and Growth Coach, explained that self-awareness empowers you to acknowledge and accept your emotions, responding to them with mindfulness and presence. He shared, “Whenever you feel stressed or anxious, dedicate a few minutes to one of the exercises. They will help regulate your emotions and activate your parasympathetic nervous system, promoting a sense of calmness and well-being. The primary goal of mindfulness is to focus on the present moment, freeing yourself from dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.” According to him, here are five mindfulness practices to deal with depression and cultivate self-acceptance -
1. Check-In Yourself: Pause periodically to assess your physical, mental, and emotional state. This practice increases self-awareness and helps identify your needs and emotions.
2. Thoughts as Bubbles: Visualise disturbing thoughts as bubbles. Observe them without attachment, allowing them to rise and dissipate. Return your focus to the breath whenever distractions arise.
3. Mindful Breathing Rose: Use a visual object like a rose to guide your breathing. Inhale, imagining the petals returning and exhale, picturing them dispersing. This exercise regulates emotions and activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
4. Digital Detox: Take breaks from electronic devices and social media. Engage in activities that foster relaxation and connection with the present moment, such as reading, meditating, or spending time in nature.
5. Self-Compassion: Speak kindly to yourself when facing suffering or struggles. Acknowledge your pain, remind yourself that you are not alone, and offer soothing words or gestures. Reduce self-criticism and prioritize self-care.
Dr Babina Nandakumar, Chief Medical Officer at Jindal NatureCure Institute, highlighted that the practice of mindfulness has become increasingly effective for people who are dealing with depression as people can find comfort and resilience in the face of their challenges by learning to accept and be kind to themselves. She recommended the following five habits that can help you on your journey -
1. Loving-Kindness: With meditation, one sends positive thoughts to oneself and others. People can cultivate kindness and empathy by repeating kind phrases like "May I be happy and free from suffering," which promotes self-compassion and acceptance.
2. Body Scan: This technique systematically focuses on various body parts and observes sensations without judgment. Individuals who practice self-compassion develop a non-reactive, accepting relationship with their physical sensations by becoming more conscious of their bodily experiences.
3. Feelings and Thoughts Observation: Mindfulness encourages people to observe their thoughts and feelings without becoming emotionally involved in them. People learn to accept their internal experiences as transitory and ever-changing phenomena by recognising them without passing judgment.
4. Mindful Breathing: Focusing on the breath while being mindful can help people stay in the present moment and stop worrying about their problems. Individuals cultivate self-compassion by allowing themselves to just be, without judgment or expectation, by observing the breath without trying to change it.
5. Gratitude Exercises: Taking part in gratitude exercises can help you focus on the good things in life rather than the bad. People can develop self-compassion and acceptance by consciously noticing and appreciating the good because they understand that there can be beauty and joy even in the midst of depression.
These techniques demand perseverance and consistent effort but can significantly aid people on their path to acceptance and self-compassion. Bringing his expertise to the same, Mansoor Baluch, Yoga Expert, siad, “Yoga, in particular, can be a beneficial practice for incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine. The capacity to concentrate can be developed into a habit with regular practice. As a result, stress levels drop and health improves. You may tackle challenging jobs more effectively if your capacity to concentrate mentally has improved. You might find the best version of yourself after participating in a few sessions.” He suggested 5 basic asanas/postures for self-acceptance and compassion -
1. Garland Pose / Malasana: Since the hips are a repository for strong emotions and tension, this position opens the hips and aids in emotional discharge.
2. Goddess pose / Utkata Konasana: This pose has several advantages, including boosting your energy levels, self-confidence, and ability to ground and bring peace of mind.
3. Cat cow stretch / Marjaryasana-Bitilasana: The upper body stretch improves blood flow between your spine and vertebrae, improving mental clarity, increasing upper body flexibility, easing tension and back pain, and calming the mind.
4. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose / Ardha Matsyendrasana: The flexibility of your spine helps your body eliminate pollutants, relieves back pain, relaxes your mind, and moderates tension and worry.
5. Upward Facing Dog Pose / Urdhva Mukha Svanasana: This pose is also a great antidote to the “office slump”. The curling in ourselves helps when we feel depressed or low on confidence.
Prevention tips: Avoid if you have blood pressure imbalance, serious respiratory complications, injury to joints or spine, undergone recent surgery and/or pregnancy or post-natal less than 6 months.