Medication or Meditation for Mental Health


Mental ill health is perhaps one of the most debilitating conditions.  Ill-health of the mind brings ill-health in the body. The World Health Organization has recognized depression as one of the causes of ill-health and disability.  This has become a global problem.   It can be treated with medication, psychotherapy etc.  However meditation and mindfulness techniques are emerging as effective solutions for mental ill-health.

Many people resort to medication to manage depression. However, medication is not a cure for depression. It only helps manage the symptoms. The longer the duration of the medication the more the body becomes dependent on it.  Over time the body becomes resistant to the medicine requiring higher and higher doses to quell the symptoms.

Health is a natural state of our system.  The word disease literally  means “dis-ease” meaning something has gone out of normal and there is lack of ease in the system. Alternative and natural remedies like yoga, meditation, mindfulness and holistic diets gently restore the system to its normal health and vigor.  These alternative systems should be tried as complimentary and supportive techniques and can help to gradually wean off of medications.

Techniques like meditation and mindfulness can bring healing and sometimes completely cure mental ill-health. Just like our regular cleansing habits like brushing and bathing, these life enhancing yet gentle techniques should become part of our everyday routine. Only then is it possible to experience healthfulness and well-being where body, mind, emotions and energy are in balance and harmony.

Many of us may be skeptical of trying out these alternative techniques.  Reasons may be that it is just boring to do or that it is slow-acting, taking a long time to produce the results. It is true that it could be days or weeks before we start experiencing positive changes in our system. Medication on the other hand brings instant results, but also comes with many side effects.  It is all right to take medication in the short term to get quick relief.

Meditating daily breaks down the neural connection in the brain that induce fear or anxiety.   Moreover it builds connections in the brain that relate to our level of empathy as well as our ability to assess problems rationally.  Read here for the scientific explanation of how meditation works on the brain.

It requires patience  to work with the meditation and mindfulness techniques.  Having a teacher or a guide is essential to oversee the technique and help you through the most trying moments, which will also ensure that you stay with the practice.  One should be mindful that the first few days of meditation are the hardest.  The thought patterns – worthlessness, suicidal thoughts, extreme sadness etc – that surface can quite be overwhelming.   During these times it important to maintain the awareness that this is not the real you and start putting a distance with those thoughts.  It is doubly important to not judge yourself and indulge in these thoughts.  Let these thoughts come and go. Don’t be fearful of them as they are not permanent.  Physically it might cause you to fidget and this is okay.

Keep a log of how you are feeling each day.  Keep a particular focus on the positive effects of the practice of meditation or mindfulness.  After a few days of practice these thoughts start to ebb and your inner light will start shining through – like dark clouds clearing to let through the bright and warm sunshine.

Meditation and mindfulness when complimented with yoga or daily exercise can fully restore and rehabilitate our mind, body, emotions and energy.

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