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Finding Joy: A Mind-Body-Spirit Guide

A Western psychiatrist draws on Eastern traditions to guide us out of depression.

Step 3: Your Spiritual Needs continued...

Psychologists often turn to cognitive behavioral therapy to help patients change their thought patterns, he notes. "In my own practice, I try to bring in mindfulness practice -- a Buddhist practice -- as another way of addressing mind and thought," he tells WebMD.

Mindfulness involves honing the ability to focus on the present moment, Emmons explains. "It is a way of facing problems we all confront, a way of controlling our thoughts. It's an opportunity to settle the mind so our thoughts aren't so active. Even beyond that, mindfulness gives us a means to work more skillfully with whatever problems we're faced with -- and take them on without feeling overwhelmed. It has an affect on the stresses that fuel depression."

'Circle of Trust'

Rachel was an ideal candidate for mindfulness, says Emmons, because her mind often spun out of control. She took an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction class, which can be found in most major cities. She was able to develop an imagery technique to calm her thoughts and fears, he says.

Creating a "circle of trust, a soul community" of like-minded spirits can help us feel less isolated in this very scary world -- another important component of a balanced life, says Emmons. "As much as anything, depression is a call to community, a stark reminder that we cannot go it alone -- we are simply not designed that way," he writes. "In the end, I believe, we need another to heal, and the creation of community is just as important to our well-being as is the inner journey of coming to know ourselves."

Any person facing depression, says Emmons, can emerge from it a larger person. "We can be more than we were before. We need not be diminished or weakened by depression," he tells WebMD.

Reviewed on July 03, 2007

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