The Dalai Lama's Advice on Depression
Inner peace is a gift -- nurtured through meditation, empathy, and compassion.
Cultivating Compassion as Depression Therapy continued...
We can also look for "unintentional kindness" from people who help us
survive -- providing the food we eat, the clothes we wear, etc., he explains.
"We need to see beyond the superficial relationships to connect at a deeper
level, where we all share the same aspirations." The world begins to feel less
harsh, more nurturing.
"The challenge is to develop a deep sense of empathy for all people we
interact with -- whether they are friends, people who give us difficulty, or
people who are neutral to us," says Geshe Lobsang. "It's all about recognizing
that they, too, have misfortunes and difficulties in their daily lives -- and
that all beings want to be free of these difficulties, for their own
Through these practices, we can develop a real sense of connectedness with
other beings, which is the source of empathy, compassion -- and, ultimately,
our happiness. "That's how Martin Luther King Jr., Ghandi, and the Dalai Lama
can feel compassion for their enemies," he says.
You'll notice the spillover effect into your daily life, Geshe Lobsang adds.
"When certain thoughts arise that might disturb you, you are able to notice
them so you don't get stuck with them. You move on with the job at hand."
Meditation in Depression Therapy
Regularly meditating on compassion can also help prevent depression
by reducing a person's emotional and physical reaction to stress in his or her
daily life, says Charles L. Raison, MD, a psychiatry professor and co-director
of Emory's Collaborative for Contemplative Studies.
"We look at compassion meditation as a protective strategy, sort of like
exercise," he tells WebMD.
Over the past three decades, research has shown that meditation produces a
relaxation response that helps decrease metabolism, lowers blood
pressure, and improves heart rate, breathing, and brain waves. As the body
receives a quiet message to relax, tension and tightness seep from muscles.
Meditation has gained millions of converts, helping them ease anxiety,
stress, and chronic pain,
health, boost mood and immunity, and resolve pregnancy problems.
By learning the Tibetan practice of "mindfulness meditation," it is possible
to break the cycle of negative thinking that feeds depression, says John D.
Dunne, PhD, co-director of Emory's Contemplative Practices and Studies
"Negative thoughts are very real to depressed people," says Dunne. "They
interpret their own actions in a very negative way ... have a very negative
sense of self. They hold onto these thoughts very, very strongly."
Because a depressed person is so self-focused, it's difficult to convince
them that their negative thoughts are not reality, he adds. "The goal of
mindfulness meditation and compassion is to end this self-focus, this negative