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Mental Health and Emotions.

WheelWheel Scotland New

Hey Guys,

Okay so one of the reasons why I have been learning a little more about buddhism is that I have been struggling a little with my mental health, namely depression and anxiety.

I feel like buddhism, alongside advice from a healthcare professional would be a positive influence in my life and help me with my overall mental state.

My question is have any of you used buddhism as a positive influence in dealing with mental health issues? If so are there any particular practices or resources you found useful?

Sometimes, especially where anxiety is concerned I am unable to clearly identify emotional triggers and it manifests itself as horrible physical sensation in my stomch. Often times meditation can make this much more manageable (but so far only on a short term period.) but also regularly can amplify this feeling tenfold. Whilst meditating should I be trying to identify and resolve these triggers or should I continue concentrating on emptiness of the mind? Are there any meditation practices that are known to be good for people with anxiety and mental health issues?

Sorry for the long post guys.

Kind thoughts

Wheel <3 x

Shoshin

Comments

  • WheelWheel Scotland New

    Thank you so much for your advice and taking the time to write about your experience @Traveller :) I guess it's something that will come as a benefit of my practice over time and I'll keep up what I'm doing. I'd be super interested in finding out more about Mahasi Sayadaw's Burmese Sattipathana style of Vipassana, are there any resources you could reccommend?

  • TravellerTraveller East Midlands UK Veteran
    edited May 2

    Hi @Wheel no problem in trying to help you out mate glad I logged out of ESO so I could contribute. I stay up late playing video games, drinking coffee and meditating so time spent here is probably more karmically useful, lol. Well except for meditating that is.

    This series of videos by Bhikkhu Yuttadhammo covers the basics of Mahasi Sayadaw's system.

    The book In This Very Life by Sayadaw U Pandita which is easily available on Amazon is considered to be one of the best on the Mahasi technique.

    Hope it helps.

    Wheel
  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    @Traveller. In This Very Life by Sayadaw U Panditta is a wonderful book with sage advice and directions. I like to pair it with The Four Foundations of Mindfulness by the Venerable U Silananda another excellent Burmese teacher. I'm very happy to hear about your experience with Buddha Dhamma. Inspiring.

    TravellerWheel
  • TravellerTraveller East Midlands UK Veteran
    edited May 3

    @grackle I've never heard of Ven. U Silananda's book I'll look it up and try to order a copy thanks for the tip, really appreciated.

    Edit: Just found a second hand copy of the book on Amazon £0.42 plus delivery, ordered it.

    lobster
  • TravellerTraveller East Midlands UK Veteran

    @Wheel I just noticed something in the OP where you said that meditation can amplify your anxiety, this is probably not the case, its more likely that the meditation is making you aware of how anxious you really are.

    lobsterkarasti
  • yagryagr Veteran

    @Wheel - Hello, not sure we've met before, good to have you here. I have PTSD and DID. I've done quite a lot of work, taking help from whatever modality was helpful. Buddhism however, played a starring role. For me, help comes from knowledge. Understanding something - or thinking I understand it too I suppose, brings me comfort and peace. So first I read everything I could get a hold of on Buddhism. Knowledge and understanding was available through meditation too but that took a little bit longer to get into.

    Simple breath meditation is my go to.

    I agree with another poster who said that it is unlikely your meditation is amplifying your anxiety but that it may feel that way because you are more aware of it. However, only you can know for sure - I find for me what works best is to examine the sensation carefully and then trust what I see - even if everyone else disagrees.

    You asked, "Whilst meditating should I be trying to identify and resolve these triggers or should I continue concentrating on emptiness of the mind?" I would not be able to answer and don't believe anyone else should be able to either. That said, what was right for me was just relaxing the mind and things had a way of getting clearer. Exerting effort to resolve things like this just seem to be counter productive in my experience.

    karastiTravellerBunksDhammaDragon
  • TravellerTraveller East Midlands UK Veteran

    @Wheel You might want to check out the book The Joy of Living by Tibetan teacher Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche - a significant part of it deals with how he cured himself of panic disorder through Buddhist practice.

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @Traveller said:
    Edit: Just found a second hand copy of the book on Amazon £0.42 plus delivery, ordered it.

    Everything is in the delivery ...

    ... sorry could not resist ... normal deep thought is now resumed ...

    Traveller
  • skyfox66skyfox66 Explorer

    I also have lots of anxiety and depression and have a mental health center I frequent. Mindfulness helps me. When I get upset it helps to just focus on the current environment and wait for it to pass. I admit it is difficult with anxiety though. I like to listen to meditation music or something using the Insight Meditation Timer app on my phone and headphones. It's come in handy during archery competitions. A nice "pause" you could say.

    Wheel
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Wheel

    The Tibetan word for meditation is "Gom" which actually means familiarisation and the idea is to become familiar with how the mind works/operates....and the more familiar one becomes, the less the mind will become charmed by its own thoughts during anxiety and depression...

    You could check out some of Professor Mark Williams youtube clips he's a psychiatrist and the director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre...

    There are a series of 8 guided mindfulness meditations that he does, I can't find the complete series,however here's a link to the first "one"

    lobsterWheel
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    My brother is psychotic, two of my best friends suffer from chronic depression, one is bipolar, and another one is probably schizophrenic.
    All of them have told me how our long talks on mindfulness and Buddhism have impacted positively, if not always in their healing, at least in a more balanced state of mind, even if in an indirect fashion.
    One of them has seriously engaged in a meditation practice and has not suffered from any bouts of depression eversince.

    I have also learned a lot from them: I have learned not to take rational perceptions for granted and to broaden up and consider reality from alternative points of view.

    Shoshinlobster
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited May 3

    @Wheel said:Are there any meditation practices that are known to be good for people with anxiety and mental health issues?

    I have found the metta bhavana practice to be useful for developing a kinder and more accepting attitude, towards self and others. Most Buddhist meditations can be used to develop the qualities of samatha ( calm ) and vipassana ( clarity ), these can be very useful for personal development and mental health. Practising mindfulness is also productive, but it can be challenging when dealing with habitual "negative" emotions.

    The usual caveat here is that Buddhist practice should not be viewed as a "cure" for serious mental health problems, and professional advice should always be sought.

    lobsterWheel
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited May 3

    Are there any meditation practices that are known to be good for people with anxiety and mental health issues?

    <3

    Some great possibilities from our usual band of suspects. Apart from @lobster of course (yep that is me), who suggests a course of 'Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy'. Tsk, tsk - bad crustacean! :p

    So as amends:

    Also for both anxiety, depression and general angst and fury at nothing in particular (my madness) I recommend physical exertion.
    https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/our-services/anxiety-information/physical-exercise-anxiety/

    Another thing I am finding useful is hypno/meditation/subconscious retraining ...
    I find Micheal Sealy very good ... Here is one to start you off <3

    ... wait you asked about meditation ...
    Tai/Chi/Yoga/Chi Kung if possible. If it does not work at least you will become healthier ... which of course in the mind-body complex means one effects the other ...

    One last thing watch more comedy. Laughter heals ...

    DhammaDragonHozan
  • WheelWheel Scotland New

    Thank you everyone for your help and advice, I will be sure to explore the links and resources you have all sent me, and continue trying to find things that work well for me! :)

  • RefugeeRefugee San Francisco Explorer

    I would like to echo @lobster's recommendation for physical exertion. I've been working against chronic depression and anxiety for years, and I've spent thousands of hours researching the mechanisms by which it occurs and perpetuates itself.

    Aerobic exercise is akin to Miracle Gro for the brain. Is it a cure all? No. Reliably, though, aerobic exercise over time increases brain volume, white matter density, boosts the size of the hippocampus, and improves scores in executive function, focus, and problem solving. Antidepressant medications (SSRIs in particular) are now thought to work by the same mechanism, i.e., increasing growth factors in the brain. The whole "chemical imbalance" thing you see in ads is a load of hogwash that hasn't been academically supported for more than ten years now.

    (If you want to go do some Googling, the most promising antidepressant I've ever seen is now in phase II clinical trials. The compound is NSI-189. A company called Neuralstem took the neurotrophic theory of depression and ran with it, searching Edison-style for a compound that directly increases hippocampal volume. They found one. In rats, it increased hippocampus size by 20%!)

    Aerobic exercise on top of regular meditation practice has compounding benefits. As your brain is pumping out BDNF and NGF and laying down myelin sheath, forming new synapses, and even growing new neurons, it is highly likely that you will progress faster in meditation due to your brain's neuroplasticiy. The more malleable the brain, the faster it learns. There is one study I read that showed that aerobic exercise combined with concentration meditation outperformed either treatment alone.

    I highly encourage you to research this topic on your own. There is an ever-growing mountain of evidence showing how beneficial exercise is in depression and anxiety management.

    Best wishes.

    lobsterHozanmosquito
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Thanks @Refugee for the research.

    Depression (from my Dad), Anxiety (from my Mother) run in my family.

    In a sense we have to bring our karmic heritage and experience into a Middle Way grounding. Otherwise we are caught in the recycling bin there, done that.
    My grounding is meditation practice BUT for others healing modalities may be grounded in very limited but intentional directions. To be more well/happy/peaceful takes practice.

    One of the best of the healing Buddhist practices relevant to this thread is prostrations. Powerful experiential stuff.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @Refugee said:> There is an ever-growing mountain of evidence showing how beneficial exercise is in depression and anxiety management.

    Good advice, and physical exercise released endorphins (?). I invariably find a long walk by the sea very "therapeutic", something about the space, being in the elements, the sight and sound of waves breaking ( and the occasional curious seal ).

    lobster
  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    I have heard it said that "exercise absorbs 47 times its weight in excess anxiety." Cutesy but containing some truth I think.

    federicalobster
  • upekkaupekka Veteran

    @Wheel said:

    >

    My question is have any of you used buddhism as a positive influence in dealing with mental health issues?

    we all (without any exception) have mental issues more or less, even though we don't accept it

    Buddha said 'pouthajjana ummaththaka' which means all those who have not seen the 'reality' are mentally ill

    if so are there any particular practices or resources you found useful?

    vipassana practice which help to see the 'reality'

    in a nutshell:
    when we see/ hear/ smell/ taste/ feel/ think of a thing/ a living being it is just a perception arise in our own mind
    but we think there is a thing/ a living being over there
    so we like or dislike the thing/the living being over there

    if we like it we want to have it and if we can't get it we get depressed
    even if we can get it we can not keep it for ever as we like so we get depressed
    if we do not like it we want to get rid of it but if we can't get rid of it we get depressed

    either way it is not for our satisfaction so we get depressed ( not happy/ sad/ you can put any negative word here)

    seeing the Truth that we always get deluded when we see/hear/smell/taste/feel/think is the only way to get rid of depression

    'our -individual- world is built with our own perception' nothing else is true

    DhammaDragon
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran
    edited May 8

    @upekka said:
    'our -individual- world is built with our own perception' nothing else is true

    Nothing else is true... for us.
    But we must go beyond buying into our own perceptions toward a broader standpoint where we can embrace that other ways to perceive exist, that our perceptions are but one version of a certain attempt to truth.
    Like that story of the blind men and the elephant: all of them describing the same thing, but only according to the part of the elephant they were able to touch.

    To a certain extent, we all adolesce of our own degree of moha or delusion: that obnoxious shroud that filters out the world for us according to our personal concoction of habit energy and aggregate distribution.

    The degree of a mental illness is probably defined by how unwilling we are to accept the ilusion of our own perceptions, and how willing we are to take them for real.

    lobsterHozan
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