Depression and Meditation

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Depression and Meditation

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Jun 08, 2014 6:48 am

First of all, there are two important things to note at this juncture:

(1) I have no intention of criticising or contradicting either the respected Bhante, nor his teachings, posted in the thread. My intention is categorically not to cause dissent or argument.

(2) I have no psychiatric or psychological qualifications of any kind, and do not claim to be educated on the subject of mental afflictions at all.

In his thread "Dhamma Drops from Ceylon" , Our esteemed and respected contributor, Bhikku Samahita added his latest post, titled "The Higher Release" In which the following question is asked (accompanied by a link):

"How to cure depression?"

If one follows that link, one is led to a video, the title of which, is "Metta Meditation Cures depression."

My personal concern is as follows:
Should such a claim be made?

While I completely agree, and can attest to the fact that occasional and temporary stated of depression can certainly be dealt with in this way, is this a justifiable claim to make, for a person who has a chronic and prolonged condition, and is under medical supervision and care?

Certainly, Meditation is an amazing 'tool' and is extremely effective in assisting such an affliction, but can it actually CURE it?

I am genuinely asking, because it seems to me, that possibly, to the the impressionable and desperate sufferer of deep clinical depression, this lifeline may not be as immediately beneficial as they would hope...and if someone stops taking their medication, or alters and/or reduces the dosage (and it does happen, far more frequently than one might think!) would the Metta meditation be as effective, or be effective at all, in that circumstance?

A fellow member, (No_Mind) posted this interesting comment in this thread (I have only reproduced the pertinent point, here):

No_Mind wrote:....So no it is not possible to be an urban monk except in short spells of a month. Maybe a rare person here and there can. But over long time such a reclusive life while living amidst few million people will cause mental problems unless the person had schizoid, loner tendencies to begin with and was in some way mentally abnormal.

If living like a Monk within an urban environment, may actually CAUSE a mental affliction,could this be a contradiction?

If one is living like a Monk, that would involve prolonged periods of Meditation - which if one is to take The Bhante's comments as true, would not cause an affliction, but prevent it?

I would be very interested in any thoughts or comments.
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
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Re: Depression and Meditation

Postby cooran » Sun Jun 08, 2014 7:07 am

Hello NoBSBuddhist,

Please contact Bhikkhu Samahita directly and ask him these questions.

with metta,
Chris
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---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Depression and Meditation

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jun 08, 2014 7:08 am

Hi NoBSB,

Can you give us a summary of the video? It's hard for us to form any conclusions just from a title...

:anjali:
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Re: Depression and Meditation

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Jun 08, 2014 7:12 am

cooran wrote:Hello NoBSBuddhist,

Please contact Bhikkhu Samahita directly and ask him these questions.

with metta,
Chris


I'm not asking questions, I'm asking for opinions, and as there may be some mebers here who actually suffer from medically-treated Mental afflictions, I'd welcome their input.

mikenz66 wrote:Hi NoBSB,

Can you give us a summary of the video? It's hard for us to form any conclusions just from a title...

:anjali:
Mike


Thanks mike, I deliberately refrained from giving a synopsis for 2 reasons:
One, to encourage members to investigate the video for themselves, and two, my main "issue" is with the title itself. That Metta meditation Cures depression.

I'm hoping for input for those who have watched the video....

I would also add as an EDIT point, that I would rather people formed their own impression of his teaching, because any input from me, would be my opinion...

But he seems to be indicating that outside circumstances get to us, or that Depression is caused by Guilt/Remorse.

He mentioned 'biological' conditions as being a cause, but only in that manner (ie, citing it as one among many causes) but the fact that a medically-diagnosed condition may exist, was not a consideration.

I have an opinion on this, but I really want to refrain from comment until I can engage with those who have also watched it.
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
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Re: Depression and Meditation

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jun 08, 2014 7:44 am

OK, well I don't have time to watch a long video right now, but I do know that meditation has been studied as a treatment for depression. E.g.
http://scholar.google.co.nz/scholar?q=m ... CEAQgQMwAA

There are literally thousands of websites that give advice on meditation and depression.

We have been concerned in the past about people giving specific advice to those with symptoms that should be referred to a suitable professional. In particular, posts to the effect of "don't pay attention to those who are telling you to seek advice". Our Terms of Service therefore contain: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=2
4. Members who are suffering from mental illnesses.

Dhamma Wheel is for the exploration and discussion of the Dhamma. While the aim of the Dhamma is to provide a path to the end of suffering, members of Dhamma Wheel are not qualified to deal with acute episodes of mental illness of another, as expressed on a discussion forum. The Administrators and Moderators of Dhamma Wheel request your compliance with regards to the following guidelines which is designed for the benefit of all:

-- Members who are suffering a serious mental illness should seek diagnosis and treatment from a qualified medical professional within their community. Members who are suffering from an acute phase of a mental illness, including intention to self harm and/or suicidal should seek immediate assistance. http://www.befrienders.org/index.asp
-- Members who are experiencing an acute phase of mental illness or suicidal ideation welcome to seek referral to medical and crisis services from administrators and moderators.
-- Members are asked not to use Dhamma Wheel as a platform to express intentions of self harm or suicide, the experience of voices or other hallucinations or other artefacts of acute mental illness.
-- When encountering a member suffering an acute episode of a mental illness, we should treat that member with compassion and refer that member to medical/emergency services within that person's community and to Dhamma Wheel staff.

Note that what I have highlighted is addressed at specific advice to specific people. It does not forbid the discussion of the possible usefulness of meditation in various illnesses, or links to sites that discuss or advise on those issues. That would be impossible to police.

Here's a list of topics that talk about meditation and depression:
https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=site% ... S:official

:anjali:
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Re: Depression and Meditation

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Jun 08, 2014 7:56 am

Basically, in a nutshell. he goes through the wording of the Metta Meditation, and divides it into bite-sized morsels, and expands on each point. He describes the Meditation in detail, and the methodology and motivation behind it.

But even at two-thirds of the way through, no mention of how this Meditation could 'cure' the condition of depression was made.
he does point out it can take months, even a year perhaps and that it must be practised diligently and regularly....but I'm wondering how practical such advice can be.

Am I therefore speaking out of turn if I say that the advice therein seems to be at odds with the guidelines you have quoted?
I know that it is not deemed skilful to contradict or question the words and teachings of the ordained here. But I personally am concerned about such statements.
How does such a video comply with them...?
(The question may be treated rhetorically, if you feel it best. or feel free to edit my post....)

I am not trying to create an argument or voice dissent here.
But I'm concerned for those who may be subject to such influence....

Am I making any sense?!
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
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Re: Depression and Meditation

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jun 08, 2014 8:03 am

The key point in the TOS is that if forbids specific advice in response to posts by someone suffering an acute illness that should be referred to a professional. A link to a website or video on a thread that is not answering such a question does not fall into that category.

Are you suggesting we trawl through all these threads:
https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=site% ... S:official
and check out the advice in all of the links?

:anjali:
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Re: Depression and Meditation

Postby Mkoll » Sun Jun 08, 2014 8:12 am

TheNoBSBuddhist wrote:I'm not asking questions, I'm asking for opinions, and as there may be some mebers here who actually suffer from medically-treated Mental afflictions, I'd welcome their input.


I took antidepressive medication as a teenager for a short while, but it was nothing really serious. I don't really see a problem here.
Peace,
James
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Re: Depression and Meditation

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Jun 08, 2014 8:13 am

Goodness, no....!

My primary concern is whether the claim is accurate or inaccurate. Therein lies the question.
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
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Re: Depression and Meditation

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Jun 08, 2014 8:18 am

Mkoll wrote:
TheNoBSBuddhist wrote:I'm not asking questions, I'm asking for opinions, and as there may be some mebers here who actually suffer from medically-treated Mental afflictions, I'd welcome their input.


I took antidepressive medication as a teenager for a short while, but it was nothing really serious. I don't really see a problem here.


Well, I'm not sure whether you've managed to sit through the video (I have! but it wasn't all that easy!*) and I'm really also seeking input from those who are currently experiencing such states and are under a doctor....

I further confess, I have never taken anti-depressive drugs, nor have ever felt the need, or been through the need to do so.



(*Bhikku Samahita has a strong accent, and occasionally, his words are lost behind his hand....)
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
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Re: Depression and Meditation

Postby waterchan » Sun Jun 08, 2014 8:29 am

I think it's more accurate to say that by the time one can practice correct metta meditation, one is no longer chronically depressed. But I would be hesitant to prescribe it as a cure. "You have depression. Metta meditation will cure it."
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
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Re: Depression and Meditation

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Jun 08, 2014 8:46 am

waterchan wrote:I think it's more accurate to say that by the time one can practice correct metta meditation, one is no longer chronically depressed. But I would be hesitant to prescribe it as a cure. "You have depression. Metta meditation will cure it."


It is the claim, both in the title and in the video instruction...
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
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Re: Depression and Meditation

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jun 08, 2014 9:10 am

And the clinical literature --- see the links above.

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Re: Depression and Meditation

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:53 am

Thank you Mike, for those links.
I will gladly peruse them and see what they say.
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
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Re: Depression and Meditation

Postby Feathers » Mon Jun 09, 2014 12:54 pm

I am at work so have not watched the video, but if I may chip in on the wider topic, and please forgive me if this post becomes a little rambling.

I have been diagnosed with, and receiving medical treatment (i.e. drugs) for depression since November 2007. There are better times, there are worse times, but it never entirely lifts. The roots of it go much further back than the diagnosis.

As soon as you get depression, you get bombarded with opinions. Therapy is best, meditation is best, drugs are best . . . you're lazy, you're a poor thing to be pitied, you're weak, you're strong . . . and the trouble is, a lot of this comes from 'experts' - a psychiatrist who is 100% medication-focused and a counsellor who is into meditation, simultaneously, is quite confusing!

My conclusion . . . or, well, my working theory, is this:

(i) Depression is a meaningless term. It is applied to everything from someone so ill they are in and out of hospital, to people who are going through a few bad months after a divorce, to people like me who are (apparently) permanently ill, but not in immediate danger of harming themselves. I personally believe there are as many forms of depression as there are people with depression, but even setting that aside, the category as it stands is way too broad.

(ii) Point (i) leads to bad treatment. The person going through a divorce could probably be helped by counselling and spared the multitude of problems that drugs can bring. The person in a severe crisis may actually be harmed by therapy (particularly now that the only form available on the NHS is CBT - if I get into my opinions on that, this post will become unreadable . . .)

(iii) How does this tie into meditation? I believe meditation can be helpful. I believe many aspects of spiritual practice can be helpful. They can also be hugely harmful. For me, my introduction to meditation was through a useless therapist, at a time when I could barely get out of bed, who was pushing me to modify my entire life, including building up fast to 1hrs meditation a day. I simply couldn't do it, I was too ill, and this added pressure made things even worse. Not only was the therapist pushing the wrong thing for me, she didn't seem to actually have much understanding of meditation - a brief read of wikipedia and some lurking on eSangha opened up a plethora of issues. I have a bad history with religion, so even if I had had the ability to meditate, to be simply thrown into it blindly was not helpful. This leads to point (iv) . . .

(iv) Meditation can take you inside yourself. Without proper guidance, it can be alarming. On the one hand, if it can be made as secular as possible so more people can benefit, that sounds good. On the other hand, doing that seems to be to strip away key aspects/ways of understanding and processing the experience. Moreover, even in a Buddhist framework, it may be misapplied. For example: I went through a very bad phase about a year and a half ago. Nights of really intrusive thoughts of suicide. One time I managed to sit with it, bring attention to the breath and the present moment, and calm myself. Another night I tried that again and it was terrifying. Fortunately I had the sense not to push it - I put on a trashy film and indulged in pure escapism. Had I been more committed to trying to be a 'proper' Buddhist (as opposed to surviving) I might have pushed that, tried to force myself through it, with bad results.

I don't think meditation should be dismissed as a tool to help depression - but nor should it be seen as the only tool, and it must be handled with caution, and above all, with attention to the individual. Someone else with long-term depression, superficially similar to mine, could come into this thread and write a totally different post - and not be wrong, just going through a different experience of depression to me.

I think that will do for now - I have some fairly strong views on therapy, the NHS, and on the merits (or not) of monks (and religious leaders, doctors, friends . . . ) expressing their personal idea for 'curing' depression, but in the interests of keeping this not too long and reasonably rational (and me getting on with my job), I'll leave it at this for now.
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Re: Depression and Meditation

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Mon Jun 09, 2014 1:15 pm

The emoticon :goodpost: doesn't even begin to cover it.

Excellent response, precisely what I had hoped for.
Bless you friend, and much Metta to you. :hug:
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
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Re: Depression and Meditation

Postby No_Mind » Mon Jun 09, 2014 3:01 pm

Feathers has summarized it wonderfully. There is virtually nothing more to add. I have had mild to moderate depression for about 20 years. I have never sought treatment for it. In a way I like being a slightly melancholy person. It makes me more creative.
"I know one thing: that I know nothing"
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Re: Depression and Meditation

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:32 am

waterchan wrote:I think it's more accurate to say that by the time one can practice correct metta meditation, one is no longer chronically depressed. But I would be hesitant to prescribe it as a cure. "You have depression. Metta meditation will cure it."


I think that anyone teaching meditation has a duty of care, and that anyone suffering from clinical depression should be advised to seek professional medical advice and care.
Metta can be helfpul in promoting mental health, but should not be viewed as a "cure" for serious depression.
Well, oi dunno...
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Re: Depression and Meditation

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:34 am

Feathers wrote:Depression is a meaningless term.


That's the problem. ;)
Well, oi dunno...
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