Beating Stress, Anxiety and Depression with Mindfulness Techniques

Neurologically speaking, on a very simplistic level, we can say that depression occurs when the cerebral cortex (the part of the brain that plays an important role in consciousness) thinks a negative thought and manage to convince the rest of the brain that this thought should be treated as a real physical stressor. How does the cortex achieve such a disastrous job?

Research seems to point in the direction of the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC). The ACC helps integrate thinking and feeling. It has all the characteristics of a brain region you would like to switch off when you are in the middle of depression. The emotions the ACC seems to be concerned with are the negative ones. The ACC also turns on when people feel left out and excluded.

How to switch off the ACC? This problematic region of the brain, the ACC, might hold the solution. It is shown that it deactivates during tasks that demand attention. So when you intentionally put your attention on an object (whatever it might be, the breath, closing a door, listening to sounds around you, really tasting a good glass of wine) the ACC stops functioning. Then negative emotions disappears.

On the other hand when people refers to memories or free planning, we could say when the activity of the brain is free-wheeling, the ACC fires up intensely. When we are lost in random thinking this region lights up.

Meditation and mindfulness is all about intentionally bringing our attention on an object and stop the random thinking. Meditation can be beneficial in case of acute and non-chronic depression. Although we must add that clinical depression is a serious affliction, so please be aware that consulting your physician and the help of psychotherapy can be very beneficial in such cases.

From a more monastic point of view, the Buddha said that in life there is suffering. People who have add to deal with depression get to know first-hand what mental suffering means. According to the Buddha, we suffer because we crave sensations. We reject the unpleasant ones, wanting the pleasant ones to stay with us forever. This is a big mistake, according to Buddhism. This foolish desire traps us in a constant state of discontentment that wreaks havoc in our mind. This gives rise to the sense of Me. Buddhism says that this sense of Me is an illusion, a pure sensation that rises and ceases all the time. People think that this Me is the same from the cradle to the grave, actually it changes numerous times through an hour, a day, a year and imagine how many of these different Me can rise through a life.

To be able to observe a thought for what it is, just a thought, a body sensation for what it is, just a body sensation…. To see that they simply rise and cease in an endless dance, stops our constant desire to change what is rising in the mind and brings contentment.

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About the Author

Beating Stress, Anxiety and Depression with Mindfulness TechniquesPierre Gagnon practised concentration and insight meditation intensively from 2010 to 2012, then went on to study meditation at Wat Suan Mokkh with the venerable Ajahn Po from 2013 to 2015. As well as his own practice, he has coordinated meditation retreats in the south of Thailand which were attended by more than 1,000 people.

Having a great passion in the field of neuroscience, he likes to integrate these concepts into meditation practice. He believes that much of our life is lived resisting and defending against internal and external experiences that people perceive as threats. Through the development of concentration and meditation, we can insightfully see that all experiences are harmless and there is no need to defend of contract around them.  Pierre has experience coordinating concentration and insight meditation retreats, teaching the relationship that exists between Buddhism and neuroscience.

About the Author

BochakornBOCHAKORN BOONSERM (MAAM) began her education in conventional medicine as a nurse, then shifted to embrace natural healing and integrative medicines. Her training and certifications abroad include: Nutrition and Western Herbal Medicines, Acupuncture and Moxibustion.

During her therapeutic sessions, she may also incorporate other aspects of integrative medicines when required, including: acupuncture, cupping therapy, moxibustion, nutritional, supplements and herbal recommendation.

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