Thinking yourself out of a depression

by PADRAIG O'MORAIN, Irish Times, March 10, 2009

Dublin, Ireland -- THAT'S MEN: RUMINATION IS ruination, one of my teachers used to say. He thought it a very clever remark and he was right.

Rumination, or brooding, is a feature of depression. If you ruminate for long enough on things that are sad or upsetting, you have a good chance of thinking yourself into the blues or of prolonging the blues if you already have them.

The psychologist and writer David Reynolds, whose Constructive Living theory fuses eastern and western approaches, once decided to see if he could think himself into a depression. By sitting for days doing very little and thinking and thinking about negative matters, he found himself in quite a deep depression that took him some work to get out of.

Some psychologists suggest that depression is more common in women because they are more likely than men to ruminate on their troubles. But I have come across men who ruminate on their worries and failings or on the failings of the world to an excessive extent. This behaviour keeps them in a constant state of depression, anxiety or anger.

When men ruminate to that extent it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to get them out of it – it’s as though they are addicted to brooding on negative thoughts.

Later on I’ll mention a simple meditation technique that can help to break a cycle of ruminating.

At the present time, as you can imagine, it is very easy indeed to brood on frightening possibilities. Such brooding can only have the effect of paralysing you with worry or with depression.

Some anxiety acts as a spur to action. But deep brooding simply takes away the experience of the moment for the sake of a future that you might be better off planning for than agonising about.

Rumination also has a sometimes-devastating role in anger. A verse in Juan Mascaró’s 1973 translation of the Buddhist classic The Dhammapada goes “‘He insulted me, he hurt me, he defeated me, he robbed me.’ Those who think such thoughts will not be free from hate.”

This is demonstrated in acts of violence such as one neighbour killing another, perhaps in a boundary dispute that the killer has been ruminating over for years.

The same is true of road rage. Very often the person who attacks another driver turns out to have been angry and brooding before he got behind the wheel. The victim, who may or may not have done something to offend but who doesn’t deserve to be physically attacked, pays the price. But so does the attacker, whose life might also never be the same again.

Most futile of all is brooding on issues that cannot be changed, such as an injustice done in the past. In brooding on such things, you can easily think your way into depression, into bad relationships or into an addiction.

If you spot yourself ruminating, one old meditation technique might help get you out of it. This is to name what you are doing. The technique is used in meditation to help bring the mind back to the breath or to whatever the object of meditation may be.

So, if you were trying to meditate on your breathing and you found yourself planning this evening’s dinner, you would say to yourself “planning” and return to your breathing; if you drifted into thinking about bankers’ bonuses you would say “angry” and return to your breathing; if you found yourself caught into a series of sad thoughts you would say “sad” and so on.

But this is not just a technique for meditators: use it whenever you find yourself ruminating.

Why should it work? It works by giving you a certain detachment from what is going on in your head. If you are naming what you are doing you are no longer hooked into it and you have a better chance of getting free from it.

Recent research has found that naming an emotion tends to dampen down that emotion by activating another area of the brain – so the centuries-old meditation technique now has a bit of science behind it.

Try this out, saying the word “angry”, “sad”, “scared” or whatever it may be to yourself, silently when you fall into rumination. I think you’ll feel a difference.

-------------------------
Padraig O’Morain is a counsellor. His book, ‘That’s Men: The Best of That’s Men Column from The Irish Times’, is published by Veritas

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
NORBU!
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)



For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.


Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.



For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team


Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv


TOP