I’m reading a book on mindfulness and depression. The authors posit that people are more vulnerable to depression and relapse when they spend a lot of their time in a ‘comparing’ state of mind – that is, when you’re noticing the difference between how things are and how you’d like them to be. They contrast that with a ‘being’ or ‘observing’ state of mind, which is characterized by noticing the present moment and accepting it for what it is.
Comparing state of mind? That’s me.
It makes sense to me that you appreciate any given moment less when you’re preoccupied with changing it, when you’re comparing it to the past or planning ways to make it different in the future. It makes sense to me that a ‘comparing’ state of mind would be exhausting, because the call to action is constant. A ‘being’ mind sounds like a welcome relief – peaceful and calm.
To develop their mindfulness-based treatment plan to avoid relapse in people who have had depression, the authors looked to a program designed for patients with chronic pain. Instead of fighting the pain, the patients learned to regard it with a gentle, kindly awareness.
(I’m reminded of my friend who eventually came around to loving the mean voice.)
This approach to avoiding relapse does not emphasize the content of your thoughts, such as getting over your specific triggers. Instead it tries to change the relationship you have with your thoughts. It tries to help you understand that not every thought reflects reality. Not every thought deserves a reaction.
I realized after (during?) my first(?) major episode in college that what I needed, in a very serious way, was to chill the fuck out. Mindfulness-based approaches to depression seem to be saying the same thing.
When you can spend less time fighting and more time with a gentle awareness, it makes sense to me that you’ve made a big step toward resilience – a step toward the source of your happiness being within you.
Sounds nice, right?