How to Use Spiritual Practices for Depression

Spiritual practice can be a very effective remedy for depression. Depression, at its root, is caused by unfulfilled desires. The anxiety that often accompanies it stems from fear of the unknown and feelings of powerlessness. Spiritual practices can help people discover what it is they truly need and desire on a deeper level to feel satisfied in life.  They also work to eliminate the fears and lack of self-confidence that fuel anxiety. Regular spiritual practice instills healthy habits that counteract the negative mental and emotional responses that fuel depression.

Mental health organizations are even starting to recognize the benefits of activities like meditation for managing the symptoms of depression and anxiety.  Spiritual practices focus on the development of inner balance and removing external pressures, providing relief from symptoms. Some spiritual practices that have been shown to help with depression are meditation, prayer, yoga and energy work like Reiki.

Meditation is a practice anyone can learn on their own. It not only helps to quiet the mind and emotions, but instills a habit of mindfulness. Meditation stops anxiety in several ways. The deep relaxation induced by meditation calms the sympathetic nervous system, stopping the trigger of the “fight or flight” response that fuels anxiety. Meditation reduces the heart rate and places the mind into a place of full and present awareness. When we are fully present within the current moment, anxiety ceases to be a problem.

Prayer is another meaningful way to ease depression. It allows us to let go of things, to release our troubles to a higher power. We stop struggling and allow our answers to appear to us when the time is right. Prayer also allows us to shift our focus. Expressing gratitude for our blessings changes our perspective and inspires more optimism.

Yoga is a great way to get the stress-busting benefits of physical exercise, combined with the relaxation and mindfulness of meditation. The breathing and meditation in yoga help calm the mind and relieve the body’s stress responses. This in turn lowers blood pressure and decreases production of stress hormones. Stress goes hand-in-hand with depression. Managing stress can have a huge impact on quality of life mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.  Yoga and meditation can be used by anyone regardless of religious affiliation or background.

Many find spiritual advisors or healers to be beneficial for dealing with depression.  Reiki practitioners and other energy healers can help remove energy blockages and negativity from the mind and body, replacing them with positive “chi” or life force energy. Reiki is a form of energy healing where the practitioner uses various hand positions above the body of the patient, guiding spiritual energy to heal all sorts of issues mental, physical, emotional or spiritual.

If you struggle with anxiety, depression or a high-stress lifestyle, daily spiritual practice can help improve your outlook and quality of life.