One of our gentle writes asked me to write a little about meditation vs. medication. If you read much in the way of comments here, you will find that many of the readers here have a much lower view of pharmacology and medication that I do. That’s okay, I can take the heat.
One does not have to do much research to discover that there is a whole field of study on the relationship between meditation and depression. Some of the articles I found after a quick search are HERE, HERE and HERE. One of the things we have to establish is what is really meant by meditation.
Meditation can mean everything from yoga, visualization techniques, Cognitive Therapy (my personal favorite), and a world of other types of meditation that may or may not have a religious element to them. Probably the common element among them is using some method to cleanse or clear the mind, to focus on one thing, and through this process to change one’s thinking. I won’t claim to be an expert on non-Western forms of meditation, but I know just enough to be dangerous.
Here are a few preliminary observations from a Lutheran perspective:
- Evaluate whether the technique works within the framework of a religious system that is contrary to Christianity. Some types of meditation are benign; others have a totally skewed view of human spirit (usually a variation on denying original sin). Does the form of meditation have aspects of it that just don’t sit with the theology of the cross? Is meditation seen as a way of supplanting prayer?
- What are the expectations of the writer/teacher/guide who is leading the meditation? If there is talk about being a disciple of a certain form, I would start to get nervous.
- Does the form have history, is it established and recognized at least at some level by professionals in different fields? While this isn’t absolutely necessary, if something is written off as complete quackery, it may be because it is.
My therapist has used and is a proponent of cognitive therapy or cognitive reframing. We have also used some basic relaxation techniques to help deal with anxiety. I’ve found them both to be extremely helpful. Are they THE solution? No? Can they replace medication and other means of help? Not for me. If you don’t have the energy to get out of bed, it is very difficult to imagine having the energy to meditate, no matter how relaxing or liberating it may be. I can know something is good for me and still not be able to do it.
Anyway, those are a few initial thoughts. What are yours?