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Having difficulty with new awareness

Discussion in 'Meditation Chatter Box' started by TheRisingOne, Dec 4, 2010.

  1. TheRisingOne

    TheRisingOne Member

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    I have a lot of past trauma which has left me pretty emotionally blocked and I normally find it hard to feel, which led me to this community.

    Meditation has been a double edged sword for me. It opens me up so much sometimes it's overwhelming. I'll be enjoying myself with friends really connecting and opening more around people and this dark looming feeling comes up and instantly I just shut myself down. I'm quite afraid of what this is and I don't know anyone who I feel I could really talk to about it.

    My thoughts seem to be now more emotionally charged where it was blocked before and I'm left with highly negative and anxious thinking and I'm trying my best to reprogram them but I have almost thought myself into a panic attack a few times. I refuse to allow myself to let my thoughts go towards that but sometimes I won't catch it and I'll have to slow myself down.

    I've heard in spirituality to make a friend of the unknown and now I really understand that. At the moment I feel like I don't know who I am anymore. Usually I have my motivation of ok just keep working hard in school and I tell myself that now and I'm like why? Why am I pushing so hard for this and it's quite scary to not be so sure of what I'm doing anymore

    I guess I'm just feeling a bit lost and would like some words of wisdom from those who have experienced this.

    Not all of the experience is negative I've become quite more open and free and flowing and spontaneous. But I guess I've just been building all this up for years and I have to deal with it now.
     
  2. Ta-tsu-wa

    Ta-tsu-wa Member

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    Howdy, RisingOne, and welcome to the PM community. What you're describing is perfectly understandable and perfectly normal. If you spend much time surfing the web and reading what people say about the "dangers" of meditation, or the "dangers" of awakening kundalini, what they're really talking about, whether they know it or not, is simply that in any form of meditation our emotional barriers drop a bit. This leaves us open to experiencing emotional events that are buried and not usually pushing up into our conscious awareness.

    It really isn't a "danger" to any mentally, emotionally sound person. I don't mean you have to be mentally and emotionally 100% healthy; we've all got our little quirks and weak areas. But in the main, if you're at least reasonably well adjusted, you do not need to worry about this being a "dangerous" process.

    As you progress in your meditation practice, lots of old hurts and memories are going to come up out of the dark and emerge back into conscious awareness. Some memories will be pleasant, some not so pleasant. It's going to happen, so count on experiencing it. What you don't need to do is face it all at once or in doses so large that you're unable to cope with them properly. Biting off more than we can chew like that is sometimes referred to as "overwhelm".

    So rather than striving to get into very deep states of meditation, in the beginning, target states that are lighter. A light state of meditation will feel rather pleasant; something like a nice daydream state. It will be relaxing and rejuvenating, and the emotions and memories that surface either during or after your practice will not feel quite so intense as they would if you were to work yourself into much deeper states of meditation. If you're using the Lifeflow system of entrainment tracks from Project Meditation, stick to using the first two or three tracks for awhile. These will assist you in remaining in a lighter state of meditation and not slipping down too deeply.

    However, feelings and memories will still come up, even if at a less intense level. The trick then is to find positive ways of processing them. The first thing to remember is that the fact they're coming up at all is a great thing. Those feelings and memories have been buried deep down inside you. You may not have been entirely conscious of them, but they've been in there, tainting and poisoning you. Some of them may have been working on you for a very long time. Now they're coming out, and as they emerge where you can see them it allows you to deal with them. This robs them of their power to covertly damage you any longer. It might seem at first glance that in certain ways it was easier not to have to deal with them, but that's only because you weren't seeing the hidden damage they've been causing all along. In truth, it is much better to have them out where you can look at them and do something with them.

    There are a number of strategies and techniques you can employ to resolve these things when they come up. One you'll see written over and over on this forum is, "Don't resist them; accept them; observe them; allow them just to be as they are as you look on without attachment to them."

    This advice is meant figuratively, but it's also meant literally. If, for example, you're out with those friends you mentioned, and you begin to feel a sense of something coming on that you're afraid might lead to a panic episode, stop where you are right there and take a deep breath or two. As you're breathing, remind yourself that whatever you're feeling, that feeling is not "you". It's just a feeling. It rises, it remains a little while, and it subsides again. It doesn't matter what the feeling is, it's going to follow that pattern of rising, abiding, and subsiding. All feelings follow that pattern, no matter what they are.

    And since it comes and goes, the feeling cannot be "you", because "you" were there before the feeling came, and you will be there after it is gone. The feeling is just a mental/emotional object, with a very short, limited lifespan. You, my friend, are eternal. It's only when you lose track of that fact that these little emotional objects get the upper hand. For example, there is a world of difference between saying, "I'm anxious" and "I'm feeling some anxiety." At first you might think they mean the same thing, but they don't. In the first statement, you're identifying yourself as being the same thing as the anxiety. In the second, you're acknowledging that you are you, and the anxiety is something else, which means it is free to come and go (as it's going to do no matter what,) and you will remain after it is gone, just as you are minus the experience of the anxiety.

    So your first line of defense is simply to stop; breathe; then remind yourself that whatever you're feeling is not "you", and that it will come and go regardless of whether you do anything about it or not. And when it's gone, you'll still be here, just as before. That little process all by itself is often enough to get people through just about any unwanted mental/emotional episode that arises.

    There are other things you can do of a more active nature. You can practice some EFT (emotional freedom technique) tapping as a way to release the energies these feelings bring on. The basic technique can be learned for free here: EFTUniverse.com There's a lot of other good information at that site as well, so take some time to browse through it. On this forum, Giles is sort of our resident expert on all things EFT. He practices it as well as a related technique named Freeway CER. If you have questions regarding using EFT I'm sure he's more than qualified to answer them for you.

    Another great technique to release the energies associated with mental/emotional objects that arise is the Release Technique, or its kissing cousin, The Sedona Method. Both of these are offshoots of the work of a man named Lester Levenson, and both are extremely good at helping you rapidly let go of uncomfortable sensations. Here is a link that discusses the similarities and differences between the two techniques: Is the Sedona Method or Release Technique Better? | eHow.com

    And here is a link to some basic instructions in PDF format that will give you a good start:

    http://theselfimprovementsite.com/dload/ReleaseTechniquebasics.pdf

    There are a lot of other things you can do. NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) is an excellent tool and has techniques specifically adapted to changing associations with negative experiences and memories into positive ones. Hypnosis can also be very useful to effect a similar sort of change. Lots of things you can try if you like. Each of them can be effective. You probably won't need to use more than one technique to get the effects you're seeking.

    Hope this is helpful.
     
  3. TheRisingOne

    TheRisingOne Member

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    Thank you for that post it was really great, thanks for taking the time to write it. I've tried EFT in the past with no help but lately I've been opening up it seems so I'm going to give it another shot and see if I'm more receptive to it.

    The feeling I had when I typed my first post has passed, it only actually lasted a few hours, now after todays meditation I feel different again! I keep feeling different all the time and it leaves me so confused and I ponder on it all day long, like today I just felt so blah towards everything I had no motivation to be cheery with my friends I just kind of gave them replies. I almost feel like my mind is changing but the emotions still aren't here. I dunno what to expect from this reply I guess just writing my thoughts down helps.

    I am having an easier time shifting my focus though, I can realise I got distracted and boom go right back to work where as before it was like a half hour could go by before I even realised I had got distracted in the first place then I had a hard time going back to what I was doing, so much resistance was in my mind.

    I'm almost scared to meditate more.. I acknowledge that bad feelings coming up are a sign of them being dealt with but at the same time I wonder when the good feelings will come, when some peace may show up.

    I dunno, just some thoughts. Thanks for the reply again that was great.
     
  4. Hazelkay

    Hazelkay Member

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    'new awareness'

    Hi Rising One,
    Welcome to this community and we send you all the blessings of the universe.
    This period of confusion is very normal as we seriously meditate. It is time to put down the anchors and ride it out as it may last for some time or it may pass quickly - there is no predicting how long it will last.
    A few tips for surviving this period -
    don't force things along by meditating for long periods - enough is happening at the moment and it needs time to be processed, digging deeper is probably not helpful.
    Stay relaxed when meditating - have a comfortable position - even lie down and don't worry if you fall asleep sometimes.
    After every meditation session spend a few minutes giving thanks for all your blessings send yourself loving wishes of peace and joy.
    After every meditation session drink a full glass of water and go for a walk if you can - this helps clear toxins that arise in the body when we meditate deeply.
    Hope these are helpful, all good wishes for peace and joy in your life
     
  5. Midnight

    Midnight Member

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    TheRisingOne,

    In addition to everyone's awesome replies so far, i'd like to throw in some of my own words.

    I know literally EXACTLY what you feel. Meditation has allowed me to behave and live without fear and be myself. It allows me to connect with others on a deep level and just have a lot of fun with people...

    And oppositely, I will feel like crap a few days after that. It made no sense to me...that I could be so free and full of life one day, and then be back to the same thoughts and feelings that have kept me down for years...It could progressively get worse until I started to behave in ways that were previously alien to even my "old self". It seemed like I was moving backward instead of forward. I wondered whether meditation was worth it, why it seemed so hard to do seemingly easy things, why it was happening to me...etc.

    Initially, I thought something was wrong with me, and I had to fix it. I had this notion that meditation would take care of all the work for me, and all i had to do was sit back and relax.

    In a sense, there was some truth to that, but I was using meditation to consciously try and get rid of what I was feeling. That is resistance manifesting itself. Resistance has the mind hold on to a feeling, because all an emotion wants to do is be felt, and it doesn't go away if it can't be felt.

    I knew meditation would release emotions in me, and I was aware that it wouldn't feel great. But it seemed like i spent so much time thinking and feeling like crap, that something wasn't right.

    Then I realized that I wasn't letting any emotions be felt, I just wanted to get straight to a place where I could feel good. I had pushed down, and ignored the pain that arose from meditation, which affects thoughts and behaviors.

    I soon began to let emotions through as they came up. At first, i thought it annoying that so many emotions came up (it makes sense though, if you try to get a feel for how many emotions you've resisted daily for years!), that it seemed like something jsut didn't want me to be happy for very long. But then realization hit me. My natural state of being...everyone's natural state...is one of peace and inner bliss. It is always there, but it only gets covered up! Me feeling bad wasn't where I was destined to be, so I let the emotions come up!

    You see, you can always gain access to this, and it is much easier than you think, but only if you allow yourself to experience the emotions that arise. And that doesn't have to be a hard, scary thing to do. It is possible to experience an underlying peace at all times, even when an intense intense...or even dull..emotion comes up. This happens through acceptance.

    Learning acceptance of the fact that you may not feel right at the time will allow you to let an emotion be experienced. Since you are not fighting what has already happened, you are content and peaceful, regardless of what your body might be feeling. You will eventually realize that it is not the end of the world when you feel down, because it is temporary. This helps you get through these times. Emotions themselves don't last very long anyway, only a few moments...

    There's no need to try and reprogram your thoughts or anything, that is fighting an uphill battle with cement shoes. Instead, realize that your natural state is always underneath all of this, given that you let yourself experience it all. Once clearing passes, you experience clarity, but it is up to you to allow the clearing to happen. The emotions you experience influence the thoughts, and it seems like they're concrete. But you'll notice after an emotion is passed, that the thought doesn't seem to carry much power anymore...things happen with ease.

    If you want, you can browse through the thread where I actually realized this. It might help

    http://www.project-meditation.org/community/meditation-chatter-box/3151-jarring-resistance.html

    Hope this was useful. Good luck! :D
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2010
  6. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    Some really excellent posts allready, so all I can do is give a small tip:

    I don't know how much time you spend meditating, but when you have the feeling in daily life that too much is happening at the same time, that your emotions and memories of past painful experiences are overwhelming, it might be an idea to tone down your meditation a bit.

    The more you meditate, the more feelings will be released at the same time.
    So, if you are used to meditate for instance twice a day for 20 minutes, and you feel this overwhelm, just drop one of the meditations, or perhaps shorten their time to 10 minutes or 15 minutes for each session until you feel more balanced again.

    In general, when looking at your day, is there a balance between feeling doom and gloom, and feeling generally happy or content ? To which side does the scale tip ?
     
  7. TheRisingOne

    TheRisingOne Member

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    Thanks for the post Midnight, it looks like I could potentially be on the same path.. always good to know someone has made it lol.

    Edwin,

    There seems to be 3 stages to my day.

    1. Time when I'm distracted and am not in my negative thinking rut (homework, hobbies)

    2. Times when I'm trying to do something but keep getting distracted by my negative thinking (worrying about what's wrong, why I don't feel right, why I don't even feel good)

    3. TImes when I have emotional upheaval

    Rarely I will feel an actual positive emotion and be in a good mood for a couple hours, which I do sometimes after any bad emotions come.

    The emotional upheaval is pretty rare unless I get in a really good meditation that day. I'm usually just pondering why I don't feel like I think I should, like how good I used to feel. This is sort of a numb state where sometimes I just feel inhuman, I might have depersonalisation but have had it so long that it's not like a oh wow I have this thing it's just kind of my normal state. I feel so disconnected sometimes. You can maybe sense how I feel in my posts right now I'm very blah.

    So to answer your question I usually just feel very blah and numb and just go through the motions of life.
     
  8. Midnight

    Midnight Member

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    2 and 3 are pretty much identical things.

    When you feel anxious or tense, or anything at all, for no immediate reason, that's usually a good sign that old tension you've repressed in the past is making itself known, so that this time around you don't repress it again! ;)

    Asking yourself "Why don't I feel good? What's wrong? I used to feel so amazing!" are all forms of resistance. You are using these thoughts to try and counter what you are feeling in the current moment, thus keeping them there. Cuz all emotions want are to be felt, and then they leave forever. Distracting yourself, or ignoring these feelings only moves them to the background. However, they are still there.

    Try this: Instead of thinking about the story behind the emotion, forget about it and move your attention on the feeling. Bring it up to your full attention, no distractions. Observe how it moves or progresses. Or observe if it feels still. See if you can observe it as merely a physical sensation. View it as if it is only the body feeling this pain, nothing else.

    See what happens, and let us know.
     
  9. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    Crap, there goes my chance to give some advice.

    Now Midnight beat me to it ;)

    He is the expert to this, because realising what he just told you gave him freedom from his emotions.

    You have been meditating for some time, and ( which I hope ) probably with Michaels free meditation course.
    In meditation, you will probably have realised allready that you can't stop thoughts from coming up.
    The same goes for emotions.

    Let me try to explain what is happening inside your head when you are wondering why you don't feel right.

    The Google story ;)
    First of all, it will probably start with either a thought, or a somewhat nagging feeling of not feeling happy.
    When you notice this, you are focusing your attention on it.
    This attention will trigger your mind to start feeding you with thoughts, and these thoughts are meant to be useful. All thoughts are meant to be useful, but mind does not discriminate. You see, your mind is much like Google in a sense.
    You focus your attention on something, and this is like typing in a search command, saying something like "feeling bad".
    Immediately the search engine in your head is started, and it finds as much topics on the subject it can find.
    Most likely, the top results are closest to what you are looking for. Both mind as well as Google are very successful in finding related topics ;)

    One of the thoughts that comes up will probably have a ring to it that you feel fits. In other words, you might have 2 or even 3 thoughts coming up, and believe it or not, you select the one that you focus on.
    Just like in Google, you click one of the links, but not all.
    Now, just like in Google, your mind is redirected to a new or mildly related topic ( like a website from a google link ).
    Now new thoughts will come up, just like the info on the site that Google directed you to.
    If that info doesn't appeal to you much, you will automatically not focus on it. You probably won't even notice that you redirect your attention away from it.
    Just like in your webbrowser, when you click the "page back" button and are staring at the results in Google again, ready to click a new link.
    So, mind notices that the info it provided wasn't useful, and will go back to provide thoughts that were useful before. You will focus on the same link that you found before, but been there, done that, let's go investigate another link, maybe that will be more useful.
    Again just your attention on the thought is like clicking another link.

    The trouble with this is, that a lot of thoughts like the one above are accompanied with emotions that make you feel bad.
    Emotions that make your feel bad are usually feared or judged by us as "bad emotions". However, like Midnight explained, the emotions just have one purpose: they want to be experienced.
    When I gave Midnight this advice : http://www.project-meditation.org/c...er-box/3151-jarring-resistance.html#post15405
    That was what I was trying to explain to him.

    So, now that you know how your mind seems to work, what good will that do ?
    Well, just like in meditation, you can be taught to redirect your focus away from thoughts. In meditation we use a mantra, or a breath technique, or whatever. This only works for thoughts, emotions that come up, well you just have to allow them in, they are allready there so what's the point in resisting them anyway ? Emotions and thoughts have their own agenda, and you have no way of knowing what emotions or thought might come up next, they don't make appointments in advance if you get my drift.

    However, once they are there, accept that they are there first of all.
    You can't resist something that is allready there. Sure, they cause pain sometimes, like for instance a memory of that time you were pushed out of the changingroom in your underwear at school ;) Every time that memory comes up the shame comes rushing in accompanying that memory, and every time you push that memory and the feeling of shame away instead of fully living it, accepting the fact that there was a lot of shame and that you felt betrayed by the friends that didn't act to prevent this, every time you push it away the thought/emotion will try to come back to be experienced again.
    And every time you will push it away again.
    But as soon as you have accepted the memory and it's pain, and gone through it instead of avoiding it, it won't come up anymore. It will have served it's purpose.

    That is the emotions part.
    The Thoughts part is a little different.
    Remember how I told you that you will ignore one thought and select another by focusing on it ?
    This is what meditation does best: It teaches you to move your attention away from all thoughts.
    This way, just like when you won't enter new search commands in Google, there will be no new search results.

    No new thoughts = a quieter mind :)

    In daily life you can either do the same, just say your mantra when you notice that you are focusing on how you think you should be feeling, or find another, more satisfying topic to focus on :cool:
     
  10. Midnight

    Midnight Member

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    Haha, well if I didn't give any advice, we wouldn't have gotten that story!

    Which was actually a really great way of explaining it. I can't believe it never crossed my mind to relate an overactive mind to google. They have so much in common :p
     
  11. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    Yes, Edwin great analogy using Google. I read a lot of old texts that use similes of the day, so it’s refreshing to read some good explanations using the modern twist.
     
  12. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    Hehe only the great analogy's from the ancient masters are still useful today, and in probably 10 years my kids will say "daddy, what is a search engine ?" ;)
     
  13. Kauil

    Kauil Member

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    Oh, thank you Edwin and Midnight for your insights... I found these useful as well :)
     
  14. M L K

    M L K Member

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    My thanks as well. Love the search engine analogy!
     
  15. Tansy

    Tansy Member

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    Hi

    I'm pretty new to the forum and am really interested to hear about other people's experiences, I find it a real comfort when going through difficult mind states to read that I am not alone!

    I've been meditating daily to lifeflow for 2 months now, I started buddhist meditation classes about a year ago but struggled to make meditation a regular practice outside of the classes. I find I can get quite peaceful during my meditation (often falling asleep!) but am not yet feeling positive changes back in 'real life'. I came to meditation wanting to help relieve depression (without resorting to tablets) but have found that I have been quite up and down recently with a few bad days of very negative, hopeless thinking/feeling.

    From what has been written here previously, it seems this is quite common when starting regular meditation? I don't have any major traumas in my past that I'm consciously aware of and can't identify any specific incidents or thoughts rising to the surface, it's just non-specific negativity and fear of the future.

    I'm not very good at 'patiently accepting' the feelings of depression as it makes daily life such hard work when it comes back but am trying really hard not to go running to the doctor for antidepressants having managed without so far.

    Any thoughts/advice to help?

    Thank you xxx
     
  16. yesrod

    yesrod Member

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    Depression

    I am not an expert. Here is my view. Depression is not me. Depression is just depression. Awareness tells me that I hate it and it also tells me that I, love it. By becoming aware of this love- hate relationship I ,keep it into perspective. My mind tells me I have to do something about this depression. Wrong. I need to stay off the battlefield. I just observe like a scientist observes under a microscope. My observation shows me that I love depression.

    Meditation is like a microscope, a tool to observe thoughts. Like a scientist I, calmly observe. These thoughts do not have any power I, have the power and I, am in charge. Meditation will carry over into my everyday life whether I am aware of it or not aware of it.

    Thanks Yesrod
     
  17. Panthau

    Panthau Member

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    The world would disappear if no one would believe that theres a world. The only thing necessary in this body is... breath in... breath out...
     
  18. Midnight

    Midnight Member

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    Hi Tansy,

    Yeah, as mentioned before, experiences with previously suppressed emotions coming back up are quite common, so you are definitely not alone :)

    In my own experience, and other peoples' experiences that i've read, the "non-specific" negativity that seems to cloud your thinking is the result of these emotions coming back up. You'd be surprised at how much you've resisted your emotions over the years.

    Since your mind has been so used to resistance throughout the years, learning acceptance will take some time for the mind to get used to. But it is much easier than you think, to stop fighting events. Even if you find it difficult now, I would recommend to keep up your awareness, and catch your mind when you find it resisting, and be thankful that you caught it, rather than angry. As you meditate, and keep up this awareness daily, your mind will change, and the benefits will accompany you. Understanding acceptance will not make your thoughts or feelings go away immediately, but that doesn't mean it isn't working.

    Even if you don't believe it, what you are feeling now WILL pass. The benefits of meditation are cumulative, so keep it up, you are progressing.

    The advice yesrod posted also rings true as well.

    And i'm glad my posts were useful to you Kauil, and MLK :D
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2010
  19. M L K

    M L K Member

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    Depression visiting

    Hi, Tansy,

    I don't know how long you have been dealing with depression, but you do say it preceded and helped to motivate you toward your meditation practice. Certainly meditation can be a powerful tool, as the other PM members have said. But if the depression that visits you is severe, you might also benefit from counseling, especially if the counselor has a meditation background.

    In case you haven't seen it yet, Edwin has contributed a fine explanation of how meditation can help with difficult emotional states. You can find the thread here: http://www.project-meditation.org/community/meditation-chatter-box/3151-jarring-resistance.html

    Please let us know how you are doing. All the best, Margaret
     
  20. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    Tansy,

    Even tho meditation is a powerful tool that has helped millions of people throughout the century's, I doubt that on such short terms as 2 months any results can be seen if you want to use meditation as a cure for depression.
    After all, meditation is a life-time's practice, and most long-term meditators start to feel significant differences after about 10-20 years.

    Before I discourage you to go on, if you use Life-Flow that time is shortened to just a few years, and there are some short-term benefits to meditation as well, and most of them are body related.
    Like you said, relaxation is one of them.
    Also, there are things going on in your body and brain that you might not notice right away. Meditation helps the body recover and heal from stress-related damage.

    My point is, meditation is a great tool on the long run, and you will get lots from it, but to expect results within 2 months for your depression, that is a bit too much to ask.
    Aside your meditation, I would recommend to use techniques like The EFT Technique (free) or the excellent Sedona method which can bring astonashingly direct results.

    And, if these techniques don't give the desired results, maybe you should reconsider using a medical solution to break the negative spiral.
    Consult with your doctor to see if there is a mild drug that can be used for a certain time. Maybe instead of drugs some time with a therapist can be useful as well. Perhaps a therapist that is open to alternative medicine, my wife for instance has a therapist that as a part of his therapy uses a guided meditation. It has been of huge help and has kept her off medication for over 2,5 years now.

    So, keep on meditating, but don't rely on it just yet without the help of other resources.

    All the best,

    Edwin
     

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