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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and have lived in and around Palo Alto since 1969. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background i...  (More)

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Dear Chandrama, Everywhere I turn . . .

Uploaded: Apr 21, 2014
. . . these days there is talk of meditation. My partner is pushing me to take a class. What's the deal?

Dear Stressed,
While people have been meditating for thousands of years, research on meditation is still in its infancy. Scientific American Mind states that Goyal reports in January's JAMA Internal Medicine that Mindfulness meditation "helps with pain, anxiety, and depression -- the latter two as much as an anti-depressant."

Wow, I find that news very exciting, because while I do think anti-depressants have their place, being able to manage anxiety and depression without a pill and its side-effects is a tremendous boon.

Stress causes the hormone coritsol to course through our body, and is associated with many poor health conditions.

I do recommend that you take a class in Mindfulness meditation, and practice it for a while. And while you're at it, you may try being present in each moment. For example, if you're running or bicycling, feel the air and sweat on your skin, notice what you hear around you (birds, cars, squirrels, talking, etc.), feel your heartbeat, the ground or pedals under your feet, look around and see the details of where you are such as grass, flowers, dirt, concrete, clouds, trees, people, and so on; pay attention to what you smell (flowers, exhaust, eucalyptus). When your mind wanders back to work, come back to this moment. Do the same while driving, working, loving your spouse and kids, grocery shopping, etc.

Devices are wonderful tools, and they can take us away from the present. Random ideas may float into our head while we take a deep breath or two before getting in the car. We may miss those opportunities if our nose is down in a device. Make sure your devices work FOR you, not the other way around.

Meditation may not be easy in our high-success, fast-paced environment. A pill may seem preferable in certain ways. Unfortunately, many people stigmatize taking medication for anxiety or depression, yet not for high-cholesterol or other "medical" reasons. Meditation has no stigma.

And truly, being happy and healthy is worth it – for ourselves and those around us.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chelsea, a resident of The Crossings,
on Apr 22, 2014 at 8:09 am

I've struggled with bouts of depression and anxiety for years. A friend of mine recently introduced me to mindfulness meditation, referring me to an online self-study course that he had taken. I took the course and and have been practicing consistently for several months now. It has had an enormous impact on my ability to handle daily stressors that contribute to my anxiety and depression, and my overall outlook on life has improved, as well. I say go for it. Even if you don't find it to be a replacement for your medication, it's a wonderful supplement to it!

Here is a link to the meditation course I was talking about:

Web Link

Good luck!

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 22, 2014 at 8:18 am

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Thanks for your openness about your life and telling us about the help you've gotten from mindfulness meditation. I am so glad to hear you're feeling better and managing stressful situations more easily.

Great point about it supplementing medication. (I want to be clear that I am not advocating anyone changing medication without their doctor's intervention. I was thinking of those who would not even begin medication.)

Especially thanks for the online course info.

Anyone else have course recommendations?

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