Overcoming Depression with Meditation
by Dr. Frank Morales, Ph.D.
(Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya)
Modern America is a land of many interesting, and often painfully
ironic, contradictions. On the one hand, we supposedly enjoy more
prosperity, longevity, comforts, and conveniences in the United
States than any other civilization has even dreamed of in previous
On the other hand, however, America is currently going through one of
the biggest mental health crises that any nation in history has ever
experienced. Various forms of depression, anxiety disorders and
neuroses are affecting millions of Americans. Depressive disorders
affect approximately 18.8 million American adults, or about 9.5% of
the U.S. population age 18 and older in any given year. For those
cases of depression that are reported, many more remain unreported, and thus unknown. This current mental health crisis includes such
ailments as major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and
What is especially disturbing is that depression is increasingly a
common occurrence among the nation's young, a demographic that should
be enjoying the fun and carefree life usually associated with
childhood. Pre-schoolers are the fastest-growing market for
antidepressants. At least four percent of preschoolers -- over a
million! -- are considered clinically depressed. CNN recently
reported on a study that revealed that as many as 3 million teenagers
contemplated suicide in 2006. The rate of increase of depression
among children is an astounding 23%.
30% of women are depressed. Men's figures were previously thought to
be half that of women, but new estimates show that the actual figures
are higher than at first suspected.
Depression will be the second largest killer after heart disease by
2020 -- and medical studies have shown that depression is a
contributory factor to fatal coronary disease.
Depression results in more absenteeism and loss of employment than
almost any other physical disorder, and costs employers more than
US$51 billion per year in absenteeism and lost productivity, not
including high medical and pharmaceutical bills.
The treatment modalities often used in the attempt to combat
depression are diverse and have varied results. Some of these
treatments include talk therapy and anti-depression medications.
Currently, several million Americans are on various anti-depressants,
including Prozac, Lexapro, and Amitriptyline. Many of these anti-
depression medications have had only mixed results.
Antidepressants work for 35% to 45% of the depressed population,
while more recent figures suggest as low as 30%. Standard
antidepressants, SSRIs such as Prozac, Paxil (Aropax) and Zoloft,
have recently been revealed to have serious risks, and are linked to
suicide, violence, psychosis, abnormal bleeding, and brain tumors.
Though most doctors advise a combination of therapy and
antidepressants, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has an 80%
relapse rate in the long term.
While medication and therapy can often take the edge off of the
experience of depression, they are far from successful in all
instances. The only truly effective cure lies in going to the root
of depression. That root is ultimately spiritual in nature.
Depression is itself only a direct symptomatic manifestation of the
radical secularization of human society. Previous to secular
modernity, depression was a much less prevalent phenomenon. And when
it was experienced, the reasons were more clearly environmental and
causal than they are now. In the past, depression was directly
associated with a specific event or occurrence in the person's life
that directly caused the depression. Today, however, an increasing
number of depressed persons are experiencing more generalized
depression, a type of general existential angst, the exact cause of
which it is difficult for them to pinpoint. Some of the leading
causes of depression today include a sense of meaninglessness;
consuming and generalized fear; spiritual crises, and the high
degrees of stress and anxiety that has become accepted as normal in
modern, radically secularized, everyday life.
For younger people, especially, when asked why they are experiencing
deep depression, many youth will point to a complete sense of
meaninglessness in their lives. The don't know why they are here,
what their purpose in life is, why they are bothering to learn and
work hard, and why our present-day, materialistic society is geared
in such a way as to provide them with no real answers to their quest
for meaning. While pop culture, technology, and the youth scene
serves as a temporary outlet for many teens, more often than not it
only serves to tremendously exacerbate the problem of depression.
Secular modernity presents us with a social-philosophical construct
that is artificial, anti-natural, and ultimately destructive and
unhealthy in nature. In our society, we have been deprived of the
age-tested, fundamental vehicles through which we can excel
spiritually, intellectually, and culturally. Spirituality and
Dharma, which form the basis of all meaningful human growth and
progress, has been systematically and viciously erased from modern
secular societies to such a radical extent that hundreds of millions
of persons worldwide are vividly feeling the ill effects of a life
devoid of meaning, value, nobility, goodness, heroism, and the quest
The search for truth has been replaced in the lives of billions with
the search for entertainment.
Rather than encouraging such spiritual values as courage, nobility,
and heroism, the modern world today encourages the coldly
unsatisfying propaganda of radical egalitarianism. Rather than
encouraging the nurturing of the inner life of the spirit, and the
natural joy, peace and fulfillment that results from a healthy
spiritually-centered life, today it is only selfish economic
advancement and the value of purchasing power that is advocated.
Rather than a lifestyle of mental, physical and spiritual health,
today lifestyles of selfish hedonism, consumerism, greed, fame, and
lust are upheld as the ideal course of behavior, and the values
toward which all should aspire.
Dharma, the principle of living one's life in accordance with Natural
Law and God's will in a manner that is healthy, fulfilling,
nurturing, and truly progressive, has now been replaced with an
artificial and life-denying lifestyle that only produces a profound
sense of meaninglessness and anxiety.
The ultimate cure for society's present crisis of depression and
meaninglessness is to re-embrace a life of meaning, a life of
Dharma. Dharma, by its very definition, denotes the sustaining
foundation of all reality. Dharma is the concept that all that we
experience in this world is based upon a higher, spiritual reality
that provides the ordering principles necessary for the proper
function of the world. To understand Dharma is to understand the
world, and the natural laws behind all things that make life a
meaningful and beautiful expression of the Divine in spacial-temporal
reality. To know Dharma is to know life's ultimate meaning. And the
way to fully know Dharma is through the process of meditation.
For millennia, a spiritually based practice of meditation has been
shown to be very effective in combating such problems as stress,
anxiety, fear, and feelings of meaninglessness. Because meditation
addresses the root causes of depression and anxiety, the time honored
techniques of meditation can be a much more effective cure for
depression than either talk-therapy or medication.
Meditation is a natural, easy and proven method that has been shown
in hundreds of clinical studies to bring about deep states of peace,
calm and mental clarity. In addition, a specifically spiritual
regimen of daily meditation can help to foster a deep sense of
meaning and spiritual comfort.
Meditation has been shown to work on two distinct levels: a) the
cognitive level, and b) the spiritual level. On the cognitive level,
meditation helps to bring about a deep equipoise and a calming relief
to one's overactive mind. Today, especially, the mind is constantly
bombarded with an unending stream of diverse information - some
valuable, most useless. As a direct result of such information
bombardment, the mind is in an almost constant state of agitation and
confusion. Meditation serves to calm the mind, allowing our
attention to shift from the storm of external stimuli to the deep
inner peace that is the natural state of the soul. As a consequence
of having a calm mind, we then find that we can think and make
important decisions with much more clarity, insight, and power. We
are now able to process information in a way that serves us, rather
than merely being the victims of myriad sensory impressions and
On the more spiritual level, meditation has the ability to provide us
with deep levels of self-realization and God-realization that, up
till now, may have seemed to be impossible attainments to many of
us. By meditating with the expressed goal of making spiritual
progress, and knowing God and self, we then traverse beyond the
merely cognitive and mental, and begin to penetrate the inner realms
of eternal spirit. When we have self-realization, we now experience
the transcendent peace and calm that is the natural result of living
in spirit. When we have God-realization, we are now in communion
with the very source of our being, the eternal, loving Absolute who
is our very best of friends, and greatest of well-wishers. In such a
transcendent state of spiritual attainment, no anxiety, stress,
depression, or fear can ever burden our minds or hearts again. For
we have now, through the process of spiritual meditation, realized
the infinite well of spiritual peace that lies naturally within.
The root cause of most depression today, then, is the pervasive sense
of meaninglessness that naturally accompanies life in a radically
secularized, materialistic society. The cure to such existential
meaninglessness is to partake profoundly in the spiritual nature of
our true selves and the spiritual foundations underlying our everyday
concerns. The artificial construct of materialism needs to be
replaced with Dharma, and the natural lifestyle and spiritual way of
being that Dharma teaches us to embrace. The most effective way of
accessing the spiritual reality that is our true self, and thus to
over-come the unnatural state of depression, is God-centered
meditation as taught in the ancient tradition of Sanatana Dharma.
For further information about overcoming depressing and learning to
embrace happiness again through meditation, please contact the
International Sanatana Dharma Society:
Dr. Frank Morales, Ph.D. (Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya) is an
American who has been practicing Sanatana Dharma for over 30 years.
He has a Ph.D. in Religious Studies and is recognized by the global
Hindu community as one of the leading Hindu Acharyas (Spiritual
Preceptors) in the nation. With a large international following of
both Indian and Western students, Sri Acharya Ji is especially
renowned for his highly authentic approach to Dharmic spirituality,
his authoritative and scholarly approach to teaching, and his clear
emphasis on serious spiritual practice and direct experience of self-
realization and knowledge of God. He has lectured on Sanatana Dharma
at such prestigious institutions as Harvard University, Columbia,
Rutgers, Cornell, Northwestern, as well as for such companies as Ford
Motor Corporation and Lucent Technology. He is the Founder and
President of the International Sanatana Dharma Society. To contact
Sri Acharya-ji, email him at: info@....
His primary websites are:
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Overcoming Depression with Meditation