Mindfulness helps battle depression, anxiety

By Larry Gember
Are you a person who struggles with depression and/or anxiety? Perhaps your doctor has prescribed medication, and it helps, but it doesn’t seem to completely rid you of these dark moods.

Let me say first that I don’t write here as any authority on mental health but as an individual who has personally struggled with these issues for decades, and as one called by God to provide spiritual leadership within the framework of the Christian church and larger community.

I’m a firm believer in the helpfulness of medication as a weapon against these dark forces, whether you label them psychological or spiritual. But it seems the prevailing wisdom among professionals is that a two-pronged approach is best — combining medication management with talk therapy.

For decades, it seems the most popular method of talk therapy was what professionals call cognitive therapy. It may still be, but there is growing use of an approach called “mindfulness.” It originates from eastern religious traditions but has been adapted to secular and Christian forms.

I have spent two years studying a Christian approach to mindfulness, and it has changed my life. I now have such powerful weapons to confront the forces of darkness that it almost doesn’t seem like a fair fight.

I have worked on this under the direction of someone with a secular Ph.D. and a solid Christian faith, but if you can’t afford that, there are books such as “The Mindful Way through Depression” by Mark

Larry Gember is pastor of St. James Lutheran Church in Greenfield. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.