(NaturalNews) A new study published by JAMA Psychiatry suggests that participating in regular spiritual and religious practice may help protect against depression. Researchers believe this may be due to a thickening of the brain cortex that occurs with regular meditation or other religious and spiritual practices.
More research is necessary; however preliminary results of MRIs performed on 103 adults at varying risk for depression have shown a correlation between a thickening of the brain cortex and the personal importance of religious and spiritual practices.
Furthermore, the regions of the brain that experienced a thickening of the cortex occurred in the same regions of the brain where people at high risk for depression usually experience thinning.
These results suggest that spiritual and religious practice may protect against the occurrence of major depression by counteracting the cortical thinning that usually occurs with the disorder. This study is the first to have investigated the correlation in this way.
Previous studies have shown a 90 percent decrease in the occurrence of major depression in adults who placed a high value on religious and spiritual practices and whose parents also suffered from depression. This suggests that maintaining a regular spiritual or religious practice (regardless of church attendance) may protect against major depression, particularly in individuals who are at a high familial risk.
The key is consistency. Whether you practice focused prayer, meditation, Tai Chi or another form of mindfulness, you need to do it consistently over a period of time before you get the long-term results.
In some ways spiritual practice may be like losing weight by maintaining a healthy diet. In the early stages, you might struggle and achieve little results. Over weeks and months, however, you begin to notice a significant difference. Dieting for a day or two doesn't work. Practicing spirituality for a day or two is not much different.
How to be consistent
Like eating healthy food, most spiritual practices are pretty simple. Express your thoughts and feelings to God. Gently chant a mantra. Move your body in a certain way. Do it for 15-20 minutes. Done! Do it every day for a year and notice the profound results.
The primary obstacle to consistent spiritual practice and the benefits thereof is self-sabotage. It occurs when you do the opposite of what makes you happy and healthy. Self-sabotage will make you want to give up when the practice is difficult. It will make you stop caring and tell yourself that it's not worth it, or that you just can't do it.
Self-sabotage actually steers you in the direction of misery for one simple reason: Misery is more familiar - and even more pleasurable (in a strange, subconscious way) - than happiness.
Can you imagine living a life full of discipline, energy, peace and happiness? Can you imagine feeling in control of your destiny and aligned with a higher purpose? If you can't, rest assured that you are attached in some way to self-sabotage.
When the self-sabotage is gone, consistency and patience will come naturally because you already understand that developing a healthy, mature, peaceful mind takes time and is more than worth the effort.
To learn more about how psychological attachments create self-sabotage and how to overcome them, watch this free video.
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