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Mindfulness Meditation to Help Combat Depression and Regain Willpower

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In recent weeks Hong Kong witnessed some deeply troubling cases of suicides and homicides committed by potential mental illness sufferers. From the depression suffered by well-known Chinese American singer CoCo Lee, to the man who stabbed two women to death in Hollywood Plaza, Diamond Hill with a 12-inch-long knife, and to the suffocation of three young daughters in a subdivided flat in Sham Shui Po by their mother, Hong Kong people are once again being reminded of the mental health issues.

Hong Kong citizens’ average mental health index scored 47.64 in the “2022 Hong Kong Mental Health Index Survey” conducted by the Equal Opportunities Commission, worse than the year before and dropping below the passing mark of 52 for the fifth consecutive year. The mental health score of more than 50 percent of the respondents was unsatisfactory, more than 12 percent suffer from depression; only 8.8 percent remain in a ‘good mental health state,’ a significant deterioration from 15 percent the previous year.

The dramatic changes in Hong Kong in recent years have made many people feel powerless and helpless. Negative emotions abound, and many people do not receive appropriate treatment.

According to figures from the Hospital Authority (HA), the total number of people receiving psychiatric treatment has increased for the past five years. At present, more than 290,000 mental patients are receiving treatment, but there are only 385 psychiatrists, the current ratio of doctors to patients is 1:761, meaning each therapy session for a psychosis patient is only 5.6 minutes on average, impossible for doctors to administer sufficient help.

The mental health issue, more commonly called mood disorder, is one of the common urban diseases nowadays. Patients may experience symptoms such as crying easily, violent rage, loss of emotional control, and so on. The most common symptoms are depression, anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, manic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Apart from irritability, anxiety, and depression, patients may also experience various physical discomforts, such as headaches, insomnia, fatigue, or other unexplained pains. It will affect daily work and life in severe cases, and some patients may even have suicidal inclinations.

A Patient Recovers From ‘No Hope on Life’

The Epoch Times interviewed a patient who used to suffer mood disorder, who told us about his experiences and shared how he got rid of negative emotions and out of the “tree hole.”

“Can’t recall when it started. I used to put on my ‘earphone,’ shuttle around the busy city, and admire nothing but my own shadow under the reflection of streetlights. Ever since people took off their masks, unfamiliar faces surfaced that really scared me, and they just looked at their phones. There were so many voices along the streets lingering in my ears, but I didn’t want to hear them. Might be only the familiar street corners and lampposts tell me that they still exist, telling me to ‘keep breathing’…” Nobita (pseudonym), who suffered from depression earlier, talked about his experience in a letter to the Epoch Times.

Nobita tried to give up his life twice. With all the luck, his family discovered both in time, and he was admitted to hospital for treatment. He described depression as terrible, “it seems to spread with the air, circumscribing the whole body, and seal it in darkness.”

“During that time, I didn’t like to go out, and I didn’t like to meet people. I was scared of their eyes. Slowly, I started to associate my soul with darkness.” When he was kept inside the hospital, he gazed at the Lion Rock Mountain outside the window and wept every day. Even in front of doctors or nurses, he continued to seal his soul in the dark so that no one could see his true mind.

“One day, if you see that I don’t cut my fingernails, I’m probably sick again,” Nobita recalled that after leaving the hospital, his depression did not improve. Besides taking sleeping pills, he hid in bed every day, shy from eating or drinking, and cut off contact with all his friends. He recalled that he was afraid of light, sudden noise, and people on the street. “I would be startled by anyone and anything, and kept shaking when I saw someone staring at me.” Nobita only dared to hide behind the window and peep at passers-by on the street in the middle of the night, as if he was walking around the streets.

It went on until one day when Nobita received a promotional message on his cell phone through social media. “At that time, I didn’t know what ‘mindfulness meditation’ was all about. I just knew that I couldn’t go on like this. I really wanted to save myself……”

A low and long “Dong…” came from the phone, he continued, “That’s the sound from the singing bowl. I never thought that it would make me feel more calm than ever before.” He began to practice mindfulness meditation by following the short video from “TreeholeHK” on YouTube. “Negative emotions are gradually being released, which is more effective than taking medicine. Mindfulness meditation took me out of darkness and faced the light again,” he said.

Nobita remembers clearly the first time he saw the short mindfulness meditation video. He followed the instructions to navigate his mind, closing his eyes, slowing his breathing, and letting go of all his fears.

Nobita described that when he first started practicing, plenty of strange thoughts always came to mind, which really spoiled his concentration. But once he put his focus back on breathing and learning to be at ease with them, he was able to overcome. By practicing daily, he felt very relaxed and finally gained the courage to walk out of the room. “Mindfulness meditation allows me to understand myself once again, control my emotions and be at ease with the outside world,” he said.

Build a Steely Will for Hong Kong People

TreeholeHK made all the changes possible for Nobita. TreeholeHK’s founder, Peter. Chan Kin-yan, said during an interview with the Epoch Times, “Human consciousness actually has lots of potential. Realizing this has a profound impact on me, and I really want to introduce it to other people.”

Mr. Chan was born in the 1990s. He got his first-class honors from the Department of Psychology at Hong Kong University before going to Oxford as an exchange student and later authored a number of books on psychology.

Instead of pursuing a high-paying job after that, Mr. Chan founded TreeholeHK in 2018, trying his best to popularize psychology and mindfulness meditation in Hong Kong, helping the public learn to understand and train a healthy mind and apply it in daily life.

“We are committed to using psychology to build a steely will for the Hong Kong people.”Mr. Chan said. TreeholeHK’s motto: ‘Building Resilience for the Times,’ often appears in their videos.

Oxford University is at the forefront of the contemporary study of mindfulness. Being an exchange student there gave Mr. Chan a chance to be exposed to and learn more about it. “During the process, I came to realize that when you really take yourself seriously, you will be rewarded and start to love your new self. This is exactly the message TreeholeHK wants to bring to the public.”

For Mr. Chan, psychology and mindfulness meditation are simply inseparable. “The practice of mindfulness has a long history in eastern cultures. There is a well-established set of values and metaphysics to understand it. For example, ancient people regarded mindfulness as a way of spiritual practice, often embedded in religious doctrines.”

“Nowadays, we also look at this kind of innate ability of self-awareness from a scientific perspective, which to a certain extent helps broaden its scope of influence.”

Mr. Chan points out that people’s spiritual realm is actually very broad, clinical psychology tends to focus more on the pathological aspect, which is not where his passion lies. “From learning history, learning experiences of people around me, and from the collective memories of Hongkongers, I realize that human consciousness has a strong and resolute side, which is very intriguing and made me want to explore it further and improve the spiritual strength of people. This is why TreeholeHK was established.”

Since its inauguration in 2018, TreeholeHK has received dozens of invitations from different companies, including some mega enterprises, to conduct corporate training. It also appeared in major newspapers and magazines, Mr. Chan told us. When people talk about psychology, most of them only discuss the aspect of mental health, primarily on how to make people feel more comfortable and so on, he added, “Within TreeholeHK we explore more on the mindset, an extremely precious asset that we must master and use well. This latter part is what really resonates with the general public.”

Loving Hong Kong Is a Blessing

Hong Kong today is becoming less and less familiar to Mr. Chan, but he stresses it is still his home. “I love Hong Kong and I won’t leave her just because it changes.”

In his 2021 book titled “Fear and Hope: Psychology Written in Troubled Times” (Chinese language only), he said that “it is a blessing to be able to stick to the one you love.” That is what he sincerely believes, as well as his personal experience.

TreeholeHK wishes to provide Hong Kong people with a kind of help that turns psychology into willpower. “It is not an easy task, but we will try our best,” said Mr. Chan.

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