If you are constantly feeling worried, nervous, or uneasy due to future or past events, you may be experiencing anxiety. Everybody gets anxious at some time or another. Generally speaking, being anxious is not an illness– it’s a normal fear related to concerns about the future. However, when worry dominates our mind and actions, that’s anxiety. Many people’s anxiety is overwhelming and unpredictable; it can take the form of panic attacks or other “tidal wave” reactions. Because it occupies so much of our mental space, anxiety can have a deteriorating effect on our relationships, career, and social life. Fortunately, meditation for anxiety can help sufferers cope with this difficult condition.
Science on Meditation
Research from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center suggests that in addition to effectively reducing stress, MBSR offers many other physical and mental health benefits too, including better management of chronic pain, depression, and anxiety. The evidence is growing that workshops or meditation classes like these can help fight depression.
Based on the findings of a study called “The Effect of Mindfulness-Based Therapy on Anxiety and Depression: A Meta-Analytic Review”, it was concluded that mindfulness-based therapy was an impactful and promising intervention for treating mood disorders and anxiety in the clinical populace.
Meditation Techniques for Anxiety
What this suggests is that simple breathing meditation and mindfulness can help you become more conscious of your current mental and physical states. Rather than getting overwhelmed by them, you can recognize the sensations and emotions, acknowledge them and let them go like leaves floating by on a gentle river. This ability to identify and disengage from harmful mental states is an effective antidote to anxiety and several other conditions.
The Inner Workings
Anxiety disorders are something more than the usual anxiety we may experience when we need to make a speech, take an exam, or interview for a job. For people with an anxiety disorder, anxious feelings don’t just go away– with time – they may get worse.
For normal anxiety, a meditation retreat helps greatly; for a chronic illness, a form of therapy is recommended. Taking a few quiet minutes for deep breathing and oxygenating the system can aid in bringing about the relaxation response. The American Institute of Stress advises abdominal breathing, with up to 30 minutes a day being most beneficial. Breathing deeply increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, thus promoting a state of calm. Breathing techniques make you feel connected to your body—they lead your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiet your mind.
Instead of being worried about the future and allowing anxious feelings to overwhelm you, especially when you’re trying to sleep, you can turn to meditation for sleep with some meditation music for sleep in the background. Meditation naturally calms the nerves and lets you appreciate the present. And you don’t need a specific “meditation kit” for sitting. A little quiet, mindful time in the corner of your house, at work, library, or park can make all the difference. The beauty of meditation is its total accessibility.
In mindfulness meditation, you focus your attention on your breath, a visible object, or physical sensations. In breath, for instance, the process of exhaling and inhaling becomes the focus of your meditation. Your mind will stray. This is completely normal. When you notice it, try to just redirect your attention back to your breathing. Remember that you are not experimenting with or analyzing the breath – you are only observing it with your full attention.
In time you’ll notice that when your mind is peacefully settled on the breath – even if for a short while– you will experience calm even though anxious thoughts might still be popping up.
It is best to make sitting meditation a daily ritual. If you’re consistent for even 5 minutes a day, it can make a huge difference.
If you’re looking for an Elmhurst Meditation service or a Meditation Coach to help you begin your meditation journey, get in touch with us. We provide guided meditation for sleep as well as sleep meditation to ease your mind and body.