The benefits of meditation for anxiety are endless
We have good news for you in the fight against anxiety! You can combat anxiety with meditation and it will work and help you feel better. It’s true. Meditation opens the door to a new kind of open-mindedness, serenity, and clarity. I used to overthink meditation. In fact, I overcomplicated it so much that I thought meditation was an unattainable skill, something that only monks and yogis could do. I am not alone in this — many recovering addicts skirt around the practice for the same reason. “That is something I need to do more of,” or “I could be better at that” are common responses in regard to meditation. In fact, it’s easy.
What is meditation
In the most simple terms, meditation uses breathing to focus the mind. Breathing techniques slow your heart, calm you down, and relieve you of all the stress and pain you may be feeling. It was developed in India ages ago — as early as 5,000 B.C. Over the years, the practice has grown from being a religious idea to therapy to even stylish in some cultures.
Mediation was identified and seriously examined in the 1960s for medical benefits when a researcher in India discovered that yogis could meditate into such a deep trance that they were resistant to pain. Around this time, meditation and mindfulness entered the culture in the U.S. during the hippie decades of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Society was still on the fence about the practice, because of its association with the flower children considered rebellious for their unconventional lifestyles. By the 1990s, science and fad came together for a more widely accepted idea of mediation that we accept today.
Some people use mantras but meditation for beginners doesn’t need mantras or religion
Though plenty of people still meditate for religious reasons, these days, the practice has joined yoga as a secular and chic trend, as dedicated meditation studios open in cities like New York and Los Angeles.Time Magazine
Time mentions the use of apps designed to guide meditation, in-flight meditation options provided by select airlines, and the upcoming debut of meditation pods. It’s safe to say that as we advance into a more high-tech world, meditation practices are following suit.
How you can control anxiety with meditation
Meditation is commonly perceived as something far more intense than it has to be. Especially when using it to combat anxiety. The blog Headspace explains: “Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.”
Meditation starts with mindfulness
Mindfulness is a great introduction to meditation and a popular technique to combat anxiety. You learn to pay attention to your breath as it goes in and out of your lungs or your feet that are grounded to the floor. The key is to notice when your mind starts to wander from this task and train it to return to the breath or grounding. This training strengthens your attention and self-awareness.
How to meditate
Meditation can also be as simple and informal as sitting in quiet for a set amount of time each day. This is my personal favorite. I sit in silence and have a conversation with my Higher Power or repeat the “Third Step Prayer” over and over like a mantra. The key is to be consistent. I find it very freeing. But you don’t have to have a mantra or a conversation.
Since meditation is about breathing, the simplest way to meditate is to sit still, close your eyes and breathe in through your nose for three counts, hold your breath for three counts, and breathe out through your nose for three counts. You can slow your breathing down even more. Deep breathing is also a powerful way to combat anxiety by resetting our brain chemistry.
Use guided meditations to learn and practice
For more structure, some people like to use guided meditations. Calm and Headspace are popular apps you can download to your devices, and they even offer free trials. Calm is designated to help you achieve just that — calmness, better sleep, and less stress. When you sign up, it asks you what brings you to calm and what your goals are. Then, an algorithm will find resources on the app to help you to achieve a better state of mind.
Headspace is offering extra support to benefit our mental health suffering during recent crises. There is a special promo for those unemployed to benefit from a one-year free subscription. This app is easy to navigate and understand! It offers guided meditations for any time of the day, during specific activities, or for specific goals. It really offers a holistic library of options to enrich meditation practices.
In 1996, Deepak Chopra’s book Ageless Body, Timeless Mind sold 137,000 copies in one day right after Chopra was featured on Oprah. This milestone has led some to call Chopra a “guru” of meditation. He offers excellent resources about meditation and even has a popular YouTube channel showcasing 24/7 guided meditations.
At the end of the day, the fundamentals are the same — sit still, focus on your breath, and reflect — and it is important to remember that meditation has grown to have a spectrum of ways to practice it. Don’t feel overwhelmed with the idea of meditation, find what works for you. Find a routine and a method you can be consistent with to better enrich your well-being.
ps. Here are two of our favorite Youtube pages for guided meditations and affirmations:
Youtube: Bob Baker (Affirmations)
The Chopra Well (meditation)