Many people talk about how meditation can reduce anxiety. But do you know the science behind meditation for anxiety? It’s a natural way to combat anxiety that’s effective and, bonus – meditation is also good for your overall health.
You know the feeling all too well. Your heart starts racing, your throat closes up, and you begin to experience a sense of doom. Before you know it, you’ve spiraled into a full-blown panic attack.
If you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from anxiety today, you may be wondering what you can do to lessen or eliminate these moments, and how legitimate meditation for anxiety actually is.
Keep reading to learn about anxiety, meditation, and how we can use a meditation practice to effectively reduce anxiety – naturally.
First – How Do We Define Anxiety?
Simply put, anxiety is a feeling of unease or worry. It is often accompanied by panic attacks and may be associated with other mental illnesses such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Episodes of anxiety may be fleeting and few, or sufferers may find themselves in a chronic struggle. Anxiety may be generalized or have a specific trigger such as social situations or phobias. In short, anxiety is complex, and it’s tough to live with.
How Does Meditation Help With Anxiety?
The good news is that there is a host of medical, therapeutic, and natural remedies available today. Whether used in conjunction with alternative treatments, or on its own, meditation is a powerful tool and preventative measure against anxiety.
One study about mindfulness-based practices on individuals with depression and anxiety led to a significant decline in those feelings during treatment.
Meditation was a major component of this study’s treatment and the participants were encouraged to maintain a regular and dedicated practice as a way to cope with anxiety.
Another encouraging finding from this study: anxiety and depression levels continued to remain lowered even after treatment had ended.
Furthermore, studies have shown that meditation may actually boost overall immune function as well as brain function.
When your body feels better, your mind tends to follow. While the above studies provide compelling evidence for implementing your own meditation practice, read on for three main benefits of a meditation practice to decrease anxiety.
Here Are 3 Key Ways a Meditation Practice Helps Combat Anxiety:
1. Meditation trains the brain to stay in the moment
Oftentimes, anxiety can be calmed or prevented entirely by slowing down the racing thoughts that are responsible. Instead of ping-ponging between negative scenarios, “what-if’s” and ultimately spiraling out of control, meditation gives you focus, grounding and presence.
Guided meditations work especially well as you simply listen and follow along. And, the more you practice during peaceful moments, the more easily your brain will be able to slip back into that feeling of calm when you do begin to experience unwanted thoughts and emotions.
Mind and meditation coach Carissa Banuelos leads a 20-minute Guided Meditation for a Calm Mind
With Carisa Banuelos
20-Minute Class | All Levels
2. Deep, focused breathing positively impacts the body
Adrenaline and cortisol are two of the main hormones present during anxious or stressful events.
Slow, conscious breathing (also known as diaphragmatic breathing, or Pranayama in yoga) directly impacts your brain, and may actually lower your body’s production of these hormones. Breath work can also turn down the fight or flight response and provide you with a feeling of calm.
Want to try guided breathwork? Here’s a Guided Pranayama and Mindfulness Meditation for a Peaceful Mind (Video)
3. Meditation is a drug-free alternative you can utilize anywhere
Meditation is a free and powerful resource that you can utilize at a moment’s notice. It is simple to learn, and discreet.
It can be done on the job, in a classroom, or at home. Meditation is effective, natural, and doesn’t have any side effects.
Try This Guided Meditation for Anxiety
Now that you know a bit of the why and the what, let’s turn your attention to the how. Consider trying the following guided meditation whenever you begin to feel anxious or upset.
- Get into a comfortable seated position. You may choose to place a blanket or pillow underneath your hips for added support
- Gently close your eyes and start to pay attention to your breath. Let it flow naturally and observe it without judgment
- Slowly begin to lengthen your breaths. Try to make your inhales as long as your exhales.
- Breathe in for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four and exhale for a count of four
- Continue to do this, and as thoughts arise simply allow them to pass, always coming back to the breath
- Remain here for at least 5 minutes
If you find that your thoughts are distracted or scattered, or that you’re unable to focus for long periods of time, that’s ok! It’s normal to struggle at first. The important thing is to keep coming back.
This is only one very simple form of meditation for anxiety that focuses on the breath. Know that there are many other meditation practices and resources available.
It’s important to do your own research and discover which methods most resonate with you. It might take a few tries, but once you find the best type of meditation that fits your needs, it’ll be well worth the effort.
Use Meditation for Anxiety and See the Effects for Yourself
As you embark on this journey of meditation, remember that it is a journey. Do not be hard on yourself and do not expect immediate results. Instead, give yourself grace and trust that with practice and determination, the results will begin to manifest.
Want more tips on meditation? Use These 10 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Meditation Practice
As the poet Rumi stated, “Put your thoughts to sleep, do not let them cast a shadow over the moon of your heart. Let go of thinking.” Meditation will help you do exactly that.
Whether your aim is to get a better grasp on your anxiety or simply to decrease the overall amount of stress in your life, meditation is a wonderful option.
This article and all included information is not intended as medical advice and does not treat or diagnose. Please consult your doctor for any health or addiction-related questions or concerns.