Anxiety is technically a cognitive state that is connected to a lack of ability to regulate one’s emotional responses to threats that are perceived. Most people feel anxious from time to time. Anxiety, in the terms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder or other anxiety disorders, is another matter altogether. The fear and agitation do not naturally fade away, and the source of the anxious reactions may be nebulous at best. Some of the worst anxiety has no cause that can be pointed at, therefore leaving one with no means to confront it and overcome it.
Meditation has long been known to help with anxiety, but only recently have researchers been able to point at the different parts of the brain that are affected by it. Meditation attenuates anxiety via mechanisms involved in regulating self-referential processes of thought. The anterior cingulate cortex, which is the part of the brain that governs emotion and thinking, is the primary portion of the brain believed to influence anxiety’s decrease.
Meditation is, at its heart, a family of exercises for the mind. Generally, it involves quietly sitting comfortably while the mind focuses on some basic external or internal stimulus such as a word or one’s breathing. Meditation has benefits that fall into two general categories. First, it helps one to gain control over physical tension by the elicitation of the calming response. Second, it can give one a dramatic increase over the ability to control one’s fearful thinking.
Practicing mindfulness meditation for anxiety can be an effective, easy means of helping manage your feelings of anxiety and stress. This form of meditation can even be used as a relaxation technique for combatting one’s panic disorder. It helps to slow down racing thoughts, help one to let negativity go, release one’s worries, and relax one’s body.
It is possible to have many doubts about meditation. Many people think they do not have the time to fit it into their busy schedules. The truth is that even one minute of mindfulness meditation has an effect. Five minutes, as a minimum, have better results. But it is easy for outside thoughts to intrude. Worries about other things one should be doing instead of trying to sit quietly and calmly. The key is to remember that it is not just idle sitting. It is relaxing to a purpose. It is self-care, and very important. Making time for meditation has an overall impact on everyday life that is overarching and powerfully beneficial.
The considerations and steps for practicing mindfulness meditation are:
- Present awareness
- Thought acknowledgment
The steps for guided meditation for anxiety begin with considering the duration. When one first begins meditating, it can be surprising just how difficult it can to simply sit in silence. Those just beginning should aim for three to five minutes to start. Once one becomes more accustomed to the practice of meditation, one can begin gradually increasing the time spent meditating.
Next in how to meditate for anxiety is one’s environment. The environment can make a major impact on one’s meditation practice. One should find an area within the home that ensures the elimination of distractions and interruptions by people, phones, or pets. Shoes should be removed, as should heavy jewelry and restricting clothing. The surroundings should be as peaceful as they can possibly be.
The position is the next consideration in the path toward guided meditation for anxiety. Most meditators have a preference for sitting on the floor with crossed legs and straight spine during their practice. Others, however, may favor other positions, such as sitting with one leg stretched forward, or both, or sitting upright in a chair. Lying on one’s back is another possibility. The key is to find positions that feel sufficiently comfortable that the body will not prove too distracting without being so at ease that the body fades entirely from awareness, or even so relaxed that one is at risk of falling asleep while meditating.
How to meditate for anxiety then really begins with bringing one’s awareness to the present. Once one is sitting in a comfortable position in a quiet space, one should begin to focus inward. Close the eyes and start with a breathing exercise. Merely notice the pattern of breathing without attempting to alter it; this will assist in bringing the awareness to the moment at hand in the present. If one notices the mind wandering, one should bring attention back to the breathing.
Meditation for anxiety continues by acknowledging one’s thoughts. Different thoughts are prone to popping up as one practices meditation; thoughts that are anxious and negative may arise. Rather than trying to suppress them, acknowledge these thoughts and simply wait for them to pass. When one learns to sit with one’s uncomfortable thoughts, one can train oneself to halt reactions to them. Over time, less anxiety might be felt.
Finally, when the meditation feels complete, or the allotted time has been spent in meditation, it is time to open the eyes. One should allow oneself to come out of the meditation gradually. Engaging in a few stretches is one means of rousing oneself in a slow and easy manner. One can connect to others and share experiences by going to the Health4GO Facebook page. Do not forget to like and join. Your well-being starts here.