Anxiety is the most commonplace mental health issue in America. It affects forty million adults. Although anxiety disorders are highly treatable, only about a third of sufferers get the help they need.
Many people have found that using meditation for anxiety can be effective. Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is seen as a useful tool as part of a coping strategy to combat this debilitating disorder. Here’s how it can help.
The Concept of Meditation and Mindfulness
The roots of meditation go right back to Buddhist philosophy. Meditation often involves trying to enter a different level of consciousness. The aim can be to get into a deep state of relaxation or a state of restful alertness.
Mindfulness means becoming aware of the present moment. In a sense, you might want to think of it as one step on the road to meditation. It can help to reduce worry but it still allows us to be aware without being fearful.
How Mindfulness Works
The first thing to do is to sit or lie still. If we are anxious it is very normal for our thoughts to immediately turn to what’s bothering us. That could be a financial worry or stress we are having at work.
Mindfulness encourages us to stay in the present moment. When we are lying or sitting still that could mean concentrating on the touch of our clothing against the skin. It could also be an awareness of any traffic noise we can hear in the distance.
There are specific mindfulness exercises to help practice this kind of thought process. This includes something called the body scan which encourages us to meditate and be aware of parts of our body in a particular order.
Getting into the Present Moment
By drawing ourselves into the present moment we will end up expending less energy thinking about things that are beyond our control. That includes those things that are worrying us.
This does not mean that our ‘worry-thoughts’ will simply disappear. They won’t, but the mindfulness process allows us to recognize them. It lets us accept them and to concentrate instead on those things within our immediate vicinity.
Practising Meditation for Anxiety
This kind of meditation is not part of any organized religion. It is even prescribed by public health professionals in the UK as an alternative to anti-anxiety medication.
One of the best things about meditation is that you can practice it almost anywhere. That means you could take a quick coffee break at work and use it to meditate and relax.
You don’t need to belong to a group to meditate. There are plenty of resources out there to get you started such as this 2 minute meditations book. You can then make this technique part of your daily routine. Think of it as a workout for the mind.
Being Kind to Yourself
One of the key components of mindfulness is learning to be kind to oneself. Most of us lead busy lives often with stressful commutes and constant online interaction. Using meditation for anxiety can help to keep us calmer and more relaxed.
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