If you live with anxiety, you might have considered meditation as a relief technique. But, is it effective for your situation?
Earlier this year, I had a upsetting family situation back in my home state that arose my PTSD and anxiety with full force. At that time, the experience was terribly uncomfortable as my mind raced and my heart palpitated as anxiety took hold. At the time, I deepened my personal practice of meditation, mindfulness, and other practices that I use and teach. Additionally, I worked with a therapist specializing in mindfulness on a short term basis to unravel the tangled emotions.
I was (and am) extremely grateful for having the tools to do so. With the background and training that I do, it certainly helped to precipitate a quicker recovery time from the issue. Much quicker than experiences I had many years ago.
For some, the idea of practicing meditation while living with anxiety symptoms is difficult to imagine. You may find it hard to sit quietly or follow instructions, so you’ve been hesitant to try it.
If this describes you, know that meditation has helped many people manage their anxiety symptoms. Now may be the time to see whether it could work for you, too.
In general, meditation refers to techniques and practices that involve focusing your mind on a particular thought, object, or activity. For example, focusing on the rhythm of your breathing may be considered a form of meditation.
Working one on one with an experienced meditation instructor can be key to supporting your goals of living with anxiety. You can learn to develop a lasting practice, receive feedback and support about your practice, and build your toolkit for finding peace, calm and balance in the most of trying times.
Working one on one with a meditation instructor can be key to supporting your goals of living with your anxiety.
There are different types of meditation. They include:
- mindfulness meditation
- progressive muscle relaxation
- guided visualization
- Zen meditation
- focused attention meditation
- mantra meditation
- loving-kindness meditation
- sound healing or sound bath meditation
- yoga nidra (also called guided rest)
There’s no right or wrong way to meditate. The practice is unique to you and can be tailored to meet your needs and fit your personality.
A 2020 review showed that people who practice meditation for a long time start showing changes in the areas of their brain that modulate the stress and anxiety response.
Specifically, the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus show increased activity. Also, the amygdala, which is involved in the fight, flight, or freeze response, shows decreased activity. All of this indicates improved emotional regulation, according to the review.
Mindfulness meditation, which is rooted in Buddhist teachings, is one of the most well-known and most researched types of meditation.
Mindfulness meditation aims to help you:
- go with the flow, instead of resisting what’s happening within yourself and outside yourself
- let go of the need to evaluate your thoughts and surroundings
- calm down your mind and body
This practice involves different techniques, which may include:
- breathing exercises
- guided imagery
- focusing attention
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to be effective at reducing both physical and mental symptoms of anxiety. It may help you feel calmer in general, and it could also help you prevent and navigate anxiety episodes.
In fact, some research has found that standalone mindfulness exercises may have a positive effect on anxiety and depression symptoms.
To feel its benefits, you can practice this type of meditation for 1 minute or for 1 hour.
What else have I used to help myself and my anxiety when it arises?
- Self-Compassion practices
- Restorative Yoga and other types of mindful yoga
- Mindful Movement
- Walking (particularly on a labyrinth or using a handheld labyrinth)
- Sound Healing with instruments and also chanting
- Other forms of meditation as mentioned above
All of these are also modalities that I share with clients, plus coaching. If you are interested in learning more, take a few moments to look over my Work with Me page.
If you have tried everything, you can learn mindful practices to rekindle your hope for your well-being. I have been there and I stand ready to guide you. Working in a one-on-one session is the best way to do so as you receive personalized attention and support. You can find a sense of peace and connection. Book a Discovery Call with me and let’s talk. I look forward to connecting with you either online or in person.
Self-Study Course on Anxiety
Excerpts from PsychCentral.com