When anxiety strikes, it can leave you disoriented and unsure how to get out what feels like a dreadful situation. While you can take an anti-anxiety pill, these require a prescription from your doctor, they are highly addictive, and the drowsiness they cause can interfere with everyday life. This is where meditation comes in. Once you have practiced the art of meditation, you can do it anywhere and at any time and its immediate effect in counteracting anxiety can be invaluable.
Meditation is an age-old practice that used to be done by shamans and priests/priestesses of earth-based religion. In the modern age of medications for everything, people forgot that the best way to treat an anxious mind is to use the power of your own mind to counteract feelings of anxiety.
In modern times, millions of people practice meditation to reduce stress, for heart health, to improve memory, focus, and concentration and to free themselves of distracting and debilitating anxiety.
How does meditation work?
Different people use meditation in varying ways. In some cases, people prefer to sit up straight on a comfortable chair, while others like meditation best while they are lying down. In almost all cases, it starts with the simple act of breathing. Some people time their breaths such as breathing in for 2 seconds, holding the breath for 2 seconds, and finally slowly letting out the breath over the last 2 seconds. Others simply breathe in and out, feeling their heart rate slowdown in the process.
There are more than 15 different forms of meditating, all of which have their own intricate design and varying benefits.
It is advisable to do your meditation in clothing that is comfortable for you to wear. You need to breathe in and out until you feel comfortable with going on to the next step, which is the tensing of the muscles starting at the feet, going up the legs, into the belly, the arms, the shoulders, and finally the head. Then the processed is reversed. Muscles are gradually relaxed in a stepwise fashion so that your body is completely relaxed. Keep breathing and allow yourself to sink into a meditative stance.
Concentration Meditation and Awareness Meditation are two of the best methods for anxiety.
Does meditation actually relieve anxiety?
The purpose of meditation is to put your mind and body into an aware, present place in present time. When you do this, a secondary side effect is the reduction of anxiety. Anxiety is nothing more than fretting over the past or worrying about the future. If you can stay in the present time, those thoughts of past and future fade away, leaving you alone with more pleasant thoughts.
People spend too much time regretting the past or worrying about the "what-ifs" of a future we feel we have little control over. Even if we have no control over actual past or present events, meditation can help us get out of negative thought tracts so that we can control our response to different stressors.
The anxiety is released through meditation because you learn to let go of your worries and face the future with a passive stance on things. It doesn't take the stressors away but it helps you manage them better.
Deeper States of Meditation
Some people choose to meditate in complete silence, while others choose a mantra or vocalization that helps them keep away distracting thoughts. The meditation mantra can be anything from "ohm," traditionally done in Far Eastern cultures to a word or phrase that is meaningful to them. If you feel the need to vocalize during meditation, find something that suits you. Your thoughts will focus on the breath and on the mantra so the anxious thoughts are pushed into the background of your mind.
Medicine Embraces Meditation
Research studies show that meditation slows the heart rate and improves one's mood. It is speculated that meditation induces changes in the brain chemicals, including serotonin and dopamine, which is a hormone/neurotransmitter that helps you feel calmer and feel pleasure better. However, it isn't something you can bottle up and take home with you. It takes practice over time so that the meditation has lasting effects on the stress in your mind and in your body.
With practice, you can escape from daily stress and anxiety easily, no matter where you are.