Meditation anxiety treatment
To calm anxiety, researchers find meditation as effective as Lexapro : Shots
A new study on anxiety in JAMA Psychiatry shows a mindfulness program works as well as the popular anti-anxiety medication Lexapro. FatCamera/Getty Images hide caption
Anxiety symptoms like restlessness, feelings of worry and dread, and sleep problems, can interfere with daily life, relationships and career goals. Many people get relief using psychiatric medications, but finding the treatment that works best is an individual journey, and some look to find additional ways of coping with their symptoms.
Meditation is a well known method of calming anxiety, but now there's new evidence showing it to be effective at managing anxiety.
For the first time, scientists compared patients who took an intensive eight-week mindfulness meditation program to patients who took escitalopram, the generic name of the widely-prescribed and well-studied anxiety drug Lexapro. They found that both interventions worked equally well in reducing debilitating anxiety symptoms. (Talk therapy, another effective treatment for anxiety for some people, was not addressed in this study.)
The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry on Wednesday, and the research began long before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, when it could still be conducted in person.
Researchers took 276 adults diagnosed with untreated anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety, panic disorder, or social anxiety, and split them into two randomized groups. One group received a 10 to 20 mg daily dose of Lexapro – a standard beginning dose.
The other half was assigned to weekly two-and-a-half hour mindfulness classes at a local clinic — using an approach called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction — plus 45 minutes of daily meditation homework for eight weeks, as well as a day-long retreat around week five or six.
The study participants who took the drugs and those who participated in the meditation program were evaluated at the end of eight weeks using the same clinical scale, and both groups showed about a 20% reduction in the severity of their symptoms.
"The fact that we found them to be equal is amazing because now that opens up a whole new potential type of treatment," says study author Elizabeth Hoge, director of the Anxiety Disorders Research Program at Georgetown University Medical Center.
Hoge notes that she's not suggesting that meditation replace escitalopram — she herself prescribes the drug regularly to her anxiety patients. She says her intent is to add new treatment options, and ultimately, provide evidence that would get insurance companies to cover mindfulness-based interventions for anxiety.
How mindfulness may help
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR, the technique taught in the study, was developed more than 40 years ago by Jon Kabat-Zinn and is based on the principles of meditation established in Buddhist vipassana meditation.
It teaches students to focus on the breath and direct attention to one body part at a time to see how it feels, and encourages them to try to focus on what is happening now, rather than the past or the future.
It suggests a way to look at their negative thoughts with less judgment, explains Hoge.
"Somebody with anxiety tends to worry about bad things that may happen, like failing an exam," she says. "When the thought comes up, then the person can learn to experience that as just a thought, not the truth or anything that needs to be acted on," she says, and that can calm anxiety.
MBSR is widely used to reduce stress among health care professionals and in clinical settings and has been studied as an intervention for pain, depression and several other conditions.
The new study provides another piece of evidence of the potential of the approach.
A potential complement to medication
Researchers and clinicians who treat anxiety praised the study.
"It does suggest that both treatments are helpful, and about equally so," says Michael Mrazek, a research associate professor at the University of Texas, Austin and the co-founder of the Center for Mindfulness & Human Potential at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
"Importantly, the study shows that MBSR can achieve similar outcomes with tremendously fewer side effects," Mrazek tells NPR in an email.
Side effects of escitalopram include suicidal thoughts in extreme cases, but more commonly diarrhea, loss of sexual desire or ability, nausea, and constipation.
Though numerous participants in the medication arm of the study had side effects like sleep problems and nausea, none of the patients in either group left the trial because of side effects.
Joy Harden Bradford, a psychologist in Atlanta who hosts the podcast Therapy for Black Girls, says she was "surprised but not shocked" that the meditation treatment works as well as the medicine, and is excited that a new avenue of treatment might become more widely available.
"The thing I would hate to have happen is for people to pit medication against the mindfulness-based resources," Harden Bradford cautions. For example, someone with panic attacks may have a much quicker reduction in those attacks with escitalopram, rather than waiting weeks for meditation practices to take hold, she says.
It's worth noting that longer term adherence to the treatments was higher for participants taking Lexapro than for the meditators. At 24 weeks, just 28% of the MBSR arm were still doing daily meditation, compared to 52% taking the drugs.
That could point to the challenges of learning mindfulness techniques. Many people may not have the time or money required to participate in an eight-week guided program, and scrolling meditation apps or trying out a free course at the YMCA is not exactly comparable.
Meditation is a skill that takes time and dedication and practice. "If you want to take it seriously, you've got to get a teacher," says Hoge.
Mrazek, who studies how to teach mindfulness, says it might be a good idea to see how both MBSR and Lexapro work together. "Neither MBSR or escitalopram eliminated participants' anxiety, and it's possible that larger improvements would arise from combining both treatments," he says.
More research to come on meditation apps and online tools
There are shortcomings to the study. For one, the majority of the participants were single, white, well-educated women with full time jobs. "Not everyone can clock out at 5 o'clock to get to the 6 o'clock [meditation] meeting," notes Harden Bradford.
However, women have higher rates of anxiety disorders than men. And "there is plenty of existing evidence that MBSR can benefit a wide variety of folks, so there's not much reason to doubt the generalizability," says Mrazek.
One way to make meditation more widely accessible to people with anxiety would be to use an app instead of in person training.
Mrazek says the future of MBSR must be online. "Hopefully this study will help make MBSR more widely available, but it's extremely hard to scale up in-person programs to reach millions of people. That's why I think digital programs are the future of mindfulness training," he says.
Hoge is planning future research to determine if using online guided meditation could help with anxiety, though she emphasizes the value of learning meditation in a class.
"I really don't think apps are going to provide the same benefit as having in-person training. ... The benefit of having a meditation teacher is that you can ask questions," Hoge says.
Still, mindfulness apps, says Harden Bradford, can teach people "concrete skills," she says, which may help reach more people. "Giving people something is better than having nothing," Harden Bradford says.
Editor's note, Nov. 11, 2022: This story has been updated to include additional comments from researchers and clinicians on how medication and meditation may complement one another, and on future avenues of research.
Meditation for Anxiety Symptoms: Does It Work?
If you live with anxiety, you might have considered meditation as a relief technique. But, is it effective for your situation?
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.
Meditation also usually involves goals, such as calming down, increasing self-awareness, and managing your emotions and thoughts.
Yes, meditation can help anxiety.
Buddhists have said for millennia that meditation can significantly benefit mental health. But it wasn’t until the 1960s that scientists in the West started taking a keen interest in it.
Since then, numerous studies have revealed the unique benefits of meditation techniques, including their ability to reduce signs of stress and anxiety.
Even though there is limited evidence-based support for meditation as a first-line treatment for anxiety disorders, research does suggest that this practice may be effective as a supplemental therapy.
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.
But research also shows that long-term practice is not needed to experience these brain changes and relieve anxiety.
For example, a 2016 systematic review also found that these functional and structural brain changes, which are consistent with improved emotional regulation, appeared after only 8 weeks of practice of mindfulness-based therapeutic approaches.
Other systematic reviews of meditation-based techniques, such as focused attention and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, have also shown these practices lead to a reduction in symptoms of anxiety.
A 2018 pilot study found that among college students ages 19 to 22, the longer they practiced guided meditation the less stress and anxiety they experienced. However, 5 to 12 minutes of daily practice was enough to see results.
A meta-analysis of 209 studies also found that mindfulness-based therapy has been shown to be effective in the reduction of anxiety, depression, and stress.
There are various types of meditation with quite a bit of overlap in their benefits. Selecting the right one for you is a matter of personal preference and needs.
Below are some easy-to-do types of meditation for anxiety you can perform on your own without any formal training.Mindfulness meditation
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.
You can also search for therapists who incorporate it into their practice, or you could practice it on your own.
If you want to try it out, these are some simple steps for mindfulness meditation for anxiety:
- Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit.
- If you’d like, set a timer on your phone. If you’re just starting out, it can be for just 5 to 10 minutes.
- Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and relax your body.
- Breathe naturally and direct your attention to your breath: This can include the feeling of air going in and out of your nostrils or the movement of your belly.
- If it’s easier for you, start by mentally counting each time you inhale and exhale. You can count to 4 while you breathe in, and then count to 4 again when breathing out. As you get familiar with this rhythm, stop counting and try focusing on the air itself going in and out of you.
- Thoughts will naturally come into your mind. Notice them without judgment and then turn your focus back to your breathing.
- When you’re ready, open your mind and focus on how your body feels now.
Have you ever noticed you can feel anxiety in your body? Indeed, our bodies can manifest anxiety as a tight or upset stomach, clenched fists, or shoulder tension.
Body scan meditation, also called progressive relaxation, helps you mentally scan for these uncomfortable or tense feelings in your body so you can release them.
To do this, you would start at one end of your body and slowly work to the opposite end.
For example, if you start with your feet, you would next move to your legs and then stomach, back, arms, and so on.
Try to pause on each body part and notice if you feel any tension, pain, or discomfort.
If you do, focus on those sensations for about 30 seconds. Then, notice how they make you feel. Instead of reacting to your feelings about how your body feels, let go of judgment and accept it. If your body is tired, try to accept it. If you experience pain, accept it. Acceptance is important for letting go.
As you do this, you can start making a conscious effort to relax and relieve any discomfort. You may, for example, focus on your breathing and feel how every breath provides a degree of relief.
Then, you can move your attention to other parts of your body and repeat the exercise.
When you’re done, you can sit for a few minutes focusing on your whole body and its new sensations. Open your eyes when you feel ready.
One 2019 study found that participants who did a body scan meditation for 20 minutes a day over 8 weeks showed lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol are linked to many conditions, including anxiety and depression.Loving-kindness meditation
Loving-kindness meditation, or metta, is a type of Buddhist meditation that aims to help you cultivate unconditional kindness to yourself and others. In addition, it can help you manage anxiety symptoms associated with interpersonal conflict and feelings of guilt or shame.
This practice involves mindfully repeating phrases that aim to express positive emotions.
For example, “May you be happy. May you be fortunate. May you be loved.”
To practice metta meditation for anxiety, you can follow these steps:
- Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit with your eyes closed.
- Focus on your breathing for a few minutes.
- Think of one to three kind phrases you’d like to repeat.
- Decide to direct these phrases to yourself or someone else.
- Focus on yourself or the other person while you repeat your phrases.
- Acknowledge how this phrase and intention make you feel.
- Repeat until you experience a sense of compassion and peace.
This meditation can be done with visualization. When reciting your phrases, you can visualize the other person (or yourself) experiencing these phrases. For example, visualize yourself being happy, fortunate, and at peace.
You may be wondering how you’re supposed to sit quietly and calmly to meditate when you’re feeling anxious.
Indeed, you may find meditation challenging at first. But it gets better with time and practice, and the benefits may be worth it for you.
Here are some tips for meditating when you’re in an anxious state of mind:
- Let go of expectations. You will probably not sit quietly for an hour on your first try, and that’s okay.
- Once you’ve saved some time for your practice, program yourself ahead of time. This might mean starting to slow down your breathing a few minutes before you sit down, or writing down your phrases if you’re doing metta meditation.
- You might want to start with 3 minutes of body scan meditation to release any physical tension.
- You may experience intrusive or persistent thoughts at first. Let them go without judgment or frustration, and try focusing back on your practice.
- If you’re having a difficult time releasing your thoughts without judgment, try “attaching” them to an imaginary balloon. Let go of it and watch as it slowly disappears into the sky.
- Start small. It’s fine to start with 1 minute of meditation and work your way up.
If you have a busy schedule or feel the need to do something quick to prevent an anxiety or panic attack, you can practice meditation on the spot, wherever you are.
Here are a few ways you can meditate quickly to prevent or relief anxiety:
- While counting to 4, inhale deeply and slowly through your nose, and then exhale deeply and slowly through your mouth on another count of 4. Focus on counting and breathing at the same time for as long as you need to.
- Keep a calming photo (such as a waterfall or forest) in your phone or pocket and look at it when you feel anxiety coming on. Focus on it and try to dissect every detail of it as if you were trying to uncover hidden images within the picture.
- Do a quick body scan meditation. Focus on areas of your body that frequently tighten up when you’re stressed, like your neck or shoulders, for example.
- As you breathe slowly, visualize your stress leaving your body. Imagine it moving out through your feet and into the earth.
- Talk to yourself with loving-kindness. Talk as you would to your own child or another person you care deeply about. “It’s OK. You got this. You’re doing great.”
One of the best ways to start a meditation practice is to use a meditation app. These apps guide you step by step and help you increase your meditation skills over time.
- UCLA Mindful
- Smiling Mind
- Simply Being
- The Mindfulness App
Whether you have occasional anxiety episodes or live with an anxiety disorder, meditation can be an effective, all-natural way to find some relief.
Meditation for anxiety can take practice — like any new activity or habit — but it might be worth the effort.
If you’re unsure about getting started, or find it difficult at first, try doing it for only 5 minutes a day. You can eventually work your way up and find that the longer you do it, the better you feel.
how to enjoy life without anxiety
Anxiety is a common mental disorder characterized by excessive tension and fear. Anxiety can manifest as mental and physical symptoms such as stress, anxious thoughts, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath. Many types of meditation can help manage anxiety, including mindfulness meditation, loving-kindness meditation, and mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy. These practices can help improve anxiety symptoms, stress levels, and other aspects of health such as cardiovascular health, sleep, and participation in a healthy lifestyle. nine0003
WHAT IS AN ALARM?
Anxiety is a feeling of worry, stress or fear. Anxiety disorders are manifested by excessive and repetitive anxious thoughts, usually accompanied by physical symptoms such as rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, sweaty palms, and shaking. People with anxiety disorders may avoid situations that increase their anxiety levels. This constant worry can significantly affect their daily lives. nine0003
There are different types of anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive worry about daily life and life's challenges. Social anxiety disorder is anxiety and anxiety about being judged or interacting with others in social situations. Panic disorder refers to anxiety that causes recurring panic attacks. Panic attacks are characterized by the sudden onset of intense feelings of fear with physical symptoms such as rapid heart rate, shallow breathing, and trembling. These panic attacks can occur for seemingly no reason. Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that develops as a result of traumatic or frightening events. These are one of the main categories of anxiety disorders, but there are other subtypes. nine0003
HOW CAN MEDITATION REDUCE ANXIETY?
Research into how meditation can help reduce anxiety dates back to the 1960s. Research has shown that meditation causes changes in areas of the brain that can help reduce anxiety and achieve a more relaxed state. The practice of meditation increases the size of the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, which improves emotional regulation. Therefore, meditation can help achieve a more peaceful state of mind. nine0003
Meditation also shrinks the tonsils, which reduces the fight or flight response. In addition, regular practice reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body, including cortisol. Cortisol is one of the main stress hormones, and high levels of cortisol have adverse health effects such as increased blood pressure, blood sugar problems, and immune response.
Relaxation meditation techniques, such as breathing exercises, reduce some of the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as heart palpitations and shortness of breath. Relaxation meditation helps to achieve a state of relaxation of both mind and body and helps to focus on the present moment. At the same time, meditation allows for peaceful moments without distractions and influences, which can help a person connect with their thoughts and emotions. Meditation can also help with resistance and recovery from stress. Studies have shown that those who meditate regularly recover faster from stressful situations. nine0003
Mindfulness meditation can help you understand feelings and thoughts. Meditation can help people identify and become aware of their disturbing thoughts without judgment and deal with difficult emotions. By acknowledging the disturbing thoughts, the person may try to move away from them. In this way, mindfulness meditation helps develop a new perspective on anxiety. It allows you to separate anxiety from the person and allows you to control your disturbing thoughts. Mindfulness meditation helps people become more calm about uncertainty and develop an understanding of the feelings and emotions that come and go, overcoming feelings of constant anxiety. nine0003
TYPES OF MEDITATION FOR ANXIETY
Mindfulness meditation focuses on the principle of mindfulness, which involves being in the present moment and being aware of inner thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness can help reduce anxious and restless thoughts, as well as help achieve mental and physical relaxation.
Love-kindness meditation is one of the meditation techniques aimed at reducing anxiety. Love-kindness meditation reduces anxiety by helping to develop self-compassion and empathy. It can also help improve and strengthen interpersonal relationships by providing support to people with anxiety. nine0003
Progressive Relaxation and Body Scanning are meditation techniques that help you achieve a relaxed state. Progressive relaxation is practiced by tensing and then releasing the muscles, starting with the legs and ending with the head. Practicing progressive relaxation even for just a few minutes each evening can help reduce accumulated tension in the body and achieve a more relaxed state.
Body scan involves focusing on areas of tension in the body and releasing that tension with a deep breath. These techniques increase body awareness and reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety or a panic attack, such as a racing heart. nine0003
Transcendental meditation is a form of meditation that focuses on the repetition of mantras to achieve a relaxed and peaceful state. Transcendental Meditation reduces levels of stress hormones, including epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol. Thus, transcendental meditation can reduce stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness Cognitive Therapy combines mindfulness and cognitive therapy to reduce anxiety and negative emotions. Mindfulness involves being in the present moment and acknowledging inner thoughts, while cognitive therapy focuses on changing negative thought patterns to more positive ones. nine0003
HEALTH BENEFITS OF MEDITATION FOR ANXIETY
The practice of meditation for anxiety is beneficial for mental and physical health. One of the physical benefits of meditation is improved cardiovascular health. Meditation for anxiety reduces pain and helps manage chronic pain or other medical conditions. Meditation mainly helps reduce stress associated with chronic pain conditions.
Meditation alters areas of the brain, especially the dorsal anterior cingulate and somatosensory cortex, associated with pain sensitivity. Because meditation lowers levels of stress hormones like cortisol, it can also reduce the chance of developing stress-related illnesses like ulcers and migraines.
Meditation for anxiety can help improve sleep quality. Improved sleep quality has many other health benefits, including boosting the body's immune system and improving mood and productivity. Since meditation calms the mind, it improves concentration and increases mindfulness. nine0003
MEDITATION FOR ANXIETY FAQ:
WHICH QUICK MEDITATION TECHNIQUES CAN HELP REDUCE ANXIETY?
- Find a quiet place and practice breathing exercises
- Find a comfortable position
- Take deep breaths, counting the inhalations and exhalations, and pay attention to the natural rhythm of the body.
- At first, just observe the rhythm of your breathing.
- Then try to increase the exhalation time
- Try belly breathing
- Practice short meditation
- Find a quiet place
- Focus your attention on your breath and physical sensations
- Focus your attention within yourself and acknowledge passing thoughts
- If you are distracted or your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your bodily sensations and breath.
WHEN TO MEDITATE WITH ANXIETY?
- It is helpful to meditate regularly to reap the many benefits of meditation, including improved sleep, increased vitality, and general well-being. nine0066
- It may be helpful to develop a daily routine for meditation practice
- Relaxation meditation techniques help you recover from stressful situations or anxiety symptoms
HOW TO LEARN TO MEDITATE FROM ANXIETY?
- Listening to guided meditations
- Reading books on meditation
- Online or face-to-face meditation programs
ANAHAN 9 MEDITATION RESOURCES0007
Meditation for chakras
Meditation of body scan
Management Meditation to remove anxiety
Meditation for children
Meditation in a dream
Blogs on meditation
How Meditation helps to cope with a stress of
how meditation changes the brain
How works meditation
Gifts for meditation
What is meditation?
What is awareness?
Meditation for Beginners
Meditation for Anxiety Symptoms: Does it Work?
Mindfulness Meditation for Anxiety
The Impact of Mindfulness-Based Therapy on Anxiety and Depression: A Meta-Analytical Review
Anxiety? Meditation can help you 'relax in the uncertainty' of the pandemic : Human Resources - Health News : NPR
Psychiatry. org - What are Anxiety Disorders?
Learn more about General Anxiety Disorder
Panic Disorder | CAMH
NIMH "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
Transcendental Meditation: Benefits, Techniques and More
Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on Medical Students' Serum Cortisol
Ten Years of Relaxation Training for Treating Anxiety meta-analysis | BMC Psychiatry | Full Text
The benefits of a good night's sleep | SCL Health
Meditation for Pain Relief: What You Need to Know and How to Try
Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder - Symptoms and Causes - Mayo Clinic.
how she can help you
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 19 percent of the population suffers from anxiety disorders. However, others struggle daily with generalized anxiety and excessive stress. nine0003
How can guided meditation help you? Anxiety can be pervasive, affecting every area of your life, from romantic relationships and friendships to work and home life.
If left untreated, stress can even cause physical symptoms, often affecting cardiovascular health in the first place. Since cardiovascular disease is "the leading cause of death for men and women," it is essential that something be done to combat any cause of cardiovascular stress, if not through meditation, then through the health system. nine0003
Login: Meditation - specifically guided meditation, a form of meditation led by another person, preferably a trained and experienced instructor, to help you achieve mindfulness and relaxation based on stress reduction.
Can guided meditation help with anxiety?
Definitely. In fact, one of the main reasons to start any meditation practice is to reduce stress and anxiety in your life. These are just some of the benefits of meditation. Guided meditation is the perfect place to start, as it places the responsibility of organizing and planning a meditation session on the person who has learned and practices the method. nine0003
However, before moving on, let's give a general definition of anxiety.
What is anxiety?
We all have moments of extreme stress when our worries and fears seem to take over. It can be defined as anxiety, "an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, anxious thoughts, and physical changes such as increased blood pressure." Anxiety disorders, on the other hand, are more chronic. In an anxiety disorder, the anxiety attacks you experience are intense and constant. You may experience anxiety about everyday events that don't normally cause stress to other people. For example, a person with an anxiety disorder may experience anxiety leaving the house to get mail or having a short face-to-face interaction with someone at the grocery store. nine0003
There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, separation anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
Symptoms associated with anxiety and anxiety disorders include:
Feeling of immediate panic and/or despair
Feeling very tired or weak nine0065
Increased heart rate
Extreme desire to avoid any physical sensation that causes undue worry, stress or anxiety
Difficulty controlling feelings of avoidance and stress
High blood pressure
What is guided meditation?
Before we define guided meditation, let's define meditation.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a practice that aims to train the mind, ultimately creating increased levels of calmness, focus, spiritual enlightenment and awareness. The practice of meditation has its origins in the Buddhist religion, but today it is practiced in many religions as well as in secular life. You don't have to be affiliated with Buddhism or any other religion to practice meditation. nine0003
Formally, meditation usually involves sitting in a still position (often cross-legged or kneeling on a meditation cushion) and focusing the mind on the breath or on a particular thought or visualization. Each meditation session lasts a certain amount of time. Monks who meditate for most of their day can meditate for hours. For other practitioners, the meditation usually lasts from five minutes to half an hour.
What is guided meditation? nine0007
Guided meditation differs from other types of meditation only in that it is led by an experienced instructor. In other words, in some traditional meditation methods, practitioners simply sit in silence for a certain period of time. The teacher can only give instructions at the beginning and at the end of the session. But in the case of guided meditation, the instructor will guide the individual or group by pointing out the steps to be taken throughout the meditation.
A meditation instructor might, for example, tell his students how to sit, how to adjust their eyes, how to breathe, and what to think or visualize throughout the session. At the end of the class, he will lead his students out of meditation. nine0003
Guided meditations, especially those taught by Anahana meditation instructors at home, are great for beginners who may need help getting started in their own practice. Guided meditation can be done in a group or class, or one-on-one with a teacher. If a teacher is not available, a recorded meditation text can sometimes be used. The benefits of mindfulness meditation are endless!
How does guided meditation help with anxiety? nine0007
Guided meditation helps meditation in many ways. Here are just four of the anxiety-reducing benefits you can expect from guided meditation:
This will help you focus on the present moment.
Concentration on the present is something that should not be done during meditation. This is the unchanging goal of all meditation - not to dwell on the past or the future, but to focus on the present moment. After all, this is the only moment that you really own. nine0003
This is called the practice of mindfulness or mindfulness.
Of course, mindfulness practice helps reduce anxiety, because most anxiety comes from worrying about the past or worrying about the future. For example, you might be worried about a fight with your partner that happened in the morning, or you might be worried about a presentation that you have to give at the end of the day.
We all know that worry doesn't change anything and can even be harmful. Therefore, improving your focus on the present moment helps dissipate anxiety, making you less stressed, less anxious, and with more inner peace. nine0003
It helps you breathe better.
Guided meditation includes deep breathing as a standard feature. In fact, slow, even, deep breathing is the hallmark of almost all types of meditation. This is one of the reasons why meditation is so helpful in combating anxiety, depression and other mental disorders.
And yet, believe it or not, most people breathe incorrectly. From shallow, short breaths to "shoulder" breathing (not drawing air from the bottom of our lungs), most of us tend to make the same "breathing mistakes" that we've been doing for years without even realizing it. nine0003
The good news is that you can start practicing "Better Breathing" at any time, and guided meditation is a great way to do that. Breathing exercises and deep breathing meditations can transform your life in ways you cannot imagine, especially when practiced along with other mental and physical exercises such as yoga and mindfulness.
Helps you sleep better.
Anxiety breeds bad sleep, which breeds more anxiety, which breeds bad sleep... and so on and so forth. nine0003
Every person should aim to improve their sleep, as it is known to be a remedy for many mental stresses and physical illnesses. Fortunately, guided meditation is extremely helpful for improving sleep. In a recent systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials of the effects of mindfulness meditation (a form of guided meditation) on sleep, researchers found evidence that "mindfulness meditation interventions significantly improved sleep quality compared to non-specific active controls." nine0003
The specific ways in which meditation helps improve sleep range from the practice's ability to calm restless, anxious thoughts to its effect on deep breathing, an important element for better sleep.
This will help you let go of thoughts that cause anxiety and stress.
Anxiety is caused both by "phantom anxieties" and by real and practical life events. "Phantom anxiety" includes things like thinking about someone giving you an indecent look when it probably wasn't, or wondering if something uncertain in the future will go well. There is practically nothing you can do about these experiences or emotions. nine0003
But real life anxieties are also real. For example, thinking about an upcoming medical test you're waiting for the results of can be truly daunting. Luckily, mindfulness meditation (focusing on the present moment) has been found to help reduce anxiety-producing thoughts, even real ones. A recent study by the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Southern Denmark proved this. The study involved random healthy subjects who underwent a certain number of mindfulness meditation trainings daily. The other group underwent control tests. nine0003
At the end of the study period, all participants underwent psychological experiments that examined their reactions to "conditioned fear responses". Those who completed the mindfulness meditation course were found to have significantly calmer arousal responses to conditioned fear responses. In essence, the results showed that meditation can help people forget about (and react to) their fears less.
Try Guided Meditation
Guided meditation should ideally be done in real time under the guidance of an instructor. However, if you're just getting started with meditation, you might be interested in trying out a trial meditation on your own. As a last resort, it is perfectly acceptable to record yourself reading a guided meditation text, so that you can then play it back and give yourself instructions during practice. nine0003
In this regard, below is a short guided meditation for anxiety that you can try. Record yourself reading these words and listen to them as you wish to calm your fears, anxieties, worries, and any negative emotions.
When speaking the words of guided meditation, try to use a soft, slow, soothing voice. Leave small gaps of time between each section of the text.
[ Leave about 30 seconds at the beginning of the recording to allow yourself to move from the playback device to a position on the floor, in a chair, or on a cushion. ] nine0381
"Let's get started.
Sit in a comfortable position on the floor, on a cushion or in a chair. Concentrate the spine as if from the base of the spine up to the crown of the head and towards the ceiling.
Gently close your eyes. Let your hands lie at your sides or on your knees. Pay attention to your body. Feel how your muscles become relaxed and free. Scan your body from head to toe, looking for places where you feel tension. Tighten these areas even more for a moment, and then release the tension as you exhale."
[Leave for one or two minutes to become fully aware of the body.]
"Now let's turn your attention to the breath. Begin with three full, deep breaths.
First exhale all the breath, trying to exhale even the air in the lowest part of the lungs. Now inhale deeply, expanding your lungs. Notice and feel your belly move outward as it fills with air. At the same time, your shoulders should not rise when you draw in air. Count to five: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Hold the air in your lungs for a count of three: One, two, three.
Now exhale the air, feeling the belly decrease in size as the air leaves the lungs and mouth. Exhale for a count of five: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Repeat this process while inhaling: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Hold the air: One, two, three.
And let the air out: One, two, three, four, five.
Do this one last time, inhaling: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Hold the air: One, two, three.
And let go: One, two, three, four, five.
Continue to breathe normally as you feel comfortable.
Now let's do a little visualization.
Imagine that you are sitting on a beach. You are exactly where you are now, sitting on the sand of a beautiful ocean landscape and facing the water. There is no one around. The sun warms and pleasantly warms your skin, and you feel a cool breeze blowing on you in soft gusts. Behind you, the wind gently rustles the palms. You hear the waves crashing on the sand of the beach. There are no other sounds. Enjoy a few minutes of relaxation here while still breathing normally. Just watch."
[Leave for two to three minutes].
"You are still on the beach, you hear the sound of the waves and the breeze, you feel the sun and the wind on your skin. Start concentrating on your breath. Take a deep breath, inhaling: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Hold the air: One, two, three.
And let the air out: One, two, three, four, five.
And one more, inhaling: One, two, three, four, five.nine0002 Hold the air: One, two, three.
And let the air out: One, two, three, four, five.
And the last inhalation and exhalation, starting from the inhalation: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Hold the air: One, two, three.
And let the air out: One, two, three, four, five.
Now smoothly return to normal breathing. It's time to leave your warm spot on the beach. Watch the ocean waves and warm sand melt into your mind. Slowly open your eyes and look around."
Guided Anxiety Meditation: Frequently Asked Questions
Can meditation reduce anxiety?
Yes, although we are discussing guided meditation here, in principle any form of meditation can help relieve anxiety. In fact, this is one of the main reasons for starting the practice. In general, meditation will help you focus more on the present, increase self-awareness, reduce negative thoughts and emotions, and build a set of skills that will help you better deal with stress and anxiety in everyday life. nine0003
How to overcome anxiety during meditation?
Even though meditation is designed to combat anxiety and stress, it is ironic that meditation often causes anxiety. It doesn't happen to everyone, but if it has happened to you, here are a few things you can do.
First of all, consider changing the guided meditations you listen to. If you are working with a meditation teacher, ask them if they have other guided meditations you can try. Some meditations are specifically designed to overcome anxiety. Second, remember that sometimes it's important to let go of the anxious thoughts and just keep practicing until the anxiety associated with meditation disappears. Most people will feel that this happens naturally if they continue the practice for some time. nine0003
Can meditation help with obsessive thoughts?
Yes, if you are looking for ways to deal with anxiety, meditation is one of the best ways to reduce intrusive thoughts - along with meditation and yoga. Today, more than ever, people are struggling with thinking too much. Moreover, intrusive thoughts often occur at night when you are trying to doze off, which inevitably causes a lot of additional problems.
Meditation helps with overthinking by helping to calm the mind and body and generally think more slowly. During meditation, you notice every thought, feeling, emotion, and many physical sensations. It's not something we do regularly, so slowing down in this way makes it less likely that you'll keep thinking in a fast paced and obsessive manner. nine0003
How long should I meditate for anxiety?
Ideally, meditation for anxiety should be practiced at least once a day for 10-20 minutes. But that might be where you need to get to. If you've never meditated before, start with just a few minutes a day. Even 3-5 minutes of daily meditation practice can make a big difference in your daily life in general and in dealing with anxiety in particular.
Can meditation help with panic attacks? nine0063
Yes. Panic attacks are often the result of fight-or-flight thinking, and meditation is the perfect solution to combat this extreme thought process that often causes excessive anxiety.
Those who suffer from panic disorder (frequent attacks and time spent in undue stress and worrying about the future or past) will find that meditation is the ideal remedy for dealing with anxiety in this way.
While you should always consult your doctor before starting any treatment plan, you can start meditation to relieve anxiety right now - on your own, in a group, or with a personal meditation teacher. It has virtually no negative side effects, and the results for people with panic disorder are amazing.
What are the best guided meditations for anxiety relief?
There are many variations of guided meditation. While it's always possible to record yourself reading a guided meditation and play it back when you're ready to meditate, it's best to get guidance from a teacher. nine0003
Your teacher will not only be a strong, soothing presence during your meditation session, but will be able to select guided meditation that best suits your state in life and on your path of meditation and healing.
How often should I use meditation to help manage anxiety?
You should use meditation to relieve anxiety as often as you need to. It is best to start with once a day for a few minutes. Try to pick a time of day when you have the least amount of things to do. Maybe early in the morning or right before bed. nine0003
In the early days of your practice, it may be a good idea to vary the way you meditate. This will help you find the practice that works best for you. Try different types of meditation. For example, you can start with one-on-one practice with a teacher or with your own recorded voice. You can then move on to meditation in a small or large group. You may even find that this practice improves your life so much that you want to become a meditation and wellness teacher! nine0003
Should I sign up for meditation programs or courses?
Certainly. A program, course, or online challenge can be helpful to support your practice and help you develop meditation skills and habits that you can apply to your daily life outside of the program. There are hundreds of options to choose from, ranging from mindfulness meditation to mindfulness-based stress reduction meditation, self-compassion meditation, or simple wellbeing meditation.