Anxiety can feel completely overwhelming at times, but there are so many ways to treat it. Wellness coach Judy Molinaro at YourTango shares how meditation can help.
Do you often times find yourself worrying excessively about your job security, financial future, or family relationships?
Are you regularly questioning your body image, aging appearance, or sex appeal?
Have you ever been overly anxious about unexpected health issues, getting older, or overall unhappiness?
If so, you are not alone.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in America, affecting 40 million adults in the United States alone. And while it is impossible to get rid of anxiety entirely, you can learn how to deal with stress and your anxieties in healthy ways.
After all, it is understandable to be anxious about things that matter to you and are vital to the stability of your family, it is important to not let normal anxiety paralyze you.
You can put an end to self-sabotage by learning about the power of meditation for anxiety relief.
Millions of people are realizing the life-changing benefits of a meditation practice. They are living with greater consciousness, are more anchored in the present moment, and appreciating day-to-day life more fully.
Where did all this anxiety come from?
You've been there. I've been there. In fact, we've all been there. In that place where you have let your mind wander to such an extent, that it is dizzily spiraling out of control.
You've become so wrapped up, and so anxious about things that haven't even happened, that your heart is racing and you're searching for answers.
No matter what the underlying cause, your anxiety is most often fed and sustained by you; buying into your thoughts and feelings, rather than your reality.
Fixating on your past, being fearful of your future, and not being connected to the present will take its toll on the quality of your mental and physical health.
If you were born a worrier and suffer from chronic anxiety that you can't seem to turn off, you know that it is much more debilitating than meets the eye.
Even the smallest situation can trigger a bout of anxiety and can severely affect day-to-day activities.
The question becomes what can be done to alleviate the problem.
How meditation helps relieve anxiety
Meditation has long been heralded as a way to attain inner peace. Comparable to the way fitness is an approach to training the body, meditation is an approach to training the mind.
Numerous studies have found to be an effective treatment for anxiety. It has proven to be a beneficial management tool; providing a substantial improvement in research study participants.
Meditation helps with anxiety because it quiets an overactive brain.
If you're suffering from anxiety, it can feel as if your mind is trapped like a hamster on a wheel — constantly running, but not really getting you anywhere.
Your greatest weapon when dealing with anxiety will be your power to choose one thought over another.
The conscious brain can only hold one thought at a time; train it to notice your habits and choose your path.
A meditation practice will bring you into the present moment; directing the mind-body connection to become aware of your surrounding environment. Your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations become in tune with what's going on around you.
The foundation of your practice will involve acceptance; give yourself the choice of what you are bringing to mind. This means that you must consciously pay attention to what you are thinking and feeling at any given time instead of allowing your mind to rehash your past or imagine the future.
However, meditation is not a magic elixir that practiced once or twice will quickly and effortlessly relieve your anxiety.
Instead, it is a practice that develops slowly and deepens over time. The alleviation of your anxiety is simply a pleasing side effect.
Beginning a meditation practice
First things first: let go of the notion that you must be seated in a cross legged position, wearing a saffron robe, pretending to be a statue with an empty mind.
Also, don't be concerned about the length of time in which you are able to stay in a meditative state.
You have to start somewhere.
Let go of expectations, respect your limitations, and focus on what you can do in order to learn how to meditate.
That you are beginning and putting effort into caring for your mind and body is what matters most. Allow yourself to simply be present with the sensations.
This basic exercise is an excellent step-by-step guide to meditation for those who are new to the practice.
- Designate a place that is quiet and restful
- Set a timer. Begin slowly by meditating for 3 minutes and gradually increase the length of time to suit your needs and abilities
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable position
- Softly close your eyes, releasing any tension in the body and face
- Take a deep breath in, then exhale it out with a sigh. Do this 2 or 3 times; then allow your breath come back to a natural rhythm
- Keep your breath smooth and gentle throughout your practice. Let it flow seamlessly in and out of the nose. Don't make any effort to control it
- Bring your awareness to the rise and fall of the body with the breath. Let each exhalation take you a little deeper into the mind-body connection
- When your mind wanders, let go of the thought and bring your awareness back to the rhythm of your breath
- Continue to settle into the stillness, align your attitude with the purpose of your practice
If you find the stillness too challenging, you may benefit from a "moving meditation." This type of meditation allows you to break free from the conventional rules and restriction of a traditional practice.
Many activities can be used as an opportunity to cultivate serenity and peace. Yoga, Tai Chi, walking, dancing and playing a musical instrument are all examples of a moving meditation.
Whatever method of meditation you choose, be patient, be persistent. I promise you, the positive changes will come.
Cultivating your meditation skills
Your meditation practice will require patience if you are to reap the benefits of this ancient modality.
Meditation is not a panacea for your anxiety.
It's not as if all you have to do is close your eyes for a few minutes, meditate, and voila, suddenly you're enlightened. It is, however, a helpful tool to bring you to a place of calm and surrender.
With so many daily responsibilities competing for your attention it can be hard to stay committed to your practice.
There is no right or wrong way to meditate. Be open to experimenting in order to find a style of meditation that works best for you.
Finding a method that you enjoy will keep you motivated to continue and enhance the powerful healing properties that hallmark this ancient practice.
Let go of judgments and expectations that you may have. Let go of the need to achieve anything. Enjoy the power of meditation for anxiety relief, and all the wonderful side-effects, too.
Judy Molinaro is a wellness coach and master yoga instructor at judymolinaro.com. If you want to learn more about how yoga can help relieve your anxiety, contact Judy today.
Check out more great stories from YourTango:
- 6 Ways Stress Is Destroying Your Relationship
- Terrifying: This Is What Happens to Your Body When You're Stressed
- 12 Things Only People With Anxiety Can Teach You About Life