How can meditation help anxiety?
Meditation is scientifically proven to make you happier, healthier, more effective, more balanced, and way less stressed out. However, it’s very possible you encounter frustration when you first try it out.
Meditation is the way to the emptying of thought. It allows you to de-clutter your mind of distracting thoughts and negative emotions. It can wipe away the day's stress, bringing with it inner peace. See how you can easily learn to practice meditation whenever you need it most.
If stress has you anxious, tense and worried, consider trying meditation. Spending even a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace.
Anyone can practice meditation. It's simple and inexpensive, and it doesn't require any special equipment.
And you can practice meditation wherever you are — whether you're out for a walk, riding the bus, waiting at the doctor's office or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting.
Meditation techniques to try
The objective of concentration meditation is to develop a single-minded attention directed at some object: an image, a breath, a candle flame, or a word or phrase. Continually returning one's attention to this object develops one's ability to remain calm, focused, and grounded.
- Choose quiet and peaceful surroundings, this can make the meditation experience more enjoyable and relaxing.
- Sit comfortably. Make sure you are relaxed, comfortable and steady. Sit straight with your spine erect; keep your shoulders and neck relaxed, and eyes closed throughout the process.
- Direct your attention to the focus of concentration. Many people chose to focus on the breath. Do not force your attention, or become frustrated with yourself when distracted. When distracted, simply redirect your attention.
- Set aside distracting thoughts. The goal of concentration meditation is to train the mind for continual focus. When thoughts or feelings arise, notice them, and return your attention to the object of its focus.
For a more in depth guide, take a look at this guide.
Controlled breathing not only tunes the mind and body to function at their best, but can also lower blood pressure, promote feelings of calm and relaxation and allow stress to wash away. Here are a couple of beginner techniques to try:
Sama Vritti or "Equal Breathing"
Balance your body, beginning with the breath. Start by inhaling for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four - through the nose, adding a natural resistance to the breath.
Abdominal Breathing Technique
With one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, take a deep breath in through the nose, ensuring the diaphragm (not the chest) inflates with enough air to create a stretch in the lungs.
An effective technique to help reduce your response to a stressful event or situation is to say a brief, relaxing chant to yourself. By repeating one singular mantra you will find that the mind will slip into a deep meditative state. Meditating to a mantra while in meditation also helps keep the mind silent for the duration.
How to Chant
- Pick the words to repeat. This is often known as a mantra, and can be a phrase or just a few words, such as "All will be well," "I will be OK," or "This too will pass."
- Decide on a tune. Set your words to a simple tune — one that you find pleasant or has a religious feeling to it — such as the tune of a Gregorian chant.
- Chant. First, chant your phrase quietly several times. Then, chant without making any sound. Aim to feel calm, relaxed, and comfortable.
- Relax. When you experience an acute stress, chant silently to yourself. Notice how this relaxes and calms you, allowing you to focus.
Reduce stress through music
When it becomes hard to find your way out of the downward spiral caused by overwhelming stress and anxiety, try turning to music.
Music has the ability to quickly shift our mood, affecting our subconscious mind where pesky negative thoughts feed on our fears and fuel the fires of stress.
Listening to music is a relatively inexpensive, quick-acting solution that’s almost always available, and it could just save your life.
Playing calming music while meditating can help in the same way as repeating a mantra - keeping the mind silent and softening the impact of the world around you.
Spotify is a streaming service for music (It's free!). Many people are not aware that you can find not only popular music, but many other kinds - such as classical, background and meditation music.
A great number of playlists and tracks are available.
One of our favourites is Buddhist Zen – Meditation Music
It may not be the first place you think to check, but Youtube can be a great source for playlist of calming and relaxing music that is perfect for meditation. Try searching for "meditation music" or "meditation mantra music". Many creators have shared mixes ready to go, as well as video guides if you're looking to learn.
Here are a couple of our favourites:
- 1 Hour Meditation Music: Connect Body, Mind, Soul, Find Inner Peace
- All 7 Chakra Balancing and Healing Meditation Music
If you're looking to take music with you out of the house, or even just when you're not connected to the internet a downloadable mix might be just what you need. We have put together a few favourites and recommendations:
Further reading on anxiety meditation
Want to learn more about reducing anxiety through meditation? We have collected the links below. Even if you have never tried meditation before, you can get started at home with only a few minutes reading.
In many yoga traditions, there is a long history of chanting mantras for everything from prosperity to health.
Practical tips on how to approach meditation, forming good habits and moving towards becoming more peaceful, focused and appreciative of life.
"I started adopting mantras, words, or phrases that carry spiritual significance, to repeat to myself during intense moments of anxiety, and I found that my ability to handle the attacks grew. The mantras served as a vessel to carry me through the stormy waters."
"There are many mantras you can chant to make yourself feel good, but the most well known and universal mantra of all is Om, which is an ancient Sanskrit word meditated upon by Rishis. Om is not just a word; it's like music, which crosses the barrier of age, caste, creed, culture and even species and can spoken by anyone."