Meditation for Anxiety
Meditation is a mind-body practice of alternative medicine that is often used in the treatment of anxiety. Meditation is thought to produce a sense of wellness and an ability to cope with illness. Although scientists do not yet have firm proof of how meditation causes a physical or mental change in the people who practice it, there is evidence that it can influence a person’s mental well-being and overall health, especially when coupled with allopathic treatments. The practice of meditation is thought to be helpful in clearing the mind and relaxing the body, thereby easing the symptoms of anxiety.
How Is Meditation Used to Treat Anxiety?
People who have an anxiety disorder experience a constant feeling of worry or distress, with difficulty controlling those feelings. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a common disorder and it often fluctuates in severity over time and worsens during times of stress. People often feel anxiety over work responsibilities, chores, money, health issues, and safety. The feeling of worry and distress in these individuals is disproportionate to the actual situation, and the severity, frequency, and duration of the anxiety is more than the situation warrants. Anxiety disorders often start in childhood, but they can start at any age.
Meditation is used to help the person suffering from anxiety focus on other thoughts than the negative feelings that often overwhelm them. It is more than simply “mind over matter.” Meditation involves sitting or resting quietly for a short period of time, usually 15 to 20 minutes. By focusing on slow, regular breathing, you can create an awareness of one’s self. It is a concentrated effort to allow the body to relax and the mind to become calm. Meditation allows the practitioner a quiet opportunity to form a more clear awareness of his life and to be able to find solutions that may have been unclear before.
Meditation is best used adjunctively with psychotherapy and other forms of medical treatment for anxiety. It is not a cure for anxiety and should not be practiced as the sole treatment in cases of severe anxiety. Meditation can help to augment the effectiveness of other forms of treatment, enabling your to better control your anxiety.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a variety of techniques for focusing one’s attention and suspending the succession of thoughts that race through one’s mind. It is an ancient process that was primarily practiced as a spiritual tradition, and it is still a common religious practice today. While engaged in meditation, a person may experience a mental calmness that further relaxes the body and balances the psyche. What was once a spiritual practice is now often used to enhance conventional medical treatment.
Which Types of Meditation Will Help With Anxiety?
There are two commonly practiced forms of meditation that are effective at helping control anxiety: concentrative meditation and mindful meditation.
Concentrative meditation focuses on a person’s own breathing or on a single image, chant, or sound and clears the mind. One popular form of concentrative meditation is called Transcendental Meditation (TM). During TM practice, you transcend the feelings, thoughts, and images that usually pass through the mind by putting these thoughts aside during periods of intense focus.
Mindful meditation focuses on a person’s thoughts and feelings. You become aware of the thoughts, feelings, sounds, and images that pass gently through the mind. Mindful meditation does not focus on a single purpose, but works to quiet the mind when it strays to anxious thoughts.
Important Elements of a Meditation Practice
No matter what type of meditation you practice, consider the following four elements:
When you begin practicing meditation, it is important to have a quiet place with few distractions. Some people prefer to have music softly playing; others prefer silence. Some prefer to be outside; others prefer being inside. Once people become accustomed to meditating they can often meditate any place where they are quiet, even when surrounded by distractions such as a busy waiting room or on a bus.
Meditation can be done in a variety of positions depending on the style of meditation being practiced. The most important factor of posture is to be comfortable. Meditation can be performed while sitting, walking, lying down, or standing.
The most basic element of meditation is to focus one’s attention. Again, depending on the type of meditation being practiced, the focus may vary. One can focus on breathing, on a mantra, or on awareness of feelings and thoughts.
An open attitude in meditation means not getting upset about distractions that may occur. Extraneous thoughts, noises and images will inevitably occur, but the objective is to let them flow past while maintaining and retaining focus.
Are There Risks to Treating Anxiety With Meditation?
Meditation is generally thought to be safe. It can be practiced by anyone who is experiencing stress. People who are suffering from acute anxiety should seek professional medical advice in addition to using meditation to relieve symptoms. The practice of meditation for relief of anxiety is most often used effectively with medication and psychotherapy in cases of acute anxiety or in people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Meditation requires concentration, and it can be difficult for someone who has severe symptoms of anxiety. It should be noted that improperly practiced breathing techniques might cause nausea, palpitations, or sweating. If one chooses to meditate using breathing as a focus, he or she should practice with a trainer at first.
Meditation involves being able to sit, lie, or stand in one place for an extended period of time. It may not be an appropriate therapy for someone who has Attention Deficiency Hyperactive Disorder (ADD/ADHD) in addition to anxiety.
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