Is anxiety treatment meditation helpful in trying to overcome anxiety? In other words, can meditation help alleviate anxiety and how? From my own personal experience I can confirm that developing meditation has helped me enormously with overcoming fear as well as anxiety. So for example, I used to become really anxious when the neighbours were playing loud music late at night. I would lie in bed fretting, sweating, being angry, fearful and anxious and of course totally unable to sleep.
am now much more able to cope effectively with this situation. I
can still feel the fear, but realise that it would be perfectly
reasonable for me to simply call them and ask them to turn the music
down. So I do, and they do. Or if it is still early evening, I might
decide that actually it is OK for them to play music. I may visualise
them having a good time and that gives me a good feeling. I want them to
be happy, they are good people, they are not trying to make me
miserable! So yes, meditation can be used for anxiety treatment.
If you would like to know if there is any scientific evidence for the effectiveness of meditation as anxiety treatment, then please do a search on Google Scholar, using the search terms 'meditation anxiety' (without the quotation marks). You will find that there is now considerable evidence that meditation as an anxiety treatment can help in general. There may also be studies there that looks at anxiety treatment meditation specifically. But no doubt it depends on what causes the anxiety in you and how strong your anxiety is.
Anxiety may seem to be caused by external circumstances, but in my view it is mostly due to the way we, as individuals, react to those circumstances. Meditation in general helps you to see this and then to change the way you respond. Check out Anxiety Unravelled, a new and very useful site dedicated to this area (see also my recent interview with site owner Judy Legon). Specific anxiety treatment meditations may further develop this ability to separate and disengage temporarily from your usual way of responding. Your emotional response may initially still be there, but rather than it overwhelming you, you can stand back from it, allow it, observe it and let it subside.
Over time, both your emotional response as well as you actions may change radically, for the better. So your meditation practice affects your life during the rest of the day. And using a specific anxiety treatment meditation may well provide additional benefits in this case. This is what is so amazing about meditation. You do not need to meditate for hours to experience the benefits. You simply need to start meditating a few minutes each day and see how you get on. Keep an open mind and go easy on yourself. You have time.
However, I can well imagine that a person can be so anxious in the present moment that it simply is impossible to meditate. Starting to meditate requires at least the ability to think clearly some of the time and to make a rational decision to meditate, followed by actually doing it. This may sound easy, but if you are permanently agitated and anxious, then starting to meditate may be impossible. So then even a specific anxiety treatment meditation is not going to help initially and you may need medical or psychological help first.
If you suffer from anxiety, it is always a good idea to consult your medical doctor anyway and also to talk to your family. Perhaps a counsellor or psychotherapist can help you to begin to tackle the problem. Perhaps your doctor could even refer you to a clinic that uses meditation techniques as part of their anxiety treatment. Don't be hard on yourself and also don't be embarassed. You are amongst friends, as there are many people who suffer from anxiety. Most people however do not talk about this for fear of being stigmatised, or losing their jobs, or being thought of as weak. All this is based on my own experience of anxiety (and depression) and the difficulty of acknowledging it and accepting that it is OK. So be gentle with yourself, that will be a very good start. It's OK to feel anxious. You are still a lovely person and you are still loved by the people in your life.
However, if you are able to meditate even for a couple of minutes, then you are very likely to benefit from it and see a slow reduction in your levels of anxiety over days, weeks and months. Below is one example of an anxiety treatment meditation. But of course you could also try the other meditation techniques on this website, in particular relaxation meditation, healing meditation and mindfulness meditation.
Anxiety treatment meditation exercise
Find a quiet space where you will not be disturbed. Switch off your phones. Is there anything on your mind that needs to be done right now? Stop and consider. Most things can wait and are not life-threatening. So let it go, if possible. If not, then do it first so your mind is clear.
Sit or lie down, making sure you are comfortable and warm. Settle down. Close your eyes. Briefly notice how you feel by checking in mentally with your body, in particular in the area around stomach, diaphragm and chest. Briefly notice your thinking, the thoughts racing through your mind without your control. Then bring your attention to what you are doing.
What are you doing? Nothing. You are just sitting or lying there. Relax. This is great. Look, you are in one place. You are here and now. You are still, but there is a world going on. A world outside you. It moves on, even when you are still. People live their lives, they laugh, cry, whisper, kiss, make war, eat...All this is possible, while you are still.
There is another world going on. A world inside you. Your body. Sensations. Feeling. Emotions. Breathing. Movement. Thoughts. All this goes on without you having to do anything at all. All of this happens, even when you are perfectly still. Keep breathing.
Imagine you are in beautiful place where you can be completely relaxed, where you are completely loved just the way you are. What is it, where is it? See it in your imagination. Smell the air, see the sights, feel the surroundings. Are there other people? Keep breathing, while you look around and feel the energy of this place fill you, recharge you, make you smile (you may actually cry with relief when you get to this place, that's great, it's allowed here).
After a while, you feel the joy settling down deep inside you and the ecstacy of being in this place starting to calm down. You realise it is time to leave. So in your imagination you get ready to go. You know with your whole being that this place will always be there for you. You can come here any time, for a break, to recharge, to breathe and smile.
You slowly bring your awareness back to the here and now, to the room you are in. Feel the breathing movements of your body. Feel your body's contact with the floor or chair. Gently open your eyes. Become aware of your surroundings. Get up and resume your normal activities after drinking a large glass of water.
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