Meditation to Deal with Anxiety and Negative Thoughts
How to manage anxiety and negative thoughts with meditation
We all know what it feels like to be anxious at some point or another in our lives. For some it might be a rare occasion, but for many others, it’s a thing they have to face and deal every day. Living with anxiety can be quite challenging, depending on the severity and its symptoms. If you constantly feel nervous, worried or restless you’re probably suffering from anxiety.
Feeling anxious is our body’s way of saying that it’s experiencing an overwhelming amount of stress. The issue arises when anxiety takes over and controls our actions and general state of being. When we engage in compulsive negative thinking, we torment ourselves with negative thoughts, and create anxiety about a situation which hasn’t really happened yet or has already passed.
Many people constantly worry and dwell about things which happened in the past, or experience unnecessary psychological fear about speculative events. They repeat the worst negative scenarios in their head over and over, and it takes up a lot of our mental space and energy. If left untreated, anxiety can have a negative impact on all aspects of our lives like career, relationships and social life.
Scientists carried research and discovered that meditation is a good technique to manage anxiety by reducing stress and negative thoughts. Since most of the psychological fear we experience is about the past or the future, practicing meditation is very effective. With meditation practice we become more mindful of the present and shift our awareness to the present moment, which in reality it’s all there is.
The term “meditate” emerged from the Latin word meditatum, meaning “to ponder.” Meditation is an ancient practice that originated several thousands of years ago in India. The Western world has adapted this practice and many people are raising awareness about the benefits of meditation and claim that it has transformed their lives. Even though it is well known within Buddhist communities, meditation is practiced by several other Religions.
There are several types of meditation techniques which you can try, that way you can find which type of meditation you enjoy doing the most. Different types of meditation target different issues, but the result is always a grounding state of inner peace and clarity. Let’s have a look at what meditation practice is exactly.
What does it mean to meditate?
When meditating, you concentrate your attention on your breath, or a mantra, depending on which kind of meditation technique you try. Your mind will get distracted by a stream of thoughts but this process is completely natural as that’s what a functional brain does.
All of a sudden, instead of feeling calm and serene, you end up thinking and stressing about what you need to do next, and doubting your ability to meditate. Most people abandon the practice the moment they notice themselves being distracted.
There’s no need to be demotivated, this is part of the meditation practice. When you notice yourself drifting away in thoughts, bring your attention back to your breath or mantra. It requires a lot of patience, self-compassion, and commitment to continue practicing meditation, but the benefits are totally worthwhile.
People who suffer from anxiety unconsciously engage in compulsive negative thinking. Their head is filled with internal mental clutter and negative thoughts which trigger anxiety related issues that can result in undesired physical symptoms.
By concentrating on your breath or mantra, you shift your attention from the negative thoughts instead of encouraging them. This also helps you become aware of your thought patterns and the way you speak to yourself.
As you learn how to quiet your mind and become still, you create space between you and your thoughts. Space helps you detach from your thoughts instead of identifying with them completely. By practice, you become the observer of your thoughts and learn how to let go of unreal psychological fears.
Repeating this process improves your physical and emotional well-being. Many people have tried it out and research shows that meditation can cause changes in the brain and change people’s lives.
How mindful meditation calms the mind
Meditation helps people become more mindful of their thoughts, emotions and surroundings. You learn to stay and deal with difficult emotions without repressing them. By being the observer of your thoughts, you become more mindful of them, and instead of encouraging them.
Accepting your emotions instead of resisting them gives you a sense of relief, as psychologist Dr. Carl Jung explained, what we resist persists. Acknowledging your concerns and negative thoughts, helps you accept them and overcome them instead of being consumed by them feeling helpless.
Mindfulness meditation helps you discover the underlying causes of your anxiety. Shedding light on your dark shadows in your subconscious mind, diminishes the darkness, as you bring the hidden negative core beliefs to your conscious mind.
With a still mind, you will find it easier to think of new solutions when faced with a challenging situation, as meditation also improves creativity. From a place of stillness you allow yourself to unfold inner intelligence that comes spontaneously. This kind of inner wisdom empowers you to operate from a place of love and strength rather than operating from a place of fear.
Different meditation techniques for anxiety
You can experiment between the different forms of meditation so you can see which works best for your anxiety. Personally, I like to switch between different types of meditation. Best is to go with the flow and see what would be the most beneficial for you on the day, depending on how you are feeling.
What matters is that you show up every day and practice daily, even if it’s just for 5 to 10 minutes. You can increase the time as you go along and eventually, meditation becomes a daily space for you to retreat within yourself to connect with your soul and feel inner peace.
Guided meditation — A teacher or meditation instructor guides you through visualization of images, places or situations which you find peaceful. You can also find audio meditations for anxiety to guide your breath flow and meditation session.
Mindfulness meditation — Focuses on increased awareness and acceptance of the present moment. It helps you to let go of fear and perceive situations from a place of observation rather than a place of fear and judgement. Focus your attention on inhaling and exhaling. Observe your thoughts and emotions, and release them without judgment.
Tai chi — A type of calm Chinese martial arts. In tai chi, you perform a series of movements in a slow, graceful manner while practicing deep breathing. This allows you to connect and align with the natural flow of life.
Transcendental Meditation (Mantra) — You focus and silently repeat a personally assigned mantra, instead of engaging in distracting thoughts. With this meditation technique, your body settles into a state of relaxation and stillness and cultivates a state of inner peace.
Yoga — This is also a form of meditation. You perform a series of postures and breathing exercises that require concentration and discipline. These exercises promote better circulation of your energy flow and a calm peaceful mind. As you move through poses that require balance and focus, you quiet your mind by focusing your attention and directing your energy on the postures instead of your busy schedule.
Simple everyday ways to practice meditation
Self-compassion is key when it comes to meditation as many people give up on it because it feels uncomfortable, or they feel like they can’t do it. Everyone can meditate, it just requires some discipline and dedication just like any other skill.
Give yourself some credit each time you meditate, even if it didn’t feel useful, what’s happening behind the scenes will be reflected soon enough. You just have to be patient and trust that you will see beneficial results.
At first, it would be easier if you follow guided meditations or group classes. There are several classes available online as well so you don’t even need to leave your home to try it out.
There are multiple apps which you can download on your mobile as well. As you become more familiar to the practice, you can easily meditate on your own. If you find it difficult to make time for meditation, here are some ways how you can introduce meditation in your daily schedule :
Focus on your breathing — Sit down in a quiet space and focus on your inhale and exhale. Take 3 deep slow breaths, and settle comfortably in your natural breathing rhythm. Just observe and when your attention wanders, calmly return your attention to your breath.
Body Scan Meditation — Sit down comfortably and focus your attention on different body parts, starting from the head going downward, from right to left. Notice your body’s different sensations, whether that’s pain, tension, warmth or relaxation.
Walk in nature — Take some time to go for a relaxing walk in nature. It will help you feel more peaceful and relaxed as you disconnect from the crazy hectic routine.
Practice gratitude — Being grateful cultivates positive feelings and when combined with meditation, it’s even more effective. Focus your attention on things or people you are grateful for. Gratitude cultivate feelings of warmth, love and compassion, leaving your feeling good and positive.
Improving your meditation skills
Meditation takes practice, just like any other skill, so don’t add to your stress by negatively talking down to yourself about your abilities.
Everyone is different so just try out different types of meditations to see what works best for you. Meditation is a natural way to help you reduce your stress and anxiety, and improves your general well-being.
Moreover, it’s a practice that nourishes your soul. Meditation is known as the path to enlightenment, access to inner knowledge, and liberation of the mind. With the practice of meditation you can unfold the veil as you become aware of your ego and wake up to the ultimate reality.