One day I was in my car and a wave of panic came over me. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, my chest tightened and I had to pull over. I kept breathing and gasping for air not even sure what was happening to me. I discovered later that I was having a panic attack caused by anxiety. I questioned where was this anxiety coming from?
Everyone experiences anxiety. Giving a speech in public can make even the most confidant person anxious. However, when the feelings intensify and lead to fear and distress an anxiety disorder may be the cause.
Different Types Of Anxiety
There are different types of anxiety disorders, however they have one thing in common: persistent; excessive worry in situations that are not threatening. I remember not wanting to drive in traffic for fear I would get into an accident. It was very real to me. I would picture a big semi-truck smashing into me. Then the thought would lead to another fear based thought and then another one. Then the thoughts would manifest in my body. You may also experience panic attacks, sweating and rapid heartbeat. This can stop you from doing day to day things that you are used to doing.
Meditation Can Relieve Anxiety
As I was dealing with my own anxiety I had an experience with meditation that changed the course of my life. I had heard the word meditation before and was completely turned off by it. I especially didn’t want to or think that there was such a thing as meditation therapy. However, as my anxiety did not seem to improve with other methods I decided to explore this idea further.
One of the biggest things I discovered about meditation therapy is what it is NOT. It is NOT guided visualization like I had thought. It is not just breathing or attempting to breathe your thoughts away. The biggest benefit is that you learn to be in the moment. When most people are in thought they are thinking about something that happened yesterday or 10 minutes ago or they are thinking about all the stuff they have on their to do list. These thoughts, the ones from yesterday and the ones about tomorrow of course take us out of the here and now. Meditation therapy teaches us how to be in the moment. When I say, “US,” I include myself because the practice of meditation is a big part of my life and one method I am excited to share with you and help support you in. This practice has helped me conquer my anxiety.
What is Meditation Therapy for Anxiety disorders?
Meditation is a mental exercise that is designed to get you into the present moment. During the practice of meditation there are different ways to do this. You may focus on breathing, a specific sound or an object. By focusing your thoughts in a purposeful direction you get out of the thoughts that are causing your anxiety.
What are the benefits of Meditation Therapy for an Anxiety Disorder?
The benefits of meditation therapy are tremendous! Not only will you feel less anxious you will gain increase self-awareness. You will notice things you did not notice before. I remember going into an office that I had been to a hundred times and one day I noticed a bookshelf with a plant on it. I thought, “I wonder when they put that in here?” I realized that after talking to the receptionist it had always been there. How often do we drive somewhere and not remember the drive to our destination, with self-awareness you will pay more attention to yourself and your surroundings. So not only will you reduce anxiety the additional benefits can impact every aspect of your life.
Meditation Therapy can provide Spiritual Benefits such as:
- Peace of mind
- Helps uncover your purpose
- Brings body, mind and spirit into harmony
- Increased compassion for yourself and others
- Growing wisdom
- Deep understanding of yourself and others
- Create a deeper relationship with your God or source
- Learn forgiveness and increased synchronicity
Meditation Therapy can provide Physical Benefits
There are many benefits that come from meditation some of them are:
- Increases blood flow and slows heart rate
- Lowers oxygen consumption
- Decreases respiratory rate
- Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate
- Decreases muscle tension
- Helps in chronic diseases like allergies, arthritis etc…
- Reduces Pre-menstrual Syndrome symptoms
- Enhances the immune system
- Reduces activity of viruses and emotional distress
- Enhances energy, strength and vigor
- Helps with weight loss
- Reduction of free radicals, less tissue damage
- Higher skin resistance
- Drop in cholesterol levels, lowers risk of cardiovascular disease
- Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing
- Decreases the aging process
- Cure headaches & migraines
- Reduced Need for Medical Care
- Less energy wasted
- Significant relief from asthma
- Improved performance in athletic events
- Normalizes you to your ideal weight
- Cure infertility (the stresses of infertility can interfere with the release of hormones that regulate ovulation)
- Helps in building sexual energy & desire
Meditation Therapy can provide additional Psychological Benefits aside from decreased anxiety such as:
- Builds self-confidence
- Helps control own thoughts
- Helps with focus & concentration
- Increase creativity
- Increased emotional stability
- Improved relationships
- Mind ages at slower rate
- Easier to remove bad habits
- Develops intuition
- Increased Productivity
- Improved relations at home & at work
- Increased ability to solve complex problems
- Greater communication between the two brain hemispheres
- React more quickly and more effectively to a stressful event
- Increases one’s perceptual ability and motor performance
- Increased job satisfaction
- Helps in quitting smoking, alcohol addiction
- Reduces need and dependency on drugs, pills & pharmaceuticals
- Need less sleep to recover from sleep deprivation
- Require less time to fall asleep, helps cure insomnia
- Increases sense of responsibility
- Decrease in restless thinking
- Decreased tendency to worry
- Increases listening skills and empathy
- Helps make more accurate judgements
- Greater tolerance
- Gives composure to act in considered & constructive ways
- Grows a stable, more balanced personality
- Develops emotional maturity
How To Get Started
Find a comfortable place to sit inside or outside in nature, you can change this up as needed. I love meditating outside in nature. During the fall, I enjoy my practice outside as the leaves are turning their pretty colors.
Once you have your place find an object to fix your vision on, it is always good to start your practice with eyes open versus shut. When I am inside I burn a candle, and focus on the flame when I am outside I will focus on a tree or something else in nature. This gives you an idea of what to focus on.
Decide how much time you want to spend I recommend starting at 10 minutes and building from there. I usually set a timer versus leaving my gaze to check the time.
Once you are comfortable and have found your object. Notice your breath, breathing inside your nose and out of your mouth. The idea is to keep yourself in the moment for as long as possible.
If your mind begins to drift off, recognize it without judgement and bring it back to the object.
When I first started my practice, I was a noisy thinker! My mind would go to all the things I needed to do or an event that took place or what I was going to do later. Be loving and compassionate with yourself. After you conquer the 10 minutes add 5 minutes more and continue to build on it.
I recommend a 15- day challenge to get yourself in a habit that can transform your life!