Statistics show that right now the world is in the grips of an anxiety pandemic. The good news is that there is a solution. Scientific research proves that meditation can cure anxiety. By the end of this guide, you will know how to stop anxiety by using meditation.
Approximately 40 million adults in the US suffer from anxiety each year, says the National Institute of Mental Health. That means there is a very good chance that either you yourself will suffer anxiety or someone you know will.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to stop anxiety. You can use these tips to help someone with anxiety. And if you yourself are suffering from anxiety, you can use the advice on this page to get your anxiety under control.
Let’s start from the beginning.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a stress response to difficult situations that we are all bound to come across at one time or another.
Some people suffer from social anxiety disorder, others from anxiety at work (or school), and still others from anxiety over health concerns.
If you are not sure whether you are suffering from anxiety and stress, ask yourself whether you are suffering from the following symptoms:
Symptoms of anxiety and stress
- Fearing what people are thinking
- Panic Attacks
- Sensation of being overwhelmed
- Suffering from numerous types of fear
- Too much self awareness
- Noises in your head
- Teeth grinding
Some of the physical symptoms of anxiety…
One of the best descriptions of anxiety is that it feels like “always hearing the enemy / boss music and never seeing the threat”. Any gamer who has anxiety can easily understand the description.
These are just a few of the symptoms of anxiety and stress. If you are suffering from these symptoms, you might like to try using these techniques that beat stress. Take a look at that link first, before reading the rest of this page.
If you have anxiety, it is very important to realise that you are not alone. Anxiety is a common condition. Is it also easily treated.
Let’s take a look at some important facts and statistics about anxiety.
Anxiety And Meditation: Facts And Statistics From Clinical Research
These statistics and facts show that anxiety is a very common condition. Importantly, however, ,they also show that anxiety can be treated quite easily so long as the individual takes progressive steps to find a solution.
Anxiety Facts And Statistics
- Anxiety is the most common mental illness, affecting 18% of the population.
- 2.7% of the population experience panic attacks
- 6.8% of the population have social anxiety
- Anxiety is easily treated. But 2/3 adults do not receive any treatment
- Anxiety is usually caused by a chemical imbalance
- Women are more affected by anxiety than men, according to statistics.
- Anxiety disorders are often caused by extended environmental stress
Clinical research proves meditation is an effective treatment for anxiety
- Researchers looked into 39 studies that incorporated over 1140 patients and found that mindfulness meditation is effective at treating anxiety.
- Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center conducted research on 89 patients suffering from Generalised Anxiety. They found that Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction led to a decrease of stress-related hormones and cell-signaling proteins. This, the study authors state, shows that meditation is a healthy and effective way of treating anxiety
Meditation is arguably the most healthy and effective way of treating anxiety
Clinical research has proven the effectiveness of many natural treatments for anxiety.
For instance, you can use natural herbs and supplements for anxiety. And there are physical exercises you can try to (like yoga).
One of the most effective ways of handling anxiety, however, is by taking steps to quiet your mind and produce internal peace.
When you have a quiet, calm, peaceful mind, you will be much less susceptible to anxiety. And one of the best ways to achieve a quiet mind is through meditation.
Meditation is one of the best cures for anxiety
Learning to use meditation for anxiety could very well change your life. Or, if it doesn’t change your life, it will at the very least make it a lot more positive and happy.
Researchers at the University of Baltimore recently looked into nearly 19,000 studies of meditation, which revealed that mindfulness meditation can significantly help ease stress and anxiety. You can read more about this study on the Harvard University website.
“People who suffer from anxiety can’t tell the difference between nagging worry and problem-solving thought,” says Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, a psychiatrist at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders. People who suffer from unproductive worrying tend to think in terms of negative consequences, for example, “I’ll be late and lose my job,” instead of thinking, “How can make sure I get to work in time so I keep my job?”
Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) helps patients with generalised anxiety disorder to understand the different types of thoughts and to respond to them accordingly.
People with anxiety tend to give negative thoughts too much attention, believing their thoughts control reality. For instance, they believe that that if they are thinking they’ll lose their job, they really will lose their job. Mindfulness meditation helps these individuals to distinguish thoughts from reality.
My own personal experience backs this research. I’ve both been in a loving relationship with someone who had anxiety, and I have had anxiety myself. Both times, meditation was the cure.
How does meditation help anxiety?
Anxiety is the brain’s ingrained response to stressful situations. Our minds have learnt, over the years, to respond to certain stimuli by creating anxiety.
Let’s say you have a dentists appointment tomorrow. You don’t like the dentist–honestly, who does? So you’re sitting up at night worrying about going to the dentists tomorrow.
In your mind e are all sorts of thoughts and imaginings. You may see a certain vision of the dentist or imagine feeling pain in your teeth, or you may simply say to yourself “It’s going to hurt.” These are all mental patterns–things that habitually occur in our minds.
When you learn to meditate you learn to take control of these thoughts and imaginings.
Essentially, meditation gives you the control to say “This [anxiety] is just a thought.”
Once you realise that your anxiety is just in your mind you take control of it.
So, in a sense, it works as a brain management system. When you meditate you learn to take control of what’s going on in your mind and you learn to eliminate the causes of anxiety.
Sometimes, all you need to cure anxiety is a few minutes of silence (internal and external silence)
To Use Meditation For Anxiety, Start With The Basics.
If you are new to meditation (i.e. if you have never meditate before, have not studied meditation, or have meditated for less than 100 hours) it is important that you start learning to meditate in the right way.
There are two ways to do that. Firstly, be sure to pick up a copy of my book Journey To The Buddha Within. It will teach you absolutely everything you ever need to know about meditation and is very in-depth.
And secondly, be sure to read this guide to the basics of meditation. It covers the fundamentals, which you need to know if you are going to successfully treat anxiety with meditation.
Mistakes To Avoid
I want you to be successful in using meditation to cure anxiety. With that in mind let me give you a friendly warning. There is one mistake that a lot of people make when they try meditation. They make instant demands.
We demand that we get the one result we are looking for. We demand an instant end to anxiety. And in our minds we have an idea of how we want to be. But this idea of how we want to be is just that: an idea. Reality doesn’t follow our ideas. Our thoughts do not control reality.
When you practice meditation you might be surprised by the results. Your meditation practice might be different to how you expected. That is fine.
The key to success is trusting the techniques.
You have to allow meditation to take you where it will. When you fight, you just add to your anxiety. When you simply sit and meditate without fighting, you allow nature to take its own course, to correct problems in its own way.
What I’m trying to say here is that when you meditate you need to let go of expectations. Meditation will create very positive results, but those results might not take the exact course you expected. Trust in your practice and it will work for you. But you have to trust.
Now, let’s look at the best meditation techniques for anxiety.
The Best Meditations For Anxiety
Meditation is one of the best forms of self help for anxiety. But which meditation technique should you start with?
There are a lot of different meditation techniques in the world. To be specific, there are more than 30 major types of meditation, and if you go into historical context then there are more than 700 types of meditation.
> You can learn about all the most important meditation techniques here.
However, there are a handful of meditation techniques that are particularly useful for anxiety.
These are the best meditation techniques for anxiety
1: Anapanasati Meditation
No Panic is one of the most helpful anxiety blogs in the world. They state,
If you find that your breathing pattern is irregular or uncomfortable a lot of the time, the best way to reset it is by exercising. Start of gradually and check with your doctor if you are not used to exercise.
Studies show that breathing meditations are one of the best tricks for anxiety.
“Anapanasati” is the proper term used to described breathing meditations. There are several different breathing meditation techniques we can use for anxiety.You can find a guide to all the best breathing meditation techniques using the link above.
2: Smiling Buddha Technique
Vanessa is a leading expert in anxiety and depression. Writing for OvercomingYourAnxiety, she says,
Smiling can reduce stress – and it’s even more effective when your eyes smile too! Nobody is quite sure how exactly facial expressions are related to a person’s underlying mood, but researchers have found a definite connection.
The smiling Buddha technique is a moderately advanced technique that is best for people who have some experience with meditation.
It is a meditation technique specifically designed to create happiness.
This technique involves a combination of mudras (hand position) and mantras (repeated words) to create deep relaxation and happiness.
3: Zen Walking Meditation
I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that when you’re feeling down, a nice long walk helps.
A walk gives you the chance to escape and allows you to clear your mind.
The only thing better than a walk is a Zen walking. In this technique you walk up and down a path while meditating on the sense of movement. This allows you to get some fresh air (important for anxiety), to clear your mind and to find relaxation.
when you think happy thoughts you become happy. When you think sad you become sad. When you think thoughts that make you anxious, you become anxious.
One of the best ways to take control of your anxiety is by controlling what’s in your mind. And one of the best ways to do that is be using visualisation meditation.
Visualisation meditation is one of the more advanced meditation techniques because it integrates the imagination into the process.
Essentially, visualisation can be defined like this: imagining specific things to produce specific results.
Let’s say, for instance, that you wish to relax. You may choose to imagine a relaxing scene of a beach. Try this now and you will become relaxed and happy. Imagine the scene in detail, using all five senses. See, smell, touch, hear and taste the scene. This will bring the scene to life in your mind and make it a much more powerful experience.
An alternative form of visualisation is self hypnosis. If you’re interested, take a look at my guide to using self hypnosis to cure anxiety.
MindBodyRecovery is one of the most life transforming blogs for people with anxiety. They have a fantastic guide to using a technique called Anticipatory Visualisation Technique. You can read their guide here.
5. Body Scan
Body scan meditation is a meditation in which you tap into the sensations and feelings going on in your own body. For instance, one of the classic symptoms of anxiety is cold hands or feet and heart palpitations.
As someone with anxiety, when you feel anxiety coming on you might panic. But controlling that initial panic is half the battle.
Body scan meditation will let you recognise the symptoms of anxiety before they get out of control.
Lucy Faulks is a leader in mindful healing and the creator of Technotox.com. She’s written a fantastic guide all about how body scan meditation helps you to take control of your symptoms. Take a look at Lucy’s guide here.
Reminder: Use the link above to find more information on all these meditation techniques.
6. Mindfulness For Anxiety (The best meditation technique for anxiety)
If you’re looking for a great way how to handle anxiety naturally, then mindfulness may be the answer you’re looking for.
Mindfulness has been in use for many thousands of years though it has only recently become popular in the west.
Scientific research has proven that mindfulness is one of the best ways how to handle anxiety naturally, provided it’s done correctly.
What is mindfulness? How does it help with anxiety?
Mindfulness is essentially a type of meditation.
Mindfulness involves focusing the mind 100% on the present moment. While you practice mindfulness you are aware of the thoughts, feelings and moods occupying your mind.
This simple practice has been shown to be immensely helpful in treating anxiety and panic attacks and helping many other mental health areas.
Like Lao Tzu says,
Living in the present moment is called being mindful. And new scientific research has proven that mindfulness:
- Helps in the treatment of social anxiety disorder
- Helps prevent relapse in those suffering from major depressive disorder
- Helps with the anxiety experienced by cancer patients
Mindfulness has shown itself to be so effective that it is now widely used in cognitive behavioral therapy. And it is an incredibly effective way of treating anxiety.
So, how do you practice mindfulness meditation?
There are many different mindfulness exercises that can help cure anxiety. One of the simplest techniques follow.
A Simple Mindfulness Exercise For Anxiety
- Find somewhere quiet where you will not be disturbed for twenty minutes
- Sit comfortably, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Specifically, focus on your breath coming and going between the space between your nose and lips.
- While focussing on this spot, be aware of any thoughts or feelings entering your mind. Do not dwell on these thoughts and feelings, do not resist them, do not encourage them, simply observe them, as though you were a mere onlooker to your own mind.
- If at any time you feel yourself losing focus or becoming absorbed in your thoughts, return your focus to the spot between your nose and mouth.
Practice this exercise for twenty minutes and you will notice significant improvements in your anxiety symptoms.
- You might also like to read ourguide to using meditation for depression.
National Institute on Mental Health. “Anxiety Disorders.” NIMH. Accessed April 23, 2014.
ADAA. “Facts & Statistics.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Accessed April 29, 2014.
ADAA. “Facts & Statistics.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Accessed April 29, 2014.
5 WebMD. “Anxiety Disorders: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention.” WebMD. Accessed April 29, 2014.
9 Grant, Jon E., and Suck W. Kim. “Clinical characteristics and associated psychopathology of 22 patients with kleptomania.” Comprehensive Psychiatry (2002): doi:10.1053/comp.2002.34628.
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