Anxiety is one of the most common health and wellbeing problems in the world. In the west, between 14 to 29 percent of people (depending on country) will live with anxiety at some time in their life. If you suffer from anxiety, the first thing to know is this: you are not alone; far from it. Around one in five people will suffer from anxiety, and the vast majority will overcome anxiety. If they can do it, so can you.
There are many meditations for anxiety that can significantly help you to live with anxiety. But before we get to those specific techniques, let take a closer look at precisely what anxiety is.
What is anxiety and why do we worry?
People are natural born worriers. The statistics prove that much alone. While 25% of people will live with anxiety at some point in their life, everyone will suffer from worries. But why do we worry?
Scientific studies have shown that the human brain has evolved to have “negativity bias.” In other words, we are naturally drawn to think the worst rather than the best. We pay more attention to negative events and to threats than we do to positive events and opportunities. The human brain will analyse negative information more quickly than positive information. This naturally predisposes us to bouts of anxiety.
It may seem ironic that we have evolved to have negative bias rather than positive bias. However, historically, our negative bias has been very beneficial, indeed it has been imperative to our survival. Thousands of years ago man was consistently threatened by predatory animals. In order to survive, it was imperative that we be able to detect threats quickly. Therefore, our brain evolved to be able to find and recognise potential dangers. To survive, we had to be aware of danger. This negative bias, this ability to spot threats, persists to today.
Evolution takes thousands of years. So, even though we are no long threatened by predatory animals, our brains still looks for threats. This leads us to think negatively, which in turn makes us worry.
Thankfully, we can help ourselves to overcome this negative bias and to stop worrying by learning meditation for anxiety.
Using Meditation for Anxiety and Living with Anxiety
Scientific research has proven how effective meditation is for anxiety. A study at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, for instance, studied the effects of mindfulness meditation on people suffering from clinical anxiety. The study showed that 90% of people suffering from anxiety and depression observed significant reduction in symptoms after practicing mindfulness meditation.
One scientific study researched the effects of mindfulness meditation on people suffering from anxiety for different reasons: including people who had cancer, people who suffered social anxiety and so on. By looking at 1140 participants the study revealed that mindfulness meditation helps people to observe their thoughts and to manage those thoughts, thereby giving them control of their minds and of their anxiety.
Anxiety is often caused by greater reactivity in the amygdale region of the brain. The amygdale triggers fear. A study at Stanford University showed that 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation significantly reduced activity in the amygdale and therefore significantly reduced the symptoms of anxiety.
Mindfulness meditation has been proven time and again to be one of the most effective treatments for anxiety. So, how do we learn mindfulness meditation and beat anxiety? That’s where our complete guide comes in. Simply read Mindfulness and Meditation Techniques for Beginners and you’ll learn everything you need to know about mindfulness and meditation, the most effective treatment for anxiety.
Stanford University: Mindfulness Mindfulness Meditation Training and Self-Referential Processing in Social Anxiety Disorder: Behavioral and Neural Effects
Harvard University: Mindfulness Meditation Eases Mental Stress
University of Massachusetts: Stress Reduction Program