Today I am going to show you how to do the best meditations for anxiety relief so you can have a quick and natural remedy for the problem. Many people feel calm within just ten minutes of using these exercises.
As a meditation teacher who used to suffer from severe anxiety, I know probably more than anyone just how good meditation techniques for anxiety are. And it’s been proven by science, too. You can learn more about the science in my article about the mental health benefits of meditation.
One of the main reasons people get into meditation is because meditation helps with anxiety.
I suffered for years with terrible worry and stress, never able to find inner peace. Then I trained in meditation. Years later I now teach people how to use meditation for anxiety relief. And today I am going to teach you.
On this page i’ll share with the best meditation techniques for generalised anxiety.
You might also like to read my articles about:
How I Discovered The Best Meditation Techniques For Anxiety And Cured Myself And Others
I used to get panic attacks so bad I couldn’t breathe [READ: Stop Panic Attacks With Meditation]
My panic attacks gave me many of the symptoms of depression (and yes, you can stop depression with meditation too).
I managed to stop anxiety with meditation. And I will show you how below.
After I’d cure myself I started to help other people. And oh boy were there are a lot of people who wanted a cure for this terrible affliction, which is one of the most common mental health conditions in the world.
Many people ask me: Can meditation help anxiety, and if so, how quickly does it work? The answer is a resounding YES meditation stops anxiety and you can start to feel the benefits within twenty minutes, although I do recommend consulting a medical healthcare professional before beginning.
The symptoms of anxiety
- Insomnia and sleep problems
- Panic Attacks
- Fearing what people are thinking
- Sensation of being overwhelmed
- Suffering from numerous types of fear
- Too much self-awareness
- Heart palpitations
- Dry mouth
- Muscle tension
- Noises in your head
- Teeth grinding
- And of course, thinking too much
But if you do suffer from this problem, there are some natural remedies, including mindfulness. Let’s get started!
The Best Meditations For Anxiety Relief
There are some brilliant meditation techniques for anxiety. In fact, most of the traditional types of meditation offer natural relief [READ: Top 31 Meditation Techniques]
However, even though most meditations help anxiety, exercises vary in efficacy.
Many people ask me: What is the best meditation for anxiety? And over the past 10 years I have learned that the following 11 exercises helps anxiety more than any other.
1. Breathing meditation techniques for anxiety
Probably the best type of meditation for anxiety is breathing meditation.
Breathing meditation techniques are simple and very effective. They calm the mind and produce inner peace. They’re basically like a breath of fresh air when you’re feeling stressed.
The next time you feel stressed, take ten minutes just to focus on your breathing. This will relax your mind and help to quickly reduce the symptoms of anxiety.
Here is what No Panic says about using breathing meditation for anxiety relief:
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 off gradually and check with your doctor if you are not used to exercise.
1: Measured Breathing
This is one of my best meditations for anxiety and stress [READ: Best Meditations For Stress]
- Stand or sit comfortably with good posture.
- Relax your knees and hands and drop your shoulders. Let your jaw relax.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose while counting to four.
- Let the air fill your stomach, breathing deep.
- At the end of the inhalation hold the breath for a short moment.
- Staying relaxed, gradually allow the air to release through your nose
2: Humming breath
This exercise is similar to mindfulness meditation technique.
To do this exercise, you must focus your mind one hundred percent on your breathing. While doing this you will hum. And that’s all there is to it. It is a very simple trick, but it does offer natural relief and fast.
- Stand or sit with good posture, relaxed jaw, relaxed shoulder, relaxed knees.
- Place your thumbs lightly over your ears and your fingers over your eyes.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose.
- Exhale while humming quietly.
- Focus on the sound of the humming. Allow the humming to be the only thing in your mind (meditate on it).
- Breathe out slowly and repeat ten times.
#3: Diaphragm Breathing
This is the most commonly used breathing meditation for anxiety and arguably the most effective (though I recommend trying all three).
- Stand or sit with good posture.
- Relax shoulders, knees, neck, etc.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose.
- Allow the air to fill your stomach. You will feel your chest rising a little.
- You may find it helpful to place a hand over your stomach and visualize the air filling deep down into your stomach.
- Exhale through your mouth, your lips pursed and your tongue and jaw relaxed.
- Repeat ten times.
#4: Alternative Nostril Breathing
Alternative nostril breathing is another breathing meditation for anxiety. What makes this exercise different to the rest is the cycle of breathing in through one nostril and out through the next. This creates rhythmic breathing that is very relaxing. Here’s how to do it.
To do this exercise:
1. Close one nostril with a hand and breathe in through the other nostril.
2. Change your fingers so the first nostril is now closed and the other nostril open.
3. Breathe out through the second nostril (the nostril that was closed when you breathed in).
4, Breathe in again through this same nostril then repeat the process.
2: Best Buddhist Meditation For Anxiety (Smiling Buddha Method)
There are many Buddhist meditation exercises for anxiety [READ: Buddhist Meditations For Beginners]
One of the best methods is the Smiling Buddha technique.
“Smiling Buddha” is a Buddhist exercise that that is all about creating happiness. It’s an intermediate-level technique. It is best for people who have at least a little experience with meditation. It is fun, positive, and easy once you know how to do it.
This activity involves a combination of mudras (hand position) and mantras (repeated words) to create deep relaxation and happiness.
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.
So how do you use this meditation for anxiety? Take a look at my article on Smiling Buddha Technique.
3: Zen Walking
This is the best meditation for anxiety for kinesthetic people.
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. And studies show that walking helps alleviate the symptoms of anxiety [source].
The only thing better than a walk is a Zen walking. This is one of the best meditation techniques for anxiety if you prefer to be a little active, and especially if you happen to have a relaxing natural environment to spend time in, such as a beautiful park.
In Zen Walking 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.
Read: Zen Walking Meditation.
Do you ever wish you could think more positively. [READ: Guide To Positive Thinking Techniques]
When you think sad thoughts you become sad. When you think thoughts that make you anxious, you become anxious.
One of the best ways to take control of your symptoms is by controlling what’s in your mind. And one of the best ways to do that is be using visualisation for anxiety.
Visualisation meditation is one of the more advanced techniques for anxiety because you have to use your imagination.
Essentially, visualisation can be defined like this: imagining specific things to produce specific results.
Try this visualization meditation for anxiety:
- Sit somewhere quiet and relaxing
- Take ten deep breaths.
- Imagine standing at a beach.
- See the blue water reaching out in front of you.
- Hear the gentle swoosh of the waves.
- Feel the refreshing air on your skin and face.
- Feel the warm sand on your feet
- Smell the fresh air.
- Imagine casting out any negative thoughts. The thoughts low out of your mind into the blue sea.
- Watch as the thoughts vanish into the distance.
5. Body Scan
Another of the best meditations for anxiety is body scan. This exercise reduces the physical symptoms of the condition. It does this by passing consciousness around the body.
As someone with anxiety, when you feel your symptoms coming on you might panic. Controlling that initial panic is half the battle. With body scan meditation you learn to recognise the very early stages of an upcoming panic attack. You can then take steps to cut-off the those symptoms before they get any worse.
Take a look at my free guide to body scan meditation for more on this.
6. Mindfulness Techniques For Anxiety
Scientific research has proven that arguably the best meditation technique for anxiety is mindfulness.
Mindfulness involves focusing the mind 100% on the present moment.
There are various ways to do this.
- You can mindfully observe your breath (see #1 above)
- You can mindfully listen to music
- You can mindfully observe your thoughts
You will be so much happier once you use mindfulness for anxiety. It really helps treat the problem and is very effective at reducing the symptoms of panic attacks, as well as other issues.
Like Lao Tzu says:
” If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in
Living in the present moment is called being mindful.
Scientific research has proven that:
- You can use mindfulness for social anxiety disorder
- Mindfulness helps prevent relapse in those suffering from major depressive disorder
7. Learn To Use Mindfulness For Anxiety With This Book
GET IT ON AMAZON.
In The Mindful Way Through Anxiety, psychologists Susan M. Orsillo and Lizabeth Roemer introduce mindfulness and reveal how you can use mindfulness to stop anxious feelings before they escalate, and to stop fear and worry.
This is a beautifully presented book full of great tips and insight. THE DAILY MEDITATION highly recommends it.
8. For An Alternative Mindful Exercise For Anxiety, Try Pratyhara Yoga
Like many mental health conditions, feeling anxiety is often the result of negative information you take into your mind. Yoga can help. Especially Pratyhara Yoga. This techniques helps remove the causes of stress. In this exercise, you basically limit your exposure to things that make you feel anxious.
For instance, anxiety can be caused by:
- Watching negative news stories
- Playing violent games
- Watching violent movies
- Spending too much time with negative people
Pratyahara yoga targets these sources of negativity.
When we do Pratyahara yoga, we remove sources of negativity from our lives, and we increases sources of positivity.
Read my guide to Pratyahara Yoga for more on this.
9. Mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy
An alternative type of meditation for anxiety is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MBCBT)
MBCBT is an extension of cognitive behavioral therapy. It is a method of using specific strategies of thinking in order to change negative thoughts. Take a look at the link above for more on this.
Self hypnosis is a very practical and healthy way to cure the problem.
Self hypnosis is all about using the power of suggestion in order to influence your subconscious mind.
Your subconscious mind is the most powerful part of your mind and is millions of times more powerful than your conscious mind.
Self hypnosis is used a lot in modern hypnotherapy. And it has been used to cure anxious feleings, as well as to improve pain management, to cure depression, to relieve sleep disorders, and to combat obesity and other common health conditions.
People who are well practiced in self hypnosis also use it to improve concentration, memory, and cognitive function.
But before you use self hypnosis for anxiety, there are three things you need:
1. Motivation: The first time you use self hypnosis it will require patience. Make sure you have the motivation to do it properly.
2. Relaxation: You want to make sure that you are relaxed before you start. So you can either choose a time when you’re already relaxed (use the exercises we looked at above).
3. Concentration: You will need to focus when you use this method.
How To Do It
*** try this exercise now to get to grips with it, then again later when you have more time. ***
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable position with good posture and a straight back. Close your eyes and focus on your breath for five minutes (meditating). Then begin to meditate on your body and focus on the sensation of your body relaxing. Continue until you feel relaxed.
- Imagine the most relaxing scene you can think of. Maybe it’s a beach or a waterfall, maybe it’s floating above the clouds. . . it doesn’t matter where so long as it is very relaxing (use the visualization from step #4 above if you like).
- Imagine that you are stepping into your imaginary scene. Gradually enter further into the scene. Use your senses. Look at details of the scene. Imagine any scents. Imagine the feeling of the relaxing air on your body and so on.
- Count from one to ten, imagining that with each count you step more into the scene. You are heading towards the most relaxing part of the scene, a special place full of calm and relaxation. As you count, tell yourself that you are feeling more and more relaxed.
- Now establish a “Trigger”. In order for you to be able to recall the sensation of peace and relaxation you need to create a trigger. To do this, say a line to yourself that expresses how you are feeling. For instance, “I am at total peace. I am safe, happy and comfortable.” Use your own words but find a short line that describes how you feel. Say that line to yourself.
- As soon as you finish the line, pinch yourself on either hand on the flabby piece of skin just up from the thumb. re
- Repeat your line to yourself.
- Now exit the scene.
Why mindfulness soothes the anxious mind
Meditation is the most intelligent way of handling anxiety.
Think about it.
The condition is a stress response to difficult situations that we encounter in life. This is why your first strategy should be to stop stress in your life.
And we all know that meditating stops stress.
Sometimes anxiety becomes prolonged, in which case it becomes a serious anxiety disorder. (1)
Whether you have stress, momentary anxiety, or a serious anxiety disorder, meditation helps. It helps because it cuts out the causes of anxiety.
Just consider how many causes of anxiety there are:
- Some people get anxiety from phone calls (phone phobia)
- You might have social anxiety disorder
- Pressure at work
- Worry about school exams or university
- Feeling anxious about an upcoming business meeting
- Being anxious about health concerns (even if there are no actual health concerns, such as in hypochondria)
- And some people report getting it for no reason at all.
No matter the cause, meditating can help.
One of the main reason it helps is because it stops what psychologists call “Negativity Bias”.
The underlying reason for anxiety is improperly managing negative thoughts.
Truth is, people are natural born worriers.
Statistics prove it. For instance, did you know that 25% of people will live with anxiety at some point in their life? And, let’s face, it, 100% of people will experience worrying.
It’s actually quite shocking just how common anxiety is. Take a look:
- 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
- It is easily treated. But 2/3 adults do not receive any treatment
- It is usually caused by a chemical imbalance
- Women are more affected by it than men
- Anxiety disorders are often caused by extended environmental stress
So what’s the deal?
Why do so many people have anxiety?
Scientific studies have shown that the human brain has evolved to have “negativity bias.” (2)
In other words, people 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. We can change this, however, by using the meditations for anxiety that we have looked at above.
But here is something to think about: There is a reason for anxiety and a reason for negativity bias.
Negativity bias served an important role in evolution.
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.
Think about it:
Caveman one thinks, “there’s a T-Rex around the corner”. He feels anxious. But he checks for the T-Rex. So he survives.
Caveman two thinks, “this area is safe”. He feels confident. No anxiety at all. He doesn’t bother to check for a T-Rex. Chomp! He gets munched.
Millions of years ago people with anxiety might have survived for longer.
Flash forward millions of years.
Now we’re at the top of the food chain. But we still have negativity bias.
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.
So the next time you think you’re weird for having anxiety, remember that actually back in the cavemen days it would have been a strength.
Scientific research has proven that one of the best treatments for anxiety is meditation. When you use meditation for anxiety you train your mind to be quiet and peaceful.
Here, let me share the scientific studies with you:
The University of Massachusetts Medical School studied the effects of mindfulness meditation for anxiety. The study showed that mindfulness teaches us to recognise when we are experiencing troubling thoughts, and to then take steps to handle those thoughts in a healthy way. (3)
Another scientific study looked at evidence from 39 difference studies to see the effect of mindfulness for anxiety ( 4). This included people who had anxiety because they were living with cancer, people who suffered social anxiety, and people who had other forms of the condition. The study looked at 1140 participants in total. Researchers concluded that mindfulness meditation helps anxiety by making people more aware of their thoughts. This helps us to control those thoughts.
A study at Stanford University showed the benefits of 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation for anxiety. 8 weeks mindfulness reduces activity in the amygdala (5). Anxiety is often caused by greater reactivity in the amygdala region of the brain, which is the region that triggers fear. By reducing activity in this area, mindfulness reduced the symptoms of the condition.
Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center conducted research on 89 patients suffering from Generalized Anxiety. They found that we can use Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction for anxiety. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction decreases stress-related hormones and cell-signaling proteins. This, the study authors state, shows that meditation is a healthy and effective way of treating anxiety (6).
Researchers at the University of Baltimore looked into nearly 19,000 studies on meditation and anxiety. They then advocated the use of mindfulness meditation for anxiety.
“People who suffer from the condition 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.
Anxious people tend to give negative thoughts too much attention. They believe their thoughts control reality. For instance, they believe 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.
Mistakes To Avoid When Using Meditation For Anxiety
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 start practicing these activities. They make instant demands.
The key to using meditation for anxiety is to go gently. Don’t expect a miracle. Expect to gradually reduce the symptoms of your condition.
When you practice meditating you might be surprised by the results. Your practice might be different to how you expected. That is fine.
The key to success is trusting the techniques.
You have to allow the exercises to take you where they will. When you fight, you just add to your anxiousness.
When you simply sit and meditate without fighting, you allow nature to take its own course, to correct problems in its own way.
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.
There are lots of natural and healthy ways of stopping anxiety.
Scientific research proves that we can most definitely use meditation for anxiety. And you now know all the best meditations for anxiety.
Self hypnosis, natural herbs, and other strategies can help too.
The condition, despite common, is a personal thing. Different strategies seem to work for different people.
And in case you’re interested, here is how to help someone else with the problem.
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