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The benefits of meditation for anxiety

The benefits of meditation for anxiety

The benefits of meditation are vast and far-reaching, not only for yourself individually but for humanity as a whole. In particular, for those who suffer with anxiety, meditation can bring quick and long-lasting relief, providing a sense of oneness, connection and relaxation that truly cannot be gained from other sources.

What causes anxiety?
Anxiety is a fear response that can become triggered when certain circumstances or events take place in your life. It is normal to feel a certain level of fear in life with a vast number of things, but when anxiety becomes something that dictates how you’re living and feeling, this is when it can become an issue. The most common indicator of somebody who suffers with anxiety is in their responses to things, which will often be disproportionate to the circumstance or situation. The fear response from something that many may see as insignificant will be much higher than would be deemed ‘appropriate’ to what was happening.

The reason for this is because of trauma from the past that is either lying dormant in the subconscious mind, or is actively being replayed. This fear reaction that comes from stored memories and energy causes the fear response of heart palpitations, increased blood pressure and stress.

How can meditation help with anxiety?
There are many different forms of meditation that don’t always have to look like sitting cross-legged on the floor in silence. Meditation can be walking, listening to music, completing a puzzle, watching my videos here, painting and so much more. In essence, meditation is anything that can help to focus and quiet your mind, helping to slow down your brain waves and bring you into a state of deep relaxation.

Meditation For Anxiety

In terms of anxiety, when a person is feeling in a particularly anxious state the ‘fight-or-flight’ mode is activated which means the nervous system is on high alert, leading to an inability to think clearly, as well as producing higher levels of stress on the body. Extended periods of time in this state can lead to both physical and mental illness, so it is really important that this affliction is addressed, whether this is through pharmacological methods, mental wellness conversations - i.e. speaking with a therapist or psychologist to help get to the root cause of the anxiety - or through taking intentional steps to become more mindful, relaxed and in control of the racing thoughts that can occur when in a place of high anxiety.

Meditation is one of the most powerful tools to help deal with anxiety as it helps to bring the mind and the body into a state of relaxation helping to calm the nervous system, reduce stress and the connected stress hormone of cortisol, and also helps to strengthen the connection between self and other.

This connection between self and other is a really important one, as with many anxious thoughts these can come from a sense of isolation or loneliness. Meditation helps to remind us that we are all connected energetically. We are all part of one consciousness that is here to support, encourage and engage together and only when we can access a meditative state can we access this inner connection and guidance. This is one of the huge benefits and something I personally love about the community at RainRider Ambience - the videos I create help people to feel more connected, as though we’re all sitting together by a warm, cozy fireplace, chatting and drinking a hot chocolate, whilst getting involved in the comments and community aspect.

As well as this though, and on a much more physical level, meditation helps because it helps us to sort through the thoughts that are racing in our minds. When you are meditating, whilst the ‘aim’ (although there is no real aim when it comes to this) is to quiet the mind so much that thoughts simply come and go, floating through the mind with no attachment and no emotion, it’s also a lesson in letting go. When you first start to meditate, it’s likely that this won’t be the case, and you will probably find yourself thinking more because in today’s world we’re so used to being distracted by phones, social media and laptops that it can be somewhat unnerving to be alone with our minds. However, even if it’s your first try, take the time as each thought comes in your mind to, as best you can, acknowledge it, and then imagine it being let go like a feather floating through the sky- up, up and away - into nothingness.

As you do this, and keep doing it, you will notice that you eventually begin to do it without thought, and may even start doing this when you aren't meditating. In doing so, you are helping to reduce the amount of ‘noise’ that’s going on in your mind, leaving space simply for peace and clarity, where once there was a jumble.

There is proof that meditation can actually help to rewire the brain the more you do it, because each time you are intentionally redirecting your thoughts away from panic and fear, to release and accept, you are rewiring the neurons in your brain to form new pathways. These pathways are what will help you to work through your anxiety (of course, along with other methods as advised by medical professionals), leading to an overall improved mindset. While the brain isn’t a muscle, the neurons and pathways that are formed within the brain can be trained and strengthened by repeated thought and feelings, and so to keep coming back to the feeling of relaxation and stillness that meditation incites, will help to create this feeling in other areas of your life.

The important thing with meditating in general, but in particular if you are feeling anxious, is to not overanalyze what’s happening. It can be very tempting to try to evaluate how ‘well’ you did in your meditation or compare it to previous experiences. With meditation, each experience is unique, one day you might find it really easy to sit quietly, the next you might get one minute in and be unable to stop fidgeting. The beauty of meditation is the quiet and observant nature of it - simply observe your thoughts, simply observe what happened in your meditation without analyzing it. Once you can do this within your meditation, once again, you will find that this spills over into other areas of your life, and you may find that those once-anxious ways of over-analyzing and fretting over small details starts to disappear, so you can start living in a more carefree way.

Check out Meditation & Yoga Category here.

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