Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength. ~ Charles Spurgeon
It’s a sunny Monday. Warms rays burst in through your office window, the plant on the corner of your desk perks up and reaches for the light yet you feel like shrinking into a dark abyss. With sweaty palms and a racing heart your cursor stops mid sentence as you try to regain your breath. Dizziness and weakness take over.
Not working? Breathe some more.
Still not working? Hide
Anxiously looking around, can anyone else see what’s going on inside you? Something bad is happening, you just know it. Clutching your chest panic sets in, is this a heart attack?
You blindly stumble to the washroom and hide out in the stall. Taking deep breaths you curse your parents for everything they ever did wrong to make you so crazy. Why can’t you just be normal like everyone else?
This is the ugly face of anxiety, an unpleasant, state of inner turmoil and apprehension.
Maybe your disorder is not as severe as Raymond Babbitt from “Rain Main”, but for those dealing with anxiety it can feel pretty serious. Effects range from mild disruption of everyday life to detrimental effects on your work, family and social life.
Whether you suffer from generalized or social anxiety, panic, OCD, phobia’s or post traumatic stress disorders, these are all different forms of the ‘loosely’ used term anxiety.
Maybe you’ve heard this before but fluffed it off and opted for the drugs, meditation is a free, natural remedy that can help you. With a family history of general anxiety disorder trailing me, I’m no stranger to its devastating effects. Struggling to overcome my own personal urges to let my mind take over, one thing I can tell you is that whoever ‘they’ are that says meditation can help, well they are right.
How Meditation Can HELP You:
1. Meditation is about relaxing and calming the mind, if we experience a peaceful mind, we will be free from worry and hopelessness.
In our hectic lives most of us are overworked and stressed out. We have bills, kids, work, tests, health; whatever your life looks like, you have stressors. Stress begins in the mind and therefore the first key to overcoming anxiety is being able to relax not only our bodies but our minds as well.
Even if your life is perfect if your mind is not peaceful you will find it very difficult to cultivate happiness.
You don’t need to rush out, purchase the robes and become a member at your nearest temple, but taking even 2 minutes a day to sit peacefully will begin to train you to focus. You will notice where your carry stress in your body and can send the breath there. You will also notice your current state of mind. Are you compiling to do lists? Worrying about your health? Obsessing over an ex boyfriend?
The first step is noticing what’s going on in there; when you pay attention to your thoughts you can begin to rewire them into positive ones.
2. Meditation will recondition your mind
Meditation creates the space to re-evaluate and generate new pathways. Anxiety is a learnt response, a flight or fight reaction to a thought. Control your thoughts.
The mind operates in a stubborn and destructive manner, much like Stewie from the family guy, it will not like you getting in the way of its antics. It may fight back and become very agitated throwing all sorts of hurdles your way.
Reconditioning your mind will take work and focus, but slowly you will begin to realize that your fears and hopelessness are a product of your imagination. Instead of holding on tightly to the balloons fighting against us in the wind, just let them go.
Ask yourself this question: Can I fix the problem? If there is a solution, well then with fix it. If you can not then what is the point of endless worry and suffering. Accept it. Stressors are outer problems, don’t make them inner problems.
3. There are proven medical studies, it’s not just hippy talk, its official!
- Meditation lowers blood pressure, normalizes your heart rate and regulates breathing
- Mediation can reverse the stress response of the body, the adrenal glands produce less cortisol, reducing aging and boosting immunity
- Meditation increases serotonin which influences mood
- Meditation helps fight addictions a huge contributing factor to anxiety disorders
Practice regularly, find a style that suits your life and interests. Attend a class, make it fun and don’t expect results overnight.
Types of meditation:
There are many styles you can practice, a few of the most common types:
- Guided meditation – Use of mental images of places or situations you find relaxing.
- Mindfulness meditation – An increased awareness of living in the present. Focus on breath and observe thoughts and emotions without judgement.
- Mantra meditation – Silently repeat a word, phrase or thought to prevent distracting thoughts. The goal is to achieve a perfect stillness.
- Yoga – Performing a series of postures with controlled breath. Promoting a more flexible body and a calm mind.
If you are unable to attend a class you can do it yourself right now; watch this video, find a quiet spot, sit comfortably and focus on your breath. Start with just 2 minutes per day and within a month you will have a habit.
Meditation is an important habit to adopt if you want to change other habits, it has a natural ability to seep in and influence other area’s of your life. Its first on the list because even without your knowing it, it will help you achieve the other two remedies.
That’s it! One simple natural technique that will change your life. Why not start today, six months from now you’ll wish you had.
Background: “How to Fight Back Against Anxiety” could have been written in a single post, but because the issue of mental health is effecting over 40 million adults in the US alone I thought it would be helpful to explore each remedy on a deeper level. This is the first article in this three part series on anxiety.
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” ~ Amit Ray