“The more you meditate and train your brain in moments of low stress, the better it will respond in moments of high stress.”

-Rose Caiola

Get to the heart of anxious feelings and make deeper changes    

In the 21st century, meditation is making a resurgence as a practical tool for coping with life and nurturing personal growth. In fact, it has become very common to use meditation techniques for stress and anxiety relief – even for banishing panic attacks.

The benefits of meditation for anxiety and stress include reducing physical discomfort, putting things into perspective to make better decisions and coping with difficult situations.

Every individual has different reasons for meditating – from reducing stress, anxiety or physical pain to improving relationships and determining your life’s direction. No matter what the stress or anxiety, meditation can provide immediate relief. Later, meditation can be used to get to the heart of anxious feelings and make deeper changes.

1. Meditation to calm chaos

Chaos demands our attention. It’s like a bratty child, jealous of our peace. Chaos will do everything in its power to suck you in and keep your stress level high. With meditation, you can use the quietness of your mind to surround and subdue chaos. Let the chaos go easily somewhere else, while you apply your energy to reaching out into the universe for answers.

Meditation advice to calm chaos

  • Chaos often causes physical stress, a common side effect of anxiety. As you meditate, breathe in to invite space into your entire body, then breathe out to release tension.
  • Meditation techniques can be used to adopt an attitude of acceptance. No matter what happens, you can give yourself permission to be peaceful.
  • Use meditation to visualize yourself floating above the conflict, where you have a much wider perspective.

2. Meditate to manage anger

Anger is a difficult form of anxiety. We often become consumed with the accompanying stress and anguish. Because meditation stems from quietness, it allows you to take yourself away from anger’s usual stressful breeding ground, where you can examine the emotion honestly and safely, apart from your day-to-day world. When you meditate for anxiety relief, your awareness is stronger than your anger.

Meditation advice to manage anger

  • During meditation, first try not to think too logically about the reasons you feel angry. You can figure that out later. For now, just breathe and observe your anger.
  • Meditation relieves the anxiety of anger and puts it in perspective, but meditation won’t take away the causes of anger. Once meditation ends, you may need to take action to resolve the issues.
  • Think of meditation as a safe place to be angry, where you can step away from the emotion and observe it to see what you can learn.

3. Meditate to see your path

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, using meditation for anxiety and stress often hinges on finding quietness. If your anxiety is caused by not knowing which direction you should go, quietness can help you accept the answers, rather than forcing them to come. This also requires that you allow yourself to accept the path that appears to you naturally, rather than forcing your way onto a path out of fear and panic.

Meditation advice for seeing your path

  • As you meditate, visualize a path through a forest, down a mountain, along the beach, into a city – wherever you are comfortable – and allow your mind to lead you to the answers.
  • Quietness is hard to achieve for many people. Don’t give up – you will do better with practice.
  • Simply practice letting go of thoughts as they come to you. Then return to the focus of your meditation, whether it’s your breath, a flame or a mantra.

4. Meditate to improve health

We’re learning more every day about the connection between the mind and body. Meditation harnesses the power of the mind to make healthy changes in the body. One of the first benefits of meditation is relaxation and comfort. This can be measured by traditional medical means, including blood pressure, heart rate and a decrease in anxiety-related symptoms, such as headaches and muscle tension.

Meditation advice for improving health

  • Focus on specific physical ailments to realize the greatest effect of meditation for health.
  • Visualize the parts of your body involved in your physical stress; imagine muscles relaxing, joints loosening and organs working better.
  • Breathe healing energy into those areas of pain and discomfort.

5. Meditate to cultivate mindfulness

Mindfulness means becoming aware of everything around you – the sights, sounds, smells and feel of where you are and people you’re with. Make no judgments. Simply allow yourself to see, hear, smell and feel. Mindfulness meditation provides perspective and breaks the cycle of worry and anxiety that happens when your focus is clamped down on narrow thoughts with no connection to the rest of the world.

Meditation advice for cultivating mindfulness

  • Mindfulness is one of the best ways to use meditation for stress and anxiety relief. Think of it as giving yourself permission to slow down, connect and take a break from worry.
  • If you find it difficult to sustain attention as you meditate, try visualizing yourself from above. Watch yourself meditate and notice everything around you in the room.
  • Mindfulness inevitably expands your awareness of other people and enhances your relationships, which tends to relieve anxiety and stress.

There is no right or wrong way to practice anxiety meditation. To get the most from these meditation-for-anxiety tips, first select one of your favorite meditation techniques. Then, read through the list of tips. Note which tips speak to you – the ones that seem to connect with the anxiety and stress you are feeling.

Read the summary and meditation advice. Next, choose one tip to focus on. Take a few moments to internalize the information, then follow the advice as you begin your session. You will feel immediate relief from anxiety, even if you simply feel better because you are taking action.

You will no doubt have further work to do to achieve full anxiety relief, but meditation for anxiety can provide a great beginning!

This article originally appeared on RamDass.com and is republished here with permission.

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