Can Meditation Lower Anxiety

Submitted on October 8, 2013
Spend just a few minutes on simple meditation techniques to drastically lower your anxiety levels.
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Anxiety can change the very fabric of a person’s life. People who suffer from anxiety disorders such as phobias, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorders or generalized anxiety disorder, complain of difficulties in social and familial relationships, lost opportunities in the work place and poor educational performances. While recovery from any type of anxiety disorder is possible, it usually requires a combination of treatments and a concerted effort on the patient’s part before any results are visible.

Some of the popular treatment options for anxiety include cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, and counseling, changes in diet and exercise, confidence building exercises, meditation and relaxation techniques. While severe cases of anxiety need to be more aggressively treated, some symptoms of anxiety disorders can be managed with a complementary regime of breathing exercises and meditation. Over the recent years, twenty-five different studies reported superior results for patients using meditation as an alternative or complementary therapy when treating their anxiety disorders. However, keep in mind that these improvements were seen in terms of reduction of anxiety symptoms only and not as clinical diagnoses of the anxiety disorder.

There is no doubt that meditation can reduce stress and improve inner peace. Even a few minutes of meditation a day can help calm your mind and enhance your physical well-being. In addition to this, meditation can also help improve focus and attention, build stress management skills, increase self-awareness and reduce negativity. There are a number of different types of meditative techniques that can be used to treat anxiety. These can include guided meditation or visualization, the changing of mantras as meditation, and mindfulness meditation. Other meditative practices such as Qi gong and Tai Chi are derived from ancient Chinese medicine and are used to improve breathing and mental balance. Yoga is also considered a type of meditative practice that helps promote both a flexible body and a peaceful mind. Another popular form of meditation is Transcendental meditation or TM. This form of meditation has been proven to relax brain wave patterns and result in a state of ‘restful alertness.’ Research shows that TM can be used as a powerful tool to reduce anxiety and is in many cases almost twice as effective in treating anxiety as some other treatments such as Biofeedback and certain medications.

Up until now it was known that meditation could help reduce anxiety but exactly how it does this was never fully understood. A recent study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience recruited fifteen volunteers who had no previous experience with meditation or anxiety. These fifteen healthy participants were introduced to a type of meditation known as mindfulness meditation, which included breathing exercises and non-judgmental evaluation of emotions. Brain activity of each participant was recorded before and after each meditation session using special types of imaging techniques. The results of the study clearly depicted certain areas of the brain that were activated / deactivated as a result of meditation. Reports from the participants also indicated a marked reduction in anxiety levels and symptoms. Even a few minutes of meditative practice were seen to have positive results.

If you suffer from anxiety, you can include mediation in your daily routine by:

  • Breathing Deeply: Focus on your inhalation and exhalation and calm your body and mind slowly.
  • Scanning: Scan your body for any aches, pains or unusual symptoms. This increases self-awareness and helps reduce tension and stress
  • Chanting of Mantras: Repeat the mantra of your choice to invoke a sense of calm.
  • Walking: Meditation does not have to be practiced in complete stillness. You can meditate while you walk, hike, or even run. Concentrate on your actions and clear your mind of the clutter.
While meditation should not be used as a replacement for traditional medical therapies, when used in conjunction and under supervision, a regular meditative routine can work wonders.