Meditation is many things…in my experience, I have found it to be:
…you know what meditation also is? Hard. If you’ve ever tried meditating, I’ve no doubt you will agree. Nonetheless, it can be a very beneficial practice to include into your daily routine. Meditation is known to help with a plethora of conditions ranging from mental disorders like depression and anxiety, to everyday issues such as increasing motivation and mood improvement. I cannot say enough good things about it! On this post however, I want to focus on meditation as a tool to manage anxiety symptoms.
It is a known fact that meditation can help with anxiety. Google search “ways to deal with anxiety” and you can bet that meditation will show up somewhere. Have you ever actually tried doing this though? It’s not pretty.
Whenever I feel very anxious about something, the last thing I want to do is sit still and meditate. You might as well tell me to juggle three fire swords and balance a fruit bowl on my head while simultaneously reciting the German anthem! Hint: I have a big round head and I don’t know German.
Telling someone who is going through anxiety, whether it is mild or severe, to meditate, can be counterproductive and can actually cause more anxiety as the individual repeatedly attempts and fails to “clear their mind”. Thank u, next. My thoughts?
Meditation to manage anxiety should be used preventatively rather than remedially.
What do I mean by this? Meditation can be MAGIC by being practiced consistently and perseverantly, especially during those times when you DO NOT feel anxious. For me, that’s first thing in the morning. It might be in the evenings, right before bed, or at random times for you. The key is to nip anxiety in the bud before it happens, rather than when it has already taken over.
This has worked for myself in my own practice, and I have had pretty crazy experiences during my sessions. If you are just starting out or are interested in meditation to manage your anxiety, here are a few tips I’ve picked up that may help:
If you are a very anxious person or are going through a rough time where anxiety levels might be running high, meditation can be hard even if you do not feel anxious right at that very moment. Anxiety and the situations that may be causing it are lurking around in the subconscious mind and will probably come up as soon as you close your eyes.
When I first got serious about meditating, every time I would sit down for a session I experienced head flushes, dizziness, an increase in my heart rate, and fear, seemingly out of nowhere. It was very uncomfortable and kinda scary, and at first, I’d stop meditating at the first sign of discomfort.
Keep with it! I managed it at first by meditating in short, 5-minute sessions. At first, I couldn’t even keep my eyes closed, so I just left them open. I also couldn’t sit up without getting dizzy, so I meditated while laying down. Sometimes, I would hold on to my knees to feel “safer”. The more I meditated, the “better” I got at managing those symptoms. Meditation is a muscle, and the more you work it, the stronger it gets.
Feeling physical symptoms during meditation is just the body “releasing” all the pent up energy that you’ve been resisting. The third time I meditated, I let myself feel out the symptoms and tried to observe them, rather than letting myself be scared by them and consequently stopping my session. Eventually, the fear disappeared, the dizziness and head flushes stopped, and I could sit up and close my eyes for longer.
I mentioned on my last post that I like to incorporate movement into my meditations through walking or yoga because doing so helps me clear my mind and release anxious energy more effectively. To be honest, yoga as a “meditation facilitator” works for me because I have no time to ponder about things when I’m attempting to hold a Warrior III without falling flat on my face. So if sit-down meditations are just not working for you, I recommend starting out by walking or including some type of movement into your sessions and feel your way through them!
I have recently had really beautiful and transcendental experiences while meditating, where I have seen a white light and have even heard people laughing (not in a creepy-killer-children type of way though eff that). Crazy? I might be! All I know is I felt incredibly joyful after that particular session. Meditation works in mysterious ways and can be a beautiful and wholesome journey if you let it — I urge you to let your mind open up, wander, and see all the beautiful things you can experience.
As they say, you should aim to meditate for twenty minutes each day. If you’re too busy for that, aim for an hour.