Meditation Breaks Anxious Thought Patterns
A primary way that meditation helps anxiety is by breaking negative thought patterns.
As anyone with anxiety will attest, racing thoughts create a vicious cycle of worry and anxiety.
Breaking the vicious cycle of obsessive, negative thinking is where meditation really shines.
Meditation can reduce rumination, even in those with lifelong mood disorders.
Meditation can alter the way the brain responds to stress.
Any habit is hard to break because of the strong neural pathway thats created through constant repetition.
And few habits are harder to break than negative patterns of self-talk.
Fortunately, the brain has an endless capacity to change, a characteristic known as neuroplasticity.
Meditation trains you to view your thoughts differently.
You learn to recognize and stop mental time travel worrying about the future and pondering on the past.
Instead of following a worrying thought down the path of all possible negative outcomes, you learn to recognize that thought for what it is one thought and then let it go.
Thus, by creating a new thought pattern, you are training your brain to be less anxious.
Why Mindfulness Meditation Excels At Anxiety Relief
Mindfulness meditation is one of many styles of meditation.
Research finds that it is especially helpful for anxiety and depression, even more so than other forms of meditation.
Its widely considered the best beginners meditation since its easy to do, effective, and requires no special training to get started.
Its the meditation of choice among people who regularly face unusual levels of stress.
The US Marines use mindfulness to reduce overall on-the-job stress, minimize the effects of post-traumatic stress, and improve performance.
Award-winning ABC news anchor Dan Harris is now an outspoken proponent of the benefits of mindfulness meditation after experiencing a frightening on-the-air anxiety attack.
His meditation practice was instrumental in overcoming anxiety and panic attacks.
If you are skeptical, so was Harris.
He admitted in an interview with Charlie Rose that he was initially turned off by self-help gurus making pseudoscientific claims.
Getting Started With Meditation Basics
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Practicing Different Styles Of Meditation
Getting Started: A Breathing Mindfulness Meditation
Meditation doesnt have to take a lot of time.
As little as 10 minutes per day is a reasonable goal.
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Start with a basic breathing mindfulness meditation.
Practiced regularly, it will train your brain to stop jumping around and stay focused on the present.
Basic Breathing Mindfulness Meditation
Sit quietly with your eyes closed.
Breathe normally and simply notice your breath.
Saying to yourself breathing in, breathing out can help keep other thoughts at bay.
When you notice a random thought, simply label it as a thought and gently bring your attention back to your breath.
Most people new to meditation erroneously believe that if theyve had thoughts while meditating they have failed.
But the goal of meditation is not to have no thoughts.
Instead, the objective is to simply notice thoughts when they arise and gently push them aside.
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Types Of Meditation For Stress Relief
Meditation is an umbrella term used to describe various techniques that can help you feel tranquil and calm. Regardless of your approach, virtually all methods of meditation practice share a goal of improving inner peace.
Boxed breathing techniques, inhaling to a count of 4, holding for a count of 4, and releasing to a count of 4, help refocus our attention on the present moment. Also, pairing our body tension with an inhale and our body release with an exhale challenges our brain to reroute time and attention towards the present moment.
Some of the most well-known forms of meditation used to combat stress include:
Breathing Meditation For Stress And Anxiety Technique
One of the easiest and most effective breathing meditations for stress and anxiety is called Boxed Breathing. Its based on the idea that when you inhale you are stepping on the gas pedal of your central nervous system. And when you exhale, youre stepping on the break.
The more you practice this mediation the more quickly your body will respond and relax. And the deeper you relax the longer you can extend the exhale. If it feels smooth and natural try for 15, and then 20-second exhalations.
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Guided Meditation To Stop Overthinking
Are anxious thoughts bombarding your mind? Heres a guided meditation by Art of Living founder and meditation master, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Sri Sri helps you stop overthinking and start enjoying inner peace in less than 30 minutes.
Take time for yourself, hit the play button, pause all those thoughts and experience a deep state of relaxation!
Meditate To Let Go Of Drama
“Don’t treat yourself so gingerly you can let go of stuff. Sometimes it takes three breaths instead of two to do it, but you can do it. Be a little tougher and don’t cling to stuff. People go around carrying everybody’s stuff all of the time. I just pick it up and put it down. Pick it up and put it down.”
– Ram Dass
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Beginners Tips For Meditating
If youre new to meditation, you may find the practice intimidating. Luckily, once you know the basics, you can practice meditation just about anywhere at any time.
Experts recommend the following tips to get started:
Explore different types of meditation. Its helpful for beginners to explore the different forms of meditation to find the one they like best, Winston says. Read about the various types and see where you might like to get started. Theres a whole variety to experiment with, Winston says. If one doesnt work for you or you dont respond to it, try another one.
Find a teacher. Find a certified meditation instructor by going to medical centers in your area and checking with the integrative medicine or psychology departments and asking for recommendations. If you find an instructor on your own, do your homework and make sure they are certified. The International Mindfulness Teachers Association has listings of teachers who have gone through accredited teacher training programs. If youre interested in trying a meditation group, check out the Buddhist Insight Network.
Start Small And Work Up
Begin with a short session of 5 minutes. After you are comfortable, move to 10 or 15 minutes until you are comfortable meditating for 30-minute sessions.
With practice, this type of meditation becomes easier and more effective. You will come out of a meditation session feeling relaxed and refreshed, ready to face the rest of your day.
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Meditation Advice For Letting Thoughts Go By Easily:
Imagine you are simply a passerby, noticing your anxious thoughts as a part of the landscape, then moving your attention to another object that makes you feel better.
If you are unsure which thoughts are causing anxiety, begin your meditation, then take a mental inventory of all the people, places and things in your life notice when the feeling of anxiety appears and let it go on the spot.
Some people add symbolic actions to meditation to help them identify thoughts and let them go. Try writing your fears onto pieces of paper, then burning them in the fireplace.
Are There Any Drawbacks To Meditating
While research has shown that there are certainly many health benefits of meditation, not everyone will necessarily experience those positive effects.
Indeed, some research finds that certain individuals may have negative experiences when meditating.
A meta-analysis of four decades of studies on meditation and mindfulness determined that these practices led to negative effects in about 8 percent of people. The most common adverse effects were increases in anxiety, depression, and stress.
Cohen theorizes that people with mental health disorders like depression and anxiety may be more susceptible to feelings of inadequacy if they don’t feel like theyre getting meditation right.
Because meditation reminds us that we all to varying degrees have psychological agency that we can shift our own attitudes and thought processes there can potentially be those who are suffering with psycho-emotional imbalances, such as depression or anxiety, who may experience shame or self-deprecation when results are not realized at the same pace as others, or at the pace they might expect, she says. This can cause many feelings of guilt or inadequacy.
While more research is needed in this area, experts say its important to note that meditation, just like any other practice, is not for everyone.
If youve tried meditation and have found that its not for you, there are plenty other avenues to explore that can help alleviate stress and anxiety.
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Mindfulness Meditation May Ease Anxiety Mental Stress
- By , Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
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My mom began meditating decades ago, long before the mind-calming practice had entered the wider public consciousness. She liked to quote sayings from Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen Buddhist monk known for his practice of mindful meditation, or present-focused awareness.
Although meditation still isnt exactly mainstream, many people practice it, hoping to stave off stress and stress-related health problems. Mindfulness meditation, in particular, has become more popular in recent years. The practice of mindful meditation involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and then bringing your minds attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future.
But when researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD sifted through nearly 19,000 meditation studies, they found 47 trials that addressed those issues and met their criteria for well-designed studies. Their findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that mindful meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain.
About the Author
Types Of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are characterized by a general feature of excessive fear and/or anxiety and can have negative behavioral and emotional consequences. There are several diagnosable anxiety disorders:
Generalized anxiety. Worrying about things in everyday life.
Social anxiety. Worrying about being evaluated negatively in social situations.
Fear of separation from home or a loved one.
Panic disorder. Panic attacks that strike without warning in any number of situations.
Obsessive compulsive disorder. An obsession or compulsion to repeat certain behaviors or rituals.
Through meditation â and understanding the trickster nature of anxiety and what it does to the mind â we learn to recognize the triggering thoughts. From there, we can work to find different ways around these mental patterns and avoid falling into âthe trapâ again.
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Take A Moment For A Mindful Inquiry Practice:
A 30-Minute Meditation for Investigating Panic Attacks
Tips For Getting Started And Sticking With It
If youre just starting out these tips can help you
- Meditation is equally the act of gently bringing your attention back to the object of focus, not just focusing on the object itself
- Release self-judgment. It can take time to train the body and mind to do things that they havent been doing for many years
- Theres no right way to meditate. Experiment and find the practice that is most effective and convenient for you
- Be on the lookout for self-judgment, and when you find it, say, I see youre trying to get me to do this well, I can take it from here.
- Consistency is keymake a time in your calendar at least 3 days a week to get the most out of these practices
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Stress Management: Supply & Demand Of Emotional Resources
Do we have the space in our minds to figure out which tasks are actually essential and which are not so important? This is where mindfulness meditation for stress and anxiety, the feeling that continues after the stressors are gone, can provide relief.
How does meditation relieve stress? It gives us the space to sort out which demands on our energy, attention, and emotions are valid and which are not. Just thinkif we had the ability to distinguish between the two, our experience of stress and anxiety would be much different. We feel pressure when we dont have this space in our minds and in our lives. We experience relief when meditation gives us the space and clarity we need to organize our priorities. This is the demand side element of stress management.
The other key element is the supply side: increasing our resources. Science has shown that brain plasticity the brains ability to change and adapt throughout life is extraordinary. By using meditation techniques to train our minds, we increase our mental resources and become more capable.
As a society, we have become very conscious about how important it is to have a fit, healthy bodythe gyms are full. It is just as critical to have a fit, healthy mind. Through mindfulness meditation practice, our minds can become more capable, focused and clear, enabling us to better handle stressful and demanding situations. This is how meditation for stress reduction enables us to experience a calmer life.