Meditation For Anxiety and Stress – Don’t Focus On Nothingness but Thrive On Acceptance
One of the best things I started doing a few months after the outbreak of my panic disorder, and I’m still doing today, is practicing meditation for anxiety and stress. With the help of meditation, I am able to lower the stress level within the body and to eliminate fears and anxious mood.
That meditation truly is an effective aid for panic attacks and associated ailments has been proven in several scientific studies. We can even observe this phenomenon in real-time examinations based on brain waves or brain activity in different brain areas.
The hormone balance, especially the cortisol level in the blood, is significantly lower when someone meditates regularly.
So if you are suffering from anxiety or other mental disorders, meditating may be one of the best ways to sustain your recovery.
Meditation is excellent for stress and a magic wand against too high a level of stress hormones in the body.
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Meditation releases stress hormones
In all anxious situations, but especially in case of long-term stress or extreme unnerving events, specific stress hormones accumulate in the body.
They, on the other hand, accelerate your pulse, heighten the blood pressure and increase your attention or speed up your reactions.
The two stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol contribute to most of these bodily effects. Both hormones, along with other substances that the body releases under these circumstances, have their special duty in nature when it comes to fighting off, hunting or escaping a dangerous situation.
Whenever such a scenario was over at that time, then the adrenaline and cortisol levels quickly decreased again.
However, in the case of too frequent or even permanent stress, these conditions lead to a lasting release with too high concentrations of these hormones, which leads to serious health consequences.
These become stronger, the longer the condition remains present. This results in many symptoms.
Here are a few selected examples that may arise due to too much stress and correspondingly excessive stress hormones:
1. High blood pressure
2. Pulse too fast, even when at rest
3. Can not unwind any more
5. The fear of fear
6. Panic attacks
7. Sleep disorders
8. Muscle tension (especially back, neck tensions)
9. Globus hystericus (feeling of a lump in the throat)
10. Extended fatigue
11. Strong irritability
12. Always decreasing physical resilience
13. Depressive moods to pronounced depression
Why does meditation work against these symptoms and conditions like stress, anxiety, burnout and depression?
It was about 15 to 20 years ago when the scientific opinion and the then-current state of research were still at a level that basically said the following: “The human brain is completed in its development at about 20 years and hardly changes from then on anymore. ”
This assumption was completely wrong. One discovered the so-called “neuroplasticity”, which incidentally also represents the scientifically demonstrable reason for the effectiveness of the meditation.
The technical term refers to the adaptability and, above all, the ability to change our brain chemistry, because it is not completed in its fullest version when reaching the age of 20 years. Your brain will continue to change until your death, depending on your behavior and your external influences.
The same as synapses and cells constantly rebuilt themselves, they expand and connect billions of times, also the structure, the density, even the size of individual areas in the brain and the weight of our thinking organ take various forms.
Here, a vital factor is how you live and what you experience from the outside world. Everything has an influence on this development, both positive and negative. It all boils down to what you feed your brain with.
Believes, stress factors and habits, but also relationships and social environments, etc, have an impact. Also, one can even localize the centers of anxiety, emotions, or even those of the analytical mind on MRI and with the EEG. Doctors and scientists can easily observe and document changes through meditation.
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Behaviors that positively affect your neuroplastic properties are e.g.:
– Regular meditation
– Walks in the woods, go out into nature or even “forest bathing”
– Sufficient and above all restful sleep
– Learning to dream clear
– Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga
– Maintain positive friendships and social contacts
– Practice mindfulness
– The significant stress reduction of negative stress!
– Internalize positive beliefs and deliberately and carefully discard old negative beliefs
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How does “proper” meditation work and what should you consider during meditation?
For proper meditation for anxiety and stress, burnout or depressive states, you should first ward off any fight or flight thoughts. The more you try to fight or suppress something, the more prominent the problem becomes.
Accept what is in the now, even if you do not find it comfortable. Your psyche and body send you these signals for a good reason, not to annoy you. Meditation is one of the simplest and at the same time heaviest measures against anxiety and other ailments of this kind.
Basically, meditation is quite fast to learn because of its simplistic way of doing things, or the ability to do it for everyone. There are several hundred ways to meditate. In the following article, you can find further tips to get you started with meditation techniques for beginners.
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The somewhat challenging point in meditating occurs especially at the beginning. Many people find it difficult at first to bring peace to their thoughts and to quiet the constant mind chatter.
The true purpose of meditation is not to think of nothing but, rather, to look at the thoughts, not to evaluate them and learn to let them go.
Similar to clouds: They come, you observe and acknowledge them, and you let them move on. You may think briefly or muse, “Oh, this cloud looks like a cow or a heart,” but then you let it continue its journey.
Don’t rate those thoughts positively, nor negatively, however. You should solely look at the cloud but set it free at the same time. This is the tough part of meditation, especially in the first few months of practice.
What to pay attention to in meditation – execution and environment
I would like to give you a checklist that can facilitate and improve your meditation experience. Ultimately, you can do sitting meditation anywhere, focusing on your breath.
- 1. It is very positive and beneficial if you make your home a comfortable and solid place where you perform your meditations.
- Meditate regularly; the more often, the better!
- Make yourself a comfortable seat pad, a meditation cushion is useful, but not mandatory. If you want to meditate on a beanbag and it fits you, then that’s fine too.
- Sit upright! Especially at the beginning, I found it very stressful to sit like this and decided on the combination of a good meditation cushion and a sofa with an upright backrest. So you sit super comfortable and at the same time straight.
- Find a focus or point of your attention where you can go back after your mind tried wandering off. Ideal here is your breath, keep focusing and mindful of your inhaling and exhaling, the stream of air on your nose as it flows into you. Always on and off …
- If you want to hear soft meditating natural sounds, such as birds chirping, rain falling or a stream, then you can also enjoy quiet and relaxing music. If your concentration on your breath does not work so well, then try to concentrate on the nature sounds or soft melodies.
- Be sure to try the meditation in a quiet place in nature. A forest, a wild meadow or a stream make gorgeous settings for it.
- While meditating, attempt to find a quiet environment, however, absolute silence is not necessary for meditation. Once you’ve gained more experience, you will meditate as well on a train or any other bustling public location. But especially at the beginning of the exercise meditating in silence is advantageous. In addition, silence also reduces the stress level.
- Do not force anything in meditation, thoughts keep coming back, even after years of meditation, that’s normal. Meditation is not a challenge or a compulsive work in which you have to show success Successes come naturally with time.
How often and how long should one meditate?
Daily meditation for at least 20 minutes is ideal. You should either do this at the most regular times or coupled to a routine. With routine, I mean before getting up in the morning or going to bed in the evening.
Meditating should become as normal as brushing your teeth after some time. You don’t need to worry about “over-meditating”. Monks meditate during the day for several hours, seven days a week.
Therefore, meditating once or twice a day for about 20 minutes is absolutely no problem and does not lead to exaggerated meditative conditions for beginners and advanced.
If you decide to participate in a special meditation retreat, e.g. in a monastery or some specific spiritual place, you should have an experienced person accompanying you.
In such environments, the meditations often go on for four, five or even more hours a day. This is absolutely nothing for unsupervised beginners!
Are there any mental reasons that one should not meditate?
There are, in fact, a few psychological ailments in which meditation could be a problem, and it is important to consult with a qualified physician first to see if the meditation practices are appropriate. This concerns, for example, people suffering from:
– In depersonalization and/or derealization technically often referred to as derealization syndrome
– Specific traumas
Conclusion and own experiences with the meditation in connection with my past panic disorder and its accompanying symptoms.
I started meditating a few months after my complete panic disorder collapse. At first still relatively irregular, and I was seeing this as an ”annoying task”. However, when I noticed the first small positive changes after about 6-8 weeks, I became more and more of a positive meditator.
It was about half a year later that I meditated regularly before going to bed. Today meditating is completely normal for me, integrated into my daily routine, and I enjoy it very much. There are now more and more moments of deep, calm and silence within me, and they just feel indescribably good.
The meditative silence, by the way, is not absolute stillness at all. Plus, from time to time extremely beautiful things or situations happen during the meditation, which words cannot express.
The meditation helped me in the following months and years, especially against my former anxiety and the accompanied, extreme restlessness. Please, feel free to read more about my personal journey with panic and anxiety disorder in my following post. Therein, I also explain how you, too, can cure yourself without therapies and dangerous prescription drugs.
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Of course, it takes a few weeks of regular practice until you can experience the first positive effects. However, it is also essential to implement other changes besides meditation. If I had to choose from all the measures that helped me to literally save my life and enriched it again, then the daily meditation would certainly be part of the top three.
Do you use meditation for anxiety and stress, and what are your experiences with it so far? Please, share your stories with us in the comment section below. We’re always happily looking forward to hearing from you.
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