Stress and anxiety are age-old problems, but until fairly recently, most doctors would recommend a medication to help treat the most crippling forms of either. A combination of conventional wisdom and years of research have helped researchers and medical professionals to consider another, non-medicinal remedy to ease their patients’ anxiety.
Mindfulness meditation is an anti-anxiety technique many are flocking to. They’ve found that it helps them manage many other health issues as well. Its popularity has spawned droves of classes and studios across the globe. Classes are being offered in school classrooms and churches, and in synagogues, hospitals, community centers, and gyms.
Initially doctors were skeptical that this ancient Eastern practice truly offered any true health benefits, as the evidence suggests. Fortunately for everyone, that is proving to be the case.
Forty-seven studies analyzed by JAMA Internal Medicine found that meditation can help ease anxiety, pain, and depression. Newer studies seem to indicate that meditation may also help with insomnia, nausea, weight control, substance abuse, and other health problems.
One of the most helpful types of mindfulness training that showed great results in research studies is called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (or MBSR). This is a non-religious based practice, taught in eight sessions to practitioners.
This practice incorporates mindfulness to treat difficult conditions like anxiety. It does so by helping the person to focus and put things into perspective, which, in turn, helps the person to cope better with difficult situations. MBSR is a more long-term solution than medication. Medication treats things in the immediate with temporary relief. Meditation, however, can be used to get at the heart of what it is that makes the person anxious or nervous.
Insight meditation is another technique that provides relief to those suffering from anxiety. This technique incorporates breathing techniques to help slow down thoughts, shut off the world, and focus on just the breathing. Some people who find it difficult to focus on their breathing try to focus on a mantra instead. They’ll repeat the same phrase over and over again until it becomes natural and rhythmic.
Others have found promise in guided meditation in-person or online. Instructors or gurus walk people through a meditation to help them feel more comfortable and learn to fully embrace the practice.
Meditation works to relax the chaos that anxiety creates. While anxiety steals our peace, meditation has the opposite effect. It works to quiet the chaos, subdue it, and give us back our lives. Meditation reroutes all the negative energy it takes to work us into a frenzy and soothes it into calmness. The heavy burden in our minds and our bodies eases up in no time. If our bodies don’t release that anxiety, the result can be physical stress and pain.
Meditation eases the tumult. It relieves all the anxiety and anger and helps us put it all into perspective. While meditation won’t get rid of the anger or solve all problems, it will help you learn to cope better and, eventually, will help you feel better with continued practice.
By Lauren Castañeda