5 Ways to Meditate Your Way Through Anxiety
I don’t know about you, but when I first started learning about and practicing meditation, my mind was clouded with some preconceived notions. Those notions being: Meditation is supposed to be relaxing. Meditation is clearing the mind of all thoughts. Meditation is supposed to be a completely calm and peaceful experience.
The more I practice meditation, the more these notions become completely false. Let me tell you why: You are not always relaxed when you go into meditation. You cannot always achieve a clear mind during meditation.
“Meditation CAN be a calm and peaceful experience, but that’s not always the case.”
Those things being noted, let’s get real – Many (including myself), meditate to connect with the soul, to reduce stress, anxiety, depression and to be more mindful of the body and surroundings. A lot of the time, when I step into my meditation practice, I have things on my mind, I am feeling stressed, worried, feeling guilty about the past, nervous about the future, and more often than not- feeling a strong sense of anxiousness in my body and mind.
Eliminating the aforementioned notions, this is what I have experienced, this is what I have learned to do, this is what I offer you the next time you are feeling anxious (you can substitute the anxiety for any feeling of discomfort you may be dealing with) during your meditation practice.
1. Identify what you are feeling. In this case, recognize the anxiety. Locate the anxiety in your body. Is it in your stomach, in your heart, in your head? Mine typically lives in my chest, offering a warm, burning sensation that radiates without rest or mercy. Bring your attention to this.
2. Feel it. Experience the feeling of it. Notice the feeling and the subsequent thoughts that come with it. Let yourself fully experience the discomfort of it and breathe into it, wherever it may live in your body.
3. Be curious about it. Investigate and explore these feelings of anxiety with an inquisitive mind. Use a non-judgmental perspective to do this. Avoid labeling as positive or negative. Just let it be and watch it curiously with an open mind.
4. The hardest part- ACCEPT AND BEFRIEND IT. Accept it all, the burning, the discomfort, the entire experience of it. Befriend the anxiety; welcome it with all of your heart. Love it and hold it. I sometimes even imagine myself hugging it, squeezing it, loving it. You will start to find that once you accept the anxiety in your body, the less power it has over you and the more the feelings of discomfort start to subside.
5. Know that it is all okay. Know that you are NOT your thoughts and feelings—this is merely what you are experiencing, and not a determining factor in who you are as a human being. Be easy on yourself; tell yourself out loud or internally, that “IT’S OKAY.” It’s okay to feel this; it’s okay to have a bad day, its okay to worry about the future, to negatively anticipate something. It is all part of life, part of our human experience. Know in your heart that it is all okay, that everything is going to be alright, no matter what happens.
A recommended meditation to channel in on this is a Vipassana Meditation, which encompasses the idea of accepting reality and the true nature of things, sitting with yourself and being with what is and what you are feeling in that exact moment. Find out more about Vipassana
“See each experience with anxiety as an opportunity to learn about yourself and your experience with the past, present and future.”
These experiences make us strong mentally, emotionally and physically. It allows you to take a closer look and put your acceptance skills to work. It also allows you to welcome the now, the current moment and everything that comes along with it. Don’t be down on yourself when you start to experience the waves of anxiety, or any other uncomfortable feeling that pervades your mind or
Use it as an opportunity to dive into yourself, examine your spirit and accept what’s happening to you in that moment. Just breathe, accept, and over time you will learn to use your meditation as a way of moving beyond the anxiety.
In peace, Namaste.