As a species, humans are programmed to be alert for any danger that may come our way. And, while this may have been an essential skill for our ancestors to stay alive - in today’s world, it can often bring more trouble than good.
If we are constantly on the lookout for danger, it means we are constantly worried and anxious about what may happen to us. This holds us back from being able to live in the here and now.
And it’s not just harmful to our mental state either. People who suffer from anxiety also encounter various physical health issues as well. Anxiety can actually change the structure of your brain - increasing the parts that control our fear hormones.
But, there is a way to reverse those changes, reduce anxiety, and allow you to really enjoy living in the moment - meditation.
Breaking through negative thoughts
One of the main ways in which meditation can help people who suffer from anxiety is by creating new habits that break through old ones.
Many of us will have negative thought patterns that regularly seem to find their way into our lives. Through meditation practices, we can retrain those thought patterns into positive actions. Meditation can help decrease the tendency to worry, as well as improving your ability to control unwanted thoughts that always creep their way in.
Of course, any mental habit like this is not easy to break. As humans, we have over 50,000 thoughts every day, and a rather large amount of these are, sadly, negative. Luckily, our brains have an amazing capacity to change these habits though, which is where meditation comes into play.
Through meditation, you learn to be in the moment, rather than focusing on what has been, or what could be. Because of this, you are then able to recognise when your brain is starting to do some “mental time travel” and stop it in its tracks.
Not sure how to meditate to become more mindful? Check out our article to help you get started - 5 Ways You Can Stay Mindful in Your Everyday Life.
Boosting our endorphin production
For most of us, when we hear about boosting endorphins, we usually think of exercise. And, while that is a great way to do this, meditation is also very effective.
In case you’re not familiar with this happy little process, endorphins are a kind of neurotransmitter that improve your brain function, reduce stress, and help to elevate your mood. These multiple benefits all work together to help create a more worry-free and stress-free mindset.
While many exercise fanatics will talk about experiencing a “runner’s high” after a workout, you can actually experience a similar feeling after a good meditation session!
Meditating to reduce anxiety
If you’re struggling to quiet your mind and keep anxiety at bay, there are a variety of meditation techniques that can help.
- Visualisation - If you are able to visualise the issues that are causing your anxiety, you will have a better chance at combating and controlling them. Visualizing isn’t as difficult as you might think either. It’s fairly similar to daydreaming, just with more intent. Make sure you’re set up in a calm and comfortable environment with no distractions. From here, you can begin to use your mind’s eye to visualise anything from a serene beach, to a sunny meadow, to whatever you can think of to help you relax.
- Mantras - If you find that your mind easily wanders when you try to meditate, then using mantras can be ideal for keeping you focused. Using these short and simple phrases can help you maintain laser focus, and quiet those anxious thoughts in your mind. Try phrases like “handshake your fear”, “This too shall pass”, or “I am bigger than my fear”. If these don’t feel right for you, have a look around the internet for ideas, or simply pick a phrase that means something calming to you.
- Mala beads - You can also go one step further and use mala beads in your meditation. These are particularly helpful when working with mantras. Each string of mala beads has a certain number of beads that you can use as counters for repeating your chosen mantra. Want to know more? Check out our article all about mala beads and how best to use them right here.