Anxiety is something we all face on a day to day basis. Maybe you can recall a time when a deadline was coming up at work or a time when your favorite team was on the verge of winning that big championship. These are examples of anxiety in the short term, i.e. the anxiety finishes after the event is over. Then there is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which affects over 10 million people in America alone. GAD is a form of constant and ongoing worry that can hamper your day to day activities. Below are some meditation techniques for anxiety to help you in dealing with your situation. But first, a bit on GAD…
People with GAD can go through their day worrying about their job, finances, health, relationships, or a multitude of other reasons. This type of anxiety is not provoked by a particular event. People with GAD are often very irritable and can experience a number of different symptoms ranging from insomnia to headaches.
Those with mild symptoms of GAD are able to carry on with their daily lives. Overtime, however, as the anxiety piles up and the symptoms become more severe, they may become have to stay at home to recover. Doctors usually prescribe anti-anxiety or recommend some type of cognitive therapy, but these treatments are not always necessary. It is a better option to seek relief through natural means like meditation.
Physical Benefits of Meditation
Meditation has been around a long time, (as early as the 6th century BC), but only recently have researches begun observing its effects. Studies have proven that meditation literally changes your physiology.
A list of measurable physical benefits include:
- Decreased blood pressure.
- Decreased blood lactate (lactate is lactic acid that occurs in your blood because of insufficient oxygen in your cells, and causes anxiety attacks).
- Better serotonin levels.
- Better level of white blood cells (boosting immune system).
- Higher energy levels.
Cognitive Benefits of Meditation
Essentially, meditation is about clearing your mind of thought to focus on the present moment. The more routinely you meditate the longer you will be able to experience these moments of so called “presence.” During these moments your brain begins to emit alpha brain waves (read about the 5 different brain waves here). Alpha brain waves are associated with feelings of deep relaxation.
If you meditate on a regular basis you will experience:
- Emotional stability.
- Reduced anxiety.
- Heightened creativity, memory, and focus.
- Clearer intuition and thoughts.
Meditation will make you aware of your thought patterns, and regular meditation will allow you to change patterns which cause anxiety.
Transcendental meditation (TM) is a very popular form of mantra meditation. TM has picked up a reputation of being very effective at inducing deep moments of relaxation. Researchers did an analysis of 146 meditation studies. From the analysis they concluded that TM was significantly more effective at lowering anxiety than any other meditation techniques.
The process of TM involves putting aside 20 minutes each day and using a mantra to free yourself of conscious thought in order to achieve a state of presence. Your mantra is assigned by your teacher, who chooses it from a vast library of ancient texts. Your mantra is never to be shared with anyone. In fact, there is an agreement that all TM students have to sign which has you ensure that everything between you and your teacher is kept secret. The agreement is meant to protect TM from people looking to profit from it. It also makes sure that the students are taught properly. One of the selling points of TM is that it is very easy to learn. In a technical sense you could even learn it on your own, but you would most likely learn it wrong. So, when first starting out with TM proper instruction is critical.
During your early months of TM you will have very mixed sessions. When you find yourself already relaxed you will watch the 20 minutes go by very fast wishing it could last a little longer. Other times, when you have a lot on your mind, you will be wondering how many minutes are left. TM is a way to tap into your inner calm. Tapping into this state allows your brain a chance to rest and essentially to repair its dismantled neurons. Don’t expect to enter into this state when first starting off with TM. Overtime, however, as you maintain regular practice, you will find yourself entering into moments of presence for longer stretches of time.
Like anything else TM takes practice. The longer you do it the easier it will be to experience presence. You will notice, that regardless of how your session went, you generally feel good after.
TM is unique in the sense that you require personal instruction to learn. You are unable to learn through a book or video. A great resource to check out is tm.org. They are a non-profit organization that have teachers all over the world. If you go on their site you will be able to locate a teacher that is closest to your location.
TM is one form of meditation that has found its way into the mainstream. Many celebrities and businessmen have claimed that it has played a significant role in their lives. Nigol Koulajian, founder of $850 million hedge fund Quest Trade, says that he does 20 minutes of TM everyday no matter what. Koulajian says that in the world of business many of the decisions that people made are based on external influences. With TM he is brought closer to his intuition and has a strengthened sense of conviction.
TM has been established as a great way to deal with anxiety. But, even if you don’t have problems with anxiety TM can be an effective tool to better your life. Ray Dalio, billionaire hedge fund founder, has credited meditation as the key ingredient to his success. You should also check out this post on the huffington post which gives examples of many successful people who have credit much of their success to meditation.