Meditation has long been touted as a powerful tool for reducing stress and anxiety. But how exactly does it work, and how can you make the most of your meditation practice to overcome anxiety?
We spoke to experts in the field of mindfulness and meditation to get their top tips for using meditation to combat anxiety. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Start small.
“Many people think they need to meditate for hours on end to see any benefits, but that’s simply not true,” says meditation teacher and author Sharon Salzberg. “Start with just a few minutes a day, and gradually build up your practice over time.”
2. Focus on your breath.
“Your breath is a powerful anchor that can help you stay present and calm,” says mindfulness expert Kristin Neff. “When you notice your mind starting to wander, simply bring your attention back to your breath.”
3. Don’t judge your thoughts.
“Many people get discouraged when they start meditating because they think they’re supposed to have a completely empty mind,” says mindfulness coach Cara Bradley. “But that’s not the point. The point is to observe your thoughts without judgment.”
4. Practice self-compassion.
“Anxiety can be a really difficult thing to deal with, so it’s important to be kind to yourself,” says meditation teacher and author Jon Kabat-Zinn. “Remember that you’re not alone, and that it’s okay to struggle.”
5. Find a quiet space.
“Distractions can be really challenging when you’re trying to meditate,” says meditation teacher and author Jack Kornfield. “Try to find a quiet space where you can sit undisturbed for a few minutes each day.”
6. Use guided meditations.
“If you’re new to meditation, it can be helpful to use guided meditations to get started,” says mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn. “There are plenty of apps and websites that offer free guided meditations for anxiety.”
7. Experiment with different techniques.
“There’s no one ‘right’ way to meditate,” says mindfulness coach Cara Bradley. “Experiment with different techniques, like body scans, loving-kindness meditations, and breathwork, to find what works best for you.”
8. Practice regularly.
“Meditation is like any other skill – the more you practice, the better you’ll get,” says meditation teacher and author Sharon Salzberg. “Try to make meditation a regular part of your daily routine.”
9. Be patient.
“Remember that meditation is a process, and it takes time to see results,” says mindfulness expert Kristin Neff. “Be patient with yourself, and don’t give up if you don’t see immediate changes. With practice, you’ll start to notice a shift in your anxiety levels.”