How Does Meditation Help Reduce Anxiety And Stress?


 woman meditating with dog

The anxious mind is like a persistent machine gun of negativity, firing one fearful and worrisome thought after another:

"Why don't they like me? What if I lose my job? Am I getting sick? Will I ever find a partner? Will I ever have enough money? Why can’t I be successful? Why can’t I lose weight? Why did I say something so stupid?

In fact, scientists estimate the number of human thoughts at around 70,000 per day — meaning a worried, anxious mind can literally generate a new negative thought every couple of seconds.

“What can I do to reduce anxiety?”

One word, Meditation.

Through meditation you are able to build the mental skills to be able to recognise an anxious thought as just a thought. Sure, when you first start out you’ll still find yourself sometimes daydreaming into a spiral of anxiety but you’ll possess the self awareness to “see” what your mind is doing and switch it off.

The trick is to train your mind like a muscle, but instead of working out in the gym 4 times a week you need to meditate. Keep at it and eventually your mind will be so strong that you’ll be able to fizzle out anxiety before it can take a hold of you.

Think how much extra energy you would have if you didn’t waste so much of it on fear-based thoughts about things that most probably will never happen!

“The Monkey Mind vs The Observing Mind"

The never ending thought chatter which haunts most people from the moment they wake until the moment they are sleeping is known as “the monkey mind”.

Unfortunately it is this erratic thought pattern which dominates the minds of anyone who suffers from anxiety and stress. 

Meditation is the practice of feeding the opposite, “observing mind”, with concentrated energy. In doing this we are able to tame the monkey mind and create space in our own heads for healthier, positive thought patterns.

“I’ve tried meditating and I couldn’t do it”

The skill of being able to tame the monkey mind is not something that comes easily.

Many people try out meditation and give up as they feel they can’t do it, however, the truth is everyone can meditate.

Everyone is different and therefore some forms of meditation work for some people whilst different styles work for others, the tricky part is trying the different forms for a long enough period to be able to determine which works best for you.

 

Mantra’s generally work well for beginners as the repeated word or phrase gives the mind something to focus on, think of it like giving the “monkey mind” a banana every time you repeat the mantra.

The monkey can’t wait to start swinging from the branches and screeching as loud as possible, but the constant supply of bananas are keeping him quiet and occupied.

 

The more you practice, the longer you’ll be able to keep the monkey under control and you’ll build a skill where you can simply observe what he does rather than attach real emotion to his every move and sound.

The good news is there is A LOT of high quality content via books, blogs, podcasts and shows online to help anyone who is interested in getting up and running with a meditation practice.

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