Meditation can be an extremely beneficial to reduce stress and anxiety (among other issues). Yoga and Ayurveda focus a lot of their teaching on meditative practices. They also stress the importance of why practicing meditation daily can have a significant and powerful impact on our mental and physical faculties.
The impact meditation has on our body and minds goes beyond what modern science understands today. The practice of meditation was used eons ago (circa 3000BCE to 10000BCE) by the sages and gurus of India and the East. They understood the importance of meditation enough the create a whole practice around it – called the 8 limbs of yoga. This yoga is not the typical posture based yoga (which is only one of the limbs of yoga) but the practice of reaching nirvana or moksha through the use of meditation.
When you start to feel anxious or get stressed, try to follow a simple meditation technique (which we will describe below) to nip it in the bud.
How Does Meditation Help with Stress (or Anxiety or Depression)?
There are numerous benefits of meditation for both body and mind. In The modern world uses meditation in a way that has not been consistent with the teachings of the sages and gurus of the East.
In Ayurveda we say that all diseases (mental and physical) start in the mind. Ayurveda and yoga, go a step further to state that meditation starts in the subtle body/mind before it moves into the physical mind and physical body.
When we look at meditation from this lens, we can see that it would have a significant impact on our mental and physical state, if we fix or prevent it at its source – the subtle body/mind. Looking at it this way, we understand that meditating will absolutely affect our mental and emotional state.
If our mind is always cluttered and rushing, that creates a space for all other dis-ease to enter. When we calm the mind (through meditation), we can slow down the thoughts, and bring some clarity and “space” into our mind.
This space creates room for positive energy (both subtle and physical) to enter.
Did you know April is National Stress Awareness Month?
Well now you do. 🙂
What are the Symptoms of Stress?
Not all stress is bad. However, prolonged or chronic stress can lead to a plethora of issues that will persist and make life hard for you. These include high blood pressure, obesity, depression, cognitive issues, sleeplessness, chronic muscle tension, brain fog, irritability.
Curbing stress before it reaches your organs is important and critical to long-term care of your body and mind.
How to Reduce Stress?
There are many ways to prevent getting into a situation that stresses you or causes you anxiety. However, a lot of times most of us don’t know what will actually trigger us.
If you are someone who has seen a doctor and is on medication or other therapies – that’s amazing. Talk to your doctor before you attempt any other therapies.
While meditation is the easiest (yes it can be easy) of solutions to try, you could also reach out to a trusted friend to vent, go for a walk, watch some mindless/comedic shows, or take a bubble bath – if that’s your thing.
Benefits of Meditation to Manage Stress and Anxiety
You can reap different benefits of meditation for stress and anxiety depending on what type of meditation you practice, how long you practice for, and the duration of each meditation session.
Here is a list of benefits that you can reap from consistent and focused meditation. Supported by studies conducted by the NIH. Broken down by emotional, mental, and physical benefits of meditation:
Emotional Benefits of Meditation
- Feeling of calmness
- Clearer mind
- Seeing the world in a positive light
- Peaceful towards life in general
- Stability of emotion
- Stable reactions to stressful situations
Mental Benefits of Meditation
- Reduced anxiety and stress
- Reduced depression
- Reduction of negative emotions and thought processes
- Better self-control
- Increased and enhanced self-awareness
- Patience with others
Physical Benefits of Meditation
- Improved cognitive function
- Reduced tension and stress migraines
- Better Sleep
- Reduction of Asthma
- Reduction in symptoms of depression
- Better blood pressure (reduced high BP)
There are also some studies that have seen positive effects in cancer patients. While this is a huge claim, I suggest you do your own research to confirm this.
Easy Meditation for Stress and Anxiety
There are a few articles (linked below) that can get you started on the journey of meditation. While this article is focused on using meditation when stressed or anxious, I suggest you incorporate it into your daily life to reap the other benefits.
The Easiest Meditation Practice:
- Be seated cross legged on the floor (use a cushion or pillow to sit on).
- Close your eyes
- Think of nothing (when thoughts come to you, say something like “ oh I see you are a thought… oh I see another thought.. oh and another” and after a few minutes, those thoughts will start to slow down).
- Continue in this seated position and focus on your breathing – take slow breaths.
- Continue for 10 minutes before thanking your mind and body for helping you.
- Carry on with your day.
If the above is too much for you – and it usually is for most people who are new to meditation or who cannot meditate while stressed or anxious, try these alternatives:
- I suggest using this guided meditation to start. These are good when we have less control over our thoughts.
- You may also choose to use a mantra (repeating a phrase) meditation that will keep your mind occupied and bring it out of the rush of thoughts in your head.
- Or you could also practice guided yoga. The act of getting into different asanas (postures) will move your attention from the stress or anxiety to the task at hand.
- Yoga nidra is another POWERFUL yogic meditation to relax the body and bring you to a state of peacefulness.
Learn How to Meditate (A Beginner’s Guide)
Check out this article on how to meditate like the sages.
I hope you are able to find some time to start practicing meditation so that when you do get into a stressful situation, you are able to control it rather than let it control you.
Best of luck to you, poppet.
Disclaimer: Please speak to your health care professional before starting any physical or mental practice.