I’d like to briefly explain how, using meditation, I have overcome panic attacks and general anxiety. Every task we face in our day, carries with it a certain level of stress, these things may not seem stressful in themselves, but everything we do requires some level of thought. Most things are processed quickly by the brain and then forgotten about, other things can hang around, and becoming niggly, re-accuring thoughts or worries.
Each one of these tasks is like a block, and the ones that stick around in our mind soon begin to stack up. Before long your brain reaches the maximum amount of things it can cope with, this is when the littlest thing can trigger a panic attack, even though it may seem totally unrelated.
How can meditation beat anxiety?
Meditation is a great way to clear the mind, relax (without going to sleep) and essentially – knock down those bricks. At busy periods in our lives, we may even wake up with yesterday’s concerns still in our mind. The day’s not even begun and we bring yesterday’s problems through to today. A great way to combat this is to meditate either first thing in the morning, or last thing at night. If you have trouble sleeping, or you are not experiencing a deep relaxing sleep, then I recommend practicing meditation at night right before you go to bed.
First decide what time you’re going to sleep, allow yourself a good 8 hours before the alarm is going to wake you. Then an hour before your designated sleep time, turn off your phone, laptop, iPad and TV. No electrical devices an hour before you intend to be asleep. Take this time to wind down, begin to relax, take a bath, read a book, whatever works for you.
During this time allow yourself some time for meditation. If you’re just starting out I’d recommend aiming for 10 minutes. Try and find a way to time the session that’s not going to be distracting or startle you when the time’s up. I use a meditation timer app for my smartphone – yes I know I said the phone should be off, in fact this application actually blocks calls and other notifications on your phone during your meditation so you wont be disturbed. What it also does very well is time your meditation and rings soft calming bells, to give you an indication of time.
How to meditate
Meditation doesn’t have to be a religious activity, it’s really a quieting of the mind and soul. There’s no real right or wrong way to meditate, but here’s how I practice. I’ll sit somewhere quiet where I know I won’t be disturbed, somewhere firm but comfortable. I sit cross-legged, with a straight back, and my hands relaxed comfortably on my lap, normally with my palms facing upwards. I close my eyes and clear my mind. I focus on my breathing, I don’t try to alter the speed of breathing, but more try to just be aware of the air as I breathe it in, and out again. I breathe using a technique called deep belly breathing. As you breathe in you push your lower stomach out, then as you release the breath, let the stomach suck in again.
That’s pretty much all there is to it. It sounds simple but requires a lot of discipline to sit still and quiet even for just 10 minutes. Don’t let your mind think about any tasks you have to do, keep your mind clear. If it helps, picture somewhere calming in your mind, like sitting on a beach watching the tide wash in, or on top of a mountain looking down on the valleys. Somewhere there’s space and you feel safe.
Practicing meditation on a daily basis, will help knock down those bricks and stop the tasks building up in your mind. You’ll find you sleep a lot better, and you’ll feel clear-minded and better equipped to tackle the next day. You also find that in day to day conversation and interactions with other people, you feel more present, more aware of being there with them. This is because before your mind would’ve been partially distracted with background tasks, but once you clear them out, it leaves you free to engage fully with the people around you.
I hope this has been helpful and encouraging, let me know in the comments how you get on.