Feeling anxious is the body’s way of saying, “Hey, you’re experiencing too much stress all at once.” Our hearts racing, palms sweating, and overthinking are some of the mental and physical symptoms that one can experience. This has probably happened to the best of us – we all feel stressed or worried at times. It may be when you’re about to give a job interview, address a group of people, or when trying to pay the bill on time, such situations often put one in a ‘fight or flight’ mode.
For a lot of people, they don’t even know that their compulsive reactions are a sign of anxiety. Our brain responds to a threat or danger by releasing stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Even if the stress is not real, these hormones cause the physical symptoms of anxiety. In the short term, anxiety increases your breathing and heart rate, and in some cases might make you feel nauseous or lightheaded.
Studies have always suggested meditation as a means to find inner calm and peace within minutes. Unlike before, meditation today is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction. It’s considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. During meditation, you bring your attention to your breath and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing unwanted stress or anxiety. Here are six meditative practices to beat anxiety:
1. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
Research indicates that practicing mindfulness over an eight-week period significantly reduces symptoms of insomnia and mental chatter. Mindfulness is proven to improve our quality of life! The practice developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, involves focused attention and awareness on the present moment by observing your natural breath and thought patterns until you can move beyond the mind to a place of stillness and silence.
As humans, when we are busy achieving, doing, and acquiring, we often fail to detect our unconscious emotional thought patterns which are intoxicated with judgments and self-criticism because we are not fully present in our own life. Through MBSR, one can effectively treat stress, anxiety, chronic illness, sleep problems, and much more. This mindful meditation method also often aids in weight loss and helps overcome relationship troubles. We recommend pursuing training at a university medical centre, or a well-being medical centre, where classes are taught by qualified health professionals. If you’re thinking about using it for a health condition, make sure to consult your primary care provider first.
2. Sound Healing with Tibetan Bowls
Sound is the future of medicine! Sound healing is based on bio resonance to shift the patterns of vibration and frequency in the human body. When the current frequency that the individual vibrates with is disturbed, it causes physical, emotional, and mental breakdowns.
A Sound Bath Meditation session is a musical composition that you hear and feel while your entire being bathes in sound and vibration. In this receptive state of awareness, whilst being introduced to the inspirational sounds and transformational vibrations of the Tibetan Bowls or Gong, these sounds can heal you at a cellular level as they facilitate the movement of vital life energy (known as prana, mana, or chi) through your body, whilst lowering your brain wave frequencies, and inducing an ultimate state of relaxation.
During the session, the facilitator addresses each specific physical and/or emotional issue through tuning into different vibrations of the main energy centres through various instruments (such as Tibetan Singing Bowls, Crystal Quartz Sound Healing Bowls, Tuning Forks, or Gongs). However, you can practice it from the comfort of your homes by simply following these steps:
- Place the Tibetan bowl on a cushion or a mat to keep it steady. You can also keep it in the palm of your non-dominant hand.
- Strike the singing bowl with the mallet firmly, but gently. Your bowl will create sound vibrations.
- You can continue with a circular rimming action to create a beautiful, peaceful sound by immediately circling the rim of the bowl with the mallet.
- Pace yourself and don’t go too quickly along the rim. It may take you some time to get into the rhythm but once you do, you will notice how the sound builds beautifully over time and the way it creates a meditative atmosphere within and around you.
Note: Sometimes, the sound of the singing bowl can be quite overwhelming for certain people including children or pregnant women. It is best avoided in case of such a situation.
3. Visualisation & Guided Meditation
Creative visualisation refers to the practice of seeking to affect the outer world via changing one’s thoughts. Many people are specific about what they truly want, yet they are unable to recreate that experience in their life because they are constantly discouraged by present circumstances. This meditation method focuses on practicing the power of positive thinking through powerful techniques of visualising your goals, by aligning your cognitive thinking with your subconscious mind. You can either attend a guided meditation session to get started or you can walk yourself through a series of visualisations.
Start by sitting cross-legged with palms resting on your thighs and eyes closed gently. Now, picture yourself in your desirable environment (amidst forests, or a river valley, or a place you’ve always wanted to visit) and guide yourself into setting one or a few clear goals (such as ‘I want to lose weight’, ‘I want to get a job’, ‘I want to visit xyz place’ etc.) and imagine that you have already achieved it and are living your best possible version. Enjoy being in that vision and moment for a few minutes and practice the same intentions daily till you start seeing results.
4. Movement Meditation
These meditations involve incorporating an activity such as walking or a hobby such as painting or dancing through focused concentration, where one moves into a space of total oneness with our activity, and away from the world of multitasking to channel our creativity, intuition, and stillness. So, all you ought to do is just pick an activity that you absolutely love and perform it with full devotion and attention and that will solve the purpose of movement meditation.
5. Breathwork & Mantra Chanting
Our breath, also known as Prana or Chi, is the vehicle of our life force energy. Through this relaxing meditation, you are guided to engage in various types of breathwork or Pranayama, which calms the mind, centres the heart, and revives the entire energy system, whilst detoxing the body. Through this subtle process, you will be encouraged to follow a daily practice of breathing in life, love, and happiness, whilst releasing pain, anger, and fear.
You can try these simple breathing exercises to get started:
- Cleansing Breath: This is a beautiful way to release negativity like anger, stress, and frustration. Just close your eyes and gently breathe in through the nose – inhaling positive energy – and blow out through the mouth – exhaling negative energy or emotions. Repeat this cycle 21 times and then return to normal breathing.
- Awareness to Breath: As you resume your natural breathing pattern, feel the breath moving in and out of your body and become completely aware of this process. Every time you notice that your mind wanders off or you start to judge your experience, gently direct it back to the breath. Enjoy this for a few minutes till you feel comfortable. It will start getting easier and more effective as you make it a regular practice.
While you can do these steps by yourself, we suggest getting the right guidance from a yoga teacher or breathwork expert who can help you stay on the right track.
6. Gazing Meditation for Focus & Clarity
This is a ‘Candle Gazing’ technique, which if practiced regularly, can hone and develop your concentration, as it brings the mind to a place of stillness. It causes distractions to dissolve away as the mind becomes focused on the flame. Candle gazing meditation also improves memory by bringing the mind to awareness. Here’s how it works:
- Place a burning candlestick on a table and position it at your eye level.
- Then sit a few meters away from the table, preferably with the lights switched off.
- Gaze at the candlelight for not more than 10 minutes. Chances are your eyes might water – do not rub it. Let it flow as it’s a cleansing process. Gently blink if you must and then continue gazing.