3 Types of Meditation for Anxiety

meditation

Anxiety comes in a lot of different forms, frequencies, and intensities.

Sometimes anxiety is always lurking just under the surface so you never feel quite settled no matter where you are.

Other times anxiety only happens under very specific circumstances, and sometimes it's only when you meet new people.

No matter what form of anxiety you struggle with, meditation can help.

That's right, meditation for anxiety could change your life.

Bear with me, I know this term carries a lot of weight and can be off-putting to some individuals.

But the truth is, meditation for anxiety is one of the most effective tools available when it comes to decreasing anxiety.

What is meditation?

Is a mental exercise!

Just like running or going to the gym builds a stronger body, meditation is the key to building a stronger mind.

A stronger mind means less anxiety.

How does this work?

Well, you're just going to have to keep reading to find out.

I promise it's worth it, and there's nothing mystical about the practice itself.

In fact, meditation for anxiety is one of the more practical things you can do for yourself.

So hang in there as we cover 3 types of meditation for anxiety.

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Katelynn Dwyer, LPCC

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Intero/Exteroception

The first type of meditation for anxiety is called Interoception & Exteroception.

These words have to do with whether our awareness is internal (intero) or external (extero).

Luckily for us, the words themselves are more complicated than the actual practice.

Interoception involves closing your eyes and focusing all of your attention on your internal state of being.

In other words, you are using interoception when you are listening to your heartbeat, feeling your lungs expand and deflate with each breath, or even focusing on an internal painful spot in your leg, back, or anywhere else that is located in your body.

Exteroception, on the other hand, requires you to keep your eyes open and be fully focused on a single object.

The best part about this type of meditation is that it only takes 5 minutes.

Just sit comfortably in a quiet room where you won't likely be interrupted.

Set a timer on your phone or watch, and begin!

It's that simple.

But simple doesn't mean easy; your mind is going to want to wander onto more exciting things than listening to your heartbeat or that random spot on the wall you are looking at.

The key is to continually bring your focus back to what you were paying attention to.

The constant effort of focusing and re-focusing is one heck of a mental workout.

And the benefits are enormous.

On top of decreasing anxiety, it lowers blood pressure and strengthens your hippocampus and pre-frontal cortex which helps prevent Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Yoga Nidra

The second type of meditation for anxiety is called Yoga Nidra, otherwise known as body scanning, also otherwise known as Non-sleep Deep Rest (NSDR).

If you've never heard of these terms, don't worry, we're going to break them down now.

A body scan is a mental tool that brings your attention and focuses to your body.

There are a bunch of different ways to do body scans but today we'll focus on the body scan that most resemble Yoga Nidra.

Yoga Nidra is a specific form of Yoga (that's right there's more than one Yoga, and most have nothing to do with stretching).

Yoga Nidra is a slow procession from the tip of your toe, to the top of your head, and back down.

I highly suggest finding a guided Yoga Nidra video on YouTube.

This process usually takes between 10-20 minutes which allows you to be flexible on how much time you have for this particular meditation.

But here are the basics:

Start by lying down or sitting in a comfortable position with your eyes closed.

Take 3-4 deep breaths through your nose with slow and controlled, long exhales through your mouth.

Then focus on the sensations on the bottom of your feet by thinking about what they're touching and how they feel, then go up to your shins, thighs, waist, and so on until you get to the top of your head, then go back down in reverse order til you end up back at your feet.

Essentially, you're drawing your attention to different sections of your body through your sense of touch.

This meditation is very relaxing and turns off your nervous system allowing for deep relaxation and no anxiety.

Zazen

Our last meditation for anxiety is called Zazen and it comes from Zen Buddhism.

Trust me, you do not have to be a Buddhist or know anything about Zen to get amazing benefits from this practice.

Zazen is very structured and rigid so it isn't for everyone but even without the structure you'll get the idea.

Sit in a quiet room cross-legged either on the floor or on a cushion or pillow.

If you can sit in the lotus position or half-lotus, then brownie points for you (if you don't know what those are a quick Google search will solve that).

Sit up straight with your shoulders back, and chin slightly tucked (your head and spine should be in a straight line).

Then place one hand on your lap with your palm facing up, and rest your other hand on top also palm facing up with your thumbs lightly touching.

Enough structure for you yet?

Now, with eyes open but not fixed on anything in particular, breathe.

Just breathe; the more you pay attention to your breath the slower your breath will become and the more relaxed you'll feel.

Once again, your mind will make it nearly impossible to sit still and breathe, so every time you notice your mind wandering, gently bring your focus back to your breath, over and over and over.

It helps to count your breaths to 10 then restart; gives your mind a little more to do.

Start with as little as 5 minutes and work your way up to 10 minutes.

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Conclusion

Each of these meditations will not only decrease anxiety but they'll decrease depression, blood pressure, risk of heart disease, risk of brain disease, improve your focus, lengthen your attention span, improve memory, and cognitive function, and so much more.

Meditation is extremely practical but gets painted with a mystical brush that can make it hard for people to start implementing.

I strongly suggest trying out all the different types of meditation for anxiety to see what you like the best, but also to keep you from getting too bored with just one of them.

A simple YouTube or Google search for any one of these to start your meditation for anxiety journey.

Don't let anxiety ruin your day (or life), start meditating, and start living!

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June 18th, 2024

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