Meditation is a powerful tool for managing anxious feelings and coping with high levels of stress. In fact, meditation of one form or another is arguably the key to gaining full control over one’s anxiety.
Meditation is not an esoteric practice, reserved only for yogis and monks on remote mountain tops. Many these days are reaping the benefits of this age-old practice.
The emotions we experience are very often a function of our conscious attention. When our attention is on of happy thoughts we feel happiness; When our attention is on sad thoughts we feel sad feelings, and so on.
Most of us have an internal running narrative with ourselves that we have surprisingly little control, or even awareness of. To directly experience this lack of control, try the following:
- Sit comfortably somewhere free of distractions
- Take a few deep breaths, and focus your awareness on your breathing
- Clear your mind of any stray thoughts and focus entirely on your breathing
- Count your breaths until a stray thought pops into your mind
Most will not get past 3 or 4 before a stray thought emerges into their consciousness. Indeed, it can take much practice to make it to 10. This exercise is useful for increasing awareness of your internal dialog – that ongoing conversation taking place between your ego and itself. This inner narrative both influences your perception of your life experiences, and plays a crucial role in how you derive meaning from those experiences.
When this inner chatter focuses too much on anxious thought patterns, we suffer excessive anxiety. It follows that since this dialog plays such a significant role in generating the anxious feelings we wish to control, if we could control it then we could conquer our anxiety.
Well, we are in luck! It just so happens this inner dialog can be brought under control, and meditation is the vehicle for achieving it. In our next meditation article, we will explore mindfulness meditation. Look for Mindfulness Meditation 101 to learn more about what this form of meditation entails, and what role it can play in conquering your anxiety.