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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How to Practice Mindful Meditation for Anxiety (Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Practice Mindful Meditation for Anxiety (Step-by-Step Guide)
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This has been one of the most stressful years in modern history. Other than science-fiction writers and infectious disease experts, who could have ever imagined that we would be faced with a global pandemic in our lifetime? Anxiety is now at an all-time high, and it’s time to find some ways to cope with it. Mindful meditation for anxiety can help you cope with all of the uncharted stress ahead.

Nevertheless, even without all of the stress associated with a global pandemic, mindful meditation can help you cope more effectively with a whole host of everyday issues that contribute to stress. These include family relationships, personal finances, health concerns, and all of the other daily issues that have a tendency to clutter up precious storage space in our minds.

Effects of Stress and Anxiety

Ultimately, too much stress can lead to anxiety, which is generally recognized as an intense, excessive, and persistent feeling of worry and fear about everyday situations, for example, going to work or enjoying a social occasion with friends and family[1]. Symptoms of anxiety may include any combination of panic, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, and feeling tired or worn out.

Severe and persistent anxiety can negatively impact your diet, mood, sleep patterns, and turn your overall daily routine upside down, creating an unhealthy, and even potentially dangerous situation. Furthermore, research has found that people that are suffering with symptoms of anxiety have significantly higher rates of depression, suicide, and substance abuse[2].

For many, one of the most effective ways to manage anxiety is to reduce the underlying stress that fuels it. With that said, mindful meditation may be one of the easiest ways to help you do this.

Studies have found that practicing mindful meditation for anxiety on a regular basis has been proven to improve your overall physical and mental health by significantly reducing stress[3]. Although anxiety medications can help, there are no side effects, nor prescriptions required when practicing mindful meditation.

It has the potential to help you improve your ability to cope with anxiety, stress, depression, sleep disorders, and relationship issues from the very first time you try it. The goal of mindful meditation is to essentially gain greater control over your thoughts, so that you will ultimately be at more peace with them.

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Mindful Meditation (Step-By-Step Guide)

Mindful meditation empowers you to be able to stay focused in the moment, while not dwelling on the past, nor taking up valuable head-space worrying about the future[4]. The idea is to focus all of your attention on the now so that you do not find yourself stuck in the past, or trying to fix problems that have not yet occurred.

Follow the steps below to learn how to practice mindful meditation for anxiety.

Step 1: Set Aside the Time

You live a fast-paced life where time is always of the essence, and often in short supply. That’s why it is so important to stay sharp and keep your mind running at peak performance. Mindful meditation can help you accomplish this.

Start off by setting aside some personal time everyday to recharge. Although you may feel as though you do not have the time to consistently practice mindful meditation every day, try to schedule it at the same time every day. In this way, you can make it part of your daily life routine.

Whether you prefer to start off the day fresh with mindful meditation in the morning to collect your thoughts, or use it to wind down after a long day at the office, just try to make it a regular part of your life.

Step 2: Set a Time Limit

You can begin by practicing mindful meditation for about five minutes a day, just to get used to the feeling. More than likely it will take you several times to get into the habit of meditation. I suggest setting a timer so that you do not have to think about watching the clock.

Use a soft notification that will do the job without disrupting your serenity, such as a soft bell. Then try meditating the same amount of time each day. You can increase the duration of meditation once you become accustomed to it.

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Step 3: Get Comfortable

Pick a place to practice mindful meditation for anxiety that is comfortable, quiet, and safe. Try to eliminate as many unwanted distractions as possible. Remember noise should be at a minimum. As a matter of fact, it may be best if you can practice mindful meditation when no one else is around for a more balanced experience.

For comfort and peace of mind, you can sit on the floor or on a comfortable chair. Nevertheless, since not everyone is comfortable with seated meditation, you can also choose to practice mindful meditation while standing.

Most importantly, you should practice mindful meditation in a location where you can feel at one with yourself, perhaps in a park, or in your favorite room of your house. In this instance, the further away you are from others, the greater the overall benefit you may receive from the process.

If you want to try practicing mindful meditation while standing, you should start off by standing straight up. Your back should be upright but relaxed, without appearing too rigid. Then, clasp your hands in front of you, turn the thumb of your left hand inwards and clench your fingers around it.

Cover your right hand around your left, holding them both parallel to your abdomen. This will also improve your overall balance. Finally, roll your shoulders, look down towards the floor while taking a couple of deep breaths. Either way, no matter which position you choose, there is no need to struggle when practicing mindful meditation. Make the process work best for you.

Lastly, wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes. The idea is to allow your thoughts to flow naturally, and it will help if you’re not restricted by tight, uncomfortable clothes.

Step 4: Let Go

Life is hectic, especially now. You need a way to get away, even though you may not actually be able to do so physically at the moment. To really embrace the mindful meditation process, you have to find a way to clear your mind and completely let go of as much stress as possible.

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Start off by closing your eyes, and then rest your hands loosely on your lap or the arms of the chair. Be sure to focus on your breathing, being aware of each breath coming in and going out. Absorb all the sounds and smells around you.

When you become aware of certain sounds, smells, and thoughts that capture your attention, like an alarm or fresh flowers, let yourself acknowledge them and then come back to the moment again.

Step 5: Breathe Slow

Proper breathing is an essential part of effective mindful meditation for anxiety. Your breathing should be slow and rhythmic. This will help you relax and let go of your unwanted anxiety.

Keep your eyes closed, breathe steady, and allow worry, anxiety, and unwanted thoughts to escape from your mind as you exhale. Let your mind rest by completely embracing the moment. Allow yourself the knowledge that your worries are only leaving for a short period of time, so you have to make the most of the moment.

Let thoughts come in and out with your breathing without actually trying to control them. Breathe in through your nose, allowing the calming energy to ultimately take negative thoughts back out as you exhale.

Step 6: Count Your Breath

Try counting your breaths to help maintain a steady rhythm and pace. Take deep, slow breaths while counting up to four, and then hold for a count of four and release for a count of four. This is called square or box breathing and is a great breathing technique to get you started[5].

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Square Breathing for Mindful Meditation

     

    Initially, try to sustain this for at least five minutes while you keep your mind focused on your breathing. If you wander off before you get to four, start over at one again.

    Our minds wander all the time, so allow it to happen, acknowledge it, and then come back to the moment you are in. Just let it flow naturally as you relax.

    Step 7: Get Back to the Moment

    If you focus on your breathing, it will help keep you in the moment and mindful. Remember that being mindful is about being in the moment. You can’t mess this up. There is no wrong way to practice mindful meditation for anxiety. You just have to give yourself the time to drift off into a peaceful and stress-free headspace.

    Although your mind is bound to wander from time to time, you will always want to come back to center. If negative or distracting thoughts keep coming back, that’s a sign that you are stressed out about that issue. I recommend that you process those thoughts until you are able to come back to the moment.

    Final Thoughts

    With mindful meditation for anxiety, you can now experience inner peace whenever and wherever you choose. With regular sustained practice, it can help you reduce your level of anxiety and thereby improve your overall quality of life exponentially as you take greater control over your emotions.

    Now, more than ever, coping effectively with anxiety and stress is essential. Being aware of your emotions and how they impact the way you feel provides you with the insight necessary to ultimately feel better about yourself through a greater sense of self-awareness.

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    More Tips on Meditating

    Featured photo credit: Benjamin Child via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] NIH: Anxiety Disorders
    [2] QJM: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on suicide rates
    [3] American Psychological Association: Mindfulness holds promise for treating depression
    [4] Mayo Clinic: Mindfulness exercises
    [5] Anahana: SQUARE BREATHING

    More by this author

    Evan Jarschauer

    Professional Mental Health Interventionist & Licensed Psychotherapist

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    How to Practice Positive Meditation in 2 Simple Steps

    How to Practice Positive Meditation in 2 Simple Steps
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    Just by simply spending some effort and time, staying positive every day can be easily achieved. All that is required is a fraction of your time, 10-15 minutes a day to cultivate the positive you!

    But first, what is really positive thinking? Do you have to be in an upbeat, cheerful and enthusiastic mood all day to be positive minded?

    No. Positive thinking simply means the absence of negative thoughts and emotions – in other words, inner peace!

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    When you are truly at peace within yourself, you are naturally thinking positively. You don’t have to fight off negative thoughts, or search desperately for more positive thoughts. It just happens on its own. And here are 2 positive thinking meditation tips to empower you:

    1. Relax as You Meditate

    A powerful, simple yet rarely used technique is meditation. Meditation doesn’t have to take the form of static body posture. It can be as simple as sitting in a comfortable chair listening to soothing music. Or performing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises.

    Meditation is all about letting go of stressful or worrisome thoughts. That’s it! If you spend just a few minutes per day feeling relaxed and peaceful, you automatically shift your mind into a more positive place. When you FEEL more relaxed, you naturally THINK more positively!

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    Start with a short period of time, like 5 or 10 minutes a day. You can meditate first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, right before you go to bed at night, or any time. The most important thing is to consciously let go of unproductive thoughts and feelings. Just let them go for those few minutes, and you may decide not to pick them back up again at all!

    2. Practice Daily Affirmations

    Positive affirmations can be used throughout the day anywhere and at anytime you need them, the more you use them the easier positive thoughts will take over negative ones and you will see benefits happening in your life.

    What are affirmations? Affirmations are statements that are used in a positive present tense language. For example, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better, better and better” is a popular affirmation used by the late Norman Vincent Peale.

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    So how does one go about using positive affirmations in everyday life? Let’s look at some guidelines to follow when reciting your daily affirmations.

    1. Use first person pronouns in your message (I)
    2. Use present tense (I have)
    3. Use positive messages (I am happy)
    4. Repeat your affirmations on a consistent basis

    Affirmations have to be said with conviction and consistency. Start your day by saying your affirmations out loud. It wouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to repeat your affirmations; yet when done consistently, these positive affirmations will seep into the subconscious mind to cultivate the new positive you.

    Here’s an example of a “success affirmation” you can use on a daily basis:

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    I am successful in everything I do. Every venture I get into returns wealth to me. I am constantly productive. I always perform to the full potential I have and have respect for my abilities.
    My work is always given positive recognition. I augment my income constantly. I always have adequate money for everything I require. I spend my money prudently always. My work is always rewarded.

    You can find more examples here: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life

    Remember, affirmations work on the basis of conviction and consistency. Do yourself a favor and make a commitment to see this through.

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    Begin practicing these positive thinking tips right now. And I wish you continued empowerment and growth on your positive thinking journey.

    More About Positive Thinking

    Featured photo credit: Jacob Townsend via unsplash.com

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