Therapist Blog

How Meditation Can Help Anxiety

Meditation helps with racing thoughts by quieting the overactive mind. The process of slowing down your mind allows you to silence thoughts that have you buying into your fearful racing thoughts. By meditating you can start identifying what silence can exists between every mental action/thought. This practice is just that, a practice, through time you will be able to practice mediation without the urge to run from the silence. In addition with regular practice, you experience that you’re not simply your thoughts and feelings. You can detach yourself from these to rest in your own being, in your own body. Many people are detached from their body, and mediations allows you to return to your body, and keep you centered rather than pulled outside by a thought or trigger.

 Anxious people often shy away from meditation for various reasons. “I can’t meditate” is code for feeling too restless to sit still or having too many thoughts while trying to meditate. However, anyone can learn to meditate. With being patient and having a guide, these objections and one like them can be overcome.

Numerous scientific studies have found meditation to be effective for treating anxiety.  One study, published in the Psychological Bulletin, combined the findings of 163 different studies. The overall conclusion was that practicing mindfulness or meditation produced beneficial results, with a substantial improvement in areas like negative personality traits, anxiety, and stress. 

All mental activity has a physical correlation in the brain, which has been studied in relation to anxiety. Chronic worriers often display increased reactivity in the amygdala, the area of the brain associated with regulating emotions, including fear, flight/fight/freeze. Neuroscientists at Stanford University found that people who practiced mindfulness meditation for eight weeks were more able to turn down the reactivity of this area. Other researchers from Harvard found that mindfulness can physically reduce the number of neurons in this fear-triggering part of the brain.

Mindfulness practices can be the first step to learning to meditate.

If interested in learning more about mindfulness practices continue to follow the blog as there will be follow-up post talking specifically about that.