Meditation for Anxiety
This is my favourite meditation for anxiety and worry. As someone who struggled immensely with anxiety in my late teens and early twenties this meditation was a game changer- and the first one I learned! If you are completely new to meditation I would recommend starting here, to learn some basics first!
Now, we will always have these anxious feelings, and they actually serve a purpose- they want to keep you safe! So, we are not trying to get rid of them, rather, we want to learn how to relate to them in a different way. How can we create more space between you and the emotions, so that we are more of an observer, rather than feeling completely absorbed by them.
Your thoughts do not define you, you are not your thoughts
Having this awareness is empowering. And, learning this by way of meditation changed everything for me. I was so consumed with worry that I let it define me, I was ‘the worrier’. I related to being that way so much so, that that was my comfort zone. In contrast, some of you may find it scary to even ‘observe’ your anxious thoughts that appear during meditation because you work so hard to suppress them. Please know that this process is about practicing ‘kind awareness’, just a simple (gentle) acknowledgement often helps the hard emotions dissipate.
When you don’t expend energy becoming consumed by anxiety or suppressing anxiety you create an opportunity to gain insight. In turn, this creates a feeling of freedom and spaciousness in the mind.
Please don’t worry if you are doing the meditation right. YOU ARE :)!! It does not matter how many times you get distracted. What matters is all the times you come back to the breath and present moment.
Let’s get Started
With consistent practice this meditation will help you learn the body scan, how to focus on your breath and how to be mindful of your thoughts.
The minutes I have written at each step are simply a guideline. Feel free to take as short or as long as you feel like!
One technique that you can implement during this meditation is ‘noting’. Whenever you get distracted from the meditation simply ‘note’ it as either ‘thinking’ (mental distraction) or ‘feeling’ (physical distraction) and come back to the breath. When you ‘note’ make sure you say it kindly and gently to yourself.
Now…Sit in a quiet, upright position either on a chair or on the sofa with your feet on the floor or cross-legged, arms on lap. Take a few deep breaths and let your eyes close gently on an exhale.
Notice the Senses
Feel the weight of the body and notice its points of contact. For example, your arms on your lap or your feet on the floor. Next, begin to notice all of the sounds around you- birds, neighbours, the AC running etc. 2 minutes.
Do a Body Scan
Starting at the top of the head, work your way down the body and notice how each part feels. Work your way down to your toes. Do you feel restless or still? Light or heavy? Just take a quick notice and move on. After you have worked your way down to your toes determine your intention for the meditation. 2 minutes.
Follow the Breath
Begin to follow and focus on the natural rhythm of the breath. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.
If it helps you to focus count to ten. Inhale at 1, exhale at 2. Count to ten then repeat. You can also choose to put your hands over your chest so you can feel and follow your breath more easily.
You can also choose to use your mala beads at this step instead. I show you how to use them here!
If you notice the mind has wandered gently acknowledge it (noting: thinking or feeling) and come back to the breath. 5+ minutes.
Back to the Body
Once you’re nearing the end of your meditation come back to the body. Notice the weight and contact points. Listen to the sounds around you. Open your eyes when you are ready. 1+ minutes
If you have time, after meditating, grab your journal and write your thoughts down for the day. I tend to write about where my mindset is and how I’m feeling. There is something about putting pen to paper that helps to release and let go of thoughts you have rattling around in your mind. Also, write down everything your grateful for!
Carry this feeling with you throughout the day
See how many times you can catch yourself being too distracted in thought. Note it. Then come back to the present moment. Doing this consistently will help change how your mind relates to anxiety/worrying and will create more space between you and your thoughts.
This meditation for anxiety is based off what I have learned / what has worked best for me via the HeadSpace App.