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6. How meditation can ease anxiety

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. She has used meditation to help her overcome panic attacks.

Anxiety is an emotion that few of us like. Yet we all get anxious from time to time. Some of us have more anxious episodes than others and for some, anxiety is an almost constant companion.  However, most of us would like to reduce anxiety.

Developing our emotional intelligence skills has a big role to play in helping us do this.

Just as developing greater skills in emotional intelligence involves many techniques and strategies, there isn't just one way to learn how to reduce anxiety, there are many ways.

One key way is meditation. Mindfulness meditation, and meditation generally, is coming increasingly under the scientific spotlight. It is now a much sought-after and proven technique for managing your emotions. It is therefore of direct relevance to the development of your emotional intelligence. Specifically it has been found to help people reduce and soothe anxiety.

For those people with minor levels of anxiety, meditation may be all that is needed to help reduce it. For most people with anxiety however, meditation may work best when used as an adjunct to other therapies.

If you want to try meditation to ease your anxiety I recommend our "Happy not hassled" MP3s to you. All the meditations on there are the ones that I used to help me overcome my panic attacks.

MP3s: $29 (US). Add to Cart

Emotional intelligence skills: What is meditation?

Let me describe meditation very simply to you, as really it is simple.

Meditation helps people monitor and calm their minds. In meditation people focus on a single, wholesome object, e.g. breathing in and breathing out; or on a phrase such as "peace and calm", and so on.

While they are paying attention to this object they watch their mind in case it drifts away onto thoughts, memories, sensations, regrets, planning, criticisms or other distractions. If this happens, which it invariably does, they gently bring it back to focusing on their meditation object, instead of commenting on the thoughts that arise. They do this over and over again.

In essence that is what meditation is.

Want to learn how to meditate? Our professionally produced recordings "Happy not hassled" explain how to meditate, what to do if you think you can't and how to manage your emotions through meditation, and they include four guided meditations of different lengths and types so you can practise in the comfort of your own home.

MP3s: $29 (US). Add to Cart

Emotional intelligence skills: How can our mind increase anxiety?

Various thoughts can start and build anxiety. When we think to ourselves. "What if I can't pay the mortgage?" or "What if I broke down?" or "What if I get sick?" anxiety can be present. If we then follow and engage with these thoughts, our anxiety can get worse.

The more energy and attention we give to these thoughts, and the more we believe them, and the more we focus on them, the more likely anxiety is to grow.

For example, if we say, "What if I break down?" and then say to ourselves, "Oh that would be awful, what on earth would I do, it will be late at night and if I got out of my car I could get mugged, and then no one would know as Jonathan is away and I could be left for hours without being able to get help and I might die".

This sequence of thoughts escalates anxiety. One thought leads to another thought and so a proliferation of thoughts occurs and we are in the grip of anxiety.

If you want to try meditation to reduce your anxious thoughts I recommend the "Happy not hassled" recordings to you. All the meditations on there are the ones that I used to help me overcome my panic attacks.

MP3s: $29 (US). Add to Cart

Emotional intelligence skills: How can meditation help manage anxiety?

  1. It can teach us how to recognise an anxious or negative thought as soon as it arises.
  2. It teaches us how to let the thought go without agreeing with or adding to the thought, so we don't give it power or energy.
  3. We learn it is "just a thought", and so don't worry about it or believe it.
  4. It teaches us to return to our object or the present moment instead of focusing on the thought, idea or sensation that may promote or develop our anxiety.
  5. When we return to focusing on our calming object, at this point, peacefulness and calm can build and anxiety diminish.
  6. It teaches us that peacefulness is already inside us, we just have to get out of the way and let it arise.

Anxiety does not usually occur in the present moment when we are focusing fully on what we are doing (in my experience, anyway). Instead, anxiety is often brought about by thinking about an anticipated negative future, that may never arise.

Meditation helps to keep us in the present moment and stops us becoming attached to thoughts that can start or nurture our anxiety.

I have personally found meditation an enormous benefit in managing anxiety.

Learn how to meditate now. Our professional recordings "Happy not hassled" will guide you through four different meditations and give you instructions on how to meditate and how to use meditation to manage your emotions.

MP3s: $29 (US). Add to Cart