Meditation for Anxiety and Stress Relief

Have you ever wondered why there are so many anxiety and stress relief programs? Is it possible that our world has reached a point where mental health should be a serious concern for all of us?

In 2017, the World Health Organization released some worrying statistics about mental health at the global level.

It appears that worldwide, over 264 million people are living with anxiety disorders, which is roughly 3.6% of the global population.

Furthermore, according to the American Psychological Association, “in 2015, reported overall stress levels increased slightly, with greater percentages of adults reporting extreme levels of stress than in 2014. Overall, adults report that stress has a negative impact on their mental and physical health. A sizable proportion do not feel they are doing enough to manage their stress.”

But the worst part is that many of those who are dealing with anxiety and stress on a regular basis do not receive appropriate treatment. While some don’t have the time to seek professional help, others lack the money for expensive therapy sessions or medication.

Fortunately, meditation provides an accessible and free solution to deal with anxiety and stress.

Based on current research, it seems that this thousand-year-old practice can help us deal with the everyday worries that generate our stress and anxiety.

Anxiety and Stress: Welcome to the 21st Century!

Considering the rapid growth of our modern society, the constant pressure to succeed, and the uncertainty of the future, it’s no wonder the number of people dealing with stress and anxiety has increased dramatically.

In broad lines, anxiety and stress are relatively normal reactions that we experience whenever we’re confronted with challenging and potentially threatening situations.

Think of anxiety as your biological alarm system; the mechanism that prompts you to gather your physical, emotional, and mental resources and use them to face the challenges and hardships of life.

Without anxiety and stress, the human species would not have survived.

From job uncertainty, periodic professional evaluations, interviews, divorce, the loss of a friend or family member, the late hours when you expect your teen to return home, the stress of a potential disease – all these situations call for worry, fear, sadness and therefore anxiety.


The Science Behind Meditation for Anxiety and Stress Relief

Over the last decades, there have been numerous studies highlighting the positive effects of practices such as mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation, and yoga.

Both researchers and mental health professionals are well-aware of the fact that meditative practices can lead to increased health and well-being.

Meditation refers to a whole variety of mental practices designed to promote relaxation, build superior inner force, and develop positive traits such as compassion, love, generosity, patience, and forgiveness. Furthermore, it can successfully combat the harmful effects of everyday stress and anxiety by inducing a state of inner peace.

Some of the most significant advantages of meditation are that it’s free, accessible, and doesn’t require special equipment or preparation. You can practice it anywhere: at home, in the park, on your way to work, at the office.

But let’s take a closer look at how meditation impacts our brain and mind:

First of all, a 2015 paper revealed that meditation could have a direct impact on various brain mechanisms that are responsible for behavior and anxiety.

To quote the authors, “our brains do not contain fixed hardwiring; the neural pathways and circuits can in fact change with learning and with mental exercises, and meditation may be a harmless way to encourage the growth of new neurons (neurogenesis) along with the formation of new connections between existing neurons (synaptogenesis).

It appears that aside from encouraging the growth of new neurons, meditation can also help our brain form new neural pathways, a process which represents the foundation of healthy habits. 

Furthermore, a study on the effects of transcendental meditation concluded that this practice could generate significant changes in brainwave patterns and state anxiety. The brain structures that seem to be most sensitive to meditation are the occipital and temporal areas of the left hemisphere.

While the occipital lobe makes sense of visual information, the temporal lobe is responsible form interpreting sounds and language. As you can probably imagine, these two brain areas are crucial to our perception and interpretation of the world.

On top of that, researchers also observed a significant decrease in anxiety after three-month transcendental meditation practice.

And it’s not just one study that confirms the incredible effects of transcendental meditation.

A meta-analysis which compiled data from over 600 research papers on transcendental meditation concluded that this practiceis more effective than treatment as usual and most alternative treatments, with greatest effects observed in individuals with high anxiety.” 

As for stress, transcendental meditation – once again – proves to be the winning strategy. Not only that it reduces employee stress, depression, and burnout, but it also helps prison inmates deal with trauma symptoms and perceived stress.

Being one of the purest, simplest, and most effective meditative practices, transcendental meditation allows the mind to go beyond thoughts, emotions, and sensations, and reach the deepest parts of your consciousness.

That is the place where you will find the origin of your stress and anxiety; the place where real healing begins.

Finally, another wonderful practice that offers promising results in dealing with stress is mindfulness meditation. Popularized in the West by Jon Kabat-Zinn, this practice allows us to willingly and nonjudgmentally focus on the present moment and approach life’s hardships with curiosity and acceptance, rather than worry and fear.

Whether it’s yoga, transcendental meditation, or mindfulness meditation, one thing’s for sure – both scientists and practitioners can confirm that meditation is a viable option for anxiety and stress relief.

Why Does Meditation Work So Well?

We often hear about all the amazing benefits meditation can bring into our personal and professional life. Study after study continues to demonstrate the great treasures that can be gained from this daily practice.

Meditation can help the brain form new neural channels and guide us to explore the nature of our every thought and emotion. It can also help us cultivate compassion and empathy, thus leading to a happier, healthier, and more productive life. 

But the reason why meditation is ideal for anxiety and stress relief probably has something to do with the fact that it changes our perspective.

When we begin to practice on a constant basis, we slowly change the way we see ourselves and the everyday obstacles that can lead to anxiety and stress.

We no longer waste hours ruminating about past mistakes or worrying about future uncertainties. We become wise enough to understand that anxiety and stress, like everything else, are nothing more than fleeting mental states. We begin to seek understanding by exploring the depths of our consciousness, and we learn to embrace the present moment.

Meditation is the simplest and most accessible strategy for anxiety and stress relief. Use it to achieve physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.


The Benefits of Meditation

For thousands of years, people have been experimenting with various techniques in hopes of gaining access to a more profound understanding of consciousness.

From meditation and yoga to hypnosis and profound relaxation, these practices can induce higher states of consciousness where you may discover surprising insights about yourself and your higher purpose.

One of the easiest ways to detach yourself from everything around and delve deep into the depths of your consciousness is meditation.

Due to its surprising benefits, this thousand-year-old practice has drawn the attention of researchers and scientists from all over the world.

Meditation and consciousness

Although meditation and consciousness have always been associated with mysticism and religious practices, about a decade ago, scientists have begun exploring these phenomena from a different perspective.

For example, some experts have sought to integrate mindfulness meditation and consciousness within a neuroscientific perspective. By looking at the brain regions associated with consciousness and meditative states, experts could discover how meditation leads to higher states of consciousness.

If we think of consciousness as the outer manifestation of our inner self, then looking inwards will give us a better understanding of our authentic self. And this is where meditation comes into play taking you on a journey to the deepest levels of human consciousness.

Meditation changes the brain

Aside from cultivating peace of mind and promoting mental health, current evidence suggests meditation can also produce changes at a biological level.

A study of the effects of meditation on the brain revealed this practice could alter dopamine, a hormone which supposedly regulates conscious states at a synaptic level.

Furthermore, EEG studies indicate that meditation produces brainwaves changes that can alter brain activity. As the authors concluded, meditation is associated with active states which involve cognitive restructuring and learning.

It appears this practice is not just a way to relax, achieve a state of calm, and fall asleep easier. During meditation, our brain is in a wakeful state that allows it to restructure and integrate new information. As a result, each meditation session contributes to a deeper understanding of our consciousness and the spiritual nature of our being.

But the changes produced by meditation go far beyond the cellular level. A 2012 study revealed that meditators who achieve higher states of consciousness experience significant changes at a biological and molecular level.

A tool for health and mental clarity

All and all, meditation seems to be a fantastic practice that not only promotes well-being but also helps us gain a better understanding of ourselves as physical, emotional, and spiritual beings.

As one paper brilliantly summarized: The meditative traditions provide a compelling example of strategies and techniques that have evolved over time to enhance and optimize human potential and well-being.

If you wish to explore the depths of your consciousness, meditation is the road that will take you there.

Exploring the Depths of Your Consciousness

Exploring the depths of your consciousness and discovering the essence of your life are perhaps the most daring goals one can achieve.

It takes courage and determination to look inward and shed light on the most intimate aspects of your consciousness. To be honest, you might not always like what you see.

Maybe you discover that the values you’ve been promoting throughout your entire life are not exactly the values with which you resonate most. Perhaps there’s a trace of selfishness and egotistic desire pushing you to behave in a way that’s incongruent with your life’s real mission.

Regardless of what you’ll discover, know that exploring your consciousness is the act through which you get in touch with your spiritual self.

Just close your eyes, put aside the ‘noise’ of the outside world, and let your mind wander. Observe the stream of thoughts, sensations, and emotions that are racing through your head. Imagine you’re an explorer, eager to discover the mysteries of this amazing inner world we call human consciousness.

There you will find all the answers and gain valuable mental and spiritual resources to help you achieve your true mission in life.

Aligning with Your True Mission and Purpose

Once you understand the collective and universal nature of human consciousness, you will begin to look at life from an entirely different perspective.

This newly-acquired knowledge will guide your steps and help you design your life’s mission based on your true values, ideas, and principles.

Perhaps this is the enlightenment many spiritual leaders have sought and talked about for centuries. Maybe the profound understanding of human consciousness is what frees us from selfish desires, material goals, and egotistic impulses.

Once your thoughts, emotions, and actions are aligned to your true mission and purpose, your life will no longer be a series of events over which you have no control, but a meaningful quest towards spiritual fulfillment and collective growth.

Through meditation, you can achieve higher states of consciousness and reinvent your life.

Follow your dreams, be mindful of your values, and pursue goals that stretch far beyond personal gains!