A Different Kind of Anti-Anxiety “Medication”
Do you want to be stressed? How about anxious? Irritated? I doubt it; nobody enjoys feeling these negative emotions. Many of us don’t know how to handle them, though – and often end up turning to a quick fix to solve the problem.
What if there was a more sustainable way to deal with anxiety and stress? There is. It’s called meditation.
A Small Commitment
In a way, meditating is like going to the gym. At first, it can be brutally difficult to lift any amount of weight, and after just a few minutes your mind starts to wander towards things you’d rather be doing. It takes a significant amount of willpower to wake up early to work out or even overcome your acquired laziness to do it throughout the day. It’s easy to make excuses as to why you’re too busy and it’s hard to stay consistent. But unlike the gym, to receive the benefits of meditation all you need to do is devote 10 minutes or 1% of your day.
By consistently devoting 1% of your day to meditation, one receives profound effects in as little as an 8 week period. Many studies have shown a range of effects spanning from reduced stress, enhanced focus, increased empathy, decreased anxiety, and improved interpersonal interactions and relationships. Sounds pretty good right?
Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School, verified her anecdotal claims with studies that proved empirically that consistent meditation literally changes the physiology of the brain in four specific areas. She told an interviewer in the Washington post that these four areas are the regions of the brain which assist in focus, emotional regulation, empathy, and fight or flight responses. Her research supported her anecdotal claim about the benefits of consistent meditation.
There are many different ways to meditate. Books upon books have been written on the subject by innumerable teachers throughout history. Everyone should discover, practice, and try a multitude of meditation styles and techniques. There are contemplative or concentrative, and passive or active ways to meditate. Yoga is a form of active meditation, compared to Vipassana which is more passive and concentrative. There are guided meditations, FM3 transmitters, candles, breathing techniques, yoga, silence, and visualizations; each one has its own benefits.
Regardless of the technique, the most important thing is consistency. All the research points to positive effects being directly related to a consistent practice that spans over a minimum 8 week period. The reason consistency and a span of time is required is because the brain needs time to change, but only progresses through a consistent effort.
A consistent meditation practice has the ability to make profound changes in emotional well-being in a relatively short period of time. Many practitioners note a marked decrease in their anxiety levels, ability to focus and overall satisfaction with life. While meditation does take some practice and consistency, the results it promises are easily within reach to anyone that is willing to dedicate a little time and effort into implementing it in their life. Try meditation out for a couple months and enjoy the spiritual, mental and emotional benefits yourself!