Anxiety can sometimes seem like some grotesque, irresistible monster that demands of us our life, health, peace of mind, and time. Time most of all. It so often robs us of time and life. Time to breathe. Time to settle. Time to expand our wings and soar to the heavens.
It is thanks to anxiety that, so often, we as people falter and lose hope. We descend into our miserable little bubbles, and there is no escape. We need to set aside time for ourselves. Don't let stress compromise your health and well-being. You need to cut through. You need time for yourself. When stress takes over your life, never forget that there are simple and effective things you can do to break free—to meditate.
Play Calming Music
Yoga studios often have those CDs playing where they play that calming, almost mystical, sounding music. It sounds otherworldly. A soundscape of sorts. Listening to it can take you away from your world, and carry you off to some unknown vista of ease and comfort.
Music is a sensory experience. By letting it overtake you, you are in turn removed from the noise of your normal world. The normal beeps and cars beyond become mere distant grumbles as a new world of sound envelops you.
Let the music be your shell. Let it curl about you, and cloisture you in a new world. Anything that can remove the negativity in your stressful life will help you dive into your meditation.
You spend enough time in that stressful, anxious world. Now it is time for you to go inward. This is your time.
Leave the House
Alternatively, go outside.
If you are feeling stress in your personal space, get away from it all. Take a ride to the park. Take a ride to your favorite bookstore. Go anywhere. Go to a coffee place, and let the smell of freshly ground coffee beans fill your nostrils.
Your home carries all your discharged stress and anxiety. Stress can corrode the air around you. Breathing in exhaust is not good for your body, and, likewise, lingering in a stressful environment can smother you.
It's good to get away so you can clear fresh air, clean air, stress-free air. The great thing about meditaiton is that it can be done anywhere. A park bench under a brilliant oak tree. A iced-over lake. A toasty coffee shop. A bustling mall.
It is so important to change your scenery, so never forget that you can escape the shackling confines of your anxiety. Your stress will not hold your spirit down. You have the ability to rise above it.
So get out. Go somewhere new. And breathe fresh air.
Don't Force Your Mind Clear
Stop breathing. Right now. Just try to stop the involuntary processes of your body. Feel that burning in your chest? Up your throat? You can almost feel pulsating pain course up your skull, leaving you tense and on edge.
Let go. Just ease your breathing. Let your body reach an equilibrium that leaves you feeling fine and at ease.
Isn't that much better?
Do you even notice your breathing once you've stopped paying it mind?
When meditating, thoughts will cross your mind. That's fine. Thoughts are involuntary charges—a part of your being. They come and they go. They flutter on the breeze like seagulls searching for scraps of bagels on the tide.
If you try to force your mind clear of thoughts, all that will do is leave you shaking with anxiety. The more thought you give your thoughts, the less clear your mind is. Let the clutter out. Let the thoughts come in and out like the drifting tide on the beach.
Drift Back to the Present When Your Thoughts Carry You to the Past
Your mind can wander while meditating. You might think about your car, and how you might've parked too close to the fire hydrant. You might feel anxiety clench around your throat thinking about that.
Ease back to now. That can wait. This is your time to relax and take it all in.
But then there's that problem at work. A nervous coworker. A troublesome assignment. Surely that should worry you more. How will you confront that issue?
Don't worry about that now. This is your time to get away from all that. The problem will still be there when you leave this trance. Don't let it permeate your life and ruin your time to be at ease.
Don't let the world outside your meditation invade your sanctuary. Let yourself live in this one, peaceful moment. The world beyond now can wait for you to finish meditating. Remember: you owe this time to yourself.
Take a deep breath. Right now. Feel your lungs fill up? Feel strength fill your chest? Hold it. Feel the tense vibration of your lungs as it struggles to hold all that in? What at first may have felt good now is causing discomfort. If you hold onto it longer, it may cause pain. So breathe out now. Let out that tension. Let it drift away. Don't you feel better now that all that weight is out of your chest?
Breathing is one of the few instrumental things for our health. If we don't breathe, we die. But breathing can also orient your bodily rhythm. It can carry with it all your anxiety—all your stress and sadness—and toss it into the wind—far away from you.
The process of regular deep breathing soothes the muscles. You will feel as though a literal weight is being lifted off your shoulders. Your meditation will fall into a rhythm with you breathing regularly. A focus on breathing—a means to feel your body inflate and deflate with comfort and tension.
Never hold onto anything while meditating. You should not feel attached to any one breath or thing. It is your time. You are all that matters.
Put your Body at Ease
When meditating, you shouldn't put any stress on your body. You shouldn't be struggling to hold yourself up or in a particular position.
Let your body go limp and at ease. Let your arms drop to your sides; let your head rest comfortably. Don't let the stress of your body press down on your feet and ankles. Don't let gravity pull your body like a Raggedy Anne.
Take a seat in a chair. Lay down. Let your spinal column be at ease. It carries your head up all the time. Let it relax. Let your abdominal muscles soften and be at ease. It has enough tension holding your organs in. Don't let it suffer another moment.
Once you feel every part of your body relax, you realize how much tension you carry. Don't carry that weight into meditation. It can only tear you out of your meditative state, and throw you into a cesspool of anxiety and stress.
You don't need that during your time.
A simple solution, isn't it?
So often, stress and anxiety plasters our face into a perpetual frown. We are molded and bent over thanks to our anxiety. It keeps us from smiling. From levity.
A smile is your little rebellion.
It is through smiling that we first break free of anxiety's shackles. It is through that where we escape stress, and find a place to breathe. To take things easy. Where we can meditate.
Smiling is such a little, easy gesture, isn't it?
And so infinitely valuable to our health.
Never Forget There is No Such Thing as Meditating Wrong
Meditating is something you can't do wrong. It does not matter if you are seated on a floor, in an armchair, or in a bed. It does not matter what you're wearing, if it's night or morning, or if you ate yet.
There is no wrong way to meditate. The intent is to be comfortable. If you are comfortable and at ease while meditating, then you're doing it right.
Ask yourself only this question when you leave your trance: do you feel better? If not, meditate different next time to feel better. If so, however, then you did it right for you.
Everyone needs different things while meditating. Do what works for you.
Get Into a Good Rhythm. And Stick to It.
When it comes to meditation, patterns are key. Finding your personal rhythm is sometimes the key thing.
Now, I don't mean meditating the same time every day necessarily. Forcing yourself to commit to a meditation hour in the middle of the day can stress you out, especially if you're shoving other commitments out of the way to make time for meditation.
But try to do it regularly.
Remember how good you feel during and after meditation. Free—liberated from your personal stress. Don't you want to feel that all the time?
If so, make time for it. Seek that liberation from your pain so it may become a more natural part of your routine. Consistent meditation will leave you feeling better for longer. Anxiety will be fleeting. Your pain will be fleeting. Just let yourself be carried off by the trance.
Like all health related things, consistency is key.
Remind Yourself that You Matter
It is easy to lose a sense of value in this world. Often, people are judged not by their inherent goodness, but how much monetary value they add to the lives of others.
And, after you leave your meditative state, very often you might find yourself vulnerable to these anxieties of the waking world. Once you come back to Earth—as we all must—it is easy to let anxiety and fear bombard you from all sides anew.
It is important to safeguard yourself from that by remembering all that is good about you.
Carry a notebook near you when you set off to meditate. Every time you leave the state, jot down a note reminding yourself what you are good at. What others love about you. What you love about yourself.
As you meditate more and more, that list will grow. You may find yourself finding more things to love about yourself as you continue on your journey.
Just remember that what seems insurmountable—your mountain, your anxiety—is but a drop in the bucket of your life. You are a sea of good—an infinite expanse full of endless possibilities. Never forget that ALL of your time is YOUR time. Make the most of it. Believe in yourself, and lay out a path of joy for yourself to travel.
Anxiety is not yours to hold onto. Joy is.