Another useful technique for calming anxiety is meditation. Meditation is not just for religious people. In fact, meditation can be no more complicated or otherworldly focused than the breathing exercise described in last Tuesday’s entry. If you are spiritually inclined, consider taking a meditation class. You can usually find these offered through community centers and colleges/universities that offer not-for-credit classes, at spiritual bookstores and through spiritual groups (churches, shaman groups, etc.). Taking a yoga or Tai Chi class can also be a form of meditation. Prayer is a form of meditation.
The type of meditation westerners are most familiar with is similar to the breathing exercise I’ve written about except that instead of focusing on your breath, you choose one “concept” or word to focus on. Some do this with a personal mantra. Some choose an abstract idea like ‘peace.’
Find a comfortable, private spot that is free of distractions--e.g., you can’t hear the TV droning in the other room and no one will interrupt you. Sit in a comfortable position on the floor or in a chair. You may wish to sit in the lotus position. In any case, rest your hands on your thighs with your palms turned upward, so your body has an open posture. Close your eyes. For at least five minutes focus on the word you’ve chosen. If your mind wanders (and it will), draw your thoughts back to your word. If you’ve chosen the word ‘peace,’ notice your body feeling at peace. Notice your mind feeling at peace. Do this daily.
Up next Tuesday: Visualization as a Relaxation Technique