One of the best types of meditation to help overcome anxiety is mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness, very simply, is purposeful awareness in the present moment, without judgement.
It comes from the Buddhist tradition and is also known as Vipassana, or insight meditation, but has since been adapted for western countries.
One of the earliest programs to teach mindfulness for anxiety and stress was Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn's Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, founded in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts. Since then, mindfulness has become increasingly popular and well-accepted in western countries, and is taught by a range of Buddhist teachers, psychologists, health practitioners, and other trained meditation teachers.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons licence).
Many studies have shown that mindfulness meditation is very effective in reducing stress, anxiety and depression, as well as improving your health and the quality of your life.
Congressman Tim Ryan has been practising mindfulness since 2008, when he attended a 2 day retreat after the presidential election had finished.
"I was to the point where I was OK, but I thought, 'I'm going to be fried by the time I'm 40; I'm just going to be burnt out,'" said Ryan, who was 35 at the time of the election.
Tim Ryan has recently written a book, “A Mindful Nation”, in which he explains the benefits of mindfulness for everybody. He believes that practising mindfulness has the potential to connect people, and to bring out greater kindness and compassion in all of us.
Mindfulness for Anxiety and Stress
In the introduction to his book Tim Ryan says:
The kind of practice I've been doing is a classic mindfulness meditation, which relies on sitting in an upright yet relaxed posture for a period of time and paying attention to your breathing, your bodily sensations, and your environment. This practice has been demonstrated to provide measurable benefits in health and well-being. It's helped many people with anxiety, depression and stress—both the everyday levels of stress and the crippling levels of stress that send people to the hospital.
Mindfulness training is being used in many settings—in the corporate world, in the military, and in prisons, and well as in health services. It has been shown to actually change the brain in various beneficial ways, as well as having a whole range of health benefits.
To read more about Tim Ryan's experiences and other ways in which mindfulness is catching on, check out this article from CBS HealthWatch.
If you want to find out more about the practice of mindfulness for anxiety and stress, click here.