Guided meditation for anxiety

How to meditate for anxiety

Slow, focused breathing (not deep breathing) is what we need to figuratively “calm our nerves.”

The breath is the only conscious mechanism we have for controlling our ANS, because both our sympathetic & parasympathetic nervous systems have a hand in affecting our respiratory rate.

Specifically, inhalations activate – or can be activated by – the SNS, while exhalations activate – or can be activated by – the PSNS. This is why when someone jumps out & scares you, you gasp instead of sighing.It’s also why when you feel relaxed, you sigh instead of gasping.

Therefore, the best meditation technique for anxiety is long, slow & easy exhalations that equate to increased activation of the parasympathetic nervous system & decreased activation of the SNS, not deep inhalations.

Does meditation help anxiety?

Mindfulness meditation reduces anxiety in two major ways: Firstly, singularly focusing our attention limits activity in the brain’s neural network (Default Mode Network) which we utilize to negatively ruminate about the past or worry about the future. Second, the act of breathing in a slow focused manner reduces activity in the fight or flight branch of our autonomic nervous system (sympathetic nervous system), stimulates the branch of our autonomic nervous system responsible for rest & digest functions (parasympathetic nervous system), increases heart rate variability (HRV) & signals safety to our survival brain (i.e. the amygdala, hippocampus & hypothalamus, etc.)

These systems reduce anxiety by balancing the brain and body’s hormones & neurotransmitters.

If you would like to read more in depth about how mindfulness meditation reduces anxiety you can check it out here:

Learn to listen from within

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