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Which Type of Meditation Is Best for Anxiety?

January 04, 2018

Promoted by famous practitioners like Deepak Chopra, M.D. and the Dalai Lama, mindfulness meditation is truly coming of age.

Today mindfulness is popular for everyone, and there are hundreds of resources available on how to use it.

Even better, new research reveals mindfulness is one of the best natural options to reduce anxiety and produce a calmer mental state.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness originates from Buddhist practices. Yet, mindfulness itself is non-denominational.

Like other forms of meditation, mindfulness uses breathing techniques and sounds to calm and center the mind and body. It focuses on being present in the moment with a tranquil state of mind.

Unlike other forms of meditation, which try to eliminate thoughts or distractions, mindfulness encourages awareness of thoughts and feelings. It prompts you to consider these thoughts with detachment and non-judgment.

It promotes openness to the moment, and to approach each moment with kindness and self-love.

Mindfulness Benefits for Anxiety

Mindfulness is especially beneficial for people with anxiety because it offers deep insight into acceptance.

People with anxiety tend to obsess or worry over things they have no control over. Mindfulness teaches the importance of letting go.

Mindfulness encourages complete acceptance of the moment and oneself, followed by a calm release of outcomes or strong feelings regarding a situation.

Just an occasional practice of mindfulness encourages a person with anxiety to learn new, effective ways to respond to stressful situations.

What The Science Says About Mindfulness

The research is promising. A 2012 study combining the results of 163 studies shows practicing mindfulness produces significant improvements in anxiety, stress, and negative personality traits.

Mindfulness meditation actually appears to be able to retrain your brain to react better to stress.

Stanford neuroscientists recently discovered that people who practice mindfulness for eight weeks are able to turn down reactivity in the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with worrying and fear.

How To Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is generally a sitting practice, but you can lie down if it’s more comfortable. Keep your eyes open or closed for the session.

Here’s one simple technique:

  • Start by finding a comfortable place sitting or lying down where you feel supported.
  • Concentrate on your breath. Breathe calmly through your nose. Let your breath be your center.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and how your body feels. Focus on how your body feels supported.
  • Listen to the sounds. Be open to the moment and experience it. Be aware of your thoughts and the sounds around you but don’t place too much importance on them.
  • Concentrate on your breath.
  • Be present and relax into the moment.
  • Breathe in love for yourself. Breathe out anxiety.
  • Practice compassionate detachment to situations, thoughts or feelings that may come up. Know that these things are present, but it’s not your job to do anything about them at the moment.
  • Focus on just being and letting go with each breath.
  • Release your tensions with love. Share that love with yourself, the moment, and your surroundings.

You can practice this technique for 5-10 minutes daily any time you like, or try another method. There are a wealth of choices available in literature, online, or in apps for your phone.

I enjoy walking mindfulness meditation. Bring along a friend, and walk mindfully (without speaking) for 20 minutes to an hour. After your walk, share what you experienced and how you feel.

Just Be

A friend of mine who practices mindfulness meditation talks about the difference between a human “being” and a human “doing.” Mindfulness encourages you to “just be,” even for a little while, in your daily life.

You have the power to reach deep inside yourself through mindfulness, and find a quiet spot where you can be present with your thoughts but anxiety free.

I myself have practiced zazen, a type of mindfulness, alongside Buddhists monks in a traditional zendo in the Ventana wilderness.

A mindfulness session can be extremely refreshing mentally, especially if you’re under high stress at work or at home.

For people who need fast relief from anxiety or sacred alone time, a mindfulness practice can be a tremendous gift for stress managementand health.


Alban, D. (2012-2016). Using mindfulness meditation to overcome anxiety. Retrieved from Be Brain Fit,
Chopra, D. (2016). How meditation can help anxiety. Retrieved from The Chopra Center,
Goldin, P.R., Gross, J.J. (2010, Feb.) Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on emotion regulation in social anxiety disorder. Emotion, 10(1),83-91. Retrieved from
Mindfulness of breath. (2016). Retrieved from Free Mindfulness Project,
Sedlmeier, P., Eberth, J., Schwarz, M., Zimmermann, D., Haarig, F., Jaeger, S.,et al. (2012, Nov.) The psychological effects of meditation: a meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 138(6),1139-71. Retrieved from