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Treating Anxiety and Depression with Meditation

Meditation is one of the most effective things you can do to cope with depression and anxiety


How Depression and Anxiety can Influence Your Life

Depression and anxiety are common yet serious mental health illnesses. For example, Anxiety disorders affect nearly 20 percent of American adults. If you have or know someone who has suffered from depression or anxiety, you are aware of how the symptoms that can interfere with your everyday activities and affect your overall life.

Your daily life can be influenced by depression and anxiety through persistent negative thoughts and feelings that result in reduced energy levels, decreased concentration levels, and lack of career motivation.

Besides affecting your performance at work or school, these mental disorders can also cause problems in your personal and social life. You may become detached, avoid social gatherings, and often behave erratically or irrationally. Feelings of nervousness, fear, hopelessness, or worthlessness are also typical. Chronic depression and anxiety can not only disrupt relationship harmony but also ultimately accumulate in a decline in your physical health.

3 eggs lying on a tray

This includes changes in weight because of eating too much or too little as well as changes in sleep patterns that affect your ability to concentrate or think pragmatically. Anxiety also affects your breathing and respiratory system, digestive system, immune system, and central nervous system. It causes rapid heart rate, palpitations, chest pain, dizziness, and headaches.

While medication and psychotherapy are used to treat depression and anxiety, many patients may also be able to treat themselves and cope with symptoms. These involve techniques designed to help reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, relieve pain and stay energetic.

How Meditation helps to Cope with Depression and Anxiety

Meditation is being able to be fully present, without being overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Meditation can give you a sense of calmness, stability, and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health.

The aim of meditation is not to push aside the pain, sadness, and stress or block out negativity, but rather to notice those thoughts and feelings while realizing that you don't have to act on them.

Research suggests that mindfulness meditation had a dramatic impact on our mental health.

It teaches you to notice difficult thoughts and feelings without analyzing, suppressing, or encouraging them. When you allow yourself to feel and acknowledge your worries, fears, trauma, and other difficult thoughts and emotions, it often helps them dissipate.

It allows you to safely explore the underlying causes of your grief, stress, fear, or worry. It also helps you create space around your worries so they don’t consume you. When you begin to understand the underlying causes of your anxiety, you don’t find yourself feeling overwhelmed.

How to Try Meditation?

A good start for meditation beginners is to try guided meditation. While there are several different types of meditation and different meditation forms suit different people, we recommend starting with some guidance.

It is often difficult to initially hold your attention to your breathing for some time at a stretch. Guided meditation involves an instructor guiding you to a mental image or visualization so you can form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing.

If you're meditating to calm your mind and your attention wanders, slowly return to the object, sensation, or movement you're focusing on.

man doing meditation in park

We offer a range of different types of guided meditations to help you start practicing and incorporating meditation effortlessly into your everyday life. Our certified instructors, guide you through the process and help you to use various senses such as smells, sights, sounds, and textures in your meditation. You can find our collection of meditation guides, classes, and workshops on The Golden Space App and website.

How it Works

1. Sit upright and get comfortable in a quiet place, and maybe close your eyes.

2. Open your attention to the present moment. Start by bringing your attention to your breath. Don't try to change how you are breathing; simply observe your body as you inhale and exhale.

3. Focus on your breath. You may feel the urge to shift your focus elsewhere. Resist this and continue to focus on your breathing.

4. Try to focus your breathing on one area of your body—the breath of the belly, or the chest, or the nostrils, or anywhere that the breath makes itself known, and keep that more concentrated focus.

5. Anxious or negative thoughts may pass through your mind. Acknowledge them, but try to bring your focus back to awareness of your breathing.

6. Bring your attention to your body. Become aware of sensations in the body as a whole, sitting with the whole body, the whole breath, once again we move back to a wider and spacious container of attention for our experience.

7. Continue this quiet, nonjudgmental observation for a few minutes.

8. After the meditation, gently open your eyes and notice how you feel. Try not to evaluate the experience, just observe.

Tips to Practice Meditation Daily

There is no right way to meditate. You can make meditation as formal or informal as you like, however it suits your lifestyle and situation. Here are some ways you can practice meditation on your own, whenever you choose:

1. Breathing deeply: This is good for beginners because breathing is a natural function.

2. Scanning your body: In this technique, focus your attention on different parts of your body and be aware of its various sensations like tension, warmth, or relaxation.

3. Repeat a mantra: Try to chant your own mantra. It can religious or secular.

4. Walk and meditate: Use this technique while you’re out for a relaxing walk, such as in a forest, park, or on a sidewalk.

5. Read and reflect: Try reading poems or texts and taking a few moments to quietly reflect on their meaning.

6. Focus on love and kindness: Think of others with feelings of love and kindness, and feel more connected to them.

a person meditates on sunrise in front of the a lake

Other Types of meditation

There are many types of meditation and relaxation techniques and all share the same goal of achieving a calm and centered state of mind

  • Mindfulness meditation is based on being mindful and having an increased conscious awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment.

  • Mantra meditation involves silently repeating a calming word, thought, or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts.

  • Transcendental meditation is a type of mantra meditation, where you repeat a personally assigned mantra in a specific way.

  • Body scan meditation or progressive relaxation, helps you mentally scan for uncomfortable or tense feelings in your body so you can release them.

  • Love kindness meditation helps you to develop unconditional kindness to yourself and others. Through this technique, you may be able to manage anxiety symptoms associated with interpersonal conflict and feelings of guilt or shame.

  • Chakra meditation is intended at keeping the body’s core chakras — centers of energy — open and aligned. Blocked or imbalanced chakras can cause both physical and mental discomfort. It not only affects your emotions and reactions but also your mindset and attitude in your relationships and in various circumstances.

Bottom line

While there is no real “cure” for depression or anxiety, meditation can help you treat these mental disorders and cope with their symptoms. When you incorporate meditation practices into your daily life, you may find it easier to challenge negative thoughts and keep yourself from being overwhelmed by them.

Meditation is an awareness practice to establish calm in your body and mind, so you can explore your worries and meet emotions that arise with kindness. It is important not to judge your meditation skills, as this may only add to your stress. Meditation takes practice.

Meditation also takes effort and time. You may notice some slight improvements quickly, but it may take some time to feel different. In the meantime, try to focus on any positive changes you do notice, whether it’s a slight increase in your energy levels or a lift in your mood.

If you’re unsure about how to get started, try out our guided meditations to help you through the process.

For severe cases, meditation works best with professional help. See a doctor or mental health professional for medication or therapy to help overcome your mental health condition.

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