This blog answers questions about: Can you experience anxiety during meditation? What are the three steps to avoid anxiety during meditation? How guided mindfulness can help to calm anxious feelings? What is meditation? What are the steps of meditation? What are the main triggers of anxiety during meditation? What are some ways to manage anxiety? What are the therapy options for anxiety?
Can you experience anxiety during meditation?
According to researchers at Brown University a study showed that people during meditation can experience anxiety, panic fear, and paranoia.
Supporting this are many meditation instructors who acknowledged the fact that meditation in some situations might be the reason for generating bad effects.
A relating study suggests that about 63% of participants in a meditation retreat reported experiencing negative consequences post-meditation such as confusion, disorientation, and anxiousness.
Meditation can be of different types one of the most well-known and most practiced is mindfulness. Mindfulness requires a person to focus on the current thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
Though mindfulness helps people feel connected with the present and calmer it might not generate positive effects every time in every individual.
Many individuals start their journey of mindfulness and other forms of meditation with optimism however they might be vulnerable to experience the negative effects of it such as anxiety or depression.
There is no clear evidence on how meditation or mindfulness might lead to negative effects in an individual however many researchers believe that it is mainly triggered by the subconscious anxious mind which plays out during meditation.
Nevertheless, those planning to adopt mindfulness techniques to bring about positivity in their life can do so with guided sessions to avoid negative effects where the session is led by a teacher or an authorized app with appropriate narrations.
What are the three steps to avoid anxiety during meditation?
Some precautionary steps that people can take to decrease the possibilities of experiencing anxiety during mindfulness or meditation are:
Focus on your sensations
A person must be well aware of their bodily senses and their breathing. At any time if a person feels that they are experiencing discomfort they must immediately stop carrying out mindfulness and ease themselves.
Some discomforting sensations of anxiety might include palpitations, increased heart rate, increased breathing, trembling, and nausea.
Focus on the breathing
By focusing on one’s breathing a person can be more conscious about how they are feeling about the entire process of mindfulness. If at any point a person feels that their breathing is fluctuating and is increasing rapidly it can be an indication of fear, panic, and anxiety.
Focus on the present moment
Many times, even though individuals make up their mind to carry out mindfulness and focus on the current movement while they start to focus on their senses and the breathing they can be distracted by their anxious thoughts.
These anxious thoughts can further create a sense of discomfort and heightened symptoms of anxiety.
A person must try and focus on the present moment as that is the main goal of mindfulness to reduce stress.
How guided mindfulness can help to calm anxious feelings?
Guided mindfulness involves a trained meditation instructor who provides appropriate narrations to individuals throughout the process reducing the possibilities of negative effects such as anxiety and depression.
These guided mindfulness sessions can either take place in groups or individually. they can also take place online or in-person
Mindfulness helps to regulate feelings
Guided mindfulness can help to regulate difficult thoughts, feelings, and emotions without suppressing, analyzing, or encouraging them.
when a person allows themselves to acknowledge their current worries, irritations, negative memories it helps in fading away from the negativity.
Mindfulness helps to safely explore
Guided mindfulness can also help individuals explore their unknown causes of distress and concern. This is done by accepting the events that are happening in a person’s life rather than escaping from them.
It acts as a medium to gain insights into what’s driving a person’s concern and anxiety.
Mindfulness can help create healthy boundaries
Guided mindfulness can also help create healthy imaginary boundaries around a person such that their concerns and anxieties do not exhaust them both mentally and physically leaving them dysfunctional.
when a person can understand the unknown causes of their fears, worries, and negative thoughts a sense of freedom is felt.
What is meditation?
Meditation can be referred to as the balancing and focusing technique. The main goal of meditation is to bring about a balance between a person’s subjective and objective experience and expand awareness.
When people sit down to meditate, they are required to close their eyes and focus. This helps the person to eliminate distractions and focus on their internal experience.
What are the steps of meditation?
The steps of meditation are:
- First, a person must find a quiet and comfortable place where they can sit without distraction for 15 to 20 minutes.
- After sitting comfortably with back upright and without any external support a person must close their eyes.
- Once a person closes their eyes they must focus on their internal experiences and sensations.
- A person must then try to focus on their attention and breathing.
- If a person feels distracted by irrelevant thoughts they can consciously try and bring them back onto their technique.
- when a person is done within a meditation session they must give a few minutes to transition into their daily activities.
What are the main triggers of anxiety during meditation?
Certain triggers make some people more vulnerable to anxiety than others during meditation. Some contributing triggers of anxiety are:
An individual is more vulnerable to experiencing anxiety during meditation in the presence of chronic or serious health diagnoses such as cancer or diabetes.
Triggers associated with health diagnosis tend to have a strong impact on an individual because of the strong negative thoughts and emotions that are associated with it.
It is believed that many over-the-counter medications may contribute to the symptoms of anxiety in some individuals during meditation. This is certainly because of the ingredients in this medication that makes an individual feel uneasy.
Use of caffeine
Even though it is said that the use of caffeine helps to activate an individual’s system, studies show that over-usage of caffeine might lead to adverse effects such as anxiety or even depression.
Factors such as one’s eating habits might also contribute to an individual’s anxiety directly or indirectly during meditation. When an individual fails to maintain their food timings it might lead to fluctuations in their blood sugar levels.
These fluctuations might make an individual feel jittery which in turn triggers anxiety.
Hence maintaining a proper schedule and diet is important for various reasons not just for energy but also for maintaining one’s mood.
An individual’s behavior and emotions are certainly controlled by one’s thoughts. When an individual is upset and dwells on negative thoughts it further leads to discomforting emotions and detrimental thoughts causing a vicious cycle.
Many individuals experience anxiety due to their financial standing while meditating. Learning to manage financial triggers requires seeking professional help such as from a financial advisor.
Daily stressors as simple as traffic jams to major ones such as strained relationships might contribute to one’s intensity and frequency of anxiety and anxiety attacks during meditation.
Personal triggers can be as minor as a smell, place, or even a song that reminds an individual of negative and discomforting experiences. Personal triggers can remind an individual of an unconscious or conscious dramatic event in an individual’s life that triggers their anxiety during meditation.
What are some ways to manage anxiety?
Identify and acknowledge the triggers
The most significant strategy that can be used to control one’s anxiety is by identifying and acknowledging those triggers.
Being able to recognize what makes an individual anxious makes them better equipped to take action.
Even though anxiety can be bought under an individual’s control it cannot be predicted. In such situations, it is necessary that an individual actively carries out relaxation techniques.
These might include meditation, yoga, and deep breathing which helps to reduce the intensity of anxiety within a short period.
A key to reducing the frequency and intensity of anxiety attacks could be spending time with close family and friends.
The kind of emotional and practical support provided by these social and personal groups help the person feel connected and aid in distracting one’s mind from negative and recurring thoughts that lead to anxiety.
Apart from friends and families, individuals can also consider speaking to groups of people that are experiencing similar problems.
Set realistic goals
When an individual is feeling overwhelmed, setting goals and targets keeping in mind priorities can help resolve overwhelming feelings of fear or panic.
Setting goals provides structure and routine to an individual’s life reducing space for uncertainty which can be a major trigger for anxiety in many cases.
Take up new challenges
Apart from doing activities that an individual is usually fond of and has expertise in, trying new and challenging activities that put an individual outside their comfort zone in a healthy manner may help reduce the stress and anger temporarily.
Signing up for new activities also provides a path to meeting people with similar stories and concerns.
An individual’s lifestyle plays a major role in their experience of anxiety. An unhealthy and busy lifestyle usually leads to unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, lack of adequate sleep.
A combination of a well-set diet, exercise, and sleep can help to regulate an individual’s mood and equip them with a favorable coping mechanism.
These coping mechanisms in turn help to get control over once anxiety concerns in a more adaptable manner.
lack of proper diet, sleep, and exercise can make an individual sluggish, dependent, moody and vulnerable to anxiety attacks.
Making journal entries
Last but not least having a journal to write down how a person is feeling and thinking when they are anxious helps them to reflect upon their thoughts and feelings.
Putting down one’s thoughts and feelings onto a paper helps to provide a sense of temporary relief.
In the case of journal entry, a person does not even have to fear being judged by another person regarding their thoughts and feelings.
What are the therapy options for anxiety?
Cognitive-behavioural therapy helps an individual to control their anxiety by using strategies like relaxation and breathing. It works on the principles of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.
Exposure therapy is a kind of therapy in which an individual is exposed to a particular stimulus that they usually fear or are anxious about in a graded order.
As and when the individual gets comfortable with the situation or stimulus introduced or exposed to them with each session, individuals get more comfortable with a real-life situation that might have otherwise been a source for triggering anxiety.
It is based on the principle that when an individual interacts with other people who are suffering from the same fears they might not feel left alone or isolated. Group therapy usually involves a group of individuals who are experiencing similar symptoms and problems.
Anxiety can also be treated with the help of medication prescribed by a health care professional.
Though medication alone cannot help in reducing persistent anxiety it can help in restoring a sense of control and bring temporary relief.
In cases where reaching out physically to a professional is impossible or discomforting an individual can opt to seek help through the online medium.
In this, the therapy sessions are carried out one-to-one over a video or audio call. Some individuals also prefer interacting with the therapist through text as well due to various reasons. One of the most common is the fear of being judged by the therapist or some personal hesitation.
Online therapy can help individuals to regulate some aspects of their anxiety that aids individuals in carrying out a stress-free life over time
Meditation and mindfulness are practiced by many individuals across the globe to keep a positive mindset. However, when it is not done accurately or when done excessively it might lead to negative effects such as fear, panic, anxiety, and depression.
To tackle the negative effects of meditation individuals can start with guided mindfulness sessions such that they understand the various elements of mindfulness until they are confident enough to carry it out independently without any negative experiences.
Frequently asked questions
Why do I experience anxiety when meditating?
Though no study indicates the direct relationship between meditation and feelings of anxiety many researchers believe that people might experience sensations related to anxiety such as increased heartbeat due to their anxious minds and also about the anxiousness regarding how the meditation will play out.
How can you overcome anxiety during meditation?
Some ways to overcome anxiety during meditation are:
- Focus on your breathing
- Acknowledge your time
- Focus on your current thoughts
How do you meditate for anxiety?
Steps for mindfulness meditation are:
- Sit upright in a chair with feet flat on the ground
- Pay attention to your breathing
- Focus on the president thought
- Continue this nonjudgmental observation for about 10 minutes in quiet
Does daily meditation help anxiety?
Meditation helps to reduce anxiety and other conditions such as heart disease, chronic pain, depression, and high blood pressure when practiced with focus and concentration.