Anxiety paralyzes the mind and becomes an obstacle when you are trying to accomplish work. In university, during exam season, I suffered from numerous panic attacks. The worrying thoughts slowly consumed my mind to the point I would read a whole chapter without realizing what I had read. After university, the anxiety carried into my work life where my idle mind would consume itself in useless thoughts. I would be absent minded in meetings, sweat a lot (just by sitting in my chair) and started to loose my hair.
I started to research ways how meditation can help me with my anxiety and stress. I had meditated before but not as much I’d like to. I meditated maybe twice or thrice a month. Some of the best ways I learned to control anxiety is by using different breathing techniques that help divert my thoughts.
The awareness of the inner and outer breath helps divert your mind from thoughts. This diversion will stop the negative perpetual cycle that hijacks your mind because the cycle begins with only one thought. By awareness of thoughts, I do not mean a full statement “I am aware of my mind” but rather a simple mental note to help keep focus.
This technique counts the number of seconds you can hold your breath at different intervals. Start by focusing on your nose and inhale for a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count 4 and then exhale for a count of 7. As you inhale, gently count in your head.
This counting practice has helped me shift my focus from my thoughts to the awareness of my body. The count can be altered to any number, just make sure that your exhalation is longer. You will find your body more relaxed as you exhale slowly out from the mouth. Continue each set at least 5 times.
No pause breathing!
In this breathing technique you maintain the same count on the inhalation and exhalation but you don’t hold the breath at all. Have a continuous flow of your breathing. So for example, inhale for 5 seconds and immediately exhale slowly for 5 seconds. By breathing in and out slowly, your heart rate should slow down. When you feel anxious or are stressed out, your heart rate will begin to increase. This increase in the heart rate triggers your body into an active state. I used to succumb to these kind of attacks before I would go to bed. Lowering my heart rate, helped me sleep with ease.
Fight or flight
The power of the human mind is incredible because of its ability to control the body. Our fears can prison our bodies in a state of paralysis in which we are not able to function in our jobs or daily life. The “flight or fight” system that is biologically part of us all is also a system that can work against us unless we learn how to cope with it. Most of our fears are based on mental perception that is very far away from reality. The worlds that we create in our minds need to be balanced with true reality through awareness and constant meditation.