30 Meditation Techniques for Anxiety

Updated August 26, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Curious About Meditation Techniques For Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder are some of the most common mental health problems in the world. Stress and anxiety can shrink your world as you avoid things that might cause you to start feeling anxious or otherwise affect your mental well-being. There is hope, though. In addition to medication and traditional therapy, practicing meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety. If you’re looking to practice meditation in order to reduce stress, here are 30 different techniques you can use.

  1. Focus On Breathing

One of the simplest meditation techniques for anxiety is focusing on breathing. Peer-reviewed studies have shown that deep breathing exercises, such as belly breathing, can reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety, such as high blood pressure, and help you focus on the present moment. To practice breath awareness, you sit quietly in a comfortable position and take slow, deep breaths in and out. Put all your attention on the natural rhythm of air going in and out of your body, noticing the sensations that happen as you inhale and exhale. Count from 1 to 10, thinking of each number with each succeeding inhale.

  1. Shikantaza

Shikantaza is a type of effortless presence meditation. In this type of meditation for anxiety, you don't focus on anything at all. In fact, the goal is to let thoughts and sensations pass without dwelling on them. You notice what's going within you and outside of you but you don't dwell on what you notice.

  1. Vipassana

The goal of Vipassana meditation is to gain insight and think more clearly. It typically starts with breathwork. Next, you notice the bodily sensations that happen as you breathe. As you begin to notice other sounds and sensations, you notice them as a secondary focus and then move back to your primary focus, which is your breath. You notice these things without feeling an attachment to them.

  1. Guided Meditation

Guided meditation can consist of any type of meditation technique that someone guides you to do. You can get guided meditation recordings on CD, mp3, or internet podcasts. You don't have to know anything about meditation to do them. Just listen and allow the instructor to guide you, helping you to meditate, find inner peace, and confront painful memories.

  1. Visualization

The traditional form of visualization meditation involves focusing on the cosmos and the way you relate to it. However, you can use a more modern form of visualization meditation in which you imagine the best things that could happen to you in vivid detail.

  1. Mindfulness

The focus of mindfulness meditation is the present moment. This is particularly helpful for people who have anxiety about the future. There are many ways to practice mindfulness and stay in the present moment, including mindful breathing, body scans, and even mindful eating. As you practice mindfulness meditation, you want to maintain self-awareness and stay attuned to what is happening around you. You don't judge the sounds, thoughts, and sensations you experience. Instead, you simply observe them and let them pass without trying to hold onto them. According to a systematic review of studies on mindfulness meditation, the practice can decrease psychological distress and increase positive health outcomes.

  1. Metta Meditation

Metta meditation is translated as loving-kindness meditation. You begin the meditation by building loving kindness for yourself. Next, you develop thoughts of kindness towards a friend. Then, you think of loving thoughts toward someone you don't know. You keep expanding your circle until you've developed loving feelings for the entire universe. This can be very difficult for someone with intense anxiety, because it forces them to look beyond themselves, at people and situations that might be frightening to them. Some experts suggest Metta meditation would be best for them after people had already learned other forms of meditation.

  1. Mantras

When most people think of meditation, they think of mantras, especially of the mantra "om." A mantra is simply a word or syllable to focus on while practicing meditation. It can be any word or syllable, although many meditation experts suggest that it's very important to choose a mantra with the right meaning and vibrational quality. To practice mantra meditation, you sit quietly and repeat the mantra, either as a thought or as a lightly-whispered sound.

  1. Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental meditation can be expensive to learn. It combines breathwork with mantras that are the names of Hindu deities, as well as initiation and yogic flying.

  1. Chakras

Chakra meditation focuses on one of the seven centers of energy in the body. These are:

  • Root chakra at the base of the spine
  • Sacral chakra below the navel
  • Solar plexus chakra in the stomach area
  • Heart chakra at the center of the chest
  • Throat chakra at the base of the throat
  • Third Eye chakra in the forehead, just above the area between the eyes
  • Crown chakra at the top of the head

As you think of a certain chakra, you may use a specific mantra associated with that chakra or think of a color that is associated with it.

  1. Third Eye Meditation

Third Eye meditation focuses only on the third eye chakra. Teachers of this type of meditation typically instruct you to look upward toward the area above and between your eyes. During the meditation, you keep directing your attention back to the Third Eye. As you do, you go longer and longer without actively thinking of anything else.

  1. Trataka Meditation

Trataka meditation can also be called "gazing." You fix your attention on an object outside yourself. It could be a candle flame or a figurine, anything you can look at. To practice trataka meditation, you gaze intently at that object with your eyes open. Then, you close your eyes as you continue to focus on your visual image of that object.

  1. Kriya Yoga Meditation

Kriya yoga meditation is a specific type of meditation taught by Paramahamsa Yogananda. It is a devotional form of meditation and best suited for people who are more spiritually-minded.

  1. Gong or Music Meditation

Gong meditation, also called a gong bath, is a type of meditation in which you focus on the sounds of a gong or gongs. You lie on your back on a yoga mat or towel, close your eyes, and relax. It is the vibrations of the gongs that are used to promote inner healing. You can go to a gong meditation class or presentation, or you can purchase gong meditation CDs to use on your own at home. Music meditations are similar and can use many different musical instruments, most often flutes or recorders.

  1. Meditation Apps

In the midst of the rush of daily life, it can be hard to find time to practice meditation. However, a meditation app can remind you when to meditate, provide guided meditations, and give you tips on meditation techniques. If you have even a few minutes to spare, you can typically fit in a meditation session. These apps can be great for those who have a busy schedule but still want help managing stress and finding inner peace.

  1. Kundalini Meditation

Kundalini meditation is a complex practice that some say is dangerous without the help of a qualified yogi. It uses energization, breathwork, and other meditation techniques to gain awareness of the "kundalini energy" and move toward enlightenment. Although kundalini meditation typically increases a feeling of calm, it isn't a quick fix for debilitating stress.

  1. Tantra Meditation

Tantric practices are often associated with ritualized sex, but tantra meditation is more about developing inner stillness and control. There are many different techniques within tantra meditation. The best way to learn is to find a yogi who can guide you individually or in a group situation.

Curious About Meditation Techniques For Anxiety?

  1. Pranayama Meditation

Pranayama isn't exactly meditation, but it's most commonly used as a preparation for meditation. The practice consists of focusing the mind through regulated breathing. The most common pranayama technique is to breathe into a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, breathe out to a count of 4, and hold empty for a count of 4. This is a great meditation technique for anxiety by itself or as a lead-in to another type of meditation for managing stress and anxiety.

  1. I Am Meditation

People may know who they think they are, but they usually relate that self to the way they think, behave, or experience life. When they think of who they are, they think of their body or their mind. The self is more than any of these things. In I Am meditation, you ask yourself "Who am I?" while pushing away any verbal answers. Instead, as you meditate you maintain focus on the subjective feeling of being who you are.

  1. Emptiness Meditation

Emptiness meditation is based on a Taoist form of meditation. To do it, you sit quietly and empty yourself of all mental images, thoughts, and feelings. Those images, thoughts, and feelings will come, but you don't engage with them or invite them to stay. If you are someone who deals with constant anxiety, this emptying of the mind can come as a great relief.

  1. Inner Vision Meditation

The practice of inner vision meditation gets you in touch with the inner workings of your body. You turn your attention inwards, noticing the thoughts, sensations, and energy that lie within your mind and body. The goal is to get in touch with the wisdom of your physical nature.

  1. Internal Alchemy Meditation

Internal alchemy meditation is a complex practice that is best taught by a yogi. It uses breathwork, visualization, movement, and focused attention.

  1. Qigong Meditation

Qigong meditation is closely associated with the martial arts and often confused with tai chi. Like tai chi, it typically consists of dynamic movements done in a meditative way, but it focuses on specific movements instead of the whole body. You can also practice qigong by sitting or standing with no movement at all. Qigong uses breathwork, relaxation techniques, and other ways of calming the mind before you focus your energy on the center of gravity in your body and feeling the qi energy moving within your body.

  1. Contemplative Prayer

Christianity and other religions often use prayer as a meditation technique. Contemplative prayer usually involves repeating sacred words while focusing on devotion to a higher power.

  1. Contemplation of Religious Teachings

Another meditation practice related to religion is contemplating religious teachings, usually those that come from sacred texts. Typically, the meditation starts with a reading of the Bible or other religious text. Then, the person sits in silence, contemplating the meaning of the teaching.

  1. Body Scans

The purpose of a body scan is to relax your body, calm your mind, and help you find inner peace. Usually, the meditation opens with quiet instrumental music. Then, the teacher has you get into a comfortable position and guides you in thinking of each part of your body and relaxing it. Body scans can bring you to a place of profound rest and relaxation.

  1. Binaural Beats

In 1839, a scientist discovered the effects of binaural beats, which are beats of two different frequencies. Two different frequencies of beats are each played into one of a person's ears. The brain attempts to reconcile the beats, and alpha waves are created. These alpha waves promote the calmness necessary for effective meditation.

  1. Affirmations

You can use positive affirmations in your meditation for anxiety. It's particularly helpful for anxiety because affirmations remind you that you are a good person, deserving of love and acceptance. It can also bring you to a more positive view of others and the world. You can use breathwork and stillness along with affirmations about yourself, others, and the world to increase your positive feelings and decrease your feelings of mistrust and uncertainty.

  1. Guided Imagery

One type of guided meditation for anxiety is guided imagery. Guided imagery can be used for emotional healing and relaxation. When you meditate using guided imagery, a teacher or counselor guides you in imagining and visualizing a scene, object, person, or journey to create a more positive emotional experience.

  1. Nature Sounds

Many people use nature sounds as meditation for sleep and anxiety. You can get sound recordings of the ocean, the forest, or other natural settings. Or you can take a trip to a remote place where there are many natural sounds to enjoy. You lie quietly, listening to the sounds as you relax.

How to Learn Meditation Techniques for Anxiety

There are many different ways to learn meditation techniques and incorporate a meditation practice into your daily routine. You can learn them in a yoga or meditation class or group. You can get a book that outlines meditation skills or even watch a video to see how it's done. For the more complex forms of meditation, it's important to work with a yogi or other meditation expert to make sure you are doing them correctly.

Another option is to work with a therapist who is familiar with meditation and knows how to manage symptoms of anxiety and stress. A therapist can teach you meditation skills, show you how to find the source of negative thoughts and anxious feelings, and help you with stress management.

You can talk to a licensed counselor for this and other mental health help at BetterHelp.com. If you already have a busy schedule, convenient online therapy can change the way you manage stress and decrease your anxiety symptoms. You can become a stronger, more relaxed you, find inner peace, and improve your overall mental well-being.

Commonly Asked Questions Below:

Does meditation reduce anxiety?

Research suggests that practicing meditation can help reduce symptoms of anxiety disorders. For example, peer-reviewed studies have shown that people who practice mindfulness meditation by participating in mindfulness meditation programs—like mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or mindfulness-based stress reduction—can treat symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and similar conditions. Mindful breathing and similar mindfulness meditation techniques can decrease anxiety and stress, help you fall asleep faster, and even avoid trips to the doctor’s office.

Breathing exercises that incorporate diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing can help you stay in the present moment, slow the heart rate, and decrease blood pressure. Deep breathing also allows you to meditate no matter where you are. Although deep breathing can be done as part of a mindfulness meditation practice, it can also be done on its own.

What is the best type of meditation for anxiety?

There are many different types of meditation that can reduce stress, alleviate symptoms of anxiety, and help you deal with negative emotions. Mindfulness meditation is one meditation practice that has been shown to manage stress, reduce symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks, and improve overall mental well-being. The practice of mindfulness meditation is meant to bring you to the present moment and help you become aware of your thoughts and feelings. As you practice mindfulness meditation, instead of judging the thoughts you experience, simply observe them and allow them to pass. 

Deep breathing is another effective way to practice meditation for anxiety. Focusing on deep breathing can reduce physical symptoms of stress, help you fall asleep faster, and calm you down during a panic attack. As you practice meditation, you may notice your mind wandering, like having an inbox sign that keeps showing you a higher and higher number. This is natural, but when you notice your mind wandering, try to bring your thoughts back to the natural rhythm of your breath. Without judging your thoughts, get that inbox sign back to zero so that you can truly calm the mind.

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