New research shows that a specific type of meditation can actually help you worry less.
In a study published in Behaviour Research and Therapy, researchers examined the effects of three different types of mindfulness techniques on 77 people.
After each was practiced, anxiety levels and negative thought frequency were assessed.
Acceptance-based mindfulness meditation that was guided by a script was the most successful meditation technique of the group.
This type of meditation focuses on allowing thoughts to be rather than resisting their presence.
Here's what else the research found and how you can benefit to worry less:
Researchers found the acceptance-based meditation (which is actually also a type of therapy) reduced negative thoughts that occurred repetitively, especially in people who already suffered from depression and anxiety.
We've all experienced how negative thoughts not only divert our attention, but how they also increase stress and worry.
Thinking of the worst-case scenario is often enough to spike your heart rate and begin to throw you into a fight-or-flight response.
Decreasing the frequency of these negative thoughts is only one positive side effect of the meditation.
Create a safe space for thoughts and emotions.
Instead of trying to “empty” your mind or be totally free from thoughts, acceptance-based meditation focuses on making room for your thoughts and feelings.
Researchers did this by using a simple script to guide their subjects into the meditation:
Direct your attention inwardly… notice thoughts, emotions, physical sensations… any other kinds of experiences as they show up in the field of your awareness… sitting and noticing what's here, right now, for you…. Each time you become aware of a private experience, such as a thought, or a feeling… turning your attention towards it, acknowledging it, maybe labeling it… and as best you can, letting things be as they are… making space for your experiences.
Resisting thoughts often strengthens them. Stop resisting.
Instead, allow thoughts and feelings to come and go as you meditate.
When you increase your self-awareness and become conscious of a thought or feeling, observe and acknowledge it. Make room for it to be.
This type of meditation was proven to be the best above attention-based meditation, which involves focusing on the breath, and progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), which focuses on tensing and relaxing certain muscle groups.
Giving your thoughts and emotions — even if they are negative — a safe, judgement-free space to just be can help reduce these thoughts.
So, how can we reduce the anxiety that comes with them?
Consistency is key when it comes to finding this new meditation helpful.
This interesting new research also found that just one session of this mindfulness practice didn't reduce anxiety. This is because sticking to a routine when doing your acceptance-based meditation is important.
The more you practice this type of meditation, the more it may help you to circumvent stress and depression.
It's easy to practice meditation at home, whether it's guided or not. What's not always easy is sticking with it.
But to experience the benefits, you must.
After all, the study did conclude that acceptance-based meditation can improve resilience and help people manage everyday worries that can lead to anxiety.
So, whether you choose to meditate for 2 minutes or 30, you can benefit from this simple practice.
Guided meditation may be easier to stick with, or perhaps you already know you do well by yourself.
Regardless, you can stop thinking negatively and reduce your anxiety by doing this simple practice every day.