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The Guide to Meditation: How to Meditate for Anxiety & Promote Inner Peace

Article Summary:

Our guide to meditation provides everything you need to get started meditating for anxiety and stress; discover practices to reduce anxiety, achieve greater life balance, and promote inner peace

Throughout the ages, humanity has endeavored to find ways to quiet the mind, achieve inner peace, and connect with something greater than ourselves.

Few methods have stood the test of time and helped more people reach inner peace than meditation.

You can find meditation and mindfulness practices in almost all of the world's religions and spiritual disciplines.

But there are also plenty of practices free of association with religion or spirituality.

Many modern practices use meditation for anxiety, reducing stress, and healthier living.

If you're new to meditation, you may imagine sitting for hours in uncomfortable postures while listening to a meditation teacher or guru.

While these are stereotypical images associated with meditation – meditation is much more than that.

We can begin meditating without needing a teacher or guru - simply sitting in a comfortable chair for as little as 10 minutes daily.

The ease of accessibility and the short time needed daily means there is no excuse not to meditate.

I'm sure you would love to achieve the ability to reduce attachment to your thoughts, quiet your mind and achieve inner peace.

Establishing a daily meditation practice can get you there.

The term "meditation" can be slippery because it is broad and refers to various techniques.

Meditation, in the way we will be discussing it – is any practice or technique that allows you to turn inward, create space (detachment) from your thoughts and become more aware and present in the moment.

We will be going over many of these practices in more depth so you can get a better sense of the method that best suits you.

And since the focus of this website is to help you overcome anxiety – we will be providing recommendations for the best meditation practices for anxiety.

This extensive article provides a comprehensive guide to meditation so you can arrive as a complete beginner and leave knowing exactly how to meditate to reduce anxiety and feel more centered and calm.

You will have the knowledge to begin a daily practice.

With constant distractions from technology, a daily onslaught of news and information, and a much faster-paced lifestyle – perhaps no other time needed this practice more.

We hope you enjoy what we provide in this very in-depth guide as we dive deep and explore meditation for anxiety and gaining inner peace.

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A Brief History of Meditation

The earliest documentation of meditation was written over 3500 years ago (1500 BC).

These were the Hindu scriptures of the Vedas – in ancient India.

Although this is the earliest recorded record of meditation – many scholars believe meditation could have been around thousands of years before the Vedas.

Different forms of meditation developed in China (Taoism) and India (Buddhism) around the 6th to 5th century BC - while the roots of Buddhist meditation go back as far as the 1st century BC.

Meditation spread to Japan in the 8th century AD.

The first "sitting" meditation instructions (Zazen) were written several hundred years later in Japan (1200 AD) – as well as the first community of monks.

Although meditation (in the way we generally describe it) began in the East – the history of meditation is not limited to Eastern traditions.

Different forms of meditation have roots in most religious traditions as well.

We can find Christian meditation – or contemplative prayer – as far back as the 10th century AD in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Christian contemplative prayer typically involves the repetition of a mantra such as the Jesus Prayer, the repetition of the name "Jesus," or words such as "God" or "Love."

You can find meditative exercises and contemplative prayer throughout the Christian tradition.

Forms of meditation or contemplation are exceptionally prominent with the Christian mystics, such as Saint Teresa of Avila, and in Christian writings, such as "The Cloud of Unknowing."

In the early 11th century, the Jewish esoteric tradition of Kabbalah developed its forms of meditation which practitioners still practice today.

Other religions had early meditative practices as well.

Islamic Sufism has Dhikr, or remembrance of God, through the repetition of words.

Dhikr was systematized in Sufism in the 11th and 12th centuries.

In the West, writers and other intellectuals developed an increased interest in Buddhism, Hinduism, and meditation in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

It wasn't until the late 1950s and early 1960s that meditation began to take off in the West, specifically here in America.

This period brought many charismatic writers and teachers to the forefront of an American culture ready to learn.

Many famous writers of the 1950s and 1960s helped increase interest in Buddhism early on.

Numerous teachers from the East taught Americans meditation practices and Buddhism and Hinduism.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduced transcendental meditation (TM) in the 1950s.

The popularity of TM flourished partly due to the famous meeting between The Beatles and Maharishi in 1967 and Maharishi's meetings with other well-known celebrities.

Meditation retreats and centers amassed a large following throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

There were many popular books published on the topic.

Many Americans even traveled to countries like India to learn meditation directly from yogis, monks, and other established teachers.

In 1979 Jon-Kabat Zinn created Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Zinn created MBSR as a science-based approach to meditation for reducing stress and anxiety and creating greater self-awareness.

Through the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, the popularity of meditation and mindfulness continued – as did research into the possible benefits of meditation.

Other forms of meditation became popular in the Western world, including Vipassana, various Yoga meditations, and Qigong.

The popularity of meditation and mindfulness has also grown significantly in the past two decades as it was presented to the mainstream public by famous television personalities like Oprah Winfrey – charismatic teachers like Deepak Chopra – immensely popular books such as "The Power of Now" – and many, many others.

Support for meditation from the mainstream public, combined with its effectiveness in our over-stressed modern world, has made "mindfulness" and "meditation" common household words.

We can find classes on meditation and mindfulness in almost any city or town.

Meditators include those from all walks of life and all ages.

Even corporations and businesses are hiring meditation teachers to teach their employees mindfulness and meditation to reduce stress and improve concentration and performance.

The rise of the internet has also had a significant impact on meditation's popularity.

Today you can learn meditation directly from knowledgeable teachers without leaving home through online meditation courses and training.

Meditation apps and technology-based programs such as brainwave entrainment and meditation groups across the internet exist.

The Purpose of Meditation & Why We Recommend It For Anxiety

The purpose of meditation is to develop the ability to detach from your constant involvement with your thoughts ("the monkey mind") and reconnect with a more natural (unified) state of being.

Meditation aims to expose you to your most authentic nature – beyond your overactive mind's constant worries, anxieties, and judgments.

It can allow you to rediscover (re-experience) the peaceful and even blissful state that is your truest self.

Most of us were never taught how to turn our awareness inward – to discover who we are.

We were never taught how to simply "be" – without judgment, without trying to control or change things, without obsessing over the past or worrying about the future – just being what we are in the present moment.

It seems strange if you think about it.

Your most natural state – simply being in the present moment – can become incredibly difficult to experience (even more so if you're struggling with anxiety).

The modern human's default mode always strives to change, plan, adjust, judge, and alter things.

Always looking to the past or looking to the future.

Always running and avoiding inside.

Constantly trying to control.

Meditation aims to correct this way of living/thinking and move to a more natural state.

Consistent practice of meditation and mindfulness can allow you to rest your overactive, exhausted mind, and increase your awareness of the present moment (developing presence).

Almost all forms of meditation have peace and greater awareness as their goals.

"Peace" by it's very nature implies the absence of anxiety, as well as fear, worry, etc....

The Benefits of Meditation

Over the past few decades, meditation has received countless studies and research.

These studies have outlined numerous health benefits, which we listed below.

Benefits associated with daily meditation and mindfulness practices:

  • reduced anxiety levels
  • improved sleep quality
  • improvements in depression
  • healthier glucose levels
  • reduced stress
  • improved well-being
  • improved ability to relax
  • can help develop greater connection and empathy toward others
  • reduced physical and emotional pain
  • improved immune system function
  • lower blood cortisol levels
  • improved blood circulation
  • can connect us with the divine, our spiritual nature, or the universe (whatever you prefer to call it)
  • increased volumes in areas responsible for emotion regulation and self-control
  • can help overcome addictions
  • can decrease blood pressure
  • can increase experiences of "flow" states or "being in the zone"

Practicing meditation regularly can also improve your ability to focus, multi-task, think creatively, and retain information.

Meditation can not only improve your health and overall well-being, but it can also improve your social life.

While meditation is one of the most independent and internally focused things you can do, it can help foster compassion, connection, and empathy towards yourself and others.

Meditation also increases emotional intelligence and can decrease the sense of loneliness.

Meditation Practices

There are a vast number of meditation practices available.

A few of these practices – such as Yoga meditations – have been practiced for thousands of years.

While it's beyond the scope of this article to go into depth on every form of meditation, the list below is a good overview of some of the most popular practices from many different traditions.

Regardless of your beliefs, philosophy, or religion – there is a form of meditation right for you.

There are meditations that can fit your particular goals and experience level.

Remember that you can practice most of these meditations without following a particular tradition.

You don't need to be a Buddhist – for example – to practice a Buddhist meditation (such as Zen).


Remember that you can practice most of these meditations without following a particular tradition. You don't need to be a Buddhist – for example – to practice a Buddhist meditation (such as Zen).

That being said – some practices are better suited for those that follow a particular tradition.

For example, Divine Reading probably wouldn't be the best choice if you are not Christian because it involves reading the Bible.

Thanks to the internet, we now have access to nearly every meditation practice known to man at the press of a button (or a few mouse clicks).

You can easily find free information on these practices online.

You can also practice nearly all of these meditations without leaving your home.

The internet can provide access to meditation teachings, online classes, group meditation, and even a personal teacher, no matter where you live.

Yet another reason why there really is no excuse not to start a meditation or mindfulness practice.

Buddhist Meditation Practices


A popular meditation practice that focuses on mindfulness of the breath and present experience; with the goal of insight into the true nature of reality; heavily influenced all Mindfulness-based meditation practices

Zazen (Zen)

Comes from the Zen Buddhist school; primarily focuses on the breath and breathing; concentration is usually held on the diaphragm or "counting breaths"; proper posture is important; also influenced Mindfulness practices

Loving-Kindness (Metta)

A heart-based meditation with a focus on the heart, developing love, compassion, and selflessness; practice involves sending love, kindness, and safety to yourself, friends, family, and the world; can be used as a primary practice or to complement other practices

Mindfulness Meditation Practices

Traditional Mindfulness

Usually, a sitting or lying practice; involves paying attention to the present moment as it is, not trying to eliminate thoughts but letting them come and go without judgment; it borrows heavily from Vipassana

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

A heavily researched and science-based form of mindfulness with a focus on stress and anxiety reduction; created by Jon Kabat-Zinn and taught at the University of Massachusetts Medical School; influenced by traditional Mindfulness practices and Vipassana; techniques include mindfulness meditation, body scan, relaxation techniques, and Yoga; MBSR includes effective meditations for anxiety

Living Mindfulness

A form of mindfulness practice that focuses on bringing awareness to everyday "mundane" tasks and experiences as they occur in the present moment: such as driving, eating, listening, or walking; can be used as a primary practice or as a complement to other mindfulness or meditation practices

Body Scan

A form of mindfulness and relaxation where the focus is placed on the body from toe-to-head or head-to-toe, starting with one particular part of your body and moving up (or down) to the next; it can be used as a primary practice or as a complement to other practices

Hindu (Vedic) Meditations


Yoga isn't a single meditation but various meditations forming the oldest meditations known; nearly all yogic meditations have Self-Knowledge and union with Universal Consciousness as their goal; practices include Chakra, Tantra, and Kundalini meditations; Pranayama (breathing exercises) comes from Yoga practices as well; the traditional term "Yoga" is a broad term related to a vast history of Yogic practices; different forms of Yoga tend to focus on various aspects, such as Bhakti Yoga which focuses on the worship of a God, or Hatha Yoga which focuses on physical and mental strength


A form of concentration meditation with a focus on mentally or verbally repeating a specific mantra (phrase or word); one of the most popular mantras in Hinduism is "OM" (the primordial sound); you can use mantras to focus the mind; the vibration of the sound through the mind and body is essential; can be used as a complement to other meditation practices as well as a primary meditation on its own

Transcendental Meditation (TM)

TM is a popular form of Mantra meditation reported to lead to inner peace; developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1950s; known for its expensive cost to join and its popularity with celebrities; it has been the subject of much research and study; participants typically meditate while repeating a personalized mantra given to them by a guru or teacher

Christian Contemplative Practices/Meditations

Lectio Divina (Divine Reading)

A contemplative practice where one reads the Bible or other sacred text in a slow, conscious manner to understand the message being given by God in the moment; generally used with silent prayer and contemplation during the process; the purpose is to hear the word of God through the text


Based on the mystical tradition of contemplative prayer in the Eastern Orthodox Church; those who practice seek to experience God directly, through quieting of the mind and uninterrupted prayer

Centering Prayer

A form of meditation and contemplation popularized by Father Thomas Keating in the 1970s; centering prayer is generally practiced by letting go of thoughts through repetition of "sacred words" or sitting in silence; the goal is to experience God's presence within, resting in God's presence

Chinese Meditations


More than just a seated meditation, Qigong is a holistic system that includes movement, meditation, and breathing techniques designed to balance the energy in the mind and body; there are various styles and forms, including Taoist, Buddhist, and Medical Qigong; in China, Medical Qigong is viewed as an actual medical technique

Taoist Practices

There are numerous Taoist meditations related to the philosophy of Taoism, which is living in harmony with the Tao or "the source of everything that exists"; practices can be similar to Buddhist meditations; practices include the Emptiness Meditation, Breathing meditations, and visualization meditations

Microcosmic Orbit

Found in Qigong, Taoist Practices, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM); the Microcosmic Orbit is a powerful meditation in its own right and can be used as a stand-alone technique; the practice is done through meditation, breathing, and visualization; typical practice is done but breathing in – moving energy up the spine starting from the pelvic floor up the back to the crown of the head – then breathing out while the energy moves down the front of the body – repeating multiple times; it's believed to clear energy blockages and offer clarity of mind

Guided Meditations & Meditation Technology

Brainwave Entrainment

(Binaural Beats/Isochronic Tones)

A process of synchronizing the brain to specific brainwave frequencies using external stimuli; most commonly used products are audio tracks featuring binaural beats or isochronic tones; most of these programs help to produce brainwave frequencies associated with relaxation, meditative states, increased creativity, or other benefits; to learn more you can read our article on brainwave entrainment and anxiety HERE…

Guided Audio/Video Meditations

Guided meditations in the form of audio tracks or videos; typically, you would listen to a coach/teacher as they guide you into states of deep relaxation or meditation using traditional meditation, mantras, or breathing techniques; other techniques include using guided imagery or even music; this form of meditation is becoming increasingly popular with the many audiobooks, online courses, podcasts and group meditations available online

Meditation Apps

Apps used on a mobile device to help the user develop a meditation or mindfulness practice, learn how to meditate for anxiety, improve relaxation or reduce stress; techniques used for particular apps can vary but tend to include guided meditations, mindfulness techniques, support from a teacher and traditional meditation practices

Sufi Meditations

Dhikr (Mantra Meditation)

Similar to Christian contemplative prayer, Dhikr is the remembrance of God through the repetition of divine words such as "Allah" or "Allah hu"; it can be done in a meditative posture but is meant to be focused on and repeated throughout the day with the ultimate goal of establishing a continual awareness of the Divine Presence

Muraqabah (Watching Over)

Muraqabah isn't necessarily a technique in itself but refers to meditation in the Sufi tradition; it is detaching oneself of worldly concerns for a time, and focusing inward, with the goal of connection with God; Muraqbah means watching over and refers to watching your mind to keep it from straying from God

Meditation vs. Mindfulness

We often hear the words "meditation" and "mindfulness" used interchangeably – which may cause some confusion. While you can use these terms to mean similar things, they are not inherently the same.

"Meditation" is a broad term used to describe many different practices (such as the list above) or the actual practice of meditating.

To say "I meditate" or "I practice meditation" gives a general idea of what we mean but doesn't provide the specific type of meditation you are referring to.

From the outside, something like Loving-Kindness meditation may look similar to something like Vipassana meditation – but the goal, techniques, and internal experience can be very different.

So you can use the term meditation to describe dozens of different styles, techniques, and postures – including mindfulness meditation.

The term "Mindfulness" can refer to various things depending on the context.

Mindfulness can be a type of meditation practice.

These practices may differ slightly in technique, but they all tend to have the same focus – greater awareness of the present moment (thoughts, feelings, sensations, the breath, etc.).

Mindfulness can also be an experiential state when we bring our awareness to the present moment with open receptiveness, or it can be the quality of meditation, such as being mindful of the breath.

Sometimes, we use the term "mindfulness" to describe meditation because the term has become very popular, especially in the US, even though the actual meditation may not necessarily be a strictly mindfulness-based practice.

Meditation Postures & Poses

Meditation is well known for its postures (or poses).

The most well-known pose is the full lotus, achieved by crossing the legs and resting the ankles on the opposite thighs.

But are these poses essential to meditation?

While some forms of meditation put a strict focus on a particular posture, it isn't the essential part of meditation, in my opinion.

Your sincere intent to meditate and establish a daily practice is much more important than enduring an uncomfortable posture.

In addition, some people may have health issues preventing them from holding some of these poses.

Suppose you have knee, ankle, or back issues or have poor flexibility. In that case, many traditional poses may be too uncomfortable to hold for extended periods.

Instead of insisting on the perfect form or trying to convince you to suffer through discomfort – I will provide a few recommended poses and lay out the three essentials for proper meditation posture.

If you are healthy and don't have any physical limitations, try a few of the traditional poses to find out which one works best for you.

Bear in mind – some postures may be slightly uncomfortable to start, but most postures will begin to feel more natural with practice.

Burmese Pose

The Burmese pose is a popular posture that tends to be more accessible for beginners than the Lotus pose.

To perform the Burmese pose, sit on a cushion, rug, or blanket with an erect spine. You could also use a Zafu (meditation pillow) for more comfort.

Bend your legs so that one leg rests in front of the other, with the tops of the feet touching the floor.

Rest your hands on your thighs or in your lap.

Lotus Pose

Likely the most well-known meditation posture, the Lotus pose is also one of the most difficult. It may require some practice for beginners. The lotus pose is not a good choice if you have hip, knee, or ankle issues.

Sit on the floor with an erect spine to perform the Lotus pose. A small pillow or zafu under the butt at the base of the spine is recommended to help incline the pelvis.

Cross the legs so that the feet are resting on the opposite thighs with the soles of the feet facing upwards and the heels turned inward to the abdomen. Knees should be touching the floor or as close to the floor as possible. Hands should be resting in the lap or on the thighs.

A more accessible alternative is the Half Lotus – where one foot is placed on the opposite thigh while the other is bent and rests on the floor.

Seiza Pose

In Japan, Seiza is the traditional (formal) way of sitting. Although less common today, it can still be found in many martial arts from Japan, such as Aikido. It is also a popular meditation posture, particularly in Zen meditation.

To perform the Seiza pose: kneel on the floor or a mat, folding the legs under the thighs so that your butt rests on your heels. The ankles should be turned slightly out, forming a "V" shape. Sit up straight and erect with the hands in the lap or on the thighs.

The Seiza pose can be uncomfortable after long periods when first starting, and it can be hard on the knees, or you may find your legs falling asleep. It generally goes away with time, or you can use a stool or cushion as described below.

Seiza with Stool/Cushion

Using a stool or cushion during the Seiza pose can be a far more comfortable posture, especially when meditating for extended periods of time.

Using a stool or cushion can take a lot of pressure off the knees and ankles and keep your legs from falling asleep.

This pose using a cushion was my favorite meditation posture I used for years before moving to a basic chair meditation.

To perform the Seiza with Stool or Cushion pose, sit as described above in the traditional Seiza pose, but instead of resting your butt on your heels, your butt will rest on a stool or cushion. Your legs/ankles will go on either side of the stool/cushion or under the stool (depending on the style of stool used).

Chair Meditation

Meditation can be done lying down. Lying down can be a good choice for those with back pain and other medical issues or for those who prefer this style of meditation.

The downside to lying meditation is the urge to fall asleep. Lying in a relaxed, comfortable position for extended periods can often lead to dosing off. Typically, this becomes less of an issue as we practice more and more.

For this posture, you can lie flat on your back with your legs straight out (without your ankles or legs crossed) and arms to your sides or slightly out with palms facing up. Try to practice this posture on the floor or other flat surfaces and only in your bed if you have no other option.

Lying Meditation

Meditation can be done lying down. Lying down can be a good choice for those with back pain and other medical issues or for those who prefer this style of meditation.

The downside to lying meditation is the urge to fall asleep. Lying in a relaxed, comfortable position for extended periods can often lead to dosing off. Typically, this becomes less of an issue as we practice more and more.

For this posture, you can lie flat on your back with your legs straight out (without your ankles or legs crossed) and arms to your sides or slightly out with palms facing up. Try to practice this posture on the floor or other flat surfaces and only in your bed if you have no other option.

Three Essentials for Proper Meditation Posture

1. Proper Body Alignment

The alignment of your body can be essential to proper meditation. Having the proper alignment promotes alert present awareness and energy.

Key Points:

  • Keep your back and neck straight – with your chin parallel to the floor or slightly lowered/tucked in
  • Avoid hunching or slouching
  • If sitting in a chair – your knees should be even with your waist or slightly lower (thighs parallel to the floor) with your feet shoulder-width apart placed flat on the floor
  • If lying – your legs should be extended straight out, your back straight and flat, and your arms down at your sides or out slightly with your palms facing upwards
  • When sitting – you can try pushing your chest out slightly if it helps straighten your back

2. Relaxed Posture

An alert sense of relaxation is important. You're not trying to fall asleep, nor should you be tense or uncomfortable.

Key Points:

  • Allow your muscles to become relaxed – especially the muscles of your shoulders, neck, face, and arms
  • Your arms should be still and relaxed in a comfortable position
  • Relaxed breathing – breath through your nose, not your mouth, unless it is part of the meditation; if you're relaxed, you can breathe more deeply and naturally; breathing deeply can help relax the body as well as the mind
  • Some people find that having a gentle smile during meditation can help relax the muscles, especially the face and neck muscles

3. Feeling Grounded

When in a meditative posture, you should feel your body supporting itself and the support of the chair or floor.

Key Points:

  • Keep your body as symmetrical as possible – legs and feet evenly spaced, arms and hands in identical positions, body upright and straight (not slouching to either side)
  • You can feel the floor beneath your feet or under your butt supporting you
  • Through proper alignment and symmetry, your body should naturally support itself during the meditation
  • Relax into the floor or chair while allowing your body to support itself through your upright posture

The Breath & Breathing

The breath plays a vital role in nearly every form of meditation. You can see it as your vital life force, the means to relaxation, a focus point for quieting the mind, or your life essence.

The breath is the central focus of many meditation practices.

Simply focusing on the breath is an excellent way to learn how to meditate.

(It's also an excellent strategy for reducing anxiety).

In Zen, practitioners focus on the breath or even counting the breaths to develop concentration and reign in the anxious monkey mind.

The breath can also be the source of greater awareness and insight as you use awareness of the breath to anchor directly to the present moment.

Focus on the breath is essential in most Mindfulness and Vipassana practices.

In more energetic practices – such as Qigong – the breath moves vital energy in the body, removing stagnation and blockages and freeing up life energy.

For most meditative practices, you will do all your breathing through the nose, not the mouth.

However – some practices may call for breathing out through the mouth or performing deeper or longer breaths.

Follow the instruction given for the specific technique.

Simple Tips for Breathing During Meditation

  • Relax and surrender to the flow of breathing
  • There is no need to force, change or control the breath in most meditations unless the meditation calls for it
  • Notice how breathing happens naturally, almost like the breath is breathing you
  • Having the proper posture, body alignment, relaxed pose, and being grounded (see tips above) can dramatically help with deep natural breathing from the diaphragm
  • When awareness is placed on the breath, try to watch the breath as a curious observer; your body breathes on its own 24/7; there's no need to interfere; simply observe the breath as it occurs

How to Develop a Daily Meditation Practice

You can achieve the many benefits of meditation once you develop a daily practice. So how do you begin a daily meditation practice?

Just follow the steps below!

Step 1: Start Small

If you're new to meditation, begin with a small amount of time you know you can commit to daily.

It could be 10 to 20 minutes of meditation each day, where you only focus on your breathing.

You do not need to force yourself into hour-long meditation sessions when you first start.

Starting with a shorter practice makes you more likely to stick to it as it becomes part of your daily routine.

Over the following weeks, you can adjust your schedule to increase your meditation time.

Step 2: Find the Best Time of Day

Find the best time of day to be alone and free from distractions.

This could be first thing in the morning, in the middle of the day, or before bed.

The important thing is having the time entirely to yourself without distractions for the duration of your meditation.

It's also important to have a time you can stick to daily so you aren't constantly shuffling around trying to find time to meditate each day.

Having a consistent time each day can help eliminate forgetting or excuses and cement meditation as a daily habit.

Step 3: Designate a Space for Meditation

You don't have to have a room dedicated to meditation to get the benefits of daily practice – but having a designated chair or spot in the house can make a difference in the quality of your meditation.

Regardless of where you meditate, choosing somewhere quiet and where you won't be disturbed is essential.

You could purchase a meditation cushion or chair – or use a chair you own that you can reserve for meditation.

Over time, this location or chair will become associated with mindfulness and meditation, and it will become more natural to meditate when you sit in that spot each day.

Step 4: Find Your Posture

As mentioned above, finding a posture you can maintain comfortably is more important than forcing yourself into uncomfortable positions.

Unless you're practicing meditation with a strict focus on posture – your intention, commitment, and ability to be present is far more critical.

That said, try to sit where your back is straight, and your arms are unfolded, such as on your lap.

If you find it challenging to maintain an erect posture for long, you can use a straight-back chair or purchase a meditation cushion.

You can practice meditation lying flat on your back with your legs straight and arms to your sides if you have a medical condition or injury preventing you from sitting upright for extended periods.

Step 5: Gradually Increase Your Time

Work up from short 10 to 20 minute meditations by gradually making your sessions longer and longer.

You could add 5 to 10 minutes after each week.

The goal is to meditate at least 30-60 mins per day.

You will likely be able to find some time out of your day to meditate.

If you are truly limited on time or having trouble sticking to longer meditation sessions, you could divide your meditation into separate sessions—for example, 20 mins in the morning and 20 mins in the evening.

A Quick Note on Finding Time to Meditate:

In our overworked, fast-paced world, having available free time is a commodity you may not have, especially if you have children.

But if you really look at how you spend your time, it can be surprising to discover how much time you spend watching TV, clicking through Facebook, randomly browsing the internet, and doing other habitual activities.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with these habits, it may be worth cutting back on them if you want to make room for something that can genuinely improve the quality of your life.

If you find that spending 10, 20 or 30 minutes a day meditating is just not possible, it may be worth looking at your work load and your lifestyle.

Not even having a few minutes of spare time per day may be causing some of your anxiety if you are over worked, and stressed out.

Meditation and Anxiety

We wouldn't recommend something if it didn't serve the purpose of reducing anxiety and improving your life.

This is a website dedicated to overcoming anxiety, after all.

We have written this article to show you how to use meditation for anxiety and stress.

So what improvements in anxiety can you expect to see with daily meditation or mindfulness practice?

Beyond the scientific studies and health benefits, such as reduced cortisol levels and reduced blood pressure (which directly affects our anxiety levels), there are clear, concrete, personal benefits that most people report after meditation or mindfulness practice.

These personal benefits are ones I have also experienced directly and have been fundamental in helping me to overcome my anxiety.

Reported Experiential Benefits for Anxiety

  • being able to disengage from constant thoughts and mental conflicts
  • providing "space" between you and your thoughts
  • feeling more grounded in your body
  • realizing that you have thoughts, but you are not your thoughts
  • being better able to cope with stressful situations
  • being better able to calm yourself down instead of depending on outside sources
  • achieving greater acceptance of what is

While these benefits may seem mild to some, they can be profound and life-changing – as they were for me.

When you develop space between yourself and your thoughts and begin to view your thoughts with detachment – you open the path to freedom.

You are no longer bound to your worries – constantly caught in the middle of the storm of anxiety.

Instead, you can step back, watch your thoughts, and realize they can not harm or control you.

This is true freedom from anxiety.

Recommended Meditation Programs for Anxiety

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

mbsr for anxiety

The MBSR Online Course: the most scientifically studied, tested & proven Mindfulness Training Program in the world for anxiety, stress, and overall health; this is the Official online MBSR course

Insight Meditation

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Insight Meditation: learn how to meditate in the tradition of the Buddha himself; Insight Meditation (otherwise known as Vipassana) is the form of meditation I practice and is the inspiration for all modern forms of mindfulness practices; this online course is taught by two of the best teachers in the world: Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein

The Power of Awareness

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The Power of Awareness: easily one of the best online courses for mindfulness and meditation available; conducted by 2 of the most experienced meditation teachers in the world, Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach, in collaboration with the University of California Berkely and featuring over 9 hours of video training

Qi Gong for Health and Healing

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Qi Gong For Health and Healing: an excellent Qigong program for beginners and experienced practitioners taught by Lee Holden, a highly respected teacher who taught the practice on PBS for many years

Profound Meditation Program 3.0

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Profound Meditation Program 3.0: if you've struggled with meditating in the past or want to supercharge your meditation practice by reaching deep states much more quickly, PMP 3.0 is the program to get you there; PMP 3.0 uses sound technology to help you enter meditative states almost effortlessly; it's very effective, especially when combined with traditional meditation practice; I have been using PMP 3.0 combined with Vipassana as part of my daily practice for over seven years now and I highly recommend it

Awareness of Breathing (Anapanasati)

Anapanasati is not necessarily a meditation "practice" in the larger sense of the word – but a meditation technique found in almost every form of meditation or mindfulness practice.

Awareness of breathing (Anapanasati) – forms the core practice of Mindfulness, Vipassana, Zen, and many other meditation practices.

The simple practice of awareness of breathing can be a powerful meditation on its own.

It promotes mindfulness and can help calm and center the mind in the present moment.

If you're just starting, practicing breath awareness alone can be an excellent place to begin.

The 5-minute meditation below is an excellent example of this practice.

Follow the meditation for 5 minutes daily and gradually extend your sessions to 10, 15, and 20 minutes per day.

In time you can add deeper practices such as MBSR, Zen, Vipassana meditation, or Qigong.

A Simple 5-Minute Meditation: Breath Awareness

This article is long and packed with information – but it's time to take action.

Information is great – when you become better informed, you can make more informed choices – but in the end, it doesn't amount to much if you don't apply what you learn.

You need to take action to see actual results!

At this point, you should have a solid understanding of meditation.

Why not take a few minutes to apply what you have learned?

Below I will guide you through a simple 5-minute meditation where you will be bringing your awareness to the breath.

This technique forms the foundation of most meditation and mindfulness practices. It can be a powerful practice in its own right.

Before you begin:

  • Set aside a few minutes when you won't be disturbed
  • Find a comfortable spot to sit quietly without distractions
  • You can try sitting in one of the poses described above, or you can simply sit in a chair with both feet on the floor and your hands in your lap
  • Take a minute to settle into your position
  • Take a few deep breaths to center yourself
  • Close your eyes and begin turning your awareness inward
  • You will breathe in and out through your nose
  • Your mouth should be closed, and the tip of the tongue placed on the roof of your mouth near the back of the top teeth


  • 1. Begin by placing your awareness on the breath
  • 2. Notice where your attention seems to naturally go when focusing on your breathing
  • 3. You may feel the sensation of the air flowing in and out of the nostrils, or you may notice your stomach expanding on the in-breath and contracting on the out-breath, or feel the shoulders rising and falling in line with your breathing
  • 4. Pick one of the areas to focus your attention on as your breath naturally flows in and out
  • 5. There is no need to try and control or change the breath in any way – simply observe as the breath happens on its own
  • 6. You may notice thoughts coming and going – there is no need to change or control these either – simply notice them and gently place your awareness back on the breath
  • 7. Continue to focus your awareness on the sensation of breathing as your attention remains on that one area you have chosen
  • 8. You may find that you aren't aware of the breath as it is occurring now but instead are thinking about breathing or imagining yourself breathing – the goal here is to place your present awareness on the direct sensations, feelings, and experience of breathing as it is occurring now
  • 9. Continue to hold your awareness on the breath – gently guiding yourself back whenever you find that you are distracted by thoughts or thinking about breathing
  • 10. Continue in this manner for the duration of the meditation
  • 11. When you are done, open your eyes

My Experience With Meditation For Anxiety & Mental Health

I first discovered meditation as a teenager while seeking ways to calm my mind.

At the time, I was extremely anxious, filled with obsessive worrying thoughts, and suffered from panic attacks almost daily.

I decided to practice meditation for anxiety and purchased a book to learn how to meditate.

I began my practice by counting my breath as I sat in a meditative pose.

The initial results were mixed at best.

Initially, I could barely get further than 3 or 4 counts before getting lost in my thoughts – worrying, planning, remembering – I would repeatedly have to bring my attention back.

A typical session would go something like this:

inhale "1"

exhale "2"

inhale "3"

exhale "I can't believe what happened earlier"

"I have no idea what I'm doing"

"I'm such an idiot!"

inhale –


Over and over, I would get lost in my thoughts.

This went on for weeks.

Slowly I began to notice I was doing better.

I could do 6, 7, 8 counts without losing my focus.

I saw subtle changes in my everyday life as well.

My focus and ability to "pull my mind" back from getting lost in my thoughts slowly began to improve.

As much as I was improving, the improvements came at a snail's pace.

I wanted to get "there" faster.

Wherever "there" was.

I tried several other meditation practices and discovered brainwave entrainment with binaural beats.

This was a game-changer for me.

My ability to meditate exploded.

I received more significant benefits from a few weeks with binaural beats than I had with several months of traditional meditation.

For a while, my meditation practice was to sit back and listen to the audio tracks.

This in itself was effective.

It significantly reduced my anxiety; I had fewer panic attacks and developed greater self-awareness and insight.

While these were great benefits, it wasn't until I took up a traditional practice (this time Vipassana/Mindfulness practice) – and combined it with brainwave entrainment – that I understood how life-changing meditation could be.

I have been meditating in this style for over 20 years now.

I've tried other practices over the years and attended countless meditation retreats and seminars, but Vipassana and Mindfulness meditation combined with brainwave entrainment has been my staple practice.

Over the past two decades, I have added or changed a few things as I discovered things that worked better or just made more sense.

About 6 or 7 years ago, I changed my preferred brainwave entrainment program to iAwake and still use their programs daily.

I began practicing Qigong about ten years ago; since then, I have been trained in Traditional Taoist Qigong and Medical Qigong and practice around three times per week in addition to my daily meditation.

A few years ago, I discovered MBSR, and it greatly impressed me.

I added a few of the techniques from MBSR – such as the Body Scan, to supplement my daily practice.

I was already practicing Mindfulness meditation, so the core practice complimented my own.

My Current Practice Looks Something Like This...

(My "core practice" represents Mindfulness meditation combined with iAwake's Profound Meditation Program)

Monday: 60-mins meditation in the evening; core practice

Tuesday: 30-mins Qigong in the morning: 30-mins core practice in the evening

Wednesday: 60-mins meditation in the evening; core practice

Thursday: 60-mins meditation in the evening: body scan (from MBSR)

Friday: 30-mins Qigong in the morning: 30 mins standing Yoga (from MBSR)

Saturday: Optional

Sunday: 30-mins core practice in the morning: 30-mins Qigong in the evening

If you are new to meditation, this may look overwhelming, but bear in mind I've been practicing for over two decades.

Meditation has been part of my daily routine for years – like brushing my teeth.

I also know what techniques work for me and when I need them.

My practice isn't set in stone or exceptionally rigid.

I'll mix things up on some days or take a day off.

I won't meditate and shoot for the next day if I'm overly busy or have something scheduled.

I don't beat myself up over missing sessions.

The point of mediation is to become more present and aware of life – why not enjoy the fruit of our labors by actually living our lives?

On average, I practice some form of meditation 5-6 days per week with at least 30 mins daily.

Again, if you're just starting out, go for 10 to 20 minutes each day and work up to a reasonable time you can commit to.

There's no need to jump into hour-long meditations from the start.

Final Thoughts

Meditation can be highly effective for stress and anxiety – which is why I've dedicated so much time and energy to this article.

I know that it works.

I know this not only from my experience over the past 20 years but through the experiences of other meditators and the increasing amount of scientific studies proving its effectiveness for everything from anxiety, stress, and OCD to PTSD and depression.

However, the positive benefits of meditation and mindfulness go beyond just stress and anxiety.

Daily meditation can lead to healthier living and a richer, more present experience of your life.

When you increase your awareness (mindfulness), you can live more in the present moment – reducing the time you spend replaying the past and worrying about the future.

If you struggle with anxiety, this can be huge.

I know what it's like to spend much of your daily life stuck in the past or obsessing over future worries and fears.

These practices provide much-needed space between yourself (your awareness) and your thoughts.

This creation of space is possibly the most potent aspect of meditation for anxiety sufferers.

When you are anxious, or worse – amid a panic attack – you become fused with your thoughts.

You forget that these are just thoughts and become entangled in them.

You believe your thoughts to be real and that you are your thoughts.

You react to your thoughts as if they were genuinely happening – as if they were you.

But they are just thoughts; they aren't you and can't hurt you.

The ability to create space between yourself and your thoughts – so that you aren't reacting to life with automatic "knee-jerk" responses or getting trapped in your worries and fears – is an essential skill you can develop.

You can learn to practice now, regardless of where you are in life.

All it takes is 10 minutes to start.

Set aside 10 minutes of your day, choose a practice that suits you, and sit.

That's all.

After a week or two, try adding an additional 5 mins.

Just commit to meditating daily.

The results can be profound.

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