‘Anxiety thrives on compulsive thinking, entranced and powered by thoughts of failure and disaster; meditation is based on taming the mind and freeing ourselves from the domination of these kinds of thought. Meditation is based on present moment experience; anxiety is all about the future. Meditation cuts speculation and brings us back to simple bodily experience; anxiety keeps us spinning so fast that we lose touch with our body.
Mindfulness of the breath is especially helpful in working with anxiety. Through meditation practice we learn about our own breath patterns—how our breathing changes from fast to slow, shallow to deeper, from tight to free-flowing, depending on our thoughts and emotional state. As we become familiar with these variations, we are able to work with the breath as a healing force. If we feel anxious, we can deliberately regulate our breathing until it is slow and steady. We can drop the habit of holding and tightening our breathing.
Mindfulness is about learning to slow down. When we are hit with something stressful, often our first response is to panic and speed up. But if we inject even a tiny disruption into that pattern, even a tiny little pause, we can regain our bearings. We can reestablish our ground.’ (from Lion’s Roar)