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Best meditation techniques to overcome Behavioral Addictions?

Best meditation techniques to overcome Behavioral Addictions?


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Meditation seems to be one of the top techniques recommended nowadays for self-development (e.g. McGonigal, K. 2011). For people who want to overcome behavioural addictions (i.e. any "addiction that involves a compulsion to engage in a rewarding non-drug-related behavior - sometimes called a natural reward", such as food, sex, masturbation, pornography, gambling, internet, video games, nail biting, compulsive skin picking, compulsive hair pulling, etc.):

  • Which meditation techniques (e.g. mindfulness, Vipassana, Yoga, Zazen, TM, Kundalini, etc.) are the most recommendable, according to state-of-the-art Psychology and Neuroscience?
  • Additionally, given the fact that an average layman cannot afford going full-time monk, what would be a recommendable frequency of the practice (in terms of minutes/hours per day) to see palpable results in a reasonable time?

Furthermore:

  • Is a single meditation technique enough to overcome behavioral addictions? Or would it better to practice multiple meditation techniques at the same time? Or maybe different meditation techniques for different situations? For instance, are there any special meditation techniques to handle strong, compulsive urges in the presence of addiction cues/triggers?

Finally:

  • Is meditation as a whole enough, or would one need to complement it with other non-meditative practices or measures? For example, positive affirmations, hypnosis, or maybe going to a therapist, exercising, sleeping 8+ hours, etc. I'm just throwing some ideas around.

References

McGonigal, K. (2011). The willpower instinct: How self-control works, why it matters, and what you can do to get more of it. Penguin Books.


Several years ago, I was unsuccessfully searching for a study that evaluates the efficacy of many different interventions in the context of addictions. However, I did find a cognitive behavioral therapy (Copeland et al. 2001) that included a mindfulness technique called urge surfing and it was compared to other CBT interventions in cannabis use disorders. A definition follows from Marlatt (2002):

Other clients have described the successful use of "urge surfing" as a mindfulness technique (Marlatt, 1985, 1994). Clients are taught to visualize the urge as an ocean wave that begins as a small wavelet and gradually builds up to a large cresting wave. As the urge wave grows in strength, the client's goal is to surf the urge by allowing it to pass without being "wiped out" by giving into it. I tell clients that urges are often conditioned responses triggered by cues and high-risk situations. Like a wave, the conditioned response grows in intensity until it reaches a peak level of craving. Giving in to the urge when it peaks only serves to further reinforce the addictive behavior. Not acting on the urge, on the other hand, weakens the addictive conditioning and strengthens acceptance and self-efficacy. Like any skill, learning how to "urge surf" takes practice and improves over time as the client attains greater balance on the mindfulness surfboard.

Copeland et al. mention the use of urge surfing in their program:

The second session discussed urge management strategies such as"urge surfing"and nonreinforcement.

and reported

significantly better treatment outcomes than those receiving notreatment. They were more likely to report abstinence during the follow-up period, were significantly less concerned about their control over cannabis use (as measuredby the SDS), and were more likely to have significantly fewer cannabis-related problems than those in the delayed treatment control group. Further, those receiving six sessions of treatment significantly reduced their level of cannabis consumption. These outcomes were unaffected by the therapist delivering the intervention, but were affected by treatment compliance.

Note that the study included a lot of other lessons. Regarding how often it should be done: The subjects were advised to use this technique whenever the urge appeared.

More info about urge surfing can be found in the freely accessible book Cognitive behavior therapy: Applying empirically supported techniques in your practice (2003) in Chapter 67.

Regarding the question about lifestyle factors, there have been countless studies (some cited in McGonigal's book) that indicate a positive effect of cardiovascular exercise, sufficient sleep, low-glycemic diets on self-regulation and so I will not cite them here.

Sources

Copeland, J., Swift, W., Roffman, R., & Stephens, R. (2001). A randomized controlled trial of brief cognitive-behavioral interventions for cannabis use disorder. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 21(2), 55-64. doi:10.1016/S0740-5472(01)00179-9

Marlatt, G. A. (2002). Buddhist philosophy and the treatment of addictive behavior. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 9(1), 44-50. doi:10.1016/s1077-7229(02)80039-6

Lloyd, A. (2003). Urge Surfing. In W. O'Donohue, J. E. Fisher & S. C. Hayes (Eds.), Cognitive behavior therapy: Applying empirically supported techniques in your practice (pp. 451-455). New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc.


More Meditation Techniques For Anxiety Relief (With Scripts)

I recommend trying each of these meditation techniques for anxiety relief. Find the one that works best for you. Then use it daily for continual relief.

*For all these anxiety-meditation scripts, please refer to our main menu.

1: Mindful Breathing

The ideal place to start is with a simple breathing meditation. Many experts like Jack Kornfield and Dr Oz. recommend this method.

A study published by the National Institute of Health in 2016 found that daily mindful breathing significantly reduces anxiety and increases positive thoughts [4].

2: Vipassana

One of the best Buddhist meditations for anxiety is Vipassana.

In Vipassana, we label our emotions while meditating on the breath. For instance, if we are meditating on the breath when we suddenly feel worried, we tell ourselves “This is just a feeling.” This method is advocated by the likes of Jack Kornfield [founder, Insight Meditation Society] and S.N.Goenka.

Vipassana is one of the best meditation techniques for anxiety relief and depression because it makes us less reactive to our own thoughts and emotions.

In 2001, the Journal of Scientific Research found that a 10-day training program in vipassana meditation “may help mitigate psychological and psychosomatic distress.” [5]

3: Mindful Walking

Another of the best meditations for anxiety relief is mindful walking. This is a truly relaxing method that combines the relaxation of walking with the mental health benefits of mindfulness.

A trial published by the American Journal of Health found that ten minutes of meditation followed by a ten-minute walk reduced anxiety significantly better than a walk by itself, as measured by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory Questionnaire. [6]

4: Self-Guided Meditation For Anxiety

When you think sad thoughts, you become sad. When you think happy thoughts, you become happy.

Fill your mind with positive thoughts by doing a guided meditation.

“Self-guided” means you lead yourself through a visualisation that alleviates your symptoms. We imagine specific things to produce specific changes in the mind.

CalmClinic [4] states that “Visualisation is not an anxiety cure. What it is, is a relaxation strategy that makes it much easier for you to cope with your anxiety symptoms during periods of high stress.”

5 Guided meditation for anxiety

Yes, there may be some truth in what Andy Puddicombe of Headspace says: guided methods using apps can sometimes be effective.

Research from the journal Behavioural Brain Research shows that there are indeed benefits of guided meditations for anxiety, although Harvard Medical School states that guided meditations for anxiety are not as effective as traditional methods.

Therefore, it may be best to stick with traditional methods unless you find them too difficult, in which case try a guided meditation for anxiety instead.

Research shows that listening to a guided meditation for 13 minutes a day for eight weeks somewhat reduces anxiety.

6 Body Scan Meditation Script For Anxiety

Another of the best daily meditations for anxiety relief is “Body Scan”. This exercise reduces the physical symptoms of the condition. It does this by systematically relaxing the body. This system was devised by Jon Kabat Zinn [creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School]. It is a fundamental aspect of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program [MBSR].

When you use meditation techniques for anxiety you become more aware of physical sensations, and thereby less reactive to them. With Body Scan, you learn to recognise the very early stages of an upcoming anxiety attack. You can then take steps to cut off those symptoms before they get worse.

A study published on the National Institute of Health showed that women with breast cancer who used MBSR “experienced a significant improvement in sixteen psychosocial variables compared with [a control group].

“These included health-related, [breast cancer] specific quality of life and psychosocial coping, which were the primary outcomes, and secondary measures, including meaningfulness, helplessness, cognitive avoidance, depression, paranoid ideation, hostility, anxiety, global severity, anxious preoccupation, and emotional control.” [8]

Effect of MBSR Meditation On Anxiety

Script

  1. Breathe in for four counts. Hold for four. Then exhale for another four counts. Continue to breathe like this throughout the meditation.
  2. Say to yourself, “I am feeling anxious right now, but that it is okay. It is just a temporary feeling and will pass.”
  3. Now begin to pass your attention up and down your body, starting from the crown of your head and progressing down to your toes one step at a time. Take five breaths per body part (head, face, neck, upper body, stomach, lower back, shoulders, arms, hands, abdomen, legs, ankles, feet). As you breathe into these areas, ask them to relax.
  4. Tense your entire body. Notice the sensations. Then completely let go. Notice the feeling of letting go. Do this three times.
  5. Continue to breathe as described above. Then tell yourself, “I welcome relaxation and inner peace.”

7: Mindfulness

Scientific research suggests that the best meditation technique for anxiety is mindfulness.

Mindfulness involves focusing the mind 100% on the present moment. There are various ways to do this.

  • Mindfully observe your breath (see #1 above)
  • Mindfully listen to music
  • Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings

Being mindful means living in the present moment. And like Lao Tzu says: “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. But if you are at peace, you are living in the present moment.”

Anxiety.org [8] says, “Research has shown that mindfulness helps to reduce anxiety and depression. Mindfulness teaches us how to respond to stress with an awareness of what is happening in the present moment, rather than simply acting instinctively, unaware of what emotions or motives may be driving that decision.”.

8 Emptiness

This form of meditation originates from the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu, the father of philosophical Daoism. In Emptiness meditation, we meditate on nothingness. This creates a sense of space in the mind, which is very relaxing.

9 Pranayama.

Pranayama refers to the way we breathe when we do yoga. It is a deep style of breathing that is coordinated with movements of the body. By meditating on the breath while doing yoga, we relax both the mind and the body.

A study published in the International Journal of Yoga in 2013 revealed that students who practised pranayama for one semester significantly reduced their anxiety and improved their test results. [9]

10 Mindful CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

Ben Martin, Psy.D. states, “Our unique patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving are significant factors in our experiences, both good and bad.” CBT is a way to change those thinking patterns.

MBCBT is an extension of cognitive-behavioural therapy. It uses specific strategies of thinking to change negative thoughts. Take a look at the link above for more on this. This is a powerful system for altering mindsets and is commonly used by psychotherapists. Much research has revealed that MBCBT alleviates the symptoms of anxiety and is particularly beneficial for treating social anxiety.

11: Loving Kindness

Loving kindness is one of the best meditation techniques for anxiety relief if your worries involve other people. For instance, social anxiety and relationship-anxiety.

The reason this is better than other methods is that it creates positive feelings about other people. It trains us to receive love from others and to give love too. This creates a sense of emotional support.

A 2015 study by Evidence-Based Complementary And Alternative Medicine found that loving-kindness led to significant reductions in depression and anxiety, with less rumination of negative thoughts and an increase in positive emotions. [10]

If you’d like to discover more bout this method, I highly recommend reading the works of Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg.

More exercises

The above methods have the most significant scientific research, which is why I listed them as the top ten. However, as a meditation teacher, I do recommend that you also consider the following techniques.

  • Mantras
  • Transcendental Meditation
  • Chakras
  • Third Eye
  • Trataka
  • Shikantaza
  • Kriya Yoga
  • Tibetan singing bowls
  • Apps like Calm and Headspace
  • Kundalini Meditation (consult a professional teacher first)
  • Tantra
  • Inner Vision
  • Internal Alchemy
  • Qigong Meditation
  • Falun Gong Meditation
  • Contemplative Prayer
  • Contemplation of Religious Teachings
  • Binaural Beats
  • Affirmations
  • Guided Imagery
  • Nature Sounds

Precautions

Bear in mind that different people will experience different results. In a 2020 study published by Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, Miguel Farias at Coventry University in the UK stated that some people may experience worsening symptoms after meditation [11]

F.A.Q.

What are the best meditations for social anxiety?

When you have social anxiety, meditation techniques can help you to relax around other people so that you can enjoy better relationships.

The best meditations for social anxiety are techniques in which we change the way we feel about other people. For instance, Loving Kindness [Metta] and Compassion [Karuna]. These are the two best meditations for social anxiety because they help us to develop more compassionate relationships with others.

Stefan. G. Hoffman [Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University] conducted research [9] into the effect of Loving Kindness Meditation on social anxiety. In his conclusion he wrote, “Adding an LKM component to traditional psychotherapy (such as CBT) that primarily targets negative emotions, might significantly enhance the efficacy of treating mood dysregulation, possibly by enhancing adaptive emotion regulation. We also predict that such a strategy might be beneficial for treating anxiety disorders, such as PTSD, generalised anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder.”

It’s also worth using daily mindfulness meditations for social anxiety. You can do this by practising mindful breathing during panic attacks or using apps like Headspace and Calm, which have quick exercises you can do. The main benefit of using mindfulness meditations for social anxiety is that they quickly return your focus to the present moment, and this helps you to relax.

Best meditations for relationship anxiety?

Similar to social anxiety, meditation techniques can help us build better relationships by making us more compassionate towards other people.

Buddhist Metta and Karuna help because they train us to give and receive love and compassion from other people].

In his book Altered Traits, internationally renowned psychologist Dan Coleman explains that with Loving Kindness Meditation “You handle stress better, you’re calmer, you’re less triggered, and you recover more quickly.” He goes on to explain that LKM leads to heightened compassion and empathy, which makes us more understanding of our significant others. In turn, this reduces the symptoms and effects of relationship anxiety.

Best meditation techniques for anxiety attacks / panic attacks?

The best types of meditation techniques for anxiety attacks (or “panic attacks”) are a little different. Panic attacks are different to other forms of anxiety. They are about very heated feelings that come on out of nowhere.

In my experience, as someone who has personally used meditation for anxiety attacks, the best option is mindfulness and Mindful CBT [cognitive behavioural therapy]. Any technique that immediately brings you back into the present moment (such as mindfully holding an ice cube or taking a cold shower and meditating on the sensation of water on your body) are good options. Techniques like these can cut through the panic attack and snap you back into the present moment.

Best Meditation Techniques For Anxiety In School / Exams?

We all know how stressful school and university can be. Thankfully we can use meditation for exam anxiety. One of the best ways to do this is to take mindful breaks.

One of the primary reasons for anxiety when studying is because we cram the mind with too much information. This is like lifting too many weights at the gym. Studying too hard makes your mind ache. And just like your body, your brain needs a break.

For this reason, the best meditations for anxiety in school are easy methods that let you relax and take a break, such as basic mindfulness.

When you feel stressed about exams, meditate on your breath. Simply close your eyes and take 108 mindful breaths. Do not listen to a guided meditation, which is just more noise. Your breath should be your guide.

Best Meditation Techniques For Anxiety At Work

It’s best to use some relaxing and easy meditation techniques for anxiety at work. If you are feeling the pressure or you’re stressed, your mind is telling you that you need a break. And when the brain needs a break, it wants silence and stillness. For that reason, the best meditation techniques for anxiety at work are easy mindfulness exercises. Take some mindful breaths or do simple mindful exercises such as tai chi or yoga,. This will also help to relax your body if you have been sitting for too long.

Conclusion

Above we looked at the best meditation techniques for anxiety. Which method works best for you? Leave a comment and remember to subscribe.

Sources

1: Bystritsky A, Khalsa SS, Cameron ME, Schiffman J. Current diagnosis and treatment of anxiety disorders. P T. 201338(1):30-57.

2: Martin EI, Ressler KJ, Binder E, Nemeroff CB. The neurobiology of anxiety disorders: brain imaging, genetics, and psychoneuroendocrinology. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 200932(3):549-575. doi:10.1016/j.psc.2009.05.004

3: Benjamin Shapero, instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital’s (MGH) Depression Clinical and Research Program

4: The Effectiveness of Daily Mindful Breathing Practices on Test Anxiety of Students, Hyunju Cho, Seokjin Ryu, Jeeae Noh, and Jongsun Lee, Department of Psychology, Yeungnam University, Department of Psychology, Kangwon National University LINK.

5: Vipassana meditation: A naturalistic, preliminary observation in Muscat, Ala’Aldin Al-HussainiSultan Qaboos University, Vipassana Research Institute, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3174711/

6: Differential Experimental Effects of a Short Bout of Walking, Meditation, or Combination of Walking and Meditation on State Anxiety Among Young Adults, American Journal of Health Promotion https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29216745/ .

7: Brief, daily meditation enhances attention, memory, mood, and emotional regulation in non-experienced meditators, Behavioural Brain https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016643281830322X

8: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Women With Early-Stage Breast Cancer Receiving Radiotherapy, Virginia P. Henderson, MD, MPH,1 Ann O. Massion, MD,2 Lynn Clemow, PhD,3 Thomas G. Hurley, MS,1 Susan Druker, MEd,4 and James R. Hébert, ScD1, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3758444/

9: The effect of pranayama on test anxiety and test performance, Azadeh Nemati, International Journal Of Yoga

10: Loving-Kindness Meditation to Target Affect in Mood Disorders: A Proof-of-Concept Study, Evidence-Based Complementary And Alternative Medicine https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4468348/

11: Adverse events in meditation practices and meditation‐based therapies: a systematic review, M. Farias E. Maraldi K. C. Wallenkampf G. Lucchetti , WILEY.


Addictions Worksheets, Dual Diagnosis, And Relapse Prevention

There is considerable psychological theory which clinicians working in the field of addiction can draw upon.

Prochaska and DiClemente’s Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change Model)

The transtheoretical model (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1982 Prochaska, DiClemente, Norcross, 1992) is used to conceptualize the process of intentional behavior change. It identifies important stages in the process of changing a behavior: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. The transtheoretical model also identifies processes which need to be implemented to attain behavior change: consciousness raising (awareness of the facts), dramatic relief (paying attention to feelings), environmental re-evaluation (noticing our effects upon others), self–re-evaluation (creating a new self-image), social liberation (noticing support around us), self-liberation (making a commitment), counterconditioning (using substitutes), helping relationships (getting support), reinforcement management (using rewards), stimulus control (managing your environment).

Marlatt and Gordon’s Cognitive Behavioral Model of Relapse

Marlatt and Gordon published a cognitive behavioral model of relapse in 1985. They conceptualize relapse as a “transitional process, a series of events that unfold over time” (Marlatt & Gordon, 1985). The model identifies factors that can contribute toward episodes of relapse. These include intrapersonal factors such as self-efficacy (the degree to which an individual feels confident and capable of performing a certain behavior in a specific situational context), outcome expectancies (an individual’s anticipation of the effects of a future experience), craving, motivation, and social support.

The Cognitive Behavioral Model of Substance Abuse

The cognitive behavioral model of substance abuse (Beck, Wright, Newman, & Liese, 1993) describes psychological areas of vulnerability that predispose an individual to misusing substances including: dysfunctional beliefs about drugs, oneself, or one’s relationship with drugs ‘permission-giving beliefs’ with which an individual may justify their drug use and reactions to a lapse or relapse that lead to a vicious cycle of maintenance.

Evidence-Based Psychological Approaches for Working with Addictions and Relapse

Cognitive approaches to working with addictions may include:

  • identifying patterns of dysfunctional thinking such as ‘permission-giving beliefs’
  • learning how to delay and distract in response to cravings and urges
  • making positive lifestyle changes
  • treating underlying mental health conditions which predispose an individual toward substance misuse.

Resources for Working with Addictions and Relapse

Psychology Tools resources available for working therapeutically with addictions may include:


Top Ten Books That Helped me Overcome Addiction

I’ve read a lot of self-help books. In desperation to understand my addictions and figure out how to stop I searched for the perfect book that would fix everything for me. I thought I could find the book that would tell me the secret and everything would quickly be all better. Well, though I did gain much essential knowledge, it turns out there was no secret but only knowledge I had forgotten or had never learned. I am very glad I did read all those books. On the journey to recovery I felt like I was divinely led to certain books written by inspired authors. Here is a list of the 10 best books I read.

1. “Book of Mormon” – Without exception, this book gave me more hope and strength and understanding than any other book. You certainly don’t have to be Mormon to read the Book of Mormon.

2. ” The Drug of the New Millennium–The Brain Science Behind Internet Pornography Use” – The Science of How Internet Pornography Radically Alters the Human Brain and Body. Author: Mark B. Kastleman. Best book I’ve read explaining every detail of how pornography addiction is created in a person.

3. “Wanting More: Challenge of Enjoyment in the Age of Addiction” – Written by Mark Chamberlain, this book really helped me understand the dangers of desensitization and how pornography is effecting our society as a whole.

4. “The Power of Positive Thinking” – By Norman Vincent Peale. It showed me there really was power in positive thinking. I gained a great faith and understanding of my personal powers through the principles in this book.

5. “The Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn” – This is written by former porn star Shelley Lubben. This book really helped me see porn in a totally different way that made it a lot less exciting. I will give you a heads up if you decide to read the book, the last several chapters speak of her religious beliefs that myself and many may not completely agree with. That’s ok I just focused on what did help me and that was the majority of the first chapters of the book. Click here for the book.

6. “Unlimited Power” – By Anthony Robbins. The main thing I took away from this book was specific techniques used to change my thoughts and emotions. If this is a skill you are lacking then this may be the book for you.

7. “Lessons in Mastery” – Also by Anthony Robbins. This concentrated more on controlling emotions and attitude but it was similar to the principles taught in “Unlimited Power”. I would recommend this one on CD

8. “Change Anything” – This book has the most actionable and practical steps to take in overcoming just about any addiction. Its advice is all based on studies too which I love. I listened to it on Audible several times but I highly recommend getting the physical book as well so you can refer back to the steps you need to take.

9. “He Did Deliver Me From Bondage” – By Colleen Harrison. This is a book modeled after the original 12 step program but with Book of Mormon principles.

10. “Conquering Your Own Goliaths” – By Steven A. Cramer. Teaches how to conquer the goliath of addiction just as David conquered Goliath in Biblical times. Great Book!!


Relaxation and Meditation Techniques

A variety of stress management techniques are available that involve learning how to control your body&rsquos responses to stress or anxiety. These techniques involve learning to consciously relax your body through a variety of techniques, such as meditation or guided imagery. As with any new skill you are trying to learn, daily practice is important to acquiring mastery of these techniques.

Meditation

The beauty of practicing meditation is that it allows you to &ldquolet go&rdquo of every day worries and literally &ldquolive in the moment.&rdquo People who meditate regularly report improvements physically, mentally, and spiritually. To begin a meditation practice, you will need to find a quiet spot, away from the phone, television, friends, family, and other distractions. There are several different ways to meditate. Meditation practices often involve learning chanting, breathing, or mantra techniques. Initially, your mind may wander when you first start meditating. by training your mind to focus on the moment, you will eventually find yourself transformed and feel very peaceful and content. Most experts recommend mediating for about 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Beginners may find it difficult to meditate for this length at first, but don&rsquot despair. It will become easier once you are meditating regularly.

Biofeedback

This method involves attaching surface electromyography electrodes (SEMG) to your skin. The SEMG measures your blood pressure, muscle tension level, breathing, and heart rate. A biofeedback therapist will meet with you and show you the ways in which your body reacts on a computer screen. The therapist will then teach you new skills for decreasing the level of stress you are experiencing. The results are shown on the screen.

Biofeedback is taught by a psychologist or specialized therapist who has been trained in biofeedback techniques. Most insurance plans cover biofeedback treatment for recognized anxiety problems. Avoid any consumer-level biofeedback devices that claim to give you the same information as a professional device. The device itself isn&rsquot as important as what the professionals helps you learn through repeated training sessions.

Yoga combines meditation and physical exercise to achieve improved health and sense of well-being. Yoga has been practiced in India for over 5,000 years. Yoga involves repeating movements that can help improve strength and flexibility as well as promote mental and physical health and greater self-understanding. The movements are very graceful and have spiritual significance. Paying careful attention to breathing is also part of practicing yoga.

Yoga is best learned in a local class that teaches yoga techniques. After you learn yoga, you can do it in the privacy and comfort of your own home.

Guided Imagery

Guided Imagery is a wonderful stress reduction tool which uses &ldquovisualization&rdquo and &ldquomental imagery&rdquo techniques to improve health. It has been used effectively for cancer patients who literally imagine themselves without the cancerous cells. Other creative visualization techniques include transporting the individual to a quiet place in their mind (perhaps a favorite lake, river, or forest). You can either create your own special place or listen to a guided imagery tape or CD. According to the Guided Imagery Resource Center, guided imagery can &ldquoreduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and glucose levels in the blood and heighten short-term immune cell activity.&rdquo

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing exercises are also known as diaphragmatic breathing. In these exercises, you are learning not to engage in the typical shallow breathing, but breathing through your diaphragm &mdash a technique learned and practiced by singers and actors for centuries to produce uninterrupted song or dialogue.

The most important thing to keep in mind about relaxation exercises such as these is that they must be practiced regularly, as a part of your daily routine. Some people quit their relaxation techniques or meditation claiming it &ldquodoesn&rsquot do anything for me&rdquo or &ldquoI can&rsquot clear my mind.&rdquo Through practice over and over again, most people can overcome such objections.


Suicide Prevention Apps

Suicide is a leading cause of death among Americans, tragically taking over 45,000 lives per year according to the CDC. While we’re not suggesting an app alone can save lives, they can be a good resource to go along with counseling and mental health lifelines, like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-8255, and Trevor Lifeline, 866-488-7386.

MY3

Designed to help those stay safe while having thoughts of suicide, MY3 is free and lets you customize your own personal safety plan by noting your warning signs, listing coping strategies, and connecting you to helpful resources to reach out to when you need them most. At your fingertips is a button that puts you in direct contact (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) with a trained counselor from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as well as a 911 alert. Additionally, you can choose three people to contact in the event you’re having thoughts of suicide. (Free iOS and Android)

NotOK

notOK is a free app developed by a struggling teenager (and her teen brother) for teenagers. The app features a large, red button that can be activated to let close friends, family and their support network know help is needed. Users can add up to five trusted contacts as part of their support group so when they hit the digital panic button, a message along with their current GPS location is sent to their contacts. The message reads: “Hey, I’m not OK! Please call, text, or come find me.” (Free iOS and Android)


6 Tips to Keep Triggers and Cravings at Bay

1. Recognize Triggers

This might seem like a simple task, but because triggers can be absolutely anything, it’s important to give thoughtful consideration to people, places, social situations and any feelings that normally bring about a desire to use alcohol or drugs.

Over time, many people in recovery discover triggers that they weren’t even aware of. Learning what your triggers are and developing the ability to recognize them ahead of time will help to offset the difficulties of cravings.

2. Plan Ahead

Once a person has a solid grasp of their triggers, they can act accordingly.

This might be as simple as taking a different route home from work in an effort to avoid passing a place where drugs and alcohol are used.

If you must attend a function, such as a wedding where you know alcohol will be served, create a mocktail recipe and share it with the bartender so you won’t feel out of place.

3. Accept The Urge

Rather than fight the intense craving to drink or use drugs, accept the urge and ride it out. This overwhelming feeling to drink won’t kill you and given enough time, it will subside.

Many urges will disappear in 10 to 15 minutes. If they do not, remove yourself from the situation you’re in which could possibly be triggering your urges.

In the past, you may have had a drink to cover up emotional or physical discomforts but now is the time to work through them and understand that discomforts in life are inevitable and are perfectly okay.

4. Rational Thinking

We’ve all heard the term “Stinking Thinking.” Challenge your thoughts when an urge arises and ask yourself, “Is this really what I want to do?”

“Do I want to wake up hung over, ashamed, feeling guilty and riddled with anxiety?”

Thoughts like “There is no way I can fight this” or “I might as well have a drink and get it over with” are counterproductive.

These thoughts need to be examined and stopped immediately. If a situation is causing you to want to drink, examine your thoughts.

For example, you’re having a bad day at work and the boss just reamed you out.

Instead of rushing off to the local pub, analyze the conversation and pull out nuggets of information that you can improve on to better perform at work.

5. Distractions and Replacement

If a stressful situation can’t be avoided, distractions are a great way to overcome urges.

Create a list of healthy distractions that you can refer to if a craving is overwhelming so you don’t have to think too much.

Distractions can be anything from a brisk walk or run, swimming laps, calling a friend, reading a book or cleaning.

Choosing an exercise, offers the added bonus from a boost of endorphins, which will help to reduce the stress and anxiety you may be feeling.

Practice mindful meditation to find a peaceful resolution. Visualize yourself going through the motions of your distraction to help you to get started.

This will ease any anxiety and fear that can trigger cravings. Keep a positive attitude, and understand that with practice, healthy habits will override negative ones.

6. Participate in Relapse Prevention Therapy

There are many 12 step and non-12 step alternatives where people in recovery from drugs and alcohol can learn the necessary skills to avoid relapses.

SMART Recovery is a non-religious cross-talk therapy where people can discuss their struggles with triggers and cravings, as well as listen and learn from the experiences of others.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is another incredibly useful tool that develops a positive skillset in recovery and helps people understand the relationship between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

The most important thing to remember is that recovery from addiction takes time and relapse is a natural part of the disease, just as experiencing triggers or cravings are a normal part of recovery.

Instead of feeling guilty or depressed, staying focused and positive can lead to a happy and healthy sober lifestyle.


Incorporate Morning Meditation into Your Routine

Now that you know the 5 best guided morning meditations for energy and motivation, where do you begin?

Follow these tips for forming a new habit:

  1. Set realistic and sustainable goals
  2. Practice at the same time, every day
  3. Weave the practice into your current routine

Ten weeks may be a realistic time frame to commit to a consistent practice, despite the adage that it takes 21 days to form a habit. [13] Choose one of the morning meditations for energy and motivation that fits your current schedule. Keep it simple and try to build it into your already established routine.

Choosing to practice at the same time every day will make it easier to practice consistently. Instead of looking at this like something you have to do, choose to view it as something you get to do. This should be an enjoyable activity that you look forward to each morning.

Doing one of these activities each day can assist with increased energy and motivation, not to mention the variety of established physical and psychological benefits of meditation. Practice these guided morning meditations for energy and motivation every day for ten weeks and you might just become a morning person, after all.


Top Ten Books That Helped me Overcome Addiction

I’ve read a lot of self-help books. In desperation to understand my addictions and figure out how to stop I searched for the perfect book that would fix everything for me. I thought I could find the book that would tell me the secret and everything would quickly be all better. Well, though I did gain much essential knowledge, it turns out there was no secret but only knowledge I had forgotten or had never learned. I am very glad I did read all those books. On the journey to recovery I felt like I was divinely led to certain books written by inspired authors. Here is a list of the 10 best books I read.

1. “Book of Mormon” – Without exception, this book gave me more hope and strength and understanding than any other book. You certainly don’t have to be Mormon to read the Book of Mormon.

2. ” The Drug of the New Millennium–The Brain Science Behind Internet Pornography Use” – The Science of How Internet Pornography Radically Alters the Human Brain and Body. Author: Mark B. Kastleman. Best book I’ve read explaining every detail of how pornography addiction is created in a person.

3. “Wanting More: Challenge of Enjoyment in the Age of Addiction” – Written by Mark Chamberlain, this book really helped me understand the dangers of desensitization and how pornography is effecting our society as a whole.

4. “The Power of Positive Thinking” – By Norman Vincent Peale. It showed me there really was power in positive thinking. I gained a great faith and understanding of my personal powers through the principles in this book.

5. “The Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn” – This is written by former porn star Shelley Lubben. This book really helped me see porn in a totally different way that made it a lot less exciting. I will give you a heads up if you decide to read the book, the last several chapters speak of her religious beliefs that myself and many may not completely agree with. That’s ok I just focused on what did help me and that was the majority of the first chapters of the book. Click here for the book.

6. “Unlimited Power” – By Anthony Robbins. The main thing I took away from this book was specific techniques used to change my thoughts and emotions. If this is a skill you are lacking then this may be the book for you.

7. “Lessons in Mastery” – Also by Anthony Robbins. This concentrated more on controlling emotions and attitude but it was similar to the principles taught in “Unlimited Power”. I would recommend this one on CD

8. “Change Anything” – This book has the most actionable and practical steps to take in overcoming just about any addiction. Its advice is all based on studies too which I love. I listened to it on Audible several times but I highly recommend getting the physical book as well so you can refer back to the steps you need to take.

9. “He Did Deliver Me From Bondage” – By Colleen Harrison. This is a book modeled after the original 12 step program but with Book of Mormon principles.

10. “Conquering Your Own Goliaths” – By Steven A. Cramer. Teaches how to conquer the goliath of addiction just as David conquered Goliath in Biblical times. Great Book!!


Relaxation and Meditation Techniques

A variety of stress management techniques are available that involve learning how to control your body&rsquos responses to stress or anxiety. These techniques involve learning to consciously relax your body through a variety of techniques, such as meditation or guided imagery. As with any new skill you are trying to learn, daily practice is important to acquiring mastery of these techniques.

Meditation

The beauty of practicing meditation is that it allows you to &ldquolet go&rdquo of every day worries and literally &ldquolive in the moment.&rdquo People who meditate regularly report improvements physically, mentally, and spiritually. To begin a meditation practice, you will need to find a quiet spot, away from the phone, television, friends, family, and other distractions. There are several different ways to meditate. Meditation practices often involve learning chanting, breathing, or mantra techniques. Initially, your mind may wander when you first start meditating. by training your mind to focus on the moment, you will eventually find yourself transformed and feel very peaceful and content. Most experts recommend mediating for about 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Beginners may find it difficult to meditate for this length at first, but don&rsquot despair. It will become easier once you are meditating regularly.

Biofeedback

This method involves attaching surface electromyography electrodes (SEMG) to your skin. The SEMG measures your blood pressure, muscle tension level, breathing, and heart rate. A biofeedback therapist will meet with you and show you the ways in which your body reacts on a computer screen. The therapist will then teach you new skills for decreasing the level of stress you are experiencing. The results are shown on the screen.

Biofeedback is taught by a psychologist or specialized therapist who has been trained in biofeedback techniques. Most insurance plans cover biofeedback treatment for recognized anxiety problems. Avoid any consumer-level biofeedback devices that claim to give you the same information as a professional device. The device itself isn&rsquot as important as what the professionals helps you learn through repeated training sessions.

Yoga combines meditation and physical exercise to achieve improved health and sense of well-being. Yoga has been practiced in India for over 5,000 years. Yoga involves repeating movements that can help improve strength and flexibility as well as promote mental and physical health and greater self-understanding. The movements are very graceful and have spiritual significance. Paying careful attention to breathing is also part of practicing yoga.

Yoga is best learned in a local class that teaches yoga techniques. After you learn yoga, you can do it in the privacy and comfort of your own home.

Guided Imagery

Guided Imagery is a wonderful stress reduction tool which uses &ldquovisualization&rdquo and &ldquomental imagery&rdquo techniques to improve health. It has been used effectively for cancer patients who literally imagine themselves without the cancerous cells. Other creative visualization techniques include transporting the individual to a quiet place in their mind (perhaps a favorite lake, river, or forest). You can either create your own special place or listen to a guided imagery tape or CD. According to the Guided Imagery Resource Center, guided imagery can &ldquoreduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and glucose levels in the blood and heighten short-term immune cell activity.&rdquo

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing exercises are also known as diaphragmatic breathing. In these exercises, you are learning not to engage in the typical shallow breathing, but breathing through your diaphragm &mdash a technique learned and practiced by singers and actors for centuries to produce uninterrupted song or dialogue.

The most important thing to keep in mind about relaxation exercises such as these is that they must be practiced regularly, as a part of your daily routine. Some people quit their relaxation techniques or meditation claiming it &ldquodoesn&rsquot do anything for me&rdquo or &ldquoI can&rsquot clear my mind.&rdquo Through practice over and over again, most people can overcome such objections.


6 Tips to Keep Triggers and Cravings at Bay

1. Recognize Triggers

This might seem like a simple task, but because triggers can be absolutely anything, it’s important to give thoughtful consideration to people, places, social situations and any feelings that normally bring about a desire to use alcohol or drugs.

Over time, many people in recovery discover triggers that they weren’t even aware of. Learning what your triggers are and developing the ability to recognize them ahead of time will help to offset the difficulties of cravings.

2. Plan Ahead

Once a person has a solid grasp of their triggers, they can act accordingly.

This might be as simple as taking a different route home from work in an effort to avoid passing a place where drugs and alcohol are used.

If you must attend a function, such as a wedding where you know alcohol will be served, create a mocktail recipe and share it with the bartender so you won’t feel out of place.

3. Accept The Urge

Rather than fight the intense craving to drink or use drugs, accept the urge and ride it out. This overwhelming feeling to drink won’t kill you and given enough time, it will subside.

Many urges will disappear in 10 to 15 minutes. If they do not, remove yourself from the situation you’re in which could possibly be triggering your urges.

In the past, you may have had a drink to cover up emotional or physical discomforts but now is the time to work through them and understand that discomforts in life are inevitable and are perfectly okay.

4. Rational Thinking

We’ve all heard the term “Stinking Thinking.” Challenge your thoughts when an urge arises and ask yourself, “Is this really what I want to do?”

“Do I want to wake up hung over, ashamed, feeling guilty and riddled with anxiety?”

Thoughts like “There is no way I can fight this” or “I might as well have a drink and get it over with” are counterproductive.

These thoughts need to be examined and stopped immediately. If a situation is causing you to want to drink, examine your thoughts.

For example, you’re having a bad day at work and the boss just reamed you out.

Instead of rushing off to the local pub, analyze the conversation and pull out nuggets of information that you can improve on to better perform at work.

5. Distractions and Replacement

If a stressful situation can’t be avoided, distractions are a great way to overcome urges.

Create a list of healthy distractions that you can refer to if a craving is overwhelming so you don’t have to think too much.

Distractions can be anything from a brisk walk or run, swimming laps, calling a friend, reading a book or cleaning.

Choosing an exercise, offers the added bonus from a boost of endorphins, which will help to reduce the stress and anxiety you may be feeling.

Practice mindful meditation to find a peaceful resolution. Visualize yourself going through the motions of your distraction to help you to get started.

This will ease any anxiety and fear that can trigger cravings. Keep a positive attitude, and understand that with practice, healthy habits will override negative ones.

6. Participate in Relapse Prevention Therapy

There are many 12 step and non-12 step alternatives where people in recovery from drugs and alcohol can learn the necessary skills to avoid relapses.

SMART Recovery is a non-religious cross-talk therapy where people can discuss their struggles with triggers and cravings, as well as listen and learn from the experiences of others.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is another incredibly useful tool that develops a positive skillset in recovery and helps people understand the relationship between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

The most important thing to remember is that recovery from addiction takes time and relapse is a natural part of the disease, just as experiencing triggers or cravings are a normal part of recovery.

Instead of feeling guilty or depressed, staying focused and positive can lead to a happy and healthy sober lifestyle.


Suicide Prevention Apps

Suicide is a leading cause of death among Americans, tragically taking over 45,000 lives per year according to the CDC. While we’re not suggesting an app alone can save lives, they can be a good resource to go along with counseling and mental health lifelines, like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-8255, and Trevor Lifeline, 866-488-7386.

MY3

Designed to help those stay safe while having thoughts of suicide, MY3 is free and lets you customize your own personal safety plan by noting your warning signs, listing coping strategies, and connecting you to helpful resources to reach out to when you need them most. At your fingertips is a button that puts you in direct contact (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) with a trained counselor from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as well as a 911 alert. Additionally, you can choose three people to contact in the event you’re having thoughts of suicide. (Free iOS and Android)

NotOK

notOK is a free app developed by a struggling teenager (and her teen brother) for teenagers. The app features a large, red button that can be activated to let close friends, family and their support network know help is needed. Users can add up to five trusted contacts as part of their support group so when they hit the digital panic button, a message along with their current GPS location is sent to their contacts. The message reads: “Hey, I’m not OK! Please call, text, or come find me.” (Free iOS and Android)


Proven Techniques For Improving Your Performance Psychology

In the fields of clinical and counseling psychology, there are many evidence-based techniques that help people overcome mood problems, anxiety, anger issues, addictions, and much more. But what about people who don't have diagnosable clinical and counseling issues? Can psychology help them perform more effectively at home and in their work? In this post, we will explore a powerful principle and see how psychological methods can benefit all of us.

The Principle Of Continuity

Most people--including mental health professionals--think of problems as distinct entities. The DSM system of diagnosis is based on this framework: either we possess a psychological/psychiatric problem or we don't. A different framework locates these problems along a continuum, from normal everyday life challenges to difficult emotional disorders. Let's take the example of depression. We may feel depressed because of a loss that we experience, such as the passing of a loved one. We could also feel depressed on a more ongoing basis, as part of a chronic, inherited disorder. In that event, we might seek the assistance of medications as well as longer-term therapies. In everyday life, the dynamics of depression can also affect us, taking the form of discouragement and negative thinking. These dynamics are not as severe as the more "clinical" manifestations, but they share important characteristics.

Similarly, a person might have an anxiety problem in social situations, making it difficult to meet people. A more challenging anxiety problem would be an obsessive-compulsive disorder that interferes with broad areas of life. At the workplace, we might observe similar dynamics of anxiety, as performance pressures lead us to make impulsive and suboptimal decisions. The trader in financial markets, for example, who displays a "fear of missing out" when chasing a moving market experiences an anxiety problem, but not one that would be diagnosed by a clinician.

Anger, too, exists on a continuum. It may be episodic and lead to arguments and difficulties in a marriage, or it could be part of a more pervasive syndrome associated with rage and violent behavior. In the performance situation, anger manifests itself as frustration, as events interfere with the achievement of our goals. A portfolio manager may become frustrated when days of intensive research fail to pay off, thanks to a random tweet that moves the market. That frustration can also lead to undesirable behavior, albeit not as dramatically as in the clinical situation.

In all of these cases, we observe continuity. The problems and challenges that we face in day to day life are not wholly different from those that affect people with diagnosable emotional disorders. They exist on a continuum and display similar dynamics. For this reason, the techniques that have been found to be effective in counseling and clinical situations possess tremendous relevance to our day-to-day performance challenges. This suggests that some of the most powerful "coaching" techniques for peak performance are adaptations of "clinical" methods that have been studied and applied for decades.

Two Promising Methods For Improving Our Performance

In a recent podcast, psychologist Seth Gillihan, Ph.D. and I explored applications of evidence-based therapy for performers in financial markets: traders, portfolio managers, and investors. Specifically, we focused on two evidence-based methods: behavioral and cognitive. Behavioral techniques are based on the notion that what we do impacts how we think and act. By changing our behaviors, we create new patterns that we internalize and ultimately extend. Cognitive approaches seek change by helping us alter our ways of thinking about problems, opening the door to fresh solutions. Here are some noteworthy examples:

  1. Behavioral Methods:Using Feedback To Change Performance - I recently purchased and started using a device that provides continuous readings of blood sugar levels. The idea is to keep levels within an ideal range, much as a runner on a treadmill might sustain a target heart rate. In order to achieve that range, it's necessary to alter eating patterns: what one eats, how one eats, and when one eats. Those changes to eating patterns have resulted in weight loss, and the combination of improved blood sugar levels and weight loss have led to better energy levels during the day and greater productivity. As in the use of monitoring devices such as Fitbit, the feedback leads to change in behavior, which in turn fuels self-mastery and fosters wider levels of change. Such feedback can also help performers master such skills as meditation, as in the case of the Muse device that monitors brainwave patterns in real time. Mike Bellafiore at SMB Capital has found that breathing and meditation skills help traders gain control over their decision-making by facilitating mindfulness and rule-following. Once again, this leads to wider psychological changes associated with improved confidence and risk-taking. Changing individual behaviors can ultimately change our psychology--and our performance.
  2. Cognitive Methods: Using Preparation To Change Self-Talk - From a cognitive perspective, our construing impacts our doing: how we think about situations shapes how we respond to them. Most performers, whether in athletics, performing arts, or financial markets, go through warm-up periods prior to engaging in competition. This preparation helps get them in the right mindset for putting their practice into practice. In my work with high-performing money managers, we have dedicated a portion of the preparation period to a rehearsal of self-talk. Specifically, the performer focuses his or her attention on the problem patterns that have negatively impacted decision-making and visualizes those patterns as an enemy. The idea is not only to think of those patterns as self-defeating, but to actually summon the emotions associated with a hated enemy who stands between oneself and success. When performers actually feel a degree of hate and disgust toward their problem patterns, it triggers a competitive response: a desire to defeat the enemy. In shifting the self-talk from battling markets to battling one's worst tendencies, traders feel empowered. This directs one of their greatest strengths--their competitive drive--constructively.
  3. Combining Behavioral And Cognitive Methods: Creating Better Work Processes - A valuable performance practice is to identify your best practices--what you do when you are most successful--and turn these into repeatable processes. One way of accomplishing this is to combine behavioral methods with cognitive techniques. In an insightful video, Peter L. Brandt walks listeners through his daily process, from generating trading ideas to managing existing positions. What is clear from his presentation is that his daily routine truly is a routine. In reviewing many charts and distilling the list to a few areas of opportunity, he has found ways to make sense of markets and achieve a high degree of consistency to his investing. The creation of routine is itself a behavioral method that reinforces patience and discipline. During his routine, Brandt rehearses a way of thinking about markets that reduces pressure by emphasizing that not having a position in markets is itself a position: it is OK to be uncertain. In following his process, Brandt conducts both behavioral and cognitive "therapies", giving him greater control of his work efforts and a mindset favorable to proper decision-making.

The beauty of these methods, behavioral and cognitive, is that they are skill-based. As Dr. Gillihan notes in his book, the techniques can be learned, rehearsed, and "made simple" in the course of daily life. Moreover, it is possible to achieve changes in a relatively short period of time through repetition. Research in outcomes in psychology suggests that it is much easier to initiate change than to sustain it. All of us are prone to relapse. When we engage in skill practice on a daily basis, we develop new habit patterns that become ongoing parts of us--and our performance. As James Clear has illustrated in his book on habit formation, it doesn't take a life-shattering experience to create significant life changes. We can reach peak levels of performance one thought and one behavior at a time.


Mindfulness Meditation Videos, Exercises, Books and Courses (+PDF)

Whether you have just heard of mindfulness meditation for the first time, have already begun dipping into mindfulness meditation recently or have been practicing mindfulness meditation for years, here are a few more resources relating to the subject.

From mindfulness meditation videos to exercises, books, and courses, this is a compilation of resources that should help take your practice to the next level. Before we begin, let’s define mindfulness meditation.

Before you start reading this article, I recommend you to download our 3 Mindfulness Exercises Pack for free. With this package, you will not just be able to understand mindfulness on a theoretical level, but you’ll also have the tools to apply mindfulness in your work with clients or students.

  • A Definition of Mindfulness Meditation
  • The Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
  • Mindfulness Meditation for Kids
  • Mindfulness Meditation Techniques and Exercises for Classroom Setting
  • The Body Scan
  • Training Centres and Courses Near You (and certification programs)
  • The 7 Best Books on Mindfulness Meditation
  • A Handy Mindfulness Meditation Script (PDF)
  • 3 Useful Apps for Guided Meditation and Falling Asleep
  • Top 11 YouTube Videos on Mindfulness Meditation
  • Most Inspiring Quotes on Mindfulness Meditation
  • Music, Audio, And Podcasts for Mindfulness Meditation Practice
  • Mindfulness Meditation For Pain And Stress Relief And Depression
  • A Take Home Message
  • References

Incorporate Morning Meditation into Your Routine

Now that you know the 5 best guided morning meditations for energy and motivation, where do you begin?

Follow these tips for forming a new habit:

  1. Set realistic and sustainable goals
  2. Practice at the same time, every day
  3. Weave the practice into your current routine

Ten weeks may be a realistic time frame to commit to a consistent practice, despite the adage that it takes 21 days to form a habit. [13] Choose one of the morning meditations for energy and motivation that fits your current schedule. Keep it simple and try to build it into your already established routine.

Choosing to practice at the same time every day will make it easier to practice consistently. Instead of looking at this like something you have to do, choose to view it as something you get to do. This should be an enjoyable activity that you look forward to each morning.

Doing one of these activities each day can assist with increased energy and motivation, not to mention the variety of established physical and psychological benefits of meditation. Practice these guided morning meditations for energy and motivation every day for ten weeks and you might just become a morning person, after all.


More Meditation Techniques For Anxiety Relief (With Scripts)

I recommend trying each of these meditation techniques for anxiety relief. Find the one that works best for you. Then use it daily for continual relief.

*For all these anxiety-meditation scripts, please refer to our main menu.

1: Mindful Breathing

The ideal place to start is with a simple breathing meditation. Many experts like Jack Kornfield and Dr Oz. recommend this method.

A study published by the National Institute of Health in 2016 found that daily mindful breathing significantly reduces anxiety and increases positive thoughts [4].

2: Vipassana

One of the best Buddhist meditations for anxiety is Vipassana.

In Vipassana, we label our emotions while meditating on the breath. For instance, if we are meditating on the breath when we suddenly feel worried, we tell ourselves “This is just a feeling.” This method is advocated by the likes of Jack Kornfield [founder, Insight Meditation Society] and S.N.Goenka.

Vipassana is one of the best meditation techniques for anxiety relief and depression because it makes us less reactive to our own thoughts and emotions.

In 2001, the Journal of Scientific Research found that a 10-day training program in vipassana meditation “may help mitigate psychological and psychosomatic distress.” [5]

3: Mindful Walking

Another of the best meditations for anxiety relief is mindful walking. This is a truly relaxing method that combines the relaxation of walking with the mental health benefits of mindfulness.

A trial published by the American Journal of Health found that ten minutes of meditation followed by a ten-minute walk reduced anxiety significantly better than a walk by itself, as measured by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory Questionnaire. [6]

4: Self-Guided Meditation For Anxiety

When you think sad thoughts, you become sad. When you think happy thoughts, you become happy.

Fill your mind with positive thoughts by doing a guided meditation.

“Self-guided” means you lead yourself through a visualisation that alleviates your symptoms. We imagine specific things to produce specific changes in the mind.

CalmClinic [4] states that “Visualisation is not an anxiety cure. What it is, is a relaxation strategy that makes it much easier for you to cope with your anxiety symptoms during periods of high stress.”

5 Guided meditation for anxiety

Yes, there may be some truth in what Andy Puddicombe of Headspace says: guided methods using apps can sometimes be effective.

Research from the journal Behavioural Brain Research shows that there are indeed benefits of guided meditations for anxiety, although Harvard Medical School states that guided meditations for anxiety are not as effective as traditional methods.

Therefore, it may be best to stick with traditional methods unless you find them too difficult, in which case try a guided meditation for anxiety instead.

Research shows that listening to a guided meditation for 13 minutes a day for eight weeks somewhat reduces anxiety.

6 Body Scan Meditation Script For Anxiety

Another of the best daily meditations for anxiety relief is “Body Scan”. This exercise reduces the physical symptoms of the condition. It does this by systematically relaxing the body. This system was devised by Jon Kabat Zinn [creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School]. It is a fundamental aspect of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program [MBSR].

When you use meditation techniques for anxiety you become more aware of physical sensations, and thereby less reactive to them. With Body Scan, you learn to recognise the very early stages of an upcoming anxiety attack. You can then take steps to cut off those symptoms before they get worse.

A study published on the National Institute of Health showed that women with breast cancer who used MBSR “experienced a significant improvement in sixteen psychosocial variables compared with [a control group].

“These included health-related, [breast cancer] specific quality of life and psychosocial coping, which were the primary outcomes, and secondary measures, including meaningfulness, helplessness, cognitive avoidance, depression, paranoid ideation, hostility, anxiety, global severity, anxious preoccupation, and emotional control.” [8]

Effect of MBSR Meditation On Anxiety

Script

  1. Breathe in for four counts. Hold for four. Then exhale for another four counts. Continue to breathe like this throughout the meditation.
  2. Say to yourself, “I am feeling anxious right now, but that it is okay. It is just a temporary feeling and will pass.”
  3. Now begin to pass your attention up and down your body, starting from the crown of your head and progressing down to your toes one step at a time. Take five breaths per body part (head, face, neck, upper body, stomach, lower back, shoulders, arms, hands, abdomen, legs, ankles, feet). As you breathe into these areas, ask them to relax.
  4. Tense your entire body. Notice the sensations. Then completely let go. Notice the feeling of letting go. Do this three times.
  5. Continue to breathe as described above. Then tell yourself, “I welcome relaxation and inner peace.”

7: Mindfulness

Scientific research suggests that the best meditation technique for anxiety is mindfulness.

Mindfulness involves focusing the mind 100% on the present moment. There are various ways to do this.

  • Mindfully observe your breath (see #1 above)
  • Mindfully listen to music
  • Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings

Being mindful means living in the present moment. And like Lao Tzu says: “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. But if you are at peace, you are living in the present moment.”

Anxiety.org [8] says, “Research has shown that mindfulness helps to reduce anxiety and depression. Mindfulness teaches us how to respond to stress with an awareness of what is happening in the present moment, rather than simply acting instinctively, unaware of what emotions or motives may be driving that decision.”.

8 Emptiness

This form of meditation originates from the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu, the father of philosophical Daoism. In Emptiness meditation, we meditate on nothingness. This creates a sense of space in the mind, which is very relaxing.

9 Pranayama.

Pranayama refers to the way we breathe when we do yoga. It is a deep style of breathing that is coordinated with movements of the body. By meditating on the breath while doing yoga, we relax both the mind and the body.

A study published in the International Journal of Yoga in 2013 revealed that students who practised pranayama for one semester significantly reduced their anxiety and improved their test results. [9]

10 Mindful CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

Ben Martin, Psy.D. states, “Our unique patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving are significant factors in our experiences, both good and bad.” CBT is a way to change those thinking patterns.

MBCBT is an extension of cognitive-behavioural therapy. It uses specific strategies of thinking to change negative thoughts. Take a look at the link above for more on this. This is a powerful system for altering mindsets and is commonly used by psychotherapists. Much research has revealed that MBCBT alleviates the symptoms of anxiety and is particularly beneficial for treating social anxiety.

11: Loving Kindness

Loving kindness is one of the best meditation techniques for anxiety relief if your worries involve other people. For instance, social anxiety and relationship-anxiety.

The reason this is better than other methods is that it creates positive feelings about other people. It trains us to receive love from others and to give love too. This creates a sense of emotional support.

A 2015 study by Evidence-Based Complementary And Alternative Medicine found that loving-kindness led to significant reductions in depression and anxiety, with less rumination of negative thoughts and an increase in positive emotions. [10]

If you’d like to discover more bout this method, I highly recommend reading the works of Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg.

More exercises

The above methods have the most significant scientific research, which is why I listed them as the top ten. However, as a meditation teacher, I do recommend that you also consider the following techniques.

  • Mantras
  • Transcendental Meditation
  • Chakras
  • Third Eye
  • Trataka
  • Shikantaza
  • Kriya Yoga
  • Tibetan singing bowls
  • Apps like Calm and Headspace
  • Kundalini Meditation (consult a professional teacher first)
  • Tantra
  • Inner Vision
  • Internal Alchemy
  • Qigong Meditation
  • Falun Gong Meditation
  • Contemplative Prayer
  • Contemplation of Religious Teachings
  • Binaural Beats
  • Affirmations
  • Guided Imagery
  • Nature Sounds

Precautions

Bear in mind that different people will experience different results. In a 2020 study published by Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, Miguel Farias at Coventry University in the UK stated that some people may experience worsening symptoms after meditation [11]

F.A.Q.

What are the best meditations for social anxiety?

When you have social anxiety, meditation techniques can help you to relax around other people so that you can enjoy better relationships.

The best meditations for social anxiety are techniques in which we change the way we feel about other people. For instance, Loving Kindness [Metta] and Compassion [Karuna]. These are the two best meditations for social anxiety because they help us to develop more compassionate relationships with others.

Stefan. G. Hoffman [Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University] conducted research [9] into the effect of Loving Kindness Meditation on social anxiety. In his conclusion he wrote, “Adding an LKM component to traditional psychotherapy (such as CBT) that primarily targets negative emotions, might significantly enhance the efficacy of treating mood dysregulation, possibly by enhancing adaptive emotion regulation. We also predict that such a strategy might be beneficial for treating anxiety disorders, such as PTSD, generalised anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder.”

It’s also worth using daily mindfulness meditations for social anxiety. You can do this by practising mindful breathing during panic attacks or using apps like Headspace and Calm, which have quick exercises you can do. The main benefit of using mindfulness meditations for social anxiety is that they quickly return your focus to the present moment, and this helps you to relax.

Best meditations for relationship anxiety?

Similar to social anxiety, meditation techniques can help us build better relationships by making us more compassionate towards other people.

Buddhist Metta and Karuna help because they train us to give and receive love and compassion from other people].

In his book Altered Traits, internationally renowned psychologist Dan Coleman explains that with Loving Kindness Meditation “You handle stress better, you’re calmer, you’re less triggered, and you recover more quickly.” He goes on to explain that LKM leads to heightened compassion and empathy, which makes us more understanding of our significant others. In turn, this reduces the symptoms and effects of relationship anxiety.

Best meditation techniques for anxiety attacks / panic attacks?

The best types of meditation techniques for anxiety attacks (or “panic attacks”) are a little different. Panic attacks are different to other forms of anxiety. They are about very heated feelings that come on out of nowhere.

In my experience, as someone who has personally used meditation for anxiety attacks, the best option is mindfulness and Mindful CBT [cognitive behavioural therapy]. Any technique that immediately brings you back into the present moment (such as mindfully holding an ice cube or taking a cold shower and meditating on the sensation of water on your body) are good options. Techniques like these can cut through the panic attack and snap you back into the present moment.

Best Meditation Techniques For Anxiety In School / Exams?

We all know how stressful school and university can be. Thankfully we can use meditation for exam anxiety. One of the best ways to do this is to take mindful breaks.

One of the primary reasons for anxiety when studying is because we cram the mind with too much information. This is like lifting too many weights at the gym. Studying too hard makes your mind ache. And just like your body, your brain needs a break.

For this reason, the best meditations for anxiety in school are easy methods that let you relax and take a break, such as basic mindfulness.

When you feel stressed about exams, meditate on your breath. Simply close your eyes and take 108 mindful breaths. Do not listen to a guided meditation, which is just more noise. Your breath should be your guide.

Best Meditation Techniques For Anxiety At Work

It’s best to use some relaxing and easy meditation techniques for anxiety at work. If you are feeling the pressure or you’re stressed, your mind is telling you that you need a break. And when the brain needs a break, it wants silence and stillness. For that reason, the best meditation techniques for anxiety at work are easy mindfulness exercises. Take some mindful breaths or do simple mindful exercises such as tai chi or yoga,. This will also help to relax your body if you have been sitting for too long.

Conclusion

Above we looked at the best meditation techniques for anxiety. Which method works best for you? Leave a comment and remember to subscribe.

Sources

1: Bystritsky A, Khalsa SS, Cameron ME, Schiffman J. Current diagnosis and treatment of anxiety disorders. P T. 201338(1):30-57.

2: Martin EI, Ressler KJ, Binder E, Nemeroff CB. The neurobiology of anxiety disorders: brain imaging, genetics, and psychoneuroendocrinology. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 200932(3):549-575. doi:10.1016/j.psc.2009.05.004

3: Benjamin Shapero, instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital’s (MGH) Depression Clinical and Research Program

4: The Effectiveness of Daily Mindful Breathing Practices on Test Anxiety of Students, Hyunju Cho, Seokjin Ryu, Jeeae Noh, and Jongsun Lee, Department of Psychology, Yeungnam University, Department of Psychology, Kangwon National University LINK.

5: Vipassana meditation: A naturalistic, preliminary observation in Muscat, Ala’Aldin Al-HussainiSultan Qaboos University, Vipassana Research Institute, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3174711/

6: Differential Experimental Effects of a Short Bout of Walking, Meditation, or Combination of Walking and Meditation on State Anxiety Among Young Adults, American Journal of Health Promotion https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29216745/ .

7: Brief, daily meditation enhances attention, memory, mood, and emotional regulation in non-experienced meditators, Behavioural Brain https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016643281830322X

8: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Women With Early-Stage Breast Cancer Receiving Radiotherapy, Virginia P. Henderson, MD, MPH,1 Ann O. Massion, MD,2 Lynn Clemow, PhD,3 Thomas G. Hurley, MS,1 Susan Druker, MEd,4 and James R. Hébert, ScD1, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3758444/

9: The effect of pranayama on test anxiety and test performance, Azadeh Nemati, International Journal Of Yoga

10: Loving-Kindness Meditation to Target Affect in Mood Disorders: A Proof-of-Concept Study, Evidence-Based Complementary And Alternative Medicine https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4468348/

11: Adverse events in meditation practices and meditation‐based therapies: a systematic review, M. Farias E. Maraldi K. C. Wallenkampf G. Lucchetti , WILEY.


Addictions Worksheets, Dual Diagnosis, And Relapse Prevention

There is considerable psychological theory which clinicians working in the field of addiction can draw upon.

Prochaska and DiClemente’s Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change Model)

The transtheoretical model (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1982 Prochaska, DiClemente, Norcross, 1992) is used to conceptualize the process of intentional behavior change. It identifies important stages in the process of changing a behavior: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. The transtheoretical model also identifies processes which need to be implemented to attain behavior change: consciousness raising (awareness of the facts), dramatic relief (paying attention to feelings), environmental re-evaluation (noticing our effects upon others), self–re-evaluation (creating a new self-image), social liberation (noticing support around us), self-liberation (making a commitment), counterconditioning (using substitutes), helping relationships (getting support), reinforcement management (using rewards), stimulus control (managing your environment).

Marlatt and Gordon’s Cognitive Behavioral Model of Relapse

Marlatt and Gordon published a cognitive behavioral model of relapse in 1985. They conceptualize relapse as a “transitional process, a series of events that unfold over time” (Marlatt & Gordon, 1985). The model identifies factors that can contribute toward episodes of relapse. These include intrapersonal factors such as self-efficacy (the degree to which an individual feels confident and capable of performing a certain behavior in a specific situational context), outcome expectancies (an individual’s anticipation of the effects of a future experience), craving, motivation, and social support.

The Cognitive Behavioral Model of Substance Abuse

The cognitive behavioral model of substance abuse (Beck, Wright, Newman, & Liese, 1993) describes psychological areas of vulnerability that predispose an individual to misusing substances including: dysfunctional beliefs about drugs, oneself, or one’s relationship with drugs ‘permission-giving beliefs’ with which an individual may justify their drug use and reactions to a lapse or relapse that lead to a vicious cycle of maintenance.

Evidence-Based Psychological Approaches for Working with Addictions and Relapse

Cognitive approaches to working with addictions may include:

  • identifying patterns of dysfunctional thinking such as ‘permission-giving beliefs’
  • learning how to delay and distract in response to cravings and urges
  • making positive lifestyle changes
  • treating underlying mental health conditions which predispose an individual toward substance misuse.

Resources for Working with Addictions and Relapse

Psychology Tools resources available for working therapeutically with addictions may include:



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