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VideoStress and Anxiety: Ask Andy

Stress and Anxiety: Ask Andy

Andy discusses the relationship between meditation, stress, and daily anxiety — and how to embrace self-compassion and awareness as part of training the mind.

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So today, I'm gonna be answering your questions about stress and anxiety and how they relate to the practice of mindfulness. So this first question comes from Min, and they asked, "Will meditation help with my anxiety?" Anxiety, fear is just part of being human. Sometimes, it's even helpful. We kinda need these range of human emotions in our life. It's just when they become so persistent that they start to overwhelm us, then it becomes a problem. So it's more about how can we change our relationship with anxiety, it's not how do we get rid of it. And perhaps, even get to a point where we start to embrace it as part of training the mind, as part of the practice of mindfulness with training in awareness. Training in awareness means becoming more aware of what's happening in our mind: thoughts, feelings, emotions. We start to notice the patterns. We start to notice the habitual patterns. And we start to notice our reactions to particular things. So if you think about how that applies to anxiety, almost inevitably, when we start to feel anxious or when we start to experience anxious thoughts in our mind, we get a feeling that comes with that in the body. The mind then recognizes those signals as anxious signals, so it tends to ramp up the thinking or if you're really kinda anxious about something. And often, if you're someone who experiences anxiety on a regular basis, it gets to a point where it doesn't even have to be about anything. You can just start feeling anxious about feeling anxious. That loop can be so strong that it feels impossible that even meditation isn't gonna make a difference. And that's where we really kinda have to show up on a regular basis, if we can, on a daily basis. And over time, you'll start to see that sort of cycle breakdown, where you're better able to step out as a thinking mind and be more present with whatever you're doing at that particular time. So this next person asks, "What do I do if I'm experiencing increased anxiety "during the meditation itself?" One thing that people have often said to me is, "Meditation makes me feel anxious," "Meditation makes me feel angry," "Meditation makes me feel sad." The meditation doesn't make us do anything. All we are doing in meditation is sitting down and observing what is already happening in the mind. We're not making the mind do something. We're not trying to make the mind do something. It's really important to recognize that. So when we sit down and we experience anxiety, it's probably not that the meditation has made you feel anxious, it's that there was an undercurrent of anxiety in taking yourself away from all the busyness and the distractions in life, you're actually seeing that clearly. You're feeling it. It's actually a really good thing, we're becoming aware of it and we're creating a space where anxiety can...


Duration5 min

About your teachers

  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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  • Eve is a mindfulness teacher, overseeing Headspace’s meditation curriculum. She is passionate about sharing meditation to help others feel less stressed and experience more compassion in their lives.

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  • As a meditation teacher, Dora encourages others to live, breathe, and be with the fullness of their experiences. She loves meditation’s power to create community and bring clarity to people’s minds.

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  • Kessonga has been an acupuncturists, therapist, and meditation teacher, working to bring mindfulness to the diverse populations of the world.

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  • Rosie Acosta has studied yoga and mindfulness for more than 20 years and taught for over a decade. Rosie’s mission is to help others overcome adversity and experience radical love.

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