Relaxation and meditation to stop being afraid
Phobia is the embodiment of fear. When it arises, it governs us and prevents us from acting. You may then panic and feel a wave of symptoms sweep over you. Relaxation and meditation are two of the many techniques that can be powerful in helping you to stop being afraid. Find out why!
Reduce your psychological and physical tensions
If you suffer from phobic disorders, relaxation exercises can be very helpful in reducing psychological and physical tension. Regular breathing and physical relaxation exercises can help you achieve a better quality of life. Relaxation is not intended to completely eliminate your anxiety and should not be considered as a therapy in itself.
It should be seen as a state of physical relaxation that can be used in conjunction with psychotherapy to treat your phobias. By doing these exercises regularly, you allow your brain to create automatisms. The more you relax, the easier it will be for you to naturally return to states of relaxation and well-being.
Mindfulness meditation techniques
These techniques are becoming increasingly popular, particularly in the treatment of phobias and anxiety disorders. Although its therapeutic effectiveness is still poorly understood, mindfulness meditation provides a state of calm and inner peace because it leaves behind all forms of judgment and thought that interfere with your mind. This can only be achieved through breathing and body techniques, hence the need to learn relaxation techniques beforehand.
This concept of mindfulness is largely rooted in Buddhist traditions where conscious attention and awareness are cultivated. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor Emeritus of Medicine in the United States, was the first to propose meditation as a remedy. He defines mindfulness as “paying attention to the path, to the goal in the present moment, in a non-judgmental state”.
Unlike cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness meditation does not aim to teach you psychological skills to help you cope better with your problems; it proposes that you accept your emotions as such, to see them as an ideal creation and not as a reflection of reality. Mindfulness meditation helps you build a new attitude towards negative emotions by focusing only on the present. In this way, you can cut yourself off from the negative thoughts that plague you.
The benefits of mindfulness mediation
According to Christophe André, a psychiatrist at the university hospital department of Saint Anne’s Hospital in Paris, mindfulness meditation has an advantage on three levels if you are phobic:
- It facilitates a state of relaxation. If you are anxious, it is difficult to maintain your attention on a particular object or task. The slightest external stimuli (car noises, people talking next to you, etc.) disturb you and do not allow you to concentrate effectively on your activities. Meditation proposes to integrate and accept these disturbances as such so that they can no longer be a problem for you.
- It allows you to better control attentional processes. In phobia, you cannot observe situations in a calm and relaxed way. On the contrary, you are rather in a surveillance attitude. You are wary of what might happen to you, you are usually very tense, vigilant and careful to inspect the smallest elements of the environment because you could potentially face the source of your phobia. But paradoxically, when the object or situation of your fear surfaces, it becomes very difficult to focus your attention on it because you are used to avoiding it. Mindfulness meditation is a solution that allows you to overcome the process of avoiding the painful emotion leading to thoughts and rumination by directly confronting the images, thoughts and sensations that worry you. The present moment in which you learn to be prevents you from dwelling on ideas about the past or future.
- Finally, meditation helps you to develop the ability to accept negative emotional states. For phobias, the exercises consist of allowing the thoughts, sensations and emotions that you find unpleasant to arise and learning to accept them all without trying to push them away or avoid them.
“We are what we think. Everything we are is the result of our thoughts”
Mindfulness meditation is a good tool for healing from fears as it allows you to get used to the very idea of facing them. By frequently looking fear in the face and doing so frequently, you can gradually put negative emotions into perspective and distance yourself from them. On its own, it does not allow you to fully treat your phobias, but it is very useful as a complement to psychotherapy.