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Stopping to smell the roses in modern society is almost unheard of. Everyone is trying to get as much done in 24 hours as possible – stopping to contemplate life is now a luxury.
Meditation, which is the process of removing thoughts and distractions, relaxing and just being “one with yourself,” is most likely impossible for many people in today’s on-the-go culture.
For example, I know meditation would probably be the hardest thing for me to achieve, unless sleep is considered meditation. In the middle of the day, there is no way I can stop my thoughts from returning to my long to-do list. Even before I drift off to sleep, my mind is racing.
I have been told that I do have some anxiety along with my depression, but I haven’t been diagnosed with an actual anxiety disorder. Just from looking at my lifestyle, stress and anxiety can be expected: busy schedule, little sleep and exercise, and a mostly inadequate diet.
In the case of an actual anxiety disorder, one clinical psychologist said that meditation is generally not helpful.
Steven Hendlin, a clinical psychologist in California and a fellow of the American Psychological Association, said that “meditation is the systematic process of focusing one’s attention over a period of time, usually with the intent of gaining some control and awareness of one’s internal process and also one’s physical process.”
This includes thoughts, sensations and feelings, he said. A simpler definition that most people use is “calming the body and quieting the mind.”
He said meditation is not helpful for those who have anxiety disorders.
“If you’re diagnostically anxious, the idea of sitting calmly, and your thoughts are simply going too fast and you can’t control it…it actually can make you more anxious,” Hendlin said.
Other treatment options, like medication, deep breathing and physical exercise, are preferable for those who have anxiety disorders.
“Meditation is when you’re not anxious,” Hendlin said. “Otherwise, it’s just very, very difficult. I don’t think it’s a great method if you’re really in an anxious state. You don’t start with meditation.”