Message Boards Message Boards

Concentration

Anxiety Relief

Toggle
Anxiety Relief
Answer
9/14/18 7:55 AM
Hi all

I have high blood pressure and so I want to practice Samatha meditation because that focuses more on relaxation. Trouble is, I'm not sure what it entails.

I've been doing Vipassana (insight) every day for the last four months, but I am new to all of this, and when I looked into Samatha (calm), I couldn't see any differences in technique. Both say to focus on the breath. 

Could someone please point me in the direction of a concise explanation on how to practice Samatha so I can relax a bit?

Thank you.

RE: Anxiety Relief
Answer
9/14/18 8:38 AM as a reply to Nothing.
Beyond just reading the sections on concentration in MCTB (e.g. here and here), many practitioners have gotten a lot out of working with the book The Mind Illuminated to develop samatha and vipassanna in tandem.  It may also be worth keeping in mind that whatever technique you're using will inevitably stir up some complex emotions. It's very natural at times to feel like meditation is making anxiety worse rather than better, at least in the short run.

RE: Anxiety Relief
Answer
9/14/18 9:01 AM as a reply to JP.
JP:
Beyond just reading the sections on concentration in MCTB (e.g. here and here), many practitioners have gotten a lot out of working with the book The Mind Illuminated to develop samatha and vipassanna in tandem.  It may also be worth keeping in mind that whatever technique you're using will inevitably stir up some complex emotions. It's very natural at times to feel like meditation is making anxiety worse rather than better, at least in the short run.
Thank you JP

Your last part about meditation sometimes making anxiety worse, in the beginning, sounds familiar to me. I have a blood pressure reading unit, and for the last three times I've meditated (30 mins), it has reached 148 / 99 (and sometimes higher). Funny thing is that I don't feel stressed when this happens. Later, my BP drops to almost normal. I've not had the BP unit long so I'll continue to monitor this. 

RE: Anxiety Relief
Answer
9/14/18 5:43 PM as a reply to Nothing.
It might seem obvious, but it can be very helpful to do a quick "tension scan" every once in a while during your day, even off the cushion. Just let your attention move lightly around the body (or a wider focus on the whole body) and any place you feel muscular tension, let it go. Do this a few times a day, and also any time you notice muscular tension developing. Eventually it becomes a habit (and you become less likely to tense up in the first place), which can really help with anxiety and stress. You'll also learn a few things about the relationship between tension and anxiety.

Edit: Just realized I somewhat duplicated Michael's post above, need more coffee lol

RE: Anxiety Relief
Answer
9/14/18 5:41 PM as a reply to Nothing.
Welcome! I would also make sure you have a game plan for dealing with intense emotions as they come up. A therapist/friend/health care provider can help you talk through things. Always good to have a strong base of support to work from!

Also thinking of the breath (or whatever else you're focusing on) as a lifeline that always tethers you to safety might be helpful. 

RE: Anxiety Relief
Answer
9/15/18 5:25 AM as a reply to Erin.
Thanks all for the advice. Just to inform, I watch what I eat and have been in therapy for years for this issue and that. 

The strange thing is every time I take my BP after Vipassana meditating for 30mins, it's around 150 / 101. And I'm feeling pretty relaxed.