So many meditation techniques are out there that it can be confusing and overwhelming to figure which one might be right for you. Then you add other factors into the mix and you’re left wondering, what are the best meditation techniques for anxiety and depression?

Although it may be simplistic, I find it helpful to divide the types of meditation techniques into two broad categories.

Settle the Monkey Mind

One group of practices includes those techniques that help the mind become more settled and less of a monkey mind. This is done by giving the mind something to focus on like, an object, a saying, a sound, the breath or anything that enables the mind to disengage from the incessant stream of thoughts.

Work With Your Thoughts and Experiences

The second group of meditation practices, works with your thoughts and experiences, as the focus of your practice. This may involve becoming more intimate and aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations in your body without judging them or struggling to change them. Acceptance and detachment are the goals and self-compassion and kindness are the ingredients. You learn to observe your thoughts without becoming attached to them. You learn that your thoughts don’t define you and that you are not your thoughts. You become very in tune with your inner world of feelings and emotions and notice when they are present. You then become aware of the thoughts that are triggering the emotions and feelings whether it be anger, sadness, fear or anything else.

I believe that both types of practices have an important role to play in relieving the symptoms of anxiety and depression. The practice of focusing your mind enables you to shift from the stress response to bring you closer to a balanced state. It also enables you to train your mind to focus and be less scattered which is incredibly important for peace of mind.

The second group of practices, enable you to get less caught up in your thoughts and the drama that they create. You become less attached and therefore less reactive. Over time, your thoughts don’t phase you as much. They become powerless over you and you may actually get to the point that you find them entertaining. After all, most of them aren’t true and don’t have your best interest at heart.

Recognize the Preventative Value of Meditation

Regardless of the type of meditation you practice, the key is to recognize the preventative value of meditation in general. Don’t wait until you’re having a full-blown panic attack or are so depressed you can’t get out of bed to learn to meditate.  Meditation may enable you to prevent the crisis from happening and will be a practice that once established, can help you weather the ups and downs of life’s challenges.

What type of techniques have you found helpful with your anxiety or depression?