Does meditation only make your anxiety worse?

For clients with anxiety or in the midst of a depressive episode, there is no “bloom of the present moment,” a phrase coined by Jon Kabat Zinn, who developed the 8-week program called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program. There is only relentless spinning, merciless dread, or feeling like you want to rip your skin off.

If sitting meditation only makes you want to jump out of your skin, you’re better off starting with another practice that reduces anxiety, but doesn’t require isolation or complete stillness. I suggest developing a daily practice of some kind of moving meditation: yoga, tai chi, Qi gong, or even chanting. The idea for someone with anxiety is to get a break, to feel a sense of grace, flow, ease inside. All of the practices I just mentioned will help.

Don’t give up. Even the worst anxiety won’t kill you. There is one book I recommend to anyone suffering from depression or anxiety, “Hope and Help for Your Nerves,” by the late Dr. Claire Weeks. It has been a lifesaver for thousands and thousands of people. The link above will send you to Discover Books, which sells it for a lot less money than Amazon.

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