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Which method is best for you?

One essential purpose of practicing formal relaxation or meditation is to give your mind and body the peaceful rest that comes whenever you elicit the Calming Response. By practicing one of these methods daily for a number of weeks, you learn how you feel when you calm down. You discover that you don't "lose control" as you let go of your tensions; you actually gain control. Choose whichever method interests you, then give yourself time to catch on to the technique.

I have outlined a number of benefits that can come from meditation. If you are a person who is plagued with many anxious thoughts, you will probably have an easier time with concentration meditation rather than awareness meditation, since it provides you with a specific mental focus.

Research suggests that people who experience predominantly physical symptoms of anxiety can diminish these tensions best through regular practice of active techniques such as Deep Muscle Relaxation. Engaging in some form of regular physical exercise -- such as walking, dancing, or active sports -- can also help control anxiety that you express physically.

If you want a variety of suggestions during your relaxation practice and also want the pleasure of sitting quietly without having to move your muscle groups, then you will like Generalized Relaxation and Imagery.

Even if you prefer one of the two formal relaxation methods, I suggest that you spend some time with meditative practice. Use meditation to teach yourself how to disrupt your intrusive thoughts while you use relaxation to gain a sense of calmness.

Whichever approach you choose, your initial concentration will take serious effort. Invest your time, and don't be self-critical if you notice few immediate positive results. Use the time as practice, not as a test. If nothing more, the simple task of sitting quietly for twenty minutes each day can bring rewards.