I wanted to make this post just to see what people thought. (Sorry it's so long).
So there are all these techniques that people come up with to deal with anxiety. There's Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Transcendental Meditation, Mindfulness Meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi, and on and on.
Could it be that all these techniques essentially do the same thing? That being, they trigger an inherent relaxation response through the Parasympathetic Nervous System. People with anxiety are tempted to believe that there's something they can do about how they feel because our brain naturally attempts solve problems and reach a state of equilibrium.
Could it be that all this stuff is the same though? After examining a lot of it, that's the conclusion I've come to.
If you lie down and attend to your breathing, slowing it down in order to trigger the Parasympathetic Nervous System, can you really say that the results are significantly different than what's produced with any of these techniques? I don't think so.
As an aside, I'm aware that "flooding" produces different results and is used in some techniques. You can try this to see how it works if you don't know what it is... it's where you basically just flood your brain with verbal information (like repeating words continually in your head for a significant period of time). You can also get similar results from "concentrating" (or what seems more like tensing) on something as hard as possible. I don't think this behavior is very helpful. I'm not sure what the point of it is honestly.
Anyway, there's no doubt that humans have the ability to intentionally relax themselves... but in my experience, a lot of the other stuff that these techniques add on is just fluff. It's not actually real. You get the same results from 30 min of intentionally slowing/attending to your breathing as you get from all these other ideas that don't seem to actually work.
The most important part is that you can't trigger this relaxation response continually. Once you do it, you have to wait like 12-24 hours to do it again. Someone with chronic anxiety can't sit in a room and do like 4 hours of TM and completely rid themselves of anxiety. It just comes down to the relaxation response I think.
I do think Mindfulness itself is legitimate as it basically just describes Acceptance. But "Mindfulness Meditation" is just the triggering of the Parasympathetic Nervous System. Mindfulness isn't something you "practice" like practicing the piano, it's a psychological perspective where you accept painful experiences with openness instead of trying to constantly alter or control them.
It's so easy to sell people the idea that there's a technique that will give them total control over the difficult experiences inside their skin, but from what I've seen, most of it isn't legitimate.
Try to trigger the relaxation response multiple times in a short period... I don't think it's possible. The whole idea of "attending to the moment" or "living in the now" is basically just a description of the relaxation response. When your Parasympathetic Nervous System is active you automatically develop a lot of the characteristics describe in these techniques.
Anyway, I'm interested to see if anyone else thinks this is reasonable. This is the conclusion I've come to in examining anxiety.