How I use Mindfulness Meditation for Anxiety
What I've Learned Along The Way
Anxiety, the silent and persistent thief. The thief of attention, thoughts, conversations, efficient work, and so much more! If you’ve ever been a victim of anxiety’s warpath, you may know what I am talking about.
For me, it’s the sudden burning sensation in my shoulders from extended tension, and the racing nonsensical thoughts that can take you from one end of the world to the other all in a matter of seconds. The worst part, is never knowing in that very moment, exactly what it is that’s causing the anxiety. It’s always after the fact, when the peaceful moment passes and you can say, “Oh, that’s what my problem was!” But, I guess that is the nature of having anxiety!
With having chronic anxiety issues, from a very young age, I’ve tried a myriad of remedies, from herbal tea, to floral candles, to self-help books, to exercise, to meditation, and so on. All of which, can be extremely effective if you allow them. My favorite however, is meditation. Mindfulness meditation, to be specific.
Mindfulness can most readily be described as a state of being, a state of full attention and awareness to anyone or anything. In the case of anxiety and mindfulness meditation, it would be a state of awareness and attention towards your own self, your body. Taking time to become aware of the sensations of tension, restricted breathing, anger or frustration. Most importantly, this state of awareness should come free from judgments.
What does mindfulness meditation look like when I’m feeling an overwhelming sense of anxiety?
Well, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I stop to take a moment for myself; a moment to focus on my breath and only my breath; repeated deep breathing cycles to center my focus on just that, my breath. It sounds a bit too simple, too obnoxious perhaps, but you’d be surprised at what that small amount of time and attention can do for your consciousness (and blood pressure levels!).
Then, once I’ve had several minutes with just my breathing, I move the focus to the subtle burning sensation in my shoulders, or wherever my body is housing my tension. As if breathing in to the pain, feeling the sensation fully, and letting it go. Not judging myself for being anxious in the first place, or for needing to take a moment for myself, or even for the lacking attention span. Simply being, human, in a complete state of awareness.
After anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, I’m ready to move on with a stronger, more grounded sense of what my goals are for the day and what I’d like to accomplish. Without all the muddled and scrambled racing thoughts of nothingness.
Meditation is really about learning and paying attention to your body’s responses, reactions, and feelings about any number of situations. It’s about teaching yourself patience and discipline that can be applicable to all of what life has to offer.
There are a number of great resources, that I have found effective in taming my anxiety and even in learning to maintain an effective mindful lifestyle. Calming Your Anxious Mind, by Jeffery Brantley, is an excellently informative read for anyone suffering with anxiety. Additionally, Jon Kabat-Zinn has series of guided meditations that, to me, were fabulous for a beginning meditation enthusiast, to name a few.
Don’t stop with only these suggestions however, as there is an entire world of Mindfulness Meditation information waiting for anyone who might be looking.