MINDFULNESS FOR ANXIETY
In my experience, mindfulness can be one of the most effective ways to calm anxiety. You may have heard the saying “anxiety is worrying about the future and depression is mulling over the past.” The beauty of a mindfulness practice is that it brings us into the present moment – where all is well. I had the great privilege last year to spend a weekend practicing with Sharon Salzberg, one of the top meditation teachers.
How to even get started with a mindfulness practice can seem to be a big challenge. I recommend starting small – consciously beginning to get more present at various points during your day.
Simple ways to start practicing mindfulness for anxiety:
- In the morning, it could be stopping to consciously drink your coffee without the distractions of watching tv, surfing the internet, reading, etc. Really get curious and notice the smell, the taste, the temperature, the way the coffee feels as it slides down your throat.
- During your morning commute, whether you are driving or taking public transportation, consciously notice your surroundings and/or the people around you, really notice how it feels to be sitting in the seat with your feet on the floor. Notice the temperature of the air, if there’s any breeze.
- During lunch, again like with coffee, try to eat without the distractions of phones, etc. Mindfully slow down the rate that you are eating. Really allow yourself to notice how the food tastes, the texture – is it crunchy or soft? Consciously put your fork, spoon or piece of food down after every bite. Chew each bite twice as long.
- While washing dishes, you can easily practice mindfulness by bringing all of your awareness to what you are doing. Notice the temperature of the water, the bubbles from the soap, the feeling of the sponge moving around the plate.
- As you are walking, practice mindfulness by really slowing down and focusing your awareness on each step; noticing – does your foot or your heel come down first? Really feel each step that you take.
After a few short days of these mindfulness practices, you will begin to feel calmer and more balanced, noticing that your anxiety levels are lower.
Benefits of mindfulness:
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Improve sleep
- Reduce pain
- Lower blood pressure
I recommend that you sit up, just so you don’t fall asleep!
- Start by sittinng in a chair, on a couch or meditation cushion, or on the floor with your back supported by the wall.
- Set a timer (something soft and soothing like a zen bell chime) Start at only 3 – 5 minutes. We want to start small and slowly increase to affect a much greater chance that you will develop a regular mindfulness practice than if I suggested starting with 20 minutes.
- You can either close your eyes, or bring them to a soft gaze. Begin to notice your breath without judging it or changing it in any way. Is it warmer on the exhale than the inhale? Is it shallow or deep? Are you breathing into your belly or your chest? Again, without judging it, simply be curious like a little child and notice your breath.
- As our physical bodies slow down, our minds naturally begin to speed up and wander off. So when your mind wanders off, withhold judgement (you’re NOT doing it wrong!) and bring your awareness back to your breath.
- Soon enough the timer will go off and you can simply open your eyes and notice how you feel. Even the first time can be a wonderful experience.
- Over time, you can slowly increase the timer by a few minutes until you find the right amount of time for you!
“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally, It’s about knowing what is on your mind.” Jon Kabat-Zinn (known as the father of mindfulness)
Please share below in the comment section how you are cultivating a mindfulness practice.
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