Before writing this post I went on a bit of a research mission so I could describe in more detail how mindfulness can help in anxiety situations. Fat lot of good that did!
Details, facts and figures do nothing to help people deal with anxiety day to day, so what I am going to do is simply write this post from the way I see things and how mindfulness has helped me.
I hope that you can understand where I am coming from!
Have you ever faced a situation where your mind played out scenario’s in your head that had you all tense and stressed before the event had even occurred?
Maybe it was going for a job interview or facing up to someone that you had been arguing with or even stepping out the door and going about your daily life brings on these thoughts and feelings of stress.
Nobody is immune to anxiety and it does serve a purpose in life. If we were completely oblivious to it we could find ourselves in situations that may be life threatening but it is when the anxiety causes irrational thinking and behavior that it becomes a problem.
How we are able to cope with these thoughts and feelings determines how much it affects us, some people cope with it quite well and seem very confident and secure in themselves but some of us are unfortunately controlled by our feelings of anxiety.
How does practicing mindfulness increase our ability to deal with anxiety?
The art of living mindfully involves taking a break from the thoughts doing the rounds in our heads and seeing everything for as it is. That is not a great definition but it is a hard concept to put into words. In essence though what we try to do is to remove any emotion or feeling from the situation we are in and take everything on ‘face value’.
That’s great Craig, but how the hell do I do this? Glad you asked! (Sorry, I am in a particularly funny mood tonight. I have been struggling for a couple of days with my back pain and all my frustration is coming out here!)
The first skill we need to develop is to recognize when we start feeling uncomfortable or anxious. Once we can identify these feelings at an early stage we have a better chance of nipping it in the bud before it becomes an issue.
The next step is to remove yourself from the situation – not physically and certainly not when your complete concentration is required. All of this takes practice and mental strength, I have been applying these methods in my life for over six months now and I am nowhere near getting it right one hundred percent of the time yet but persistence does pay off.
Anyhow, back to the subject at hand.
Once you have the chance to ‘remove’ yourself it is time to take a few deep breaths in and out. Now for the tricky bit, pick something to concentrate on.
I like to concentrate solely on the rise and fall of my chest as I take the breaths. I also find that in the beginning I needed to close my eyes for this to work but please yourself. No falling asleep though!
As you focus your concentration on the one thing you have chosen you will notice thoughts come and go in your mind. That is perfectly OK, what we aren’t trying to do is suppress our thoughts.
What we are trying to do is let those thoughts come and go but not pay any attention to them what so ever. Certain thoughts will enter our mind and what we were concentrating on will be totally forgotten.
All of a sudden that thought of what Mr. XYZ really thinks of us will come flooding back into our mind and we are back to square one again.
The trick is to catch yourself before that happens and simply let that thought of Mr. XYZ come in and most importantly flow out of our mind without even a second glance given to it.
I have found that with practice I can clear my mind within a matter of minutes and once the feeling of calm and peace of the present moment comes back it is simply a matter of returning back to what you were doing. This exercise also slows me down quite a bit.
Make no mistake this does take a fair bit of practice and mental strength to achieve but I do know from experience that it does make life a great deal easier.
I truly hope that this post has made some sense to you, my writing skills are far from great but if even one persons life is made easier from this my job is done.
If you feel that you need a better explanation I recommend that you take a look at the Mindfulness for Beginners CD which will give you a far better understanding of the concepts involved.
If you are suffering from anxiety I wish you all the best in finding a solution that works for you, life is hard enough without having to deal with this type of thing. Keep you chin up and don’t ever forget that the sun will shine again and soon!
Resources for Further Reading
How to Overcome Worry, Anxiety and Panic: 3 Quick Mindfulness Practices
Mindfulness for Beginners CD: website
Photo by mindfulness