Sometimes, it can be challenging to know how to implement "mindfulness" in our day-to-day, especially when coping with emotions like anxiety, or even just running to catch the subway on a busy day.
Today we are grateful to hear from Angela and her perspective, offering actionable tips on mindfulness for anxiety.
When you are lost in a whirlwind of anxious thought, it is easy to become separated from the physical world.
For me, losing touch with reality while falling deep into a black hole of racing thoughts is one of my biggest fears. It is one of my biggest fears because it has happened to me on countless occasions. Every time the anxiety hit, it left me feeling lost, confused, and alone.
Life doesn't have to feel upside down, even in the moments that are littered with anxiety. I have experienced freedom by learning how to find myself in the present moment through actively practicing mindfulness.
Over the past 10 years, the number of google searches for the word mindfulness has tripled in volume. Mindful eating. Mindful living. Mindful walking. We see this word coupled into phrases and plastered all over the internet.
As the term mindfulness is growing in popularity, it's meaning has become obscured through overuse. Simply put - mindfulness is the act of practicing non-judgmental awareness of one's thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the present moment.
Being mindful seems to be a new trend - but is actually an ancient practice that has been used throughout history by those who practice mindfulness meditation.
The positive feedback was so compelling that researchers all over the world have conducted trials on the effects of mindfulness on brain waves, brain function, and well-being.
In my personal experience, mindfulness has given me the ability to view my anxiety from a different perspective. Instead of getting consumed by worry and tension, I can now observe my thoughts and feelings as separate from my identity. A mindful perspective shift allows for any thought or feeling to be perceived as incoming data no more or less important than any other bodily sensation. Anxiety loses its power. It is no longer something to be feared but instead, something to be experienced.
Although the theory of mindfulness is simple, the skill of developing non-judgmental awareness can be a bit tricky. Of course, anybody can learn, especially when equipped with a few helpful tips to get started.
In the spirit of practice, learning how to be mindful through mini meditation sessions will help instill the basics of mindfulness. Once you develop an understanding of the method, you can use these steps to ground yourself at any moment, especially moments of unpleasant emotions.
To begin, sit comfortably either on a cushion on the floor or in a seat with your feet flat on the ground. Gently close your eyes, as forming the skill is more manageable with less sensory stimuli.
Step 1: Pay attention to sensations in the body - such as heat, cold, tingling, or pressure. Observe each sensation as it appears.
Step 2: Notice your breath as it rises and falls. Do not control the inhale or exhale but instead become aware of how it naturally moves through the body.
Step 3: Listen to sounds in the environment. Become conscious of the fact you can't choose what to hear and what not to hear.
Step 4: Intently witness thoughts and feelings. Do not push away thoughts but instead watch them unwind and disappear. View where each feeling resides in the body. Recognize the fact that you cannot control your thoughts or feelings. Let each appearance pass like clouds in the sky then gently return to the bodily sensations, breath, and sounds.
Anxiety desires for us to fight for control to abolish the fear of uncertainty. Mindfulness eradicates the need to control and instead embraces the ever-changing moments of life.
The act of being mindful can be practiced at any time, under any circumstances and in as little as 10 seconds. In the appearance of uncomfortable emotions, mindfulness can supply much-needed awareness to overcome the emotion's urge to control the mind's thoughts and behaviors.
A daily practice of mindfulness has taught me to view life and anxiety in a completely new light, positively transforming many of my experiences. A transformative relationship through the medium of mindfulness is not unique to me - many others are awakening to a similar journey. I hope for you that these four small steps have the opportunity to be the beginning of a significant shift towards the present.
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Angela is a wellness writer, science enthusiast and anxiety warrior who is passionate about sharing the benefits of natural, holistic approaches to health. She is the founder of Chill Chief, an online resource center built to spread awareness and inspire lifestyle change within those who suffer from anxiety.