A recent study revealed that meditation and mindfulness proved to be effective treatments for lowering stress and anxiety in nursing students. If a meditation practice used for anxiety can ease tension for individuals in these high-stress roles, just think of how it could impact the daily anxieties for the rest of us?
And this is only one small study! In fact there have been well over over 3,000 scientific studies on the benefits of mediation.
Both meditation and mindfulness have been proven to help slow a racing mind, decrease negative feelings, and bring a feeling of calm and inner peace to your mind and body. Want more proof? View 76 benefits of meditation. If this sounds interesting and you want to learn how to do implement this into your daily life, you’ve come to the right place. 🙂
Follow along and discover the benefits of how mindfulness techniques and a meditation practice can help you calm those anxious feelings and get back to thriving in every area of your life.
How Mindfulness Calms Anxious Feelings
The mind is a funny thing. At any given moment, there may be 10’s or even 100’s of thoughts pulsing through your mind. This hectic activity of the human brain is referred to as ‘the monkey mind’.
The problem with all of these thoughts racing through your mind is that the majority of them are not productive, and many of them simply aren’t true. And of course, among all our negative thoughts our minds are constantly making judgments and reacting to ideas that are completely false.
We then become victims of our thoughts, walking around, existing from one reaction to the next. This is the human condition. Most of us are slaves to the constant chatter and we are trying to cope with the overwhelming stress and exhaustion this has on our mind and body. When you look at it objectively you can see it’s absolutely insane and we all do it.
Mindfulness allows us to slow down become present in our surroundings. By bringing acute attention to what we are doing and how we are feeling, we begin to create space in the mind to respond to situations instead of reacting to them. It is almost like having a ‘pause button’ before you respond (or not) to something, instead of having an immediate reaction. This produces an amazing calming feeling.
Simply bringing awareness and acknowledgment to the feelings of anxiety and stress and allowing ourselves to feel them and let them move through our bodies, actually lessens the intensity of their hold. Instead of trying to run away, we compassionately accept that something is feeling different, give it space to be heard, and then the feeling leaves much quicker.
Key Concepts of Mindfulness
In simplest terms, mindfulness is the act of paying attention on purpose, so you can be more present in your life. To achieve this presence, there are a few key concepts that you can learn and use in your life. When you practice this techniques it is like working out your brain and then you begin to have more control over your thinking, which changes your life!
Your breath is one of the most powerful tools you have. It harnesses the power to slow you down, release pent-up energy and emotions, and allow you to focus.
You have access to your breath 24/7 and when you learn to work with it you will see amazing results. When you are feeling overwhelmed or you begin to lose yourself in the thought/reaction spiral, you can always bring your attention back to your breath to re-center.
Breath provides a single-pointed focus that can help you create that space we mentioned earlier to sort your thoughts and evaluate how you feel. Have a habit of asking how your are breathing, especially when you feel stressed. When you are anxious, your breath is always shallow.
Deep breathing physiologically affects your body. It tells the brain you are safe and switches on the para-sympathetic nervous system, calming your entire body down. When you are regularly in the para-sympathetic system it actually boosts your immune system.
Once you’ve slowed down, you can bring awareness to what’s going on around you. What physical sensations are you feeling? What scents do you smell? What are you noticing around you, that you weren’t present enough before to see? What emotional responses are you having to your surroundings; your environment, people or an experience?
By allowing ourselves to acknowledge what we are feeling, we can start to be more objective and observe ourselves. This gives us more of defense against becoming completely overwhelmed and a slave to our emotions. Not to mention how much energy your conserve!
Now that you’ve acknowledged how you are feeling, it’s crucial that you don’t apply judgment to yourself. If you begin to speak negatively towards yourself or beat yourself up for feeling the way you do, you’ll wind up resorting back to the thought/reaction state you began with.
When we fully accept how we feel without judgment, we allow ourselves to work through those emotions in a more productive way. Instead of feeling anxious about your anxieties, you begin to feel safe and understanding. A compassionate approach is key. Talk to yourself like you would teaching a young child something new.
When those emotions are no longer serving you, you can begin to learn how to let them go.
It’s important to remember that it can take some time to go from acceptance to letting go. However, when you find the space to better evaluate situations and choose a different response, this letting go process becomes easier and easier. It will happen, remember this is a process. It’s just like physical exercises. You’ll improve with consistent practice.
How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Meditation can be an intimidating practice for many. This is because the vast majority of people believe that meditation is ‘clearing your mind’ when in fact the purpose is to focus the mind.
To start your meditation practice, you’ll want to find a comfortable position. While sitting with your head, heart, and pelvis in line are ideal, the important thing is that you can maintain stillness in your chosen posture. If you feel more comfortable lying down, that is fine as well.
From here you’ll bring your awareness to the present by shutting down your senses and coming fully into your body. The easiest way to do this is to shut down the eyes and begin to focus on the breath.
As thoughts begin to enter your mind, you’ll simply begin to acknowledge them. However, instead of thinking about them further, you’ll just make a note of them and then let them float away without judgment. This will begin to create a sense of space in your mind and make your thoughts feel ‘organized’.
When you’re satisfied with your meditation and you’re ready to leave the space you’ve created, you’ll gently open your eyes, allowing them to adjust to the light, and bring yourself back from your inner state.
There are many styles of mediation. Some people prefer to listen to a guided meditation because it helps them focus their mind more. Try different styles, different variations of your practice to see what works for you. Don’t be shy about looking for different styles. There are many meditation apps created for this.
Mindfulness Techniques for Anxiety
Believe it or not, almost everything you do can be approached with mindfulness. With a bit of practice and dedication, you’ll begin to notice more and more of your thoughts, feelings, and responses become more mindful too.
To start building these habits give these different mindfulness techniques a try:
- Do a mindfulness meditation
- Observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment
- Do chores and other activities with a mindful presence
- Perform a body scan and progressively relax and let go of each area of your body
- Take yourself for a mindful walk
- Watch your thoughts when you are talking with someone.
- Notice how your muscles let go as you breathe out
Bring your complete awareness to your body and before you know it, you’ll be practicing mindfulness at work, in traffic, and while socializing with your friends.
Meditation for Anxiety
Now that you know the benefits of meditation for anxiety, you can begin your mindfulness journey with confidence. With just a few minutes of conscious effort a day, you can begin to experience the magic of mindfulness for anxiety and let go of the debilitating fears many of use live with. Remember this is brain training that is going to help you have more control over your thoughts in your daily life to help you remain calmer.
Ready to start your mindfulness meditation but feeling intimidated? Join me for a guided mindfulness meditation today to tap into that spacious state and relieve stress and anxiety in your everyday life.