by Cathy Neville, LPC, on May 2, 2015.
Emergency! Disaster! Catastrophe! The alarm bells are sounding in your head and you’re not even sure why. You’re tense and jumpy. All you know is that something is wrong. Something says run. Something says fight…again.You’ve had more than enough. How can you make anxiety subside and retreat? If you’ve reached a point where intrusive, anxious thoughts are getting in the way of your life and relationships, try mindfulness meditation as a way to help silence the alarms.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice or habit of being present. Learning how to remain “here and now” is the objective. Being present helps you notice and observe the thoughts and feelings that support disturbing emotions, without needing to respond. Mindfulness meditation teaches you to disconnect from negative thought patterns, become aware your bodily responses and refocus on the present moment. This practice has an extremely beneficial impact on anxiety.
Consider the following ways mindfulness meditation soothes and alleviates worry, fear, and your anxious “high alert” condition:
1. Mindful meditation allows you to watch and pay attention instead of worry and panic.
The wandering, fast and furious thoughts typical of an anxious mind are brought under control through moment-by-moment awareness.
This method keeps your attention focused on observation of thought as it comes. Essentially, mindfulness meditation lets anxiety have its way. You become aware of anxious feelings rather than hide from them.
Seeing anxiety and feeling it doesn’t mean you must engage it or control it. It doesn’t mean avoiding it either. In a mindful state, you remain in your body, aimed only in the moment. Your breathing is steady and controlled.
Each moment happens naturally. You do not attempt to change it or affect it. You are simply aware. No breath, physical impression or emotion is given less than your undivided attention.
2. Mindfulness soothes the need to overthink.
While you are in a present, observant mental state, stressors are less likely to become anxious episodes.
Mental space once reserved for worry is no longer filled with countless things, people or events you cannot control in the future or past.
People with general anxiety disorder (GAD) seem to be particularly benefitted by mindfulness meditation. Sufferers of the disorder deal with persistent and unmanageable worries, sleeplessness and irritability.
Studies like that of Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, a well-respected psychiatrist at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, reveals that therapies incorporating mindfulness meditation help reduce anxiety beyond the improvements shown in groups which employed other stress management techniques.
3. Mindfulness meditation helps recognize the truth.
Mindfulness helps you face fears by acknowledging it for what truly is, exactly as it is. You can better determine whether they are productive answers to real problems, or the result of unrealistic thinking.
Without the distress and reaction of “fight or flight,” the reasons for your anxiety can be determined accurate or untrue.
Recent research supports this idea. In the British Journal of Clinical, researchers at the Bergen in Norway published a review of how effective mindfulness-based therapy (MBT) is on anxiety. Nineteen studies were included. The research revealed that when therapeutic interventions focused on developing a new relationship with “distressing thoughts, feelings and behavioral impulses” rather than replacing or controlling symptoms, less distress occurred. Basically, MBT shapes a new perspective of anxiety. You can observe the perceived threats and fight or flight responses rather than become absorbed in them.
From a state of present consciousness, mindfulness meditation allows you to see things more clearly and become better at letting fear go. Good news, don’t you think?
If you need help getting started with your meditation and you live in the San Antonio area, call me or make an appointment online, so you can start controlling your fear and anxiety.