Mindfulness Meditation for Anxiety
This week, I was inspired by the actions and words of Greta Thunberg, a young climate activist from Sweden, to share my mindfulness practice for anxiety. Greta has interacted with numerous world leaders in her pursuit of meaningful climate action and in the process has inspired action by many young people in the United States and beyond. I found her inspiring not just because of what she's accomplished, but because she transformed her fear of climate change into concrete actions that she has taken in the present. This is a courageous and difficult step to take, and it led me to consider how we can do the same in our own lives in the face of our personal anxieties. Developing a mindfulness practice for anxiety is my solution.
How do we focus on the present?
I've written before about the value of understanding your anxiety, and I wanted to revisit this topic in the context of fears we have of the future that we can't directly affect right away. These problems often feel out of our control because of how large they are, and this can make it difficult for us to take action. Simultaneously, these fears can provide clarity, showing us what we care about and should focus on. But if all we do is think about the frightening outcome we want to avoid, we end up wasting our time and make little progress towards avoiding it. This is the central challenge of anxiety: how do we draw attention away from what we fear so we can focus on taking action? A mindfulness meditation practice for anxiety is one solution.
Develop a Mindfulness Meditation Practice for Anxiety
For me, the answer is a mindfulness meditation practice for anxiety. Unfortunately, this is not a quick fix kind of answer, but it provides significant benefits when practiced over time. Mindfulness meditation involves being present with ourselves and observing the workings of our minds and bodies with curiosity and whole-hearted attention. In essence, it the practice of fixing our awareness on the present without evaluating it. Today, I wanted to share what practice has worked for me when my mind is drawn to future fears instead of present actions.
First, I try to keep my mindfulness meditations for my anxiety short. I find that most of the time, I just need 1-2 minutes to refocus my attention and calm my mind. Additionally, when I set longer goals for myself, I tend to feel more intimidated by meditation instead of calmed by it, so by keeping my meditations short, I increase the likelihood that I'll actually practice.
I tend to focus on my breath in my meditations, but the focus of your attention can be anything that helps you return to the present. I like using my breath because it gives me a focal point that is constantly in flux, so it naturally engages my curiosity and draws me in. I also find that focusing on my breath helps me slow my breath, which in turn helps return my body to its natural calm. I then engage in this process several times a day when needed, so I can end up meditating for several minutes each day without spending more than 1 or 2 minutes meditating at one time.
There are many variations you can use to tailor your mindfulness meditation for anxiety to what you need, and I encourage you to experiment. I've found what works for me through trial and error, so be patient with yourself as you look for the optimal practice for yourself. Over time, you will discover more about what you need from your mindfulness meditation practice, and this should absolutely inform how you use your meditations.
Abitante, G. (2019, September 21). Mindfulness Meditation for Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, December 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2019/9/mindfulness-meditation-for-anxiety