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I was standing along the seashore of a beautiful, mystical beach, which had the most pristine, clear water giving face to the sublime sea life.
It had the opulence of the coral reef adjoining the rhythm of the flowing waves of water. The same that would make one feel as if it was the view of the ocean set at the behest of God.
I had my music switched on to a spiritual and divine tone and beat, which added more elaboration to my current state.
In this state I was surrounded by an enormous amount of noise, which was because I was standing at a famous tourist spot in Bali. The spot was being witnessed by several people with their own eyes and their own senses, as I was also experiencing it with mine.
I closed my eyes to lock in all my senses and tuned in to the soft music in my ears. Amidst this transcendental transformation from outward glamour to inward poise, I witnessed a strong sense of awareness, which was my personal experience with mindfulness.
This made me feel so at ease that for that particular surreal moment in time, I had completely forgotten about how anxious I could get sometimes, like most of us do, in my day-to-day activities.
In a world full of doing, doing, and only doing, it is vital to take a moment to just breathe—to just be.
Meditation, when explained in its simplest terms, refers to learning how to pay close attention. When used correctly, meditation allows us to slow down and observe the world without any form of judgment.
If we live with persistent and excessive worry, meditation can help reduce our worrying thoughts and bring about a feeling of balance, calm, and even focus.
I have been practicing meditation in the form of mindfulness for quite some time now. Even if I give this experience just 20 minutes per day, it has a tremendous impact and numerous benefits.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness means knowing very well what is going on inside and outside of us, moment by moment.
It is easy to stop noticing the world around us. It is also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living “in our heads”—caught up in our thoughts without stopping even for a moment to notice how these thoughts tend to drive our emotions and then behaviour.
An important part of mindfulness is about reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they may experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the present moment. It is about allowing ourselves to see the present moment distinctly. When we effectively start doing that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives.
Anxiety can mentally exhaust us and have a negative impact on our body.
But before you get anxious about being anxious, please do know that you can reduce your anxiety and stress with a simple mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is all about paying attention to our daily life and the things we typically rush through. It is about turning down the volume in our mind by coming back to the body.
Anxiety is a cognitive state that is connected to an inability to regulate our emotional responses to discerning threats. Mindfulness meditation strengthens a person’s cognitive ability to regulate emotions. Mindfulness can reduce anxiety and it must be practiced to enhance meditation-related anxiety relief.
How to Meditate with Anxiety
If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment; live in the breath.
The present moment is not necessarily a place of rest.
Meditation can put us in touch with our stress and anxiety, and that is why it can be so helpful. Explore how mindfulness and meditation can help soften feelings of anxiousness, reduce stress, and even calm a panic attack when it sets in.
Anxiety is our body’s way of saying that it is experiencing too much stress all at once. This can happen to the best of us. But, when the feeling of being always alert becomes a background noise that does not go away, that is when it is time to seek help.
Mindfulness and meditation for anxiety can help us navigate through the many ways that anxiety can mess up our lives. This guide is not meant to serve as a diagnostic tool or a treatment path—it is simply a collection of research and a few practices you can turn to as you begin to redress the balance.
I have personally been dealing with anxiety at a basic level for a long time now. It does not affect me to the core. However, it does stay in the back of my mind and can affect my productivity, effectiveness, and concentration levels at times.
Mindfulness helps me calm down, it enhances my concentration, and most importantly, it allows me to be in the present moment. It gives me a positive channel to focus on what is relevant, negate what is not, and do what’s best for myself.
Here are four steps you can use to mindfully channel anxiety:
1. Open your attention to the present moment. This means bringing attention to our experience in a more open manner by simply becoming a container for thoughts, feelings, or sensations in the body that are present, and then seeing if we can watch them from one moment to the next.
2. Focus on your breath. Bring focus that is more concentrated and centred. Narrow down your breath to one region of your body—the breath of the belly, or the chest, or even the nostrils, or anywhere that the breath makes itself known, and keep that as the more concentrated focus.
3. Bring your attention to your body. Become fully aware of the sensations in the body as a whole—sitting with the whole body, the whole breath pattern. With this, once again, you move back into the wider and spacious container of attention to our experience.
4. Explore your attitude. By attending to these three rhythmic movements, you can support your mindfulness practice and help it flourish with a smile on your face and a positive attitude of well-being.
The above four steps can be practiced every day, starting with five minutes and then gradually increasing your time frame as per your own rhythm and tone.
Here are the three facets of our lives that mindfulness impacts, which can help evolve one’s being and soul.
Mindfulness improves well-being.
Increasing your capacity toward mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfying life. Being mindful makes it easier to savour the pleasures of life as and when they occur, it helps you become fully engaged in all your activities, and it creates a greater capacity to deal with any unfavourable events.
By focusing on the here and now, most people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deeper connections with others.
Mindfulness improves physical health
Mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and decrease gastrointestinal difficulties.
Mindfulness improves mental health
In recent years, many psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness meditation as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems such as depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples’ conflicts, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Reminding ourselves to take notice of all our thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and noticing the world around us is the first step to mindfulness.
I would like to share a few tips on how to be more mindful in your day-to-day activities:
Notice that “you are” every day.
Even as we go about our daily lives, we can notice the sensations of things—the food we eat, the air moving past our body as we walk. All of this may sound small, but it has a huge power to interrupt the autopilot mode we set for ourselves from day to day, and it can give us new perspectives on life.
Keep it regular.
It can be helpful to pick a regular time—the morning journey to work or a walk post lunchtime—during which you decide to be fully aware of the sensations created by the world around you.
Trying new things, such as sitting in a different seat during meetings or even going somewhere new for lunch can help you notice the world in a new way.
Keep a watch on your thoughts please.
Some people find it difficult to practice mindfulness. As soon as they stop what they are doing, a lot of thoughts and worries crowd in. It might be useful to learn that mindfulness is not about making these thoughts go away, but rather about viewing them as co-occurring mental events.
Name your thoughts and feelings.
To develop awareness toward reoccurring thoughts and feelings, some people find it helpful to silently name them. Here’s an example of the thoughts: “I might fail that exam” or “This is anxiety.”
Free yourself as much as you can from the past and future.
You can practise mindfulness anywhere you like, but it can be especially helpful to take a mindful approach if you realise that, for several minutes, you have been “trapped” in reliving your past problems or “pre-living” your future worries.
Finally, I would like to share that I have learnt and appreciated to meditate for peace and patience, leading to compassion.
Meditation for Compassion
Compassion allows us to overcome any form of fear by helping us accept ourselves, others, and life situations just as they are. This nonjudgmental acceptance is a great relief for people with anxiety. The ultimate goal of meditation is not to live a problem-free life but to learn how the mind works and how to work with the mind—not against it or for it. This deep insight naturally leads to compassion.
It is best to make sitting meditation part of your daily routine. Even five minutes a day with consistency makes a big difference.
Researchers have linked meditation not only to deep physical relaxation and peacefulness, but also to increased levels of empathy and a far more balanced sense of self. By improving our cognitive flexibility and leading toward insights into the deeper workings of the mind, meditation is an unparalleled natural remedy.
Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experiences.