Promoted by famous practitioners like Deepak Chopra, M.D. and the Dalai Lama, mindfulness meditation is truly coming of age.
Today mindfulness is popular for everyone, and there are hundreds of resources available on how to use it.
Even better, new research reveals mindfulness is one of the best natural options to reduce anxiety and produce a calmer mental state.
Mindfulness originates from Buddhist practices. Yet, mindfulness itself is non-denominational.
Like other forms of meditation, mindfulness uses breathing techniques and sounds to calm and center the mind and body. It focuses on being present in the moment with a tranquil state of mind.
Unlike other forms of meditation, which try to eliminate thoughts or distractions, mindfulness encourages awareness of thoughts and feelings. It prompts you to consider these thoughts with detachment and non-judgment.
It promotes openness to the moment, and to approach each moment with kindness and self-love.
Mindfulness is especially beneficial for people with anxiety because it offers deep insight into acceptance.
People with anxiety tend to obsess or worry over things they have no control over. Mindfulness teaches the importance of letting go.
Mindfulness encourages complete acceptance of the moment and oneself, followed by a calm release of outcomes or strong feelings regarding a situation.
Just an occasional practice of mindfulness encourages a person with anxiety to learn new, effective ways to respond to stressful situations.
The research is promising. A 2012 study combining the results of 163 studies shows practicing mindfulness produces significant improvements in anxiety, stress, and negative personality traits.
Mindfulness meditation actually appears to be able to retrain your brain to react better to stress.
Stanford neuroscientists recently discovered that people who practice mindfulness for eight weeks are able to turn down reactivity in the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with worrying and fear.
Mindfulness is generally a sitting practice, but you can lie down if it’s more comfortable. Keep your eyes open or closed for the session.
Here’s one simple technique:
You can practice this technique for 5-10 minutes daily any time you like, or try another method. There are a wealth of choices available in literature, online, or in apps for your phone.
I enjoy walking mindfulness meditation. Bring along a friend, and walk mindfully (without speaking) for 20 minutes to an hour. After your walk, share what you experienced and how you feel.
A friend of mine who practices mindfulness meditation talks about the difference between a human “being” and a human “doing.” Mindfulness encourages you to “just be,” even for a little while, in your daily life.
You have the power to reach deep inside yourself through mindfulness, and find a quiet spot where you can be present with your thoughts but anxiety free.
I myself have practiced zazen, a type of mindfulness, alongside Buddhists monks in a traditional zendo in the Ventana wilderness.
A mindfulness session can be extremely refreshing mentally, especially if you’re under high stress at work or at home.
For people who need fast relief from anxiety or sacred alone time, a mindfulness practice can be a tremendous gift for stress managementand health.