We hear so much about anxiety these days. Most of us who are dialed into the world of social media, Netflix and work emails on the weekend, have the first-hand experience of what it’s like to feel anxious.
Mindfulness, which we also hear a lot about, is an ideal practice for addressing the kind of anxiety that’s generated by technology and the fast-paced world we live in today.
This is because mindfulness has the ability to psychologically, emotionally and physically grounds us. In fact, it is the perfect antidote for this disembodied life we live these days, offering both a way to slow down and to “come home”.
Like plants, we humans find it hard to put down roots in shallow soil, and there’s little ground shallower than the digital world. It ends us hitting us two ways – firstly we reduce actual social contact in favor of messaging, meaning we get less and less of the important emotional exchanges and relationships we need.
Secondly, the messaging we have replaced this with is highly superficial. In this way, we reduce what we deeply need and exchange it for something that provides little sustenance. It’s a double loss and impacts us in ways we are just beginning to really appreciate now.
There is a growing understanding now about how toxic technology can be. We see young people less able to empathize, and a rising sense of loneliness and disconnection.
Of course, not all of this is not attributable to technology – some of the increased anxiety has to do with a rapidly changing world around us. War, terrorism, ecological disasters, epidemics – the list is long. And yet most of these have been around for some time.
What’s changed is the way the media has ramped up its news delivery systems in such a way that it feels as though the end of the world is imminent and that it will most likely take place outside our front door.
Facts that contradict that message don’t make anxiety-provoking news, and that won’t help sell advertising. So, we hear little about the enormous advances made in the developing world in the last 10 years but plenty about mass-shootings here at home.
Combine our narco-diet of sugar -covered salt with this and what results is a tweaked-out population that feels compelled to keep turning to the very flame that’s the problem.
But with a little practice, it’s a ride we can easily get off from. Just beyond the screen there awaits a powerful world of deep and true experiences with oneself and others.
One of the first symptoms of increased anxiety is a change in breathing. But there is a silver lining to this because, in mindfulness meditation, it’s often on the breath that we focus our practice.
By directing our awareness in this way, we’re able to replace much of the anxiety generated by our wandering and worrying minds with a reassuring sense of our body and environment around us. The question is how effective and easy is mindfulness meditation?
Many people who have no experience of meditation believe it’s something that takes great effort and involves striving for a higher state of being. This is a popular misconception and wrong on both counts.
By following the one simple instruction to keep on coming back to the breath every time our focus leaves it, we will find ourselves in a mindful meditation. That’s it. Just keep coming back to the breath.
Easy right? But my mind keeps drifting off I hear you say, confirming that I’m as bad at this as I feared. What to do? Simple – once again bring your focus back to your breathing. You see those thoughts, fears, and judgments about how good or valuable you are, all belong to the mind.
There is a great line in the movie “Dune” where the protagonist must place his hand into a covered box. The rather terrifying woman seated across from him then plays mind games with him, telling him his hand is slowly burning up.
We hear his internal dialogue as he repeats “Fear is the mind killer”. His mind tells him to fear the unknown and unknowable and yet he is able to overcome the fear by reminding himself that the mind can play tricks on us.
When we give our thoughts too much credibility, they can become fears, changing our perception of the world. Mindfulness helps us to see that thoughts and fears can come and go.
As we do more of the practice it gets easier. In time we come to recognize the role of thoughts, allowing us to quickly identify when we need to come back to the simplicity of the body and the living moment before us.
As we commit ourselves to as little as 5 or 10 mins a day of mindful meditation, we develop a growing sense of being grounded in the world. We come to experience a confidence that we are rooted to the earth and can turn to those roots when we feel shaky.
Anxiety is often rooted in a perception that the environment we are in is too little or too much in for us. Sometimes it is we ourselves who feel we are too much or too little.
A mindful practice will help you to see that such perceptions are mostly just thoughts and fears. Mindfulness reminds us that through recognizing them as part of a continuous flow of thoughts and ideas, they pass more quickly than when we try to avoid or fix them.
In this way, an acknowledgment of the ways of the world and our own struggle within it liberates us, taking us to the self-acceptance that is the foundation of peace.
There is much negativity around and within us, – whether it be the news on television or our own judgments about our inability to meditate well.
Negativity has its place and uses in the world, and there can be no life without fear and pain at times. But we learn to have a better relationship with them, replacing struggle with wisdom.
Mindfulness teaches us that these too shall pass – we come to see that actually, right here and now, in my body and on the earth, all is fine.
*Mindfulness meditation may not be appropriate for everyone. If you are endeavoring the medication for anxiety, then Provanax can be a proven solution that naturally, safely and quickly helps get rid of stress-related symptoms of anxiety, depression, and panic
Quick Guide To Mindful Meditation
- Find a quiet place
- Sit (cross-legged on the floor ideally)
- Focus on your breath as is comes in and out.
- When your awareness is grabbed by thoughts and worries, return t your breathing.
- If you berate yourself, acknowledge it has happened and once more return to the breath. Remember, it’s a struggle for everyone at times that why it works…
- If you find it easier, count each breath in and out up to 10, then begin again.
- As you count your mind will drift into thoughts again – that’s ok, acknowledge and return to the breath.
- That’s it!
You May Also Want To Read – How to Know Whether It’s Fear or Intuition Telling You to Say No
*There now fitbits that measure your breathing (they attach to your belt), alerting you to any changes you may be experiencing.
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