Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mindfulness Meditation and Anxiety

As promised in my previous post on Yoga and Anxiety, I have a few more tools for you to put in your anxiety fighting tool-box! The one I want to focus on in this post is Mindfulness Meditation (MM). This is a specific form of meditation which is gaining popularity as a treatment for those suffering from a variety of anxiety disorders.

This study conducted by Stanford University on the effects of Mindfulness Based Stress reduction on patients with Social Anxiety Disorder found that after two months participants were less anxious and thought of themselves more positively..."nine sessions of mindfulness mediation training made people with social anxiety disorders feel less anxious and less depressed, and improved their self views... Often people who have either depression or anxiety have a poor or negative self view... [MM] taught them to focus on things other than their personal criticisms"...

Dr Bruno A Cayoun, of the University of Tasmania, uses MM combined with more traditional methods of therapy. He found MM ..."produces neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to rewire itself... As the pathways to self-awareness and acceptance in the frontal and other regions of the brain become more connected, self control in the face of problems such as anxiety, depression and traumatic symptoms is made easier"... Pretty cool, huh!

(Read the full article with case study here)

So now I've talked it up I'm sure you are desperate to know... What exactly is Mindfulness Mediation??!

MM is a form of meditation that involves focusing the mind entirely in the present.It means paying attention "on purpose", focusing on what is happening in this moment, not what has happened in the past or what may (or may not!) happen in the future. It is observing the thoughts that come into your mind without becoming attached to them, regarding them as you would clouds passing through the blue sky of your mind.

..."Mindfulness is a state in which you focus on the present: the sounds in the the trees, the softness of your cushions and the feelings in your body"... (More here)

In this kind of meditation, judgement is suspended. If a thought comes to mind we do not judge whether it is 'good' (and get excited) or 'bad' (and get depressed) - we remain neutral rather than following the thought towards worrying, excitement, analysing or indeed any kind of reaction. Instead we observe and acknowledge that the thought has arisen; and then consciously return our mind back to the present moment.If it helps you can tell the thought you have plenty of time to think about it later (here I go telling you to talk to yourself again brogis!)

Here is a basic script you can follow to get a feeling for MM. I will also include several links in the next post to meditations you can play on youtube if you find it difficult to stay focused without a guide.


1. Find a quiet and comfortable place. Sit in a chair or on the floor with your head, neck and back straight but not stiff.

2. Try to put aside all thoughts of the past and the future and stay in the present.

3. Become aware of your breathing, focusing on the sensation of air moving in and out of your body as you breathe. Feel your belly rise and fall, the air enter your nostrils and leave your mouth. Pay attention to the way each breath changes and is different.

4. Watch every thought come and go, whether it be a worry, fear, anxiety or hope. When thoughts come up in your mind, don't ignore or suppress them but simply note them, remain calm and use your breathing as an anchor.

[Ed note: remember the clouds brogis!]

5. If you find yourself getting carried away in your thoughts, observe where your mind went off to, without judging, and simply return to your breathing. Remember not to be hard on yourself if this happens.

6. As the time comes to a close, sit for a minute or two, becoming aware of where you are. Get up gradually.


From the article "Overcoming Anxiety with Mindfulness Therapy" here.

More in the next post... Until then bromaste!

No comments:

Post a Comment