Overcoming anxiety: Mindfulness in action

by | Sep 22, 2014

Train the Lion - Tame the Mind - Mindfulness in Action

How do put mindfulness in action to manage stress and anxiety?

Can you imagine waking each day feeling refreshed, centered, open-minded and eager? And what if everyone you encountered seemed to be having a similar experience? Would you think you were in an altered state or perhaps a parallel universe?The truth is we’re a culture accustomed to feeling slightly “off our game,” based on varying levels of fatigue, stress and anxiety. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) approximately 40 million adult Americans suffer from the well-documented medical condition anxiety – ranging from mild to severe.

Women more prone

Women are 60% more likely than men to experience an anxiety disorder over the span of a lifetime, and while anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can sometimes be beneficial, it can also become lethal at excessive levels. What lurks beneath this wave of stress we’re riding? I suggest that below these choppy waters is talent and unbridled creativity, begging to surface. Diving into this uncharted sea is what creates flow within individuals and in turn, organizations.

This sunken treasure is what makes us rich and can catapult us from good to excellent!

For time immemorial prayer, reflection and meditation have been the directives of major religions and spiritual traditions, as a means to ease the mind and replenish the body. But in our current high-tech culture the obstacles to going inward are many; a) we don’t have time, b) our minds are full and in a general state of mindlessness, c) we thrive on action and productivity, and d) we demand results NOW. If you’re like your fellow humans, streams of thought preoccupy your mind most waking hours – predominantly pertaining to past or future events. Rarely in the present moment, autopilot is your standard modus operandi.

Consequently you’re so busy thinking and doing, that you’ve lost the ability to simply BE.

Fuelled by recent and robust scientific support of the ancient practice of mindfulness, the masses are seeking techniques to strengthen their attention/concentration (train the lion) and quell their thoughts (tame the mind).

Five Factors of Concentration:

According to Rick Hanson, Ph.D. and author of Buddha’s Brain, there are five factors of concentration which all help reduce anxiety and burnout.

  1. Applied attention – initial directing of attention to an object, such as the beginning of the breath
  2. Sustained attention – staying focused on the object of attention, such as remaining aware of an entire inhalation from beginning to end
  3. Rapture – intense interest in the object; sometimes experienced as a rush of blissful sensations
  4. Joy – gladdening of the heart that includes happiness, contentment, and tranquility
  5. Singleness of mind – unification of awareness in which everything is experienced as a whole; few thoughts; equanimity; a strong sense of being present

Certainly these heightened states are worthy goals, but how can they best be achieved and where do you begin? The answer is simple; it starts with your breath. Because the breath is always with you, it’s a natural anchor that serves to moor you in the present moment.

Mindfulness in action for you

Give yourself permission to take 2 unscheduled minutes (why not now?) to unplug from Internet, phone and other distractions.

Sit and either close your eyes or lower your gaze and stare at a spot 2-3 feet in front of you. Direct your attention to the next in-breath. Can you find it? It’s usually rolling in the background with little fan fare. See where the breath is most familiar to you. Do you feel it at the tip of your nose or nostrils, chest, belly? No need to count or change the breath in any way – simply observe its coming and going. Each inhalation brings new life and rejuvenation and every exhalation releases what is stale and no longer useful. After a short time spent directing awareness to breathing, you may find that your mind has wandered off.

That’s OK! That’s what minds do. Gently redirect your attention and come back to your breath. After a couple of minutes, open your eyes and resume your activities.

Congratulations. You’ve just taken a step on the path toward stress awareness/reduction.

This brief practice called mindfulness of breath is a powerful interrupter of non-stop moments. When practiced, it can have a profound influence on how each and every moment unfolds. I invite you to initiate this easy technique multiple times a day (or night) when you sense the need to come back to your self – back to the this precious moment.

Can you imagine a new way of living your life with reduced stress, increased creativity, rich communication, expanded awareness and an inner sense of wellbeing?

Wake up. This isn’t a dream! Welcome to the present moment. Welcome to the world of mindfulness in action.

Book a coaching session to reduce the stress in your life.

 

cassie Subscriber
Cassie is a mind/body medicine practitioner, trained in MBSR Certification with the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts (UMASS) Medical School. Cassie’s professional experience includes 25 years as a Fortune 500 National Sales & Marketing Executive for Eastman and Office Depot’s Business Services Division, where she led her team to year-over-year national sales awards. A healthy survivor of MS (multiple sclerosis), Cassie knows personally the toxic impact of chronic stress and has made it her business to deliver a potent message of wellness to individuals, community and corporate groups.

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