Meditation To Reduce Anxiety
Can practicing mindfulness meditation reduce anxiety? My personal opinion is yes it can. I found a definition of the word anxious on the internet that I would like to share. Anxious - experiencing worry, unease, or nervousness, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
It is the end of March 2020 that I am writing this blog - we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. No doubt that this time will be engraved in our memories and our history and there is no doubt that it is a time producing more feelings of worry, unease, and nervousness. So what does meditation have to do with all of this? Well, here's the thing, our mind has the tendency to get ahead of us. Our mind, especially in uncertain times, can create many unpleasant scenarios that are not real. One of the problems with this is that our mental and physical reaction to this not real situation causes stress in the mind and body as if it were real. Meditation is training in having the mind stay with what actually is, in other words, the present moment.
There is a famous story of the Buddha teaching about the "second arrow." It is explained beautifully by Thich Nhat Hanh in a little book that I own called The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh. Here is an exert from this book. "When an arrow strikes you, you feel pain. If a second arrow comes and strikes you in the same spot, the pain will be ten times worse. The Buddha advised that when you have some pain in your body or your mind, breathe in and out and recognize the significance of that pain but don't exaggerate its importance. If you stop to worry, to be fearful, to protest, to be angry about the pain, then you magnify the pain ten times or more. Your worry is the second arrow. You should protect yourself and not allow the second arrow to come because the second arrow comes from you."
So, in our case, the pandemic is the first arrow and the stories we create around the pandemic are the second arrow. Before I go further, let me be clear, the pandemic is real and may create real (first arrow) situations, but the practice helps you to recognize the difference between what is happening now and what could possibly happen. Mindfulness meditation trains the mind to stay with the first arrow (the present) and recognizes the second arrow for what it is - our stories and our emotions as a result of them. The more we train in being present, the less we are struck by the second arrow.
I have included a 5-minute video tutorial on a technique that you can practice throughout your day that can help train your mind to be in the present. Please note that this is just one of many techniques that you can use. I hope that you find it helpful.
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