My son, Lucas, had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when he was eight years old. My husband and I started consulting a child psychologist about his condition before turning five. Still, we had to wait for three years before the mental health professional could provide a diagnosis because my son was still very young. And in those three years, I kept on praying and wishing that Lucas was not on the autism spectrum, that we were merely reading too into his behaviors.
Some people might say that I was in denial at the time, and I would agree with them. I knew deep down that my son was not born normal, but I refused to admit that to anyone – not even to myself. If I did, I would start questioning everything that happened while still carrying my child in the womb and wondering what went wrong. Then, I could spiral down the anxiety lane, which I already had a history of. I thought that’s the worst thing that could happen, considering my husband would have to take care of me too, aside from Lucas.
Little did I know, the child psychologist who had been monitoring my son noticed the changes in my behaviors, too. She pulled me to the side one day when I went to her office to pick up Lucas earlier than usual to talk about her observation, and I had no choice but to confide in her. I established that I did not want to retake antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs, and she respected my decision. When I asked about what else I could do then, the psychologist suggested mindfulness meditation.
Here are the things I learned about anxiety and meditation.
Does mindfulness help with anxiety?
Yes, mindfulness helps with anxiety. It is one of the new useful techniques for anxiety treatment that mental health professionals recommend to their patients at the present moment. After all, when you are paying attention to your thoughts and emotions all the time, you will be able to assess and remind yourself that there is nothing much to worry about wherever you may go.
What is mindfulness in psychology?
Mindfulness pertains to a person’s nonjudgmental awareness about their thoughts and feelings, or whatever may change either over time. It is positive psychology that mental health professionals and support groups recommend, especially to individuals with bipolar disorder, chronic pain, eating disorders, anxiety, and stress. By performing mindfulness practices, such folks may have an improved outlook on life.
What are mindfulness techniques?
There are four kinds of mindfulness practices that you should know about:
- Sitting: Start by sitting cross-legged or extending your legs in front of you on the floor. You can use a mat or pillow and plant your back on the wall to focus on what you are doing instead of worrying about your pose. In case that is not possible, you can sit in a chair and relax your body without slouching.
- Visualizing: With your eyes closed, you can visualize the sky, sea, birds, and other aspects of nature that may bring calmness to your heart and mind. In case you wish to DIY your visualization meditation, you may imagine water flowing through you, bringing your stress, anxiety, and depression with it as it leaves your body.
- Mantra Chanting: Chanting a mantra is quite similar to talking about self-affirmations in front of the mirror. However, instead of talking and standing, you need to sit down as if you’re doing sitting meditation and listen to your breath as you inhale and exhale. When you manage to do that, you may begin to utter short phrases like “I am calm” and “I am happy” in your head until you feel what you’re saying.
- Walking: Walking meditation is recommended for people who practically cannot sit still or keep their eyes closed for whatever reason. You can walk around your garden or street and pay attention to every movement required to bring one foot in front of the other. It is also ideal to live near the beach because you can go barefooted and feel the sand and water and focus on that.
How does mindfulness help mental health?
Mindfulness practices are supposed to reduce depression, anxiety, and stress. According to researchers who look at how it affects the nervous system, mindfulness meditation can shrink the gray matter’s size in your amygdala, one of the tiniest parts of your body (or brain, rather) that influences your thoughts and feelings. The bigger it is, the more stress you deal with, the more you cannot embrace positive psychology.
How does mindfulness make you feel?
Mindfulness may be a bit intimidating at first, considering it requires you to sit still and work on your thoughts and feelings. Some even find it silly to do, especially when they are doing mindfulness meditation on their own. But once you get past that, stabilize your blood pressure, pay attention to your breathing alone, and stop worrying about different parts of your body. You can use mindfulness for anxiety, chronic pain, bipolar disorder, etc.
Do mindfulness activities work?
Yes, mindfulness practices genuinely work, provided that you do them well. For one, you cannot meditate when the TV is on, or your kids are playing nearby since that will prevent you from finding inner peace. It would help if you also were optimistic about its efficiency because willpower works wonders for everyone. Nevertheless, mindfulness meditations are not foolproof, especially when you do them without a master’s guidance.
What are the four foundations of mindfulness?
- Mindfulness of the Body: It encourages you to recognize that the various parts of your body are unique, even though they all makeup who you are. You may start with feeling your lungs expanding and deflating as you inhale and exhale or being conscious of which parts of your body move when you stand, sit, and walk.
- Mindfulness of Feelings: It gives you a chance to understand every emotion you feel and why. For instance, being with your family makes you happy, going to a church makes you spiritual, and watching cat videos makes you laugh. This way, you are aware of what emotions an action will evoke and avoid depressing situations.
- Mindfulness of Mind: It refers to your consciousness about the validity of your thoughts. This is important since many people tend to speak before they think, causing them to hurt others.
- Mindfulness of Dhammas: It signifies the dhammas as mental objects, which feelings, mind, and body can eventually become.
What are the three positive effects of mindfulness?
Mindfulness can offer your stress relief, especially when you try the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) technique, a mix of yoga and mindfulness meditation. It is helpful if your nervous system seems close to breaking down due to the high number of stressors in your life.
Anxiety mindfulness is another thing. When you meditate with the sole intention of coping with your anxiety, it can eventually soothe your nervous system and prevent you from acting irrationally at any given time.
And even when you don’t have mental health issues, mindfulness allows you to know your true self and live your best life.
What are the three components of mindfulness?
Whenever you do mindfulness-based meditation, you need to have:
- Intention: Mindfulness will not positively affect you when you do it half-heartedly or because a friend has forced you to do it. It would be best if you wanted to be mindful to increase your chances of gaining its benefits.
- Attention: You must bring your attention to your breathing when you meditate instead of your hands, shoulders, ears, or other parts of your body. Some people lock themselves in a quiet room or use noise-canceling headphones during the process so that you won’t hear anything and get distracted.
- Attitude: While meditating, it matters to embody positive psychology and open yourself to kindness, acceptance, and love. You cannot find inner peace when you stay angry and sad or keep your walls up.
How can I be mindful every day?
Before your day begins, you can start meditating on the quietest or most comfortable part of the house. Whether it’s your couch, bed, or porch – it’s all good. Focus on your inhalation and exhalation, clear your thoughts, detach yourself from adverse feelings, and open your eyes when calmness spreads all over you.
Once you leave the house, you can demonstrate mindfulness by being aware of everything you do or say. If someone overtakes you on the road without a signal, for instance, you think that the driver needs to be somewhere ASAP instead of dwelling on the fact that they’re rude. If you don’t like what a colleague did with your project, you find out why they did that instead of picking a fight or calling them names.
How can I live a mindful life?
The first thing you can do is try following guided meditations that gurus upload on various online platforms. If it does not work, you may find a therapist in San Diego, New York, or wherever you live. There are also support groups that offer mindfulness-based counseling.
On a practical level, though, you can live a mindful life by staying grounded. Understand that we are all specks of dust in the universe and lucky to be alive. The money, social status, and superficial things we think we need do not honestly matter more than our friends, family, and peace of mind. Hence, there is no reason to waste your time over the former.
How do I start mindfulness?
You can start a mindfulness-based life even before you find a therapist who can help you with it. When you let go of greed, jealousy, anger, and other awful thoughts and feelings, you are already exhibiting mindfulness. When you open yourself up to the possibility of healing your physical ailments through meditation and other holistic treatments, you are also showing mindfulness.
It may seem challenging to do all these – specifically getting rid of all the negative thoughts that come to mind – but you can see a positive change in yourself when you remove at least one of them from your system. For instance, if your typical reaction once you see your rival crying is to smirk and mutter, “Serves you right,” try putting yourself in their shoes and be a little sympathetic for a change. The more you avoid resorting to thinking ugly, the more you start becoming mindful.
How can I practice mindfulness and reduce anxiety?
Mindfulness for anxiety is one of the hottest topics in psychology nowadays. There are various ways to practice mindfulness and reduce your anxiety, namely:
- Meditating before you leave the house
- Calming your thoughts before you enter a building
- Validating your worries and emotions as you feel them
- Taking deep breaths and focusing on it
Does mindfulness help memory?
Yes, mindfulness helps memory retention. When you do it correctly, your mind becomes free of worries and other exhausting thoughts, so it is effortless for you to remember whatever you need to do for the day. The more you practice mindfulness, the more your memory and concentration may improve.
Is mindfulness good for depression?
Yes, mindfulness is excellent for depression. Most depressed individuals lack nonjudgmental awareness of their thoughts, emotions, and perceptions, after all. But once they meditate, they may begin to gain inner balance and get rid of their problems.
I was honestly skeptical about trying mindfulness meditation when my child’s psychologist recommended it to me. I did not know what to think of it because I did not have friends who practiced it. Luckily, she happened to be trained in this area, so she managed to guide me through it. It only took a few sessions before I realized what’s going on in my head before anxiety would attack, and I could always catch it and put myself back to zen mode.