I'm a Psychotherapist. Ask me anything about Mindfulness Meditation for treating anxiety
Disclaimer: This post is for educational and informational purposes only and not a substitute for mental health counseling.”
A lot of my clients come to see me about anxiety and panic attacks and one of the first things I teach them is to use Mindfulness Meditation as a daily practice. Starting at one minute per day (and gradually increasing as it becomes more natural), and maybe using a helpful meditation app like Insight Timer, I ask them to focus on their breath.
Here's the important part: when you notice your mind has wandered, non-judgmentally and with a Kind Inner Voice, return your attention to your breath. Each time you successfully return your attention to your breath, congratulate yourself. THIS is the skill you're trying to develop!
So many clients have told me: "I can't meditate, it makes me sleepy" or "I can't meditate, my mind is too busy with swirling thoughts" or "I can't meditate, focusing internally takes me to dark places." These are all really good points, and why I encourage people to start at One Minute per Day, and to only increase when meditation becomes so comfortable and natural that, at the end of the minute, they find themselves saying "Wow, that's over already?".
The purpose of Mindfulness Meditation in counseling (as opposed to other forms and intentions of meditative practices) is NOT to become calm! The purpose is to notice when our minds have wandered off and to be able to return our attention to the Present Moment, using our breath as an anchor. Allowing our minds to wander to our pasts often results in negative thought spirals, leading to Depression. Allowing our minds to wander to the future often results in anxiety and panic attacks. Returning our minds to the present moment permits us to have peace and gratitude, and to function effectively in our lives.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Mindfulness Meditation.
*May 15. 1300. OK, I've been typing non-stop for 5 hours. I had no idea this topic was going to get such a reaction. I need to take a break. I will come back and I will answer your comments, but I need to step away. Thank you all SO MUCH for taking the time to reach out!