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!

Comments: 1076 • Responses: 45  • Date: 

Tribaltech777654 karma

Meditation sometimes adds to my anxiety. Why does that happen? Because I love meditation but sometimes instead of calming my mind it makes me focus on my anxious feelings and sensations and sends me in a tailspin. How do I avoid that from happening next time I try to meditate? Thanks

LinaTherapistLPC848 karma

What you're describing is very common and the main reason I encourage my new clients to start at one minute/day. The skill of Mindfulness Meditation is to build your capacity to Notice your mind wandering, and to invite it back to your chosen anchor (your breath, a mantra, etc). Each time you observe that it has wandered off, you gently invite it back; without judgment and with a Kind Inner Voice.

Sometimes, your body is too unsettled to sit and focus your mind. When this happens, externalizing your focus can be very helpful, eg, focus on a repetitive task, as I mentioned in an earlier comment, like dish washing, shampooing your hair, brushing your teeth, etc. When I began studying Yoga, I found that meditation came much easier to me, as Yoga (like Tai chi or Qigong) requires you to focus your attention on your breath and your body movements at the same time.

Also, Mindfulness Meditation is NOT necessarily going to calm your mind, although this can be a pleasant outcome. It really is about building the skill of Noticing, and of having control over your attention. This may initially lead you to notice that you are anxious, but then you can use tools to calm the anxiety :-)

Tribaltech777164 karma

Omg I actually got a response. Thank you so much for taking the time. This means a lot and I will take note of what you’ve written. The other thing that was the problem with me were my palpitations. And it was hard for me to decipher whether anxiety caused my palpitations or if it was the other way round and I suffered immensely for months due to this. Until I finally met a doctor who put me on propranolol ER. That medicine not just took care of my elevated BP but also entirely fixed my palpitations which has been a HUGE steps toward me controlling my anxiety. When I started taking that med I noticed that even if I did get a very anxious thought it didn’t trigger my bad palpitations and racing heart anymore. Which gave me a huge sense of confidence toward battling my situation. And over time the confidence grew and the anxiety went down significantly.

Thank you again for your thoughts on my case. I just wanted to point out about my medicine for anyone else in my shoes who is suffering and unable to distinguish the chicken or the egg between their physical symptoms and anxiety and what comes first.

LinaTherapistLPC146 karma

That's a great point about medication. It indeed can help people distinguish whether their physical sensations have an organic origin (something medical). I always encourage clients to think of medication as a tool to "take the edge off" so they can focus on therapy.

Some people will need to stay on medication for life in order to feel well, and others will be able to slowly titrate off of medication after building skills to manage anxiety. It's really important to make these decisions with a trained medical professional such as an APN or Integrative medicine practitioner.

Thanks for your comments,

Lina

Seaweedbits215 karma

I was actually just discussing this with my sister yesterday, and I gave a few of the excuses you listed.

I've always found it hard to be stationary and mindful. To keep myself focused on the now versus the past or present.

And sometimes even while cleaning or being active my mind reverts to looping negative situations until I'm nearing a panic attack.

With the one minute a day do you suggest only sitting in silence? Or can this be done successfully with music or stretching, for example, without those becoming the anchor?

LinaTherapistLPC272 karma

What a great question! Lots of people find sitting still and trying to meditate to be anxiety-provoking. Can you use cleaning as a meditative practice? For example, if you are pushing a vacuum cleaner, you could match your breath to the (slow!) back and forth movement of the vacuum. Or, if you're hand-washing dishes, you could really focus on the sensation of the water, on the feeling of the dishes in your hands, on noticing the moment when you notice that the item is clean, etc.

The practice of Mindfulness is all about keeping in the present, so we don't get sucked into past negativity or future worry. It's a skill that we build, like learning a language, or our multiplication tables, or playing a musical instrument. As Shauna Shapiro said it so eloquently, what we practice grows stronger (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B49Ls4gl07Y&list=PLbiVpU59JkVbNfFyAG4SrC8NGnC0-D4jg&index=1)

LinaTherapistLPC91 karma

I usually recommend my clients start with a guided meditation. I love Insight Timer because it has a number of meditation under the heading of Mindfulness Meditation, and allows users to select meditations as short as one minute.

If you have frequent panic attacks, I would really recommend seeking a therapist, as they can work with you on your specific situation and help you to overcome your specific personal challenges.

The way I would use Mindfulness practice with someone who is not my client is to think of it as building resiliency, that is, the capacity to bounce back. Perhaps, after practicing one minute of meditation for a number of days, you will notice that it brings a few moments of peace. This will be a safe place you can return to in your mind when you notice you are traveling down a negative loop. You might try placing your hand over your heart to encourage a release of Oxytocin, and gently breathe, maybe lifting the corners of your mouth into a gentle smile. This may give you a moment of peace that you can really rest in.

Also, a walking meditation can be helpful if you having difficulty sitting. Breathing IN as you lift one foot and shift your weight forward, breathing Out as you place the foot down and shift your weight to the other foot, etc.

If panic attacks are frequent, I would really recommend a therapist. (Well, actually, I always recommend a therapist. Therapy is great! LOL)

I hope this is helpful.

koosobie120 karma

How do you explain Mindfulness for people who try and use it to "fix problems" rather than understanding the true meaning (intent)? I have tried to explain it many times but can't seem to explain in good enough terms that others can understand.

Additionally, do you have a resource for staying on track with mindfulness? My personal problem is I cannot seem to keep at it regularly. (looking for the motivational aspect)

Edited.

LinaTherapistLPC122 karma

Great questions! I try to remind people that Mindfulness means to intentionally place your attention in the present moment, with kindness. Mindfulness itself does not solve our problems. Rather, it is the tool that ALLOWS us to effectively address our problems.

As far as staying on track, I really encourage beginning with One Minute per Day. Most of my clients have found that so effective that they stick with it, when they see how much they gain from that one Mindful Minute. I tell them, "when you get to the end of one minute and think, That's Over Already?, then it's time to move to two minutes, then five minutes, etc." Also, I give them examples of how it has changed my own life, by increasing my Resilience.

koosobie17 karma

Great questions! I try to remind people that Mindfulness means to intentionally place your attention in the present moment, with kindness. Mindfulness itself does not solve our problems. Rather, it is the tool that ALLOWS us to effectively address our problems.

Thank you that's more concise than my wording for sure.

As far as staying on track, I really encourage beginning with One Minute per Day. Most of my clients have found that so effective that they stick with it, when they see how much they gain from that one Mindful Minute. Also, I give them examples of how it has changed my own life, by increasing my Resilience.

I get that a one minute thing makes it "easier to do", but do you not find that one minute doesn't necessarily cut it? I did a course where we did 3 hours once a week, and at a peak I did about 15-30 mins a day, and I would like to attain that again but it seems like I can't get myself regimented to do it. I'm not generally regimented in the first place. Anyway, I do minor mindfulness exercises constantly, but I guess my stress load is too high to make that amount adequate. Is there anything you can think of otherwise that may help? If not, no big deal. I appreciate your response regardless, already very helpful

LinaTherapistLPC98 karma

Hi, as I was reading that last paragraph, I could feel myself getting anxious! I wonder if you're trying too hard. It sounds like you're making this **work**. I invite you to try one minute and really embrace it. Perhaps your difficulty in being consistent (notice I did not say "regimented") is that you have made meditation a chore, rather than a gift you give to yourself.

Maybe sit down right now. Close your eyes. Let the muscles in your face relax. Breathe. Allow some space between your upper and lower teeth so your jaw can release. Allow your tongue to rest lightly behind your lower teethe. Breathe.

Take in a long, slow, full breath through your nose, and let it out through your mouth with an audible sigh as you allow the muscles in your neck and shoulders to release. Try that again, drawing your shoulder blades gently towards each other. Breathe.

Feel how peaceful that feels. Perhaps, allow the corners of your mouth to lift up as in a smile. Notice what happens. Does it change anything? Notice the shapes your body makes as breath moves in and out of your body. Maybe thank yourself for taking this time for yourself. Breathe. Relax. Let your breath restore you. Breathe.

murdermcgee68 karma

I recently came across some articles that state that meditation can actually have adverse effects on people who are living with trauma. Do you agree with this, and if so, what alternatives would you suggest for those that might experience ill effects from traditional meditation?

LinaTherapistLPC6 karma

EMDR, Sensorimotor psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems, Tapping....

Calicoh36 karma

Thoughts on the controversy surrounding mindfulness?wprov=sfti1) in western psychotherapy from a Buddhist perspective as described by the book McMindfullness? It’s been described as an incomplete practice for addressing the symptoms of stress but not external and physiological causes of stress.

The western psych industry has been accused of heretical blasphemy by the Vajrayana sect for cherry-picking and appropriating yogic practices with proven uses from Tibetan traditions while leaving out and ignoring the rest of the Dharma as a means to short term solutions and profit.

The worry is that using incomplete tantric teachings without the full discipline of a practice or academic understanding from the tradition introduces coping habits that can be potentially destructive in the long term without proper guidance, and that the western psych concept of mindfulness as a whole has been whitewashed to the point of becoming a potentially predatory superficial construct made to spit in Buddha’s face for dollars.

LinaTherapistLPC37 karma

Wow, I wish I was in a place to have a thoughtful discussion with you on that topic, but you are quoting a lot of points that I would need to spend weeks of preparation first, and that was not the purpose of this AmA. I agree that it is very concerning to pick and choose bits of ancient philosophies to market in the West, eg, selling Asana practice as a form of "exercise"

gwaccount8835 karma

Why do you think, that not thinking is important? Why is meditating any better than taking a nap? At least when we dream we get a little movie to help us unpack what's going on in our minds.

Thinking about breathing just makes me painfully aware I need oxygen to survive.

LinaTherapistLPC68 karma

Hmmm. Interesting. Actually, I do not think that "not thinking is important", quite the contrary.

Mindfulness practice is about being aware of our thoughts, habits, behaviors, etc, and being able to choose how to think, feel and behave. To use a metaphor, it is like Driving the Bus, rather than the bus driving us. Have you ever driving somewhere and when you arrived at your destination, you realized that you could not remember how you got there? Essentially, you took a mental nap while driving?

Mindfulness is the opposite of that. Mindfulness (to continue the metaphor of driving) is to notice the sensation of your hands on the steering wheel, the feeling of your foot pressing the gas pedal, noticing all the cars around you and their relative space/distance to your car. Meditation is just a way of practicing and developing the skill of Mindfulness.

I love how Marsha Linehan describes Mindfulness in her DBT WHAT and HOW skills: Observe, Describe, Participate, Non-judgmentally, One-mindfully, Effectively. Developing these skills through mindfulness meditation allows us to be aware of how our thoughts are impacting us and gives us the capacity to change our thinking so that we can find breathing to be a restful and delicious activity.

What do you think?

Makune24 karma

Is there an optimal time to meditate, or at least for starting to meditate? Before or after work, morning/evening etc.?

LinaTherapistLPC95 karma

Great question. Just like any other new skills you're trying to develop, the best time to practice is When You'll Do It. For example, you can practice in the shower: when you shampoo your hair, completely focus on shampooing your hair. Don't let your mind wander. Or, when you're brushing your teeth, really pay attention to your teeth. Did you get all three surfaces of each tooth? When you're driving a car, keep your mind actually with you in the car; don't let it wander off somewhere else.

Most of us spend so much time allowing our minds to wander that it is really easy for them to take us places that make us unhappy. This is NOT to say that we should never let our minds wander! But rather, the skill we're building is NOTICING where our mind is, and then we have the option of choosing where we want it to go.

I hope this was helpful.

mswoodie21 karma

I work with a lot of social workers who deal with trauma triggers, not just with their clients, with with themselves too. I often describe mindfulness as an approach to ground during a trigger experience. The people I work with really appreciate the easy to remember touchstone approaches (notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, etc). There are also a couple of simple gifs that use expanding shapes to pattern breathing. Do you know of other tools like these that are easily shared and remembered?

Having a quick go-to grounding method really helps to get one to a place where they can defuse the trigger response!

LinaTherapistLPC21 karma

I agree, having some grounding tools in your back pocket can really help prevent panic attacks or SIB. When I worked in an Intensive Outpatient Program, we kept reusable ice cubes in the freezer for clients to use as a grounding tool. Another 5,4,3,2,1 I learned was to use external cues, like 5 things you see that are blue, four things that are round, 3 things that are square, etc. I also have used Child's Pose (have them focus on breathing through the back of their lungs) and Tree Pose (focus on slow, deep breaths). And my super favorite, TIPP skills from Marsha Linehan. There's great video I use to demonstrate this to clients: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKxsRVAKrHg

mswoodie3 karma

How are reusable ice cubes used?

Thanks for these ideas! So simple to just add specificity to 54321! I’ll check out the video!

LinaTherapistLPC17 karma

You can hold the ice cubes in your hand to create a focal point that is OUTSIDE of the thoughts. I think of external locus of thoughts like putting a car in neutral; the tires may still be turning, but their no longer connected to the drive train. Our thoughts are like this too. If we can pull our attention OUTSIDE the body, it gives the panicky swirling thoughts an opportunity to slow down and become manageable. I LOVE this video by Julie Bayer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVA2N6tX2cg. I used it as a teaching tool when I ran DBT skills groups.

quidgy18 karma

What is wrong with a mind wandering? If this is the natural inclination of our minds, why should we fight against it with mindfulness practice?

LinaTherapistLPC19 karma

If you don't suffer from anxiety or depression, or panic attacks or PTSD, and you don't lose productive hours to a wandering mind, then perhaps this skill is not one you need to develop. For others, it can be a life-changer.

T3VSS22313 karma

Here’s one for you and thanks for answering our questions.

About 15 months ago I started to suffer shortness of breath.. well some days I just could take a satisfying, complete deep breath. I was concerned and went to the drs, they took my O2 level and said they can’t imagine anything wrong with me as everything seemed ok. 3 drs told me the same that it was “anxiety” but I wasn’t anxious at the time and I get it still 1-2 times a week and usually I’m not anxious or stressed.

So my question is is there a way I can train myself out of this if it is psychosomatic?

Thanks again.

LinaTherapistLPC18 karma

First, I would really get a second opinion. Whenever shortness of breath is concerned, questions of cardiac or pulmonary issues come to mind, or even allergies. If what you're experiencing is anxiety, you would also notice your heart pounding and likely, racing thoughts.

If they still say it's anxiety would be to see an APN for anti-anxiety medication. If that takes care of the breathing, then you know it's anxiety. But without any additional information, what you're describing sounds medical to me.

picklecellanemia11 karma

I appreciate your suggestions around having too many thoughts when trying to practice meditation.

The answer for me might just be as simple as finding the right style of guidance or no guidance at all. My anxiety is driven by being out of control. A lot of guided meditation implements positive encouragement e.g. “you are enough, you are worthy” etc. I am probably an asshole for thinking this, but it feels so patronizing. I’m not trying to meditate for a stranger to tell me I’m worth it. I know I’m worth it. I’ve gotten to a place where I’m confident and happy with myself in that way, so I just get annoyed that it feels like I’m being talked down to. Again, I am just being a narcissist in this regard.

I just need something to help calm me when I’m thinking of future plans or have a current situation I’m not in control of. Would it be best to have no guidance and start small?

LinaTherapistLPC9 karma

Omigoodness! I hear you! Sometimes the recorded voice makes me grind my teeth! I especially dislike the ones with women speaking in a syrup-y voice. Arrrggghhh!

I use Insight Timer usually, where I can use filters like "Male voice only" or "background music on". When I find myself thinking, "Am I a bad person because I can't stand the sound of this?" I remind myself this is why there are so many thousands of choices, because nothing is going to suit everyone.

Why not try a few apps and play around until you find a few that you really like, and stick with those? I particularly recommend searching particularly for ones labeled Mindfulness Meditation, where you are less likely to find positive affirmations.

Cheers,

viktor_vaughn_DOOM_19 karma

Breath in, breath out?

I’ve been using a mantra to help quiet my anxious mind on sleepless nights. Mine is “inner peace begins with me”. I can’t say it’s hugely effective but it does help me empty my mind when I focus only on the words. Ideally that focus would lead to sleep.

Any tips you may have to help fall back asleep/get to sleep would be helpful.

LinaTherapistLPC29 karma

That's a very interesting question. I want to draw attention to your words "it does help me empty my mind." Mind-ful-ness is a specific form of meditation that is not about emptying our minds, but rather, about focusing our attention.

What I encourage people to try to help fall back asleep is Progressive Muscle Relaxation with Paired Breathing. Beginning with your toes, squeeze them tightly while inhaling and holding your breath, and quickly release your breath and toes at the same time. Repeat this exercise with muscle groups in your whole foot, then ankle, then calves, etc., moving up the body, one muscle group at a time, focusing on the muscle group and the breath. You would finish with muscle groups on your scalp, forehead, eyes, brows, cheekbones, cheeks, jaws and tongue...you get it.

This works partly by how it relaxes the muscles by restricting and then releasing blood flow, but also by focusing attention on isolating the specific muscle groups and your breath, you mind is not wandering to thoughts that distress you and inhibit sleep.

Your breath is a really powerful tool for your health. I hope this was helpful.

viktor_vaughn_DOOM_14 karma

Brilliant. Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply. Even sitting here awake I can attempt this exercise and feel the calming effects as I release the muscles and breath.

LinaTherapistLPC7 karma

I'm so glad.

koosobie6 karma

Not op but what I do, and what my friend now does (and seems to work) is focusing on the pillow. Sounds, feelings, etc.

LinaTherapistLPC9 karma

OP? sorry, don't know what that means.

Focusing on the pillow sounds interesting. Have you tried it? Did you find it helpful?

Ironic_memeing8 karma

Do you have any recommendations for people who have internalized ADHD like myself? I find that my mind cannot 'sit still' and it makes meditation very hard for me, the closest I can get to it is a flow state during exercise or intense mental activity.

By internalized ADHD I mean the hyperactive part is more or less only going on in my head.

LinaTherapistLPC5 karma

Hmmm... Not my area of expertise. Let me think. I'm thinking of distraction tools, which it sounds like you're already using. I wonder if it would be helpful for you to look up DBT WHAT and HOW skills. They help to take those hyperactive thoughts and slow them down a bit where they can be examined. I agree that flow state and intense activity (maybe also physical?) would be helpful.

Kitai35 karma

Hello! I have tinnitus, everytime it gets too silent it flares up. Can meditation be done with background music and/or headphones or do you recommend doing it in complete silence?

LinaTherapistLPC6 karma

ABSOLUTELY! Tinnitus would drive me crazy if I was always in a silent environment! I almost always use a recorded guided meditation, or an app like Relax Melodies which allows me to find a pitch that matches that of my ringing ear, effectively blocking the sound, so I can focus on meditating,

koosobie2 karma

Not op; I do it with the window open, listening can be part of an "open awareness exercise", but be aware that loud unexpected noises can be disturbing or frightening lol

LinaTherapistLPC5 karma

Great point, but ultimately, we want to train ourselves to also tolerate even "loud unexpected noises." To do so increases our Freedom.

LinaTherapistLPC4 karma

It is now nearly 6 pm and I started this post early this morning. No matter how questions I answer the number of unaswered posts increases. So, before my hands fall off. I must sign off. I really apologize to those who were kind enough and brave enough to answer their questions and I did not get to them. I will check back in the future and try to get to more of them but my wrist is killing me and I must say adieu for today.

Maaaaaardy3 karma

Hi there!

I have terrible anxiety, I find often when I get nervous my heart starts to go quickly. If I try to engage in breathing it makes me feel incredibly sick so I can't stick to it, as well as my stomach churning. Is there anything I can do to try and keep myself calm?

LinaTherapistLPC3 karma

Yes...and.

Yes, there are things you can do to try and keep yourself calm. And, with "terrible anxiety" I really recommend seeing a therapist. You're describing panic attacks which occur when your nervous system is interpreting something in your thoughts or environment as a threat to your safety. Working with a therapist you can learn what the source is and develop an approach specific to your circumstances. You might want to search for someone who uses a Somatic approach and/or Internal Family Systems.

You don't have to live this way.

Maybe sit down right now. Close your eyes. Let the muscles in your face relax. Breathe. Allow some space between your upper and lower teeth so your jaw can release. Allow your tongue to rest lightly behind your lower teethe. Breathe.

Take in a long, slow, full breath through your nose, and let it out through your mouth with an audible sigh as you allow the muscles in your neck and shoulders to release. Try that again, drawing your shoulder blades gently towards each other. Breathe.

Feel how peaceful that feels. Perhaps, allow the corners of your mouth to lift up as in a smile. Notice what happens. Does it change anything? Notice the shapes your body makes as breath moves in and out of your body. Maybe thank yourself for taking this time for yourself. Breathe. Relax. Let your breath restore you. Breathe.

puddlejumper3 karma

What do you suggest for people who's anxiety increases while attempting mindfulness or meditation?

LinaTherapistLPC3 karma

Great question! Move! Learn to use the body as a tool to calm the mind.

This could be a walking meditation, or practicing Tai chi, Yoga, or even doing Mindfulness practice with simple chores like washing dishes or brushing your teeth. The idea of mindfulness practice is to increase your ability to Notice your thoughts running away, and to bring them back, like throwing a lasso after it and gently drawing it back to your Center.

Remember to be Kind to yourself. All behavior has a cause and there is a reason why your mind doesn't want you to sit and be still. Maybe a therapist could help you learn what your mind is trying to protect you from.

Betaworldpeach3 karma

What’s your take on beta blockers? I’m interested in taking them daily, though I hear the withdrawals can be quite unpleasant

LinaTherapistLPC5 karma

As a Master's level counselor I have only brief training in psychopharmaceuticals and would recommend checking with an APN; they're the experts.

As for withdrawal from ANY psychotropics, it's really important to do this planfully with a medical professional. Some can have very serious side effects if you stop abruptly; the worse being risk of harm to self or others.

jamiccdasneak3 karma

How do we normalize the stigma among younger generations beyond just “mental health is important” and actually get to a point of implementation and application? I feel like a lot of people know it’s there and know the buzzwords, but are still glued on their phones and social media, looking for that to bear the brunt of the emotional burden, rather than mindfulness and meditation. How can we slowly but surely get people and ourselves to apply it in their and our own lives?

I have been reading Thich Nnat Hanh for the last year or so, and this is still on my mind. I understand and love his principles and insights, but would love to apply them more in my daily life so they can become more beneficial.

LinaTherapistLPC4 karma

Gosh, I love this question. I would love for people to begin to think of seeing a therapist in terms of "Why am I struggling to figure this out on my own when there are people who are trained in this?!" much like doing your taxes or fixing your plumbing. Why make it so hard on yourself?

I think a lot has to do with the false narrative in the US of the Self-made Man; the idea that people should be self-sufficient and asking for help is a sign of weakness. It's SO SAD. I can't tell you how many people have sat down with me and the first thing they say is: "I've never told anyone this..." and though gallons of tears tell me stories of horrible things that have been done to them, and that they have been bearing themselves for years and years. It's so unnecessary to be alone!!!

Or, people just need some help figuring something out, and they think "Why should I see a therapist? I *should* be able to figure this out by myself". Why?! Why suffer when you could just have a few sessions with a professional and feel better!

Or, "I don't want someone in my business." Well, OK, that one is a bit more understandable to me, as many people have learned that the medical community can't be trusted and it's safer to figure things out on your own. I hear you.

Still, there are so many really caring and effective therapists out there that it breaks my heart to think of people afraid, or ashamed, or too proud to reach out.

HolyShitzurei3 karma

Do you have any book recommendations for mindfulness?

LinaTherapistLPC8 karma

I feel like I've just been caught with my pants down. No, actually, I don't think I do. Yeeks! That's embarrassing. I did all of my post-graduate counseling training in an Intensive Outpatient Setting with people whose emotions were too regulated to suggest that they read books to learn Mindfulness. I worked primarily with handouts, worksheets, and videos, to supplement the Mindfulness practice we did in group and individual sessions.

I have a some great videos that I recommend, though. Here are some of my favorites:

The Power of Mindfulness - Shauna Shapiro [13 min] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B49Ls4gl07Y&list=PLbiVpU59JkVbNfFyAG4SrC8NGnC0-D4jg&index=1

Mindfulness Is a Superpower https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6T02g5hnT4

Just Breathe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVA2N6tX2cg

All it takes is 10 mindful minutes | Andy Puddicombe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzR62JJCMBQ&index=6&list=PLbiVpU59JkValOIEIo2Y65mBopHCjKvBo

Soothing the Seas | Mindfulness for Daily Functioning https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFFZFnoT54Y

MARSHA LINEHAN - Mindfulness: The First Skills Module Taught in DBT https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCJ0R6vAUnw

LeoDeSol2 karma

I suffered my first panic attack at 40 followed by many more smaller episodes. I went to the hospital in a ambulance for the first one thinking I was having a heart attack. Since then I have started breathing techniques with a primary focus on the Wim Hof method, what do you think of his methods? I do the breathing and cold therapy and feel like both has benefits for me. Also, have you looked at the Oak app for mindfulness and meditation?

LinaTherapistLPC2 karma

Hi thanks for sharing. It is very common for people to mistake panic attacks for heart attacks, and good for you for heading to the hospital. Much better to get checked out and be told it's not your heart.

I'm glad you're practicing breathing techniques. I have never heard of the Wim Hof method. I'll have to look at it after I get off this chat (I've been typing for 3 hours and it hasn't slowed down!).

I am unfamiliar with the Oak app. Do you find it helpful? There are so many great new meditation apps coming out that I can't keep up. I decided to stick to the ones that have been working for me since grad school: Insight Timer, Relax Melodies, and Calm.

Cheers,

Attraus2 karma

I struggle with anxiety a lot. I am diagnosed with BPD, DID, GAD, and Panic Disorder. I do both mindfulness meditation, and transcendental meditation. I have had Derealization/Depersonalisation symptoms all my life, to a very extensive degree. I have read that meditation is supposed to help, yet it never seems to allow me to feel my body, and often after just a few minutes (provided it works in the first place) my vision goes back to the usual, grey veil, yadayada. How come it doesn't help like people say it should?

LinaTherapistLPC3 karma

Wow, you have a lot of struggles and I really commend you for continuing to try to get the help you need. What you describe is outside of my realm of expertise, but I'm thinking that someone who specializes in somatic types of therapy, like Sensorimotor and Internal Family Systems might be more effective for you. You are describing being disconnected from your body and a more "bottom-up" approach might be more helpful for you than a "top-down" approach like Mindfulness.

brrrrrritscold2 karma

Suggestions on when and how to start mindfulness and meditation with children? What is the best age to start? We've been trying to teach our 3 year old to breathe deep when he gets frustrated or over stimulated. Thoughts?

LinaTherapistLPC6 karma

Ooooo! Yes! Never too early to start! If you think of humans as mammals and more specifically, as primates, think about how other mammals and primates teach their young. They being teaching self-regulation from the moment of birth, many of them licking their young, others rubbing them with their heads while holding them close.

Think of when your child was born. Didn't you find yourself rubbing his tiny head with yours? Rubbing your cheek against his tiny, soft cheek? Holding him against you as you rubbed his back?

Simple Yoga practices like Child's Pose, Downward Facing Dog and Legs Up The Wall can be helpful for a child to learn to calm themselves. I also highly recommend a video that I think a 3 yo might be able to grasp, that teaches children to calm their mind by comparing it to glitter floating in a jar of water: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVA2N6tX2cg

Thanks for writing in. I hope this was helpful.

sleepy52 karma

Is counting my breaths to keep my mind from wandering cheating? Should I be able to do this without counting?

LinaTherapistLPC3 karma

Cheating? Is it working for you? Are you limiting your mind from wandering off and drawing you into negative thought spirals, or into worry? That's the goal. If you're getting there, does it matter what path you take?

Cheers,

kgkglunasol2 karma

Good morning!

My anxiety is pretty specific to driving- I get anxious when I drive and it's especially bad when I am driving in new/unfamiliar places. The older I get, the worse it's gotten (to the point where I pretty much avoid driving anywhere new or places that are downtown and things like that).

Obviously I can't really meditate while I drive but is there anything you'd recommend that might help? Would meditating in general on a daily basis be able to help with this?

LinaTherapistLPC5 karma

Oooo, such a great question! Yes, you can absolutely practice mindfulness meditation while driving! And practicing meditation on a daily basis will help you to stay mindful while you are driving.

Just think about this: anxiety is worrying about what May Happen. Mindfulness Meditation is about keeping your attention in the Here and Now. So, while you're driving, you can be focusing on Breathing In, Breathing Out. And when you notice that a distressing thought has popped into your mind, you can non-judgmentally, with a kind inner voice, return your attention to your breath.

I used to get so panicky driving across bridges that once, driving across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, I started having a panic attack. After I started teaching Mindfulness to therapy groups, I began to notice that my panic was decreasing and I wasn't clutching the steering wheel in a death grip and holding my breath. Now, when I see I'm approaching a bridge - if I notice any panic coming up - I begin paying attention to my breath and body, slowing my breathing, rolling my shoulders back and down, drawing my shoulder blades together, relaxing my jaw...

Try it! What do you notice? Can you allow your shoulders, arms, hands and fingers to relax? How do you feel?

Now, you're driving to a new place. You start to look at street signs and realize that you have missed your turn off... so what? You take a breath. You look for the next opportunity to turn around, and you head back. And you give yourself a pat on the back for not panicking.

Let me know if this is helpful.

Rstein6562 karma

What do you suggest to those who’s anxiety includes being overly aware of their breathing? Where meditation directing you to focus on your breathing only seems to increase anxiousness?

LinaTherapistLPC5 karma

What koosobie said! (see post below).

Breathing is the first thing that's taught because it is an easy focal point, but certainly not your only choice. You could focus on a mantra, or rub a prayer stone or worry beads, a movement (as in Tai chi, Qigong, or Yoga), or a piece of music. Find what works for you :-)

TittyBeanie2 karma

Hi! I apologise for the length of my comment!

Do you have any tips for kids meditation and anxiety? My 9yo daughter has some anxiety issues, she also gets angry easily. We know that it's likely caused (in part) by some grief we experienced a few years ago. She was seeing someone through school but that was cut short with schools closing.

She has particular trouble with sleeping. She lays down to sleep and all her anxious thoughts come through. Her main anxieties are based around loss (of precious belongings, but sometimes pets and people); house fires, burglary, that kind of thing. She also dreams about being lost in crowds and not being able to find me.

She does Headspace before sleep, and that helps a little. But on really bad days she had terrible focusing on it.

Thank you for any input you have.

LinaTherapistLPC2 karma

I'm so sorry. Probrecita. It seems that your daughter has generalized that grief experience so that it is showing up in multiple ways in her life. I don't work with children, but there are plenty of excellent therapists who do, and currently, most of them are available online.

I love this video for teaching children how to practice self-soothing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVA2N6tX2cg

If funds are an issue, many therapists offer sliding scales, and there is a directory called Open Path where therapists agree to accept a low fee for therapy.

I hope you find someone excellent for your precious daughter.

MeowingUSA2 karma

Can you give tips on meditation while walking or running?

LinaTherapistLPC2 karma

Absolutely! Count your steps (one, two; left, right, etc), count mailboxes, look for trees with red leaves, occurrences of the letter Q, etc.

Similar-Success2 karma

I was robbed over 2 years ago and lost my voice for approx 6months after it. Literally not a word. I still struggle sometimes speaking with people. It was a struggle speaking to my parents, brothers, family etc. It is like a huge fear if someone even looks at me - like a rabbit in the headlights. I am not 100% clear but I am on the road. You reckon meditation is benificial? Any specific form of meditation? Thanks in advance. Hope you see this

LinaTherapistLPC2 karma

It sounds like your body wanted to scream at the time and you were prevented from doing so, and that silent scream has tightened the muscles in your throat. I would highly recommend looking for someone who practices Sensorimotor psychotherapy. The idea of sensorimotor is that during your trauma, there was an action your body wanted to perform and was blocked from doing. Sensorimotor helps your body complete the action, releasing what the body has been holding so tight.

Another excellent treatment for trauma is EMDR which is incredibly effective for many people, in many cases completely healing the traumatic event, although it may be idfficult to find someone right now, since most people do this only in the office and not online. But from what you're describing, one or both of these modalities is highly likely to be beneficial for you.

In the meantime, being very kind to yourself and practicing self-care is important.

All the best to you.

ivylgedropout2 karma

This issue has been at the top of my mind lately, thank you for sharing.

How might I use mindfulness meditation to address a tendency toward emotional reactivity? I want to be able to notice my emotions early before I let them show up to others. Thanks.

LinaTherapistLPC2 karma

Brilliant. How wise of you to notice. The idea of mindfulness practice is build your ability to notice what is happening in your mind and body. You might look up images for SUDS (Subjective Unit of Distress Scale) which provides a visual to increase understanding of what is happening in the body. As the SUDS rises, you notice changes in the body, like pounding heart, sweaty palms, dry mouth, clenched jaw. All of these physical indicators help you identify that something is going on with your emotions, before you behave reactively.

I hope you find this helpful.

Magicalunicorny1 karma

When I was at my lowest moments in life my aunt got me the book "the joy of living" by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, and I can honestly say it saved my life. How often do you follow the teachings of monks such as him?

LinaTherapistLPC2 karma

Hi, I'm so glad the monk was able to help you. I do not follow a particular monk. Many of the leaders in my field have spent time studying teachings of the monks, and came back to the states and applied the scientific method to them, and spent decades applying these ideas in clinical practice, and those are the people who have been my teachers:

Marsha Linehan, Janina Fisher, Pat Ogden, Peter Levine, Insoo Kim Berg, and more...

Sigao1 karma

I feel I understand the basic concepts of mindfulness and how helpful it can be, but most of the time, when I'm feeling anxious that anxiety; the worries and doubts, they drown out the idea that I should be being mindful to help myself in that moment.

Are there ways to remind yourself when you're in an anxious and/or emotional state to be mindful? It just seems like the ego/monkey mind takes the wheel and drives it away from mindfulness in those moments for me.

LinaTherapistLPC2 karma

Ah, Monkey Mind. Makes me think of that scene from Jumanji (the first one). Uncomfortable, distressing, and difficult to tame.

The mind is difficult to tame. Think about it. There are millions and millions of transactions occurring in your brain every minute. It's no wonder you find it difficult to remember how to step out of the swirling of thoughts.

The Mindfulness part is about noticing. To be mindful is to Notice. Okay, I've noticed I'm feeling anxious. Now what?

First, take a breath. Now another one. Allow your face to soften, your brow to unfurrow, your jaw to soften. Roll your shoulders back and down, opening up at the collar bones. Breathe. Now,

you can examine your thoughts from a little distance. What is the worry that you're having? Do a reality check. Does the worry match reality? Then work the problem. Is the worry unrealistic? How will your worrying improve the situation? What are you afraid will happen if you let go? Then work on lowering your emotional arousal. What things make you feel really calm and peaceful? Nurtured? Loved? Take some time to care for yourself.

And if this continues, I really recommend talking to a therapist. Therapists are trained to listen, and to help you uncover the source of your anxiety, worry and doubt, and plan an approach specific to you.

Cheers,