LinaTherapistLPC848 karma2020-05-15 13:47:27 UTC
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 :-)
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LinaTherapistLPC272 karma2020-05-15 13:13:55 UTC
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)
LinaTherapistLPC146 karma2020-05-15 14:14:54 UTC
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,
LinaTherapistLPC122 karma2020-05-15 12:22:47 UTC
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.
LinaTherapistLPC98 karma2020-05-15 12:41:36 UTC
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.
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