Meditation is just a word. It conjures images of mysticism and far off lands. The idea of meditation is intertwined with eastern philosophy and fringe science but there is another way to practice relaxing and letting go to treat Social Anxiety.
The Paradox of Letting Go
We are taught to grab on tightly to the things we hold dear. We learn that in order to overcome a threat, we must fight and defeat it. Anxiety is persistent because it get’s stronger the more you fight it. Anxiety is not an enemy. It is a natural part of every person. It is vital to your survival and attempting to defeat it only makes it worse.
When you stop fighting your anxiety, when you let go and simply accept that you are going to be anxious and that is just a part of you, your anxiety starts to heal. It must be met with acceptance and felt.
You cannot truly heal anxiety until you’ve allowed yourself to fully feel it.
When you meditate, your vision becomes clearer. In the same way a candle lights up a dark room.
Anxiety naturally closes the mind. It limits our vision. It speeds up our thoughts eliminating any possibility to slow down and see the finer details of any situation. How can you focus on the details of what’s being said to you when you’re panicking inside?
The practice of meditation allows you to see that which was previously hidden from you. Your understanding of life’s daily challenges and complexities naturally get clearer over time and your tolerance for stress and your patience improves greatly.
Meditation is a mental push-up. Each time you let go of a thought, your mind gets a little stronger. Meditation is the practice of letting go. It is the focused exercise that strengthens the mental muscles we use in our daily practice of letting go and relaxing the mind and body. When you practice letting go and observing the breath it is called mindfulness. ~ ‘Wherever you Go, There You Are’, Jon Kabat Zin
A Quick and Simple Meditation Exercise
Tension, stress and anxiety stiffens the body and mind in the same way an overly inflated balloon is stiff. Take a deep breath in, allowing your stomach to rise and expand. Hold it for a second and then breathe out with an audible but gentle sigh of relief. Visualize your body deflating like the balloon, releasing air.
Afterwards, your body and mind will be loose and relaxed like a deflated balloon. Repeat this a few times and then simply observe the breath. Start with 5 minutes and work your way up to an amount of time that is comfortable.
For a timer, an app that creates sounds such as ocean waves is perfect as you can set the amount of time it plays. When the sound starts to fade away, your meditation is up.
The first part of this exercise can be done anytime, anywhere. When you’re around people and you begin to feel anxious, take a deep breath, way down into your belly. Hold it for just a second and then let out a sigh of relief, visualizing your body deflating like a balloon. It doesn’t have to be audible when you’re around people and with practice, you can do it without anyone noticing.
Your mind is like a ship afloat in a river.
The river is your constant stream of thoughts.
“Let your breath be your anchor to the present.”
~ Dr. Paula Bloom, Clinical Psychologist, CNN, www.paulabloom.com
“We can always come home to the present by observing the breath”
~Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk, teacher, author, and peace activist
Your mind is a deep ocean of knowledge and emotion. Your conscience mind only gets to see a small piece at a time of what your mind actually holds.
When your mind is anxious your mental waters are rough. Like a kayaker drifting on the surface, you cannot see too deep when you look into the water when the water’s surface is choppy. Through the practice of meditation, your mental waters grow calm and placid. When water is calm, you can see straight down to the bottom.
Over time, this state of calm becomes so constant that even if there is a large disturbance, it does not change the state of the water. If a large ship passes over clear water it remains clear. It is the same in the case of a person who meditates frequently, the normal stress and problems that daily life inevitably present causes a temporary disturbance but does not change the overall state of the ocean.
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