I’ve spouted the term mindfulness about throughout my posts recently without really telling you what it is or how to concentrate on it. I’m obviously no expert having only come across the term less than a year ago but I’ve found it be the best thing, or rather, concept if you will, that has eased me back into real life without panic or stress. Being a Momma Bear who is also a Working Bear has had some pretty hefty challenges which could have easily knocked me downwards if I let it. But mindfulness has kept me focused in a way that calms my mind to the storm that often swells up around me.
Mindfulness is one thing, amongst others, which my counsellor kept coming back to you and while it takes a little bit to get used to and understand, mindfulness is a way of keeping tabs on you and your life and bringing you back to your centre, your peace of mind. So let me tell you why and how it works. Or at least some of my shortcuts because life is busy and when stress invades it doesn’t mean you have to time to plonk yourself down Buddha style and meditate.
Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.
In other words live for now, appreciate now and be in the moment. It sounds easy but it’s really not and is in actual fact a skill that needs learning. Without my counsellors intuition and guidance I’m not sure mindfulness would have ever crept into my consciousness. It sounds like new age, hippie nonsense (which I’ve never been adverse to), something that only works for those who “truly believe” but it’s not like that. It’s about you. Finding you, keeping you and balancing you. Recognising what you’re going through and accepting it or letting it go.
The key to Mindfulness, I’ve felt, is recognising your feelings, recognising what you’re going through, whether good or bad, and acknowledging what is happening at that moment in time.
When I’m having a panic attack, the earth closes up around me, pulls my chest tight so I can’t breathe, bears down on my body so I struggle to move, and flips me upside down as though I’m going to fall. The physical effects of a panic attack are strong but your mind is stronger.
Mindfulness teaches us to focus our mind and pause. If we can calm ourselves from within it’s possible to ease the panic and refocus the moment away from the attack. It is by far, not easy. It takes time, a lot of time, to learn how to focus your mind above the stress, pain and panic that physically take over your body.
It took me near enough six months to find a way to calm myself through panic attacks and anxiety with mindfulness. Eventually, the more I was mindful, it became second nature and my attacks are minimal now. Here’s how I do it.
I breathe. The classic anxiety trick, but the reason I breathe is to calm myself enough to allow me to focus my thinking. My body is still physically going through the attack but my mind is being cleared from the panicky cloud, enough to let mindfulness in.
Once my breathing is in rhythm and I can hear my voice against the fog, I ask myself one question: What is hurting me right now? The answer is usually a blur with no real answer because let’s admit it, panic is irrational and non-sensical at times. But it allows me to recognise what I’m going through. If I cry and I don’t know why I’m crying, then why am I crying? By understanding why I’m having a panic attack I can rationalise (sort of) my way out of the panic.
Finally, I tell my body to let it go. Simples right? Obviously not. Telling your body to let go of anxiety or panic is like telling the weeds not to grow. But it’s a way of acknowledging to your mind and body that it’s ok to feel these feelings but it’s time they went.
Mindfulness is not a quick fix for a panic or anxiety attack. It’s not only done when you feel pressured or stressed (but can help at those times). It’s meant to be done consistently, frequently. Pop it in as a daily thing you do like washing your hands. It’s a way to check in with yourself and keep you… yep you guessed it, focused on the moment.
It’s easy to forget to be in the moment but for anyone who suffers with anxiety or stress it helps to recognise why you are having an attack. Mindfulness is not a cure. It’s a state of mind that helps you cope with the anxiety. By being mindful of my everyday moments, I’m living in the now which has made me less susceptible to attacks. By being in the now, I can recognise a looming attack before it happens and ease my mind away from it.
Pause, Breathe, Recognise the Moment.
It helps you to recognise your triggers and fight them quicker if they manage to slip through. By being mindful, living in the moment, we set ourselves up for a massive boost. Boost me, I say! Boost me!