There is a lot of media attention now about how Mindfulness helps with anxiety and worry.
Research evidence over the last few decades has proven this conclusively.
Mindfulness helps with anxiety and worry
This is very good news because my experience of going into organisations, has shown me that these are HUGE problems in today’s workplace. The 24/7 highly pressured context cultivates anxiety and people tend to be harshly self critical of themselves and their performance in the midst of endless distractions. It’s a vicious circle because the personal suffering (generally born silently) further undermines peoples’ ability to be effective and creative.
One of the most rewarding parts of what I do is helping people realise how unnecessary all of this is and supporting them as they develop new habits.
So, let’s see what positive changes, Mindfulness practice brings about:
1. Less reactive to stress…
Neuroscience shows that the alarm system in the brain, the amygdala, which is triggered when a threat is perceived and initiates the stress (fight/flight) response is down-regulated and even shrinks with regular meditation practice. This means that a person becomes less reactive in challenging circumstances and this change is visible in a brain scan.
2. Less inclined to identify with negative thinking patterns …
Our tendency to catastrophise and get caught up in negative thinking patterns escalates any anxiety we may be feeling. Mindfulness training teaches us to be the witness of our experience moment by moment.
We feel what we are feeling without adding layers of negative thoughts to it, such as “It’s terrible. I can’t stand this.” It’s very different to be aware of a difficult emotion in our body than to believe we are the agitation, the anger, the fear.
Practice helps us develop our ability to ‘be’ even with uncomfortable experiences… which is how we build resilience; our ability to weather a storm. When you sit in non-reactive observation, you develop a new neural pathway in your brain and the more you practice moving your attention this way, the stronger this ‘habit’ becomes.
3. Transform how we relate to self and others
Not only more resilient, but we learn to become more accepting of ourselves as we are (messy and human) rather than holding a limited view of how we should be (which is only an idea and often one we use to punish ourselves). From this awareness, the gift of self compassion is born. We learn to treat ourselves with the care, support and kindness we would show a good friend. This opens our heart to treat others as we wish to be treated.
Mindfulness helps with anxiety
If you are keen to learn more, here are some articles I have come across:
Forbes : Overcoming Fear Of Public Speaking Through Mindfulness
Wired.co.uk : Anxiety and worry can be solved by Mindfulness
Medical News Today.com Mindfulness meditation helps to control emotions, says study