It isn't more complicated than that.
It is opening to, or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is,
without either clinging to it or rejecting it.
~ Sylvia Boorstein
What is mindfulness? As per Lord Buddha's teachings, mindfulness is nothing more than a spiritual path to enlightenment. It is a form of self-awareness where our minds are trained to be in touch with our own self and the present moment. Everyday, we go through countless experiences that life brings our way and this can affect our mental health. The way we think, react, and act upon these incidents may also leave us confused, anxious, or even depressed. What mindfulness teaches us is to stay in the moment, now. We have to accept for what and how things are because that is the fact, and it cannot be changed.
If not all, but majority of people either focus their attention by looking back into their past or worrying about the upcoming, unknown future. Mindfulness is a technique to come out of such thinking and bringing your focus back to the present; to ourselves and the environment. The art of mindfulness is there to teach that accepting the "now" is better instead of dwelling over the past and distressing about the future. Mindfulness is helpful for various health conditions like anxiety, stress, eating disorders, depression, sleeping problems, and any emotional and psychological concerns. In this article, we are concentrating on practicing mindfulness exercises for stress and anxiety. And here they are.
Exercises used for Anxiety/Stress
Stress and anxiety go hand in hand. Which is why, when you practice the following exercises for anxiety, they also correlate as mindfulness stress reduction exercises. But for these exercises to work, they are supposed to be practiced on a regular basis. Don't just do these exercises for the heck of it. You have to believe in the true meanings of mindfulness to accept it in your body, mind, and soul.
Exercise #1 - De-stress Yourself
The first thing you need to do when anxious is to reduce the emphasis on whatever that is bothering you at that moment. Instead of thinking and reacting to the current situation, stop yourself and observe your surroundings. Whatever thoughts, emotions, or memories that are coming to you, let them come, but don't get dragged into another stream of thoughts. When the thoughts come, just as they entered your mind, let them float out of you. As you teach yourself to accept what happened and let go of those intense feelings, you will be able decrease its effect on yourself.
Exercise #2 - Control your Breathing
Breathing deep from your abdomen is an age-old practice that is promoted to release feelings of anxiety. If possible, sit in a quiet place where you can breathe in fresh air. Comfortably sit with your legs crossed, place one hand on your stomach and the other one on your chest. Take a breath in from the nose and exhale out from the mouth. When you take the breath in, your stomach should rise and not your chest. Keep breathing in from your nose and exhaling from your mouth till you can actually feel the tension leaving you. This exercise should either be done sitting cross-legged or lying down with a book on the stomach.
Exercise #3 - Practicing Meditation
Formal meditation practices can lead to mindfulness. With meditation, we train our minds to constantly be aware of our surroundings and be in the present. Meditation helps in finding the balance in our breathing and keeping our body sensations in tune. It is common that when we meditate, our mind automatically begins to play tricks on us. We start to think about some chores, errands, or tasks that need to be taken care of. This is where the regular practice of meditation comes into play.
It is a common misconception that mindfulness exercises for stress and/or anxiety is only used to de-stress or relax yourself. Even though the results of these exercises may provide an individual relief from his/her daily anxieties, the exercises practiced have an ulterior motive as well - giving you the ability to ground yourself and your thoughts. Again I would like to repeat myself; mindfulness is about being in and accepting the present. Instead of judging whether things that are occurring in your life are good or bad, open your heart to different experiences in life in a relaxed manner and stay alert.