Mindfulness: Strive to focus on the present.

Mindful Meditations for Anxiety

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness simply refers to being focused in the present rather than the past or the future. It means thinking, feeling and being only in the moment - not five minutes ago, five hours or even five years ago... and, it also means not worrying about what might happen in the next five minutes, five hours or five years.

Staying focused in the present to reduce anxiety is a very simple concept but it makes sense... much of our stress and anxiety comes from thoughts and feelings about the past or the future. In mindfulness, we meditate or focus on only the present moment and we do so without judgment or criticism.

For example, the simple exercise of concentrating on your breath is considered a type of mindfulness - by relaxing and focusing on only the breath, and the sensations as it enters and leaves your body, you divert attention away from anxious, stressful thoughts. You think only about the present and not the past or future.

Mindfulness Based Practices can be as simple as taking a few moments to concentrate on your breath or it can be a full length meditation with guided imagery. There are many variations and resources to help you get started and I encourage you to find the type of practice that you are most comfortable with.

Does Mindfulness Really Work? In the last 20 years, there has been an enormous shift in medicine in recognizing mind/body healing approaches for medical and psychological conditions. As a consequence, there is a rapidly expanding scientific literature documenting the effectiveness of mindfulness based practices. Research continues to reflect many significant benefits to both mental and physical health such as improving mood, stress, focus, concentration, sleep, blood pressure, inflammation, cholesterol, and chronic pain.

What the Research Says:

The research exploring mindfulness, although still relatively new, is demonstrating that repeated practice can lead to changes in our lives, with benefits that include -

  • Reducing stress
  • Reducing chronic physical pain
  • Boosting the body’s immune system to fight disease
  • Coping with painful life events, such as the death of a loved one or major illness
  • Dealing with negative emotions like anger, fear, and greed
  • Increasing self-awareness to detect harmful reactive patterns of thought, feeling, and action
  • Improving attention or concentration
  • Enhancing positive emotions, including happiness and compassion
  • Increasing interpersonal skills and relationships
  • Reducing addictive behaviors, such as eating disorders, alcoholism, and smoking
  • Enhancing performance, whether in work, sports, or academics
  • Stimulating and releasing creativity
  • Changing positively the actual structure of our brains

Reprinted from Fully Present, The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness by Susan L. Smalley, Ph.D., founder and director of the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center (MARC) at UCLA and Diana Winston, Director of Mindfulness Education at MARC.

How Soon Should I Notice a Change? When people are new to mindfulness based practices or meditation they often worry that they are not doing it right or they are not sure if it's working. By making it a regular part of your daily routine, you should start to notice positive results within a few weeks.

Resources

There are many resources available to you for practicing mindfulness. I've listed some of them below - including free resources.

Websites

The following websites offer free mediations and deep breathing exercises that you can play, record or download to your own player.

UCLA
Go to www.marc.ucla.edu. Look for the link for "Free Meditation Sessions."

UC Irvine
Go to www.drrogerwalsh.com. Look for the link for meditations, relaxation, and stress management.

UC San Diego
Go to https://health.ucsd.edu/specialties/mindfulness/programs/mbsr/Pages/audio.aspx. Look for the guided audio files.

FreeMindfulness.org

Go to www.freeminfulness.org.  Look for the "Free Resources" section and download audio files from any of seven different meditation categories.

Public Library

Ask the librarian for CD's or video on mindfulness meditation. If there are none on the shelves, they can order for you at no charge.

Online Resources - CD's

Amazon.com has hundreds of selections available for purchase. Enter "mindfulness meditation" in the search field and you will get over 300 hits including CD's for stress reduction, pain relief, depression and anxiety. I recommend you try several as you will find that different speakers appeal to different people. You can also read the reviews to get an idea of the popularity of different items. Of course, Barnes & Noble is another option.

Retail Stores - CD's

Target shoppers have probably noticed a kiosk with relaxation CD's. Many of these titles are good for mindfulness meditation. Some people prefer soft music or nature sounds to a scripted or guided mediation and the Target selection includes more titles with nature sounds. Barnes and Noble also has a large selection in their music section but ask a sales clerk for advice on your preferred format - music only or guided mediation with a speaker.

Smartphone Applications

There are hundreds of possible Smartphone applications for meditation that can provide you with structure and support as you gain knowledge and confidence in meditative techniques and practices. These apps are just a few of the many available today.

Mindfulness Meditation: $1.99
Narrated by Stephen Bodian, author of Meditation for Dummies. This app offers six meditations ranging from five to 40 minutes with tips on effective mindfulness techniques.

Yoga with Janet Stone: $4.99
This app includes 3.5 hours of video and five hours of audio instruction by yoga teacher, Janet Stone. It has 13 meditations that you can use with or without yoga practice. If you'd like to try the yoga, you can select your fitness level and your fitness goals such as strength or flexibility. The audio and video guides instruct and lead you through all the moves for a complete yoga session whether you are a beginner or more advanced.

Relax and Rest Guided Meditations: $.99 by Meditation Oasis
You can choose from three meditations - a 5 minute, 13 minute or 24 minute program and you can customize them with your own preferences such as the type of background music or the nature sounds that you prefer.

Relax Melodies: FREE by iLBSoft
This free app allows you to customize a sound mix from 46 different nature sounds to help you slip into a state of deep relaxation or sleep. It's advertised as a cure for insomnia and claims to have over 5,000,000 users.

Relax and Sleep Well: FREE by i-mobilize
This free app is a 27-minute hypnosis recording by a bestselling self-help audio author, Glenn Harrold. His recording is designed to help you alleviate stress and anxiety and reduce insomnia.

Meditation 4 Inner Wisdom: FREE by i-mobilize
This is another free app by best-selling author and hypnotist, Glenn Harrold. The 37-minute guided meditation is designed to help you relax and connect with a feeling of inner wisdom and spirituality.

Buddhify: $2.99 by 21awake
This lighthearted, playful app is advertised as the "urban meditation app for modern life" and is designed for use by busy people on the go. You can practice mindfulness meditation whether you are in the gym, on the bus/train, at home, or walking. You can select your location, amount of time, and any other preferences.

Centers for Meditation Groups and Classes

You might find that the structure of group meditation is easier for you and by scheduling it into your busy week, you are more likely to stay disciplined. Here are several Orange County locations that offer group mediation or classes. The first two locations are non-denominational churches that welcome people of all faiths and beliefs.

InSpirit Center for Spiritual Living
Wednesdays, 7:00 pm
(949) 481-4040
25782 Obrero Dr., Mission Viejo, CA 92691

Infinite You Meditation Studio

Offers group and individual classes for meditation and instruction

(949) 873-5134

234 E. 17th St., Suite 113

Costa Mesa, CA 92627

infiniteyoumeditation.com

Unity Church of Tustin
Call for Schedule
(714) 730-3444
14402 S. Prospect Avenue, Tustin, CA 92780
* site also has Meditation Gardens

Zen Center of Orange County
Call for Schedule
(949) 722-7818
120 East 18th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627-3035
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Books

There are many excellent book selections available at Amazon or your favorite bookstore. One of the most highly regarded books is Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. This book is a classic in mind-body medicine and is now in its 15th anniversary edition. Its scientific research using mindfulness was the basis for stress reduction clinics in medical centers across the United States. Another popular title is Buddha's Brain by Dr. Rick Hanson.

Other selections can be found by entering mindfulness meditation in the search field.