Mindfulness Training for Health and Wellbeing

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Consider this…if you are experiencing anxiety…and you would like some information about what action might be appropriate….I suggest watching the Age of Anxiety, a documentary by the CBC on Doc Zone.

The documentary outlines how anxiety is being defined and redefined by the pharmaceutical industry and how “pills” are commonly prescribed as an effective solution.

One valuable insight you might gain is just how prevalent the experience of anxiety is in our society.  It suggests that it may be one of the biggest health challenge commonly reported around the world.

You are not alone!  This fact on its own can help reduce the already heightened unease and agitation that you may be experiencing.

In the program I offer, called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, there is always a lot interest and questions with respect to the application of mindfulness and the experience of anxiety.  These are some of the comments that I make that are drawn from the work of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer in exploring the mindfulness as a resource for stress.  Interestingly enough, at the end of the documentary, mindfulness is mentioned briefly as an alternative to the medication route.

I refer to anxiety as a state of insecurity experienced both physically and psychologically that can be triggered by almost anything.  Sometimes there can be a specific cause while, at other times, there may be no obvious apparent source.

Regardless, the experience of anxiety is often experienced as very uncomfortable and it will often cause one to look for ways to cope. Sometimes the choices made are maladaptive.  In the short run, they will bring temporary relief of the symptoms, however, in the long run, greater problems may surface related to these choices.

One way of understanding the experience of anxiety is that is consists of a variety of body sensations, thoughts, and emotions in varying combinations.  The practice of mindfulness suggests that one can learn how to work with these symptoms by changing the way one perceives them and changing our reaction to them.  Through the practice of mindfulness one develops and gets to know a stable inner core. With persistence and effort, the capacity for mindfulness becomes more powerful than any anxiety state.

Mindfulness takes the view that the symptoms of anxiety will come and go.  When they arise, the suggestion is to observe them from a place of calmness and stability and then to decide what action needs to be taken, if anything.  Sometimes, the wisest action is to bring tolerance, patience, and equanimity to the experience and to accept the discomfort, for the time being.  In time, one can explore the source of the discomfort.  Kabat-Zinn suggest suggests that the source of discomfort may be related to a sense of dissatisfaction with the present and a sense of wanting something more to happen in order to feel more complete and/or happy.  He points out that there is often an underlying assumption present…..you are not getting what you want and you need to be able to get what you want in order to be content.

Try it out for yourself.  Start to develop a capacity for mindfulness and investigate whether these ideas shed any light on the experience of anxiety.