How mindfulness helped to reduce my anxiety

Since discovering mindfulness I haven’t looked back, it has helped me immensely. My anxiety has reduced and I feel like a far more resilient human being.

Jon Kabat-Zinn (the founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programme) describes mindfulness as…

“…paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”

But what does that really mean and what does it entail?

Do you ever feel like you’re merely existing? Drifting through life like a zombie or in a state of mild panic most of the time with endless chatter in your head? Essentially missing the important, beautiful things in life with a look in your eyes that says you’re not really engaged, not fully present?

I have felt that way many times in my life. Feeling like a scrap of myself getting through the day with my amygdala (fight or flight part of the brain) on constant alert ready for attack.

Mindfulness helped me to wake up to the present – actually noticing and truly experiencing what is around me. It has brought me a sense of calm and resilience helping me to cope with stress better.

It is essentially guided meditation with some serious backing by neuroscience.  This is why I am so passionate about it – it is not too ‘fluffy’ or ‘out there’ as some may think! Harvard professors are singing its praises and proving that mindfulness can actually reshape the brain. After an 8 week MBSR course participants’ brains were scanned with key parts increasing in size such as the hippocampus (responsible for learning, memory and emotional regulation) and the temporo-parietal junction (responsible for empathy and compassion). The best bit is the amygdala (emotional regulator – the fight or flight stress response) actually decreased in gray matter. Take a look at Dr Sara Larson on You Tube to find out more.

Before you say to yourself this isn’t for me…

Mindfulness is already sweeping into modern society in many fields. It is on the radar of the NHS, recommended to help with anxiety, mild depression and other common mental health problems and it is coming into education, law, business, sport, politics, technology and government. Some businesses use a form of mindfulness to start their day – a five minute meditation to focus the mind on the company’s true ambition before getting caught up in day to day challenges.

Clearly I am a big advocate of mindfulness as it has changed my life in more ways than I imagined. My relationships are stronger, my parenting is calmer, my outlook on life is more positive, my smile is genuine. I will continue to spread the word about this wonderful healing technique in the hope that others will consider it in the future.