In Part One of the series, I discussed one of three Mindfulness Meditation techniques for managing your stress; and the mechanism of stress. The stress mechanism is the process that occurs when an event is translated into a distress reaction.
I revealed that while most people are aware only of the event and their action or reaction to the event (that they interpret as stress,) in actuality, there is much more going on. In our experience of stress there are other intervening, often unconscious, steps of thought and emotions that come before the action we take, or our physicalresponse to a stressful event.
In this article, I will focus on how the thoughts we think contribute to the experience of stress and how Mindfulness Meditation can help you to manage the thoughts that contribute to your experience of stress.
Mindfulness is the ongoing practice of bringing your focus to the present moment as much as possible throughout your day. It is the practice of awareness of your thoughts, emotions, your body and the surrounding environment.
The key is to practice this awareness without thoughts of judgment or criticism of self, others or situations. To manage your thoughts about your experience you must first be aware of them. Once you are aware of inner negative comments (we all have them), mindfulness meditation practice helps you to let them go and refocus on simply observing what is happening both in your body and around you at the moment.
Mindfulness Meditation Technique #1, described in Part I of this series, teaches you to refocus on your breathing. By refocusing on this simple activity, you begin to free your mind from distractions associated with Past thinking; i.e. thoughts of yesterday, last week, last year, etc., and with Future thinking; i.e. thoughts of what may happen; both negative and positive, especially worry.
Freeing your mind from Past and Future thinking is important because stress originates from fear-based thought patterns that we have been unconsciously conditioned to think. Fear thoughts are learned over our whole lives from those who are closest to us.
Recent studies also point to fetal experiences being formative too. As we were growing in the womb we experience the stress reactions of our mother as our own. If a mother experiences much stress during her pregnancy, chances are the child would have integrated that experience.
Mindfulness Meditation Technique #2:
Throughout your day take multiple 60 second breaks to practice focusing on your thoughts about your environment. Notice everything you can with your 5 senses. Keep your thoughts focused on looking, seeing, hearing, feeling.
What do you see around you? Notice colors, shapes, people, sensations. Notice your thoughts about everything you see. Practice seeing without judging right or wrong.
This practice can be done in a car, at work, at play, with others without interfering with your activities or really anyone else knowing. You are merely shifting your focus. Play this mental game right now.
Focus on the task that you are doing right now in this moment. For example, if you are writing or typing, notice that entire experience. How do your fingers feel as they strike the keys? How do the keys sound as you type? Notice any tension in your body and so on. Stay focused on exactly what you are doing. When you move on to the next task, notice everything about that too.
Mindfulness is a very effective means to experience calm, inner patience and confidence, and to access clarity. However, like other teachings we must become a student and practice daily.
Have you tried this exercise? What is your experience? Please share below.