Stopping helps us to see more clearly how we are engaging with any task, whether we are bringing to it states of worry, frenzy, tension or a quality of calmness and ease. What is important is not so much the task itself but how we are engaging with it. Stopping a few times a day, even for just a few moments, proves to be enormously helpful in mitigating the negative effects of stress.
The immediate key to calming anxiety is to come into an awareness of one’s breath and one’s body, calming the quickened breath and soothing the tightness and contractions felt in the body. While over the longer term, an ongoing mindfulness practice is a very beneficial antidote to anxiety.
The art of mindfulness is really about opening up to the beauty of life both within and around us. When we live our life as if it were a race we miss so much of the beauty of the natural environment. Neuroscientists tell us that in order to really see something we have to spend at least 15 seconds taking it in. Letting ourselves connect to the natural world is deeply soothing to our nervous system.
Awakening Joy doesn’t mean that we look at life through rose tinted lenses. Without glossing over the challenges of life which we are always faced with, we can discover that joy is always here in the present moment if we want it.
Sometimes there is a perception that practicing meditation is quite a self-indulgent thing to do. For many, the thought of carving out even ten minutes to sit and be with their present moment experience “as it is” provokes a feeling of anxiety.
It’s not easy experiencing anxiety about socialising. I had it for many years, and it was tough. All that second guessing about what people might think about me, or are thinking, or were thinking, it’s exhausting! Social anxiety has its roots in a universal and very primal fear – the fear of being rejected by the tribe.