I was reading a post about anxiety on another blog recently, and it made me think about this short breathing meditation exercise for anxiety. The reason I thought about the meditation is because the other blog talked about the frustration of not being able to “think” your way out of anxiety. It reminded me that there’s no way to “think” our way out of an anxiety disorder, even when we know our negative thought distortions are irrational.
Anxiety recovery is about doing, practicing, and breathing. It’s about exercising our minds and learning new ways to view and interact with our emotions. And changing the links between our fearful thoughts and our bodies’ responses to those thoughts.
We get lost in anxiety when we are not present in this moment. When we are living regretfully in the past. When we are fearfully projecting ourselves into the future. When we are not in our bodies.
All anxiety, all worry, centers around our fearful thoughts of what “might” happen. We touch on this in the Driving Peace program. Mindfulness, being present NOW, in this moment, is essential to recovering from any sort of anxiety-based problem
Thich Nhat Hanh’s Short Breathing Meditation Exercise for Anxiety
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh (Tick-Not-Hawn) has a very simple breathing meditation exercise for anxiety. I’ve been doing this one for quite some time now, and it’s amazing how much relief I’ve gotten from this very simple practice. I suggest doing this for one minute anytime you’re feeling anxious or panicky.
Sit comfortably. Close your eyes if possible. Gently focus your attention on your breathing. Don’t worry about deepening or controlling it in any way…just notice.
As your breathe in, say to yourself “I am breathing in.”
As you breathe out, say to yourself “I am breathing out.”
Continue for one minute.
The effects are cumulative, so the more often you do it, the faster your overall level of calm increases.
That’s it. It’s incredibly simple, but this breathing meditation exercise brings you back into the present moment. All solutions, all happiness and all peace can only be found in the present moment.
It’s the only place where life is actually happening.