Mindfulness first aid for anxiety
1. Opening up to the senses in the moment
Being in the moment is all very well, but when we are anxious most of us really want to be in another moment all together – a moment when we are not anxious. Also, our attention can get high-jacked by the intense body sensations and thoughts that are racing by. So it is good to open up to all the quite neutral things going on in the environment - to settle in the moment.
- Take a moment to really look around and orient to your immediate surroundings. This brings us into the present moment and helps the brain and nervous system feel a bit safer. It may provide the info that “I am safe right now.”
- Notice three shades of blue.
- Notice three bits of nature.
- Notice three things made out of plastic.
- Taking a moment to be in touch with the activity of seeing, even getting a bit curious about the light, the shapes, the colours that are in front of you.
- Taking a moment to really open your ears. Slowing down to really take in the sounds that are arising and falling away each moment.
- Check out sounds that are rhythmical in the environment.
- Any that are random?
- Notice three sounds from far away.
- Three sounds from nearby.
- What sounds really attract you? Which ones are unpleasant?
- Listen to see if there are any bird sounds here, now.
2.Exploring the sensations in the body
This can feel counter-intuitive as often when we are feeling anxiety, we already feel overwhelmed by the horrible sensations and we want to avoid them. But follow this two-step process and see what happens.
ONE - Firstly, bring attention to the lower part of the body – the feet, legs and pelvis. You will probably notice that you discover some sensations here feels relatively calm, supported and open. Really drop into sensing any sensations that feel relatively neutral or even a little bit pleasant here. Deliberately choose to get curious and place your attention in any place of relative ease, calm and rest. Notice if this effects how you are feeling emotionally.
TWO - Then bring attention to the part where you are feeling those uncomfortable sensations. You will probably feel these in the belly, chest, throat and face. As best you can, bring some curiosity to them exactly - in the chest is it heavy or light, are the sensations moving (pulsing, tingling, throbbing) or still, are they dense or vague, and are they hot or cool? Tyr to observe with the ind of a scientist…with precision, openness and curiosity.
3.Checking out the thoughts
Now check out the thoughts. No need to go into battle with them. When you notice thinking, notice what you are thinking. Thoughts can feel compelling but step back and check them out. You might even use this phrase to get some distance from them: “I am having the believed thought that ………….”
And then deliberately come back to feeling the lower half of your body.