Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Cultivating Well-being: An Antidote to Anxiety

Cultivating Well-being series' third post is focused on worrying and anxiety. I wanted to let you know about a very effective technique that we can all implement. It's deeply related to our innate ability to become aware of our emotions.

Last Tuesday's post was about 5 ideas that are crucial to well-being. One of them was to limit negative thoughts and worrying

But, how do we do that? Easier said than done, right?

Well, it turns out it is not that difficult. The answer? Mindfulness and awareness. What is mindfulness

"..a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique."

It's a simple and powerful tool that all of us can put into practice, that is used to become aware of our emotions. In this case, destructive ones, such as jealousy, anger or anxiety. 

Usually, those who suffer from anxiety, get carried away by negative thoughts and fear which will only lead to more anxiety and worry. 

The best way of dealing with it would be to first, realize what it is that you are feeling: anxiety. Once you recognize this emotion, a complete shift occurs. You become aware of it. This is when a space or distance is created between what you feel and yourself. It's as if you are contemplating the emotion.

This simple change of state has the power, if sustained, to decrease and eventually vanish the damaging emotion.

Matthieu Riccard explains this very clearly when he says that, if you stop adding wood to a fire, it will eventually extinguish. Same thing with the preoccupation that makes you anxious. 

If you look at what you are feeling with the "eye of the Mind", also known as "your consciousness", you become aware. 

Now, you have the power to direct your thoughts. This is the time to guide thoughts to a calmer, more positive state. As Riccard says:"if you are aware of it, you are not [anxious], you are aware of it". 

Apparently, it requires practice and lots of focusing on your breathing! But it can be done. Well-being is a skill that can be learned through practice. 

I thought I would share the good news. Well, actually those who meditate have known this for ever, but only recently, not many years ago, psychology has been incorporating these types of techniques to their practice.

P.S. Cultivating Well-Being #4 (Why Altruism Works For Our Own Good?)

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