Are you stressed out? Me, too. As a matter of fact, a recent Gallop poll states that eight in ten Americans are suffering from some form of stress or anxiety. So, obviously we need to find a way to calm our minds. Personally, my first line of defense is CBD oil. It helps to combat my anxiety. I also use meditation. Many folks are skeptical that meditation can be a useful tool, but I can tell you, it works.
Meditation is making a huge comeback as a practical tool for coping with life and nurturing personal growth. In fact, it has become very common to use meditation techniques for stress and anxiety relief. Every person has different reasons for meditating, from relieving stress and lowering anxiety, to minimizing physical pain and improving relationships. No matter the reason, meditation can provide immediate relief. When you were young, remember hearing, “Close your eyes and count to ten”, it is kind of like that.
Relieving Anxiety With Meditation
My mind is a mess. It’s no secret. I have always been a scatterbrained person. Let’s be real. Anxiety is a lot like the needy friend that just won’t leave you alone; constantly wanting your attention, sucking you in and keeping your stress levels up. It never really goes home, it just sticks around, poking at you all day and night. Anxiety can manifest itself in many ways. Anger, depression and even mania.
However, since I have begun meditating to reduce the anxiety of my life, I feel much calmer.
I use a couple different methods and they both work great for me. The first one is just a very simple breathing meditation that I covered in a previous post here.
So, here is another way that I use meditation. Focused Attention Meditation has moved mountains in my life. It brings me back to a center point in my mind, allowing me to pull my energy back to myself instead of my anxiety.
What Is Focused Attention Meditation?
Focused attention meditation is channeling your mind onto something intently to keep yourself in the present moment and turning off all other thoughts. This way of meditation is actually easier to practice than classic meditation where one has to focus on nothing to keep the mind blank. With focused attention meditation, you still remain in the present moment but engage yourself in one thing of choice, whatever be the thing. Anything that can be perceived by human senses can be chosen as the focus in this meditation. The choice of focus could possibly include a sound, an activity like counting beads, filing your nails, etc. or a visual object.
Personally, I use a sound most of the time. I downloaded some meditation music (I’ll include a link at the bottom) and it really works for me. I have used an object in the past. My grandmother left me a vase and I thought it would be good to use. However, all it did was make me think of different memories of her and I couldn’t focus. So, I just stick to the music.
Simple Steps Of Focused Attention Meditation
- Choose a target for focus: The sound of a metronome, a piece of soothing music, the smell of incense, or a pleasing picture are all some popular choices of focus used in focused meditation. You don’t want anything too busy, just something simple.
- Get into an alert and relaxed posture: You should be preferably upright but not rigid, relaxed and with normal breathing. It is always better to close the eyes or direct the gaze downward, so as to gently soften the visual field. You don’t want to notice the dirty hamper out of the corner of your eye. Now you should notice your own body, feet on the ground, the sensation of sitting, the legs and torso making contact with your seat or the ground and also notice the body posture. This step sets the stage for the focused meditation.
- Pay attention to breathing: Focus the attention on the breathing process and experience the sensations of breathing in and breathing out. The breathing should be slow and steady. One can feel the changes happening in the respiratory tract during this exercise and it provides a relaxed feeling. Meanwhile, you should keep track of the mind and thoughts. Find out when the attention gets distracted from the focus. Even if you try hard to focus the attention on your focal point, your mind may wander off many times. If it does, try to find out the reason for the deviation and revert back to the focal point. It is real process. One need not worry about the distraction, which may happen to everyone. After all, its human nature! A little effort and experience sets the tone right and enables you to achieve unwavering focus throughout the meditation session. This is the simplest and most popular method of focused attention meditation. Never worry about failure in practicing the meditation. The art of practicing is actually a huge success. Generally, at the closing of the focused attention meditation, you should be breathing at a moderate rate.
Summary Of Focused Attention Meditation
One very important point of mindfulness is the ability to calm and focus the mind. This is really useful in stress management and helps in balancing the emotions during tense moments. Whatever be the situation, the ability to calm and focus the wandering mind can be always beneficial. Being able to exercise focused attention simply means being able to your attention, becoming aware of the distractions if the mind wanders, and being able to redirect the mind towards the object or thing of focus.
If you can’t do it perfectly for the first time, don’t stress. (That kind of defeats the whole point). If it doesn’t work well for right away, practice will make it better. You must start it with shorter sessions and then elongate it step by step. If this type of meditation is not working for you, then you can try a simple breathing meditation or a relaxation meditation. Keep trying until you find the one that works the best for you.
And, as promised, here is the link to the music I use- Click on the piano