Try This Simple Exercise When You Feel Stress Take Over

A small moment of meditation can help you sit with what's bothering you, and address the source of your anxiety.

GaudiLab / Shutterstock
GaudiLab / Shutterstock

Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.

—Jon Kabat-Zinn

Many times we have the habit of ignoring unpleasant situations or problems stewing inside us. Perhaps we get busy doing something to escape: watch T.V., shopping, clean house, or surf Facebook. Avoidance takes us out of our awareness to smudge the flames of unpleasantness and brings temporary relief, but it doesn’t fix the unrest for the long term. Taking us away from the present moment, it eclipses clear-mindedness and self-understanding. But when we deliberately pay attention to the inner unpleasantness and sit with it in nonjudgmental awareness, it’s a game changer.

As an experiment, think of a dissatisfaction that pops up regularly or one that has stuck with you lately. Go inward, welcome the feeling, then sit with the feeling in the present moment just as you might provide bedside company for a sick friend. Get to know this part of you with as much compassion as you can. Don’t try to get rid of or fix it. Simply be present to the dissatisfaction with as much awareness as possible. Every time a thought or body sensation pulls you away gently bring your attention back to it again. After a while, don’t be surprised if the bothersome feeling isn’t as bad as before.

Today’s Takeaway

Sit without judging or avoiding bothersome thoughts or feelings, letting loving-kindness cultivate clarity of mind, greater insight, and solid solutions to the problem.

Excerpt from Daily Writing Resilience by Bryan E. Robinson, PhD, with permission from the author and publisher.

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