Using mindfulness for PTSD may be a good way of coping. Mindfulness has been around for ages. However, mental health professionals are beginning to recognize that mindfulness can have many benefits for people suffering from difficulties such as anxiety and depression.
In a nutshell, mindfulness is about being completely in-touch with the present moment. So often in our lives, we are stuck in our heads, caught up in the anxiety and worries of daily life.
This exercise will introduce you to mindfulness and may be helpful getting you “out of your head” and in touch with the present moment.
Time Required: 10 minutes
- Find a comfortable position either lying on your back or sitting. If you are sitting down, make sure that you keep your back straight and release the tension in your shoulders. Let them drop.
- Close your eyes.
- Focus your attention on your breathing. Simply pay attention to what it feels like in your body to slowly breathe in and out.
- Now bring your attention to your belly. Feel your belly rise and expand everytime you breathe in. Feel your belly fall everytime you breathe out.
- Continue to focus your attention on the full experience of breathing. Immerse yourself completely in this experience. Imagine you are “riding the waves” of your own breathing.
- Anytime that you notice your mind has wandered away from your breath (it likely will and this is completely normal!), simply notice what it was that took your attention away and then gently bring your attention back to the present moment – your breathing.
- Continue as long as you would like!
- Before you try this exercise, it may be useful to first simply practice breathing. This may sound silly, but many people don’t breathe properly, which can fuel stress and anxiety.
- Make this a habit. Practice this exercise at least once a day.
- At first, it may be important to practice this exercise at times when you are not overly stressed-out or anxious. When you were first learning to drive a car, you likely didn’t start out on the highway during a thunderstorm. The same goes for mindfulness.
- Remember, it is normal for your mind to wander during this exercise. That’s what it does. Don’t get discouraged. Instead, at times like this, it may be useful to think of mindfulness in this way: If your mind wanders away from the breath a thousand times, mindfulness is about bringing your attention back to the present moment a thousand and one times.