Mindfulness is, I think, a rather lovely word , pleasant to pronounce and has been in the air more and more the past few years. It begins with the Mmmm sound that is sort of like ommmmm, creating a syllable that is our favorite subject, followed by the word “full”, and who doesn’t like that notion? And it’s finished off with “ness,” a satisfying release of air that indicates “quality of being.” Who could say anything bad about a word like mindfulness?
Well, some people don’t care for fancy words. What it really means is “paying attention.” So, pay attention to this: in order to be mentally healthy, you need to spend a good portion of your day paying attention to every little thing you do and see and engage. My Un-Agoraphobic recovery plan is built on focus and action, and creates many ways for the panic disorder victim to engage in mindful activities.
I advise lots of research and writing, and purposeful activities that require full focus. One of the recovery steps is to learn a new skill that requires all your attention. My healing mindful activity that helped me recover from 30 years of agoraphobia was to teach myself to draw, and then to draw regularly. Learning a musical instrument such as a recorder or penny whistle is another mindful activity that actually builds gray matter in the brain and defuses the flight or fight apparatus. Learning a new language does the same; music is a new language.
The anxiety of traveling outside one’s safety zone can be eliminated by fully engaging with everything in your environment as you travel. Read all the signs, look closely at clothing those around you are wearing, count blue cars and so forth. Take pictures and write about what you see. Getting outside your head and into what is around you will help you recover totally from chronic panic attacks and anxiety.
A recovery plan should also include sitting meditation as the practice is scientifically proven to make positive changes in the brain. Your way, way over-staffed alarm system needs to lay off a few neurons, and the way to do that is to let your amygdala know that you feel safe. If you practice regular activities that give you a calming feeling, the amygdala will get the message and re-assign some soldiers to more peaceful duties. The peace and serenity gained through meditation and meditative activities gives you a safe place to go when anxiety creeps in.
Here’s a link to a brilliant article that de-mystifies and explains “mindfulness” by an expert on the subject: