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Unwinding Anxiety – Part One

By Cawood Fitzhugh

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”  - Alan Watts

What is mindfulness training?

Mindfulness training is practicing how to operate in present moment awareness intentionally and non-judgmentally.  In our current societal state of being driven by distraction, this has become a lost art.  Consciously or unconsciously, we tend to choose to distract our attention away from whatever- usually something uncomfortable to something more comfortable.  Those cute little puppy videos, Tic Tok, Instagram or our cell phones are good at this. It’s so automatic, we aren’t even aware of it.

There are endless “feeds” today in which to spend our time and attention. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with these feeds, they can impact our lives in some unknowingly adverse ways by increasing anxiety.  Take a few moments reflecting on how many feeds you find yourself spending your time pursuing.  Here are just a few examples of our daily “feeds”. 

     -          Repetitive unnecessary email checking feeds?

-         Continuous news feeds?

-         Repetitive social media feeds?

-         Continuous music feeds- at our desk or in stores to distract us from what is really   bugging us at work to buying more at a store? 

-         TVs feeds- binge watching -one program goes directly into another for better     ratings, hooking you to stay on the couch until way past your bedtime. 

-         When not necessary, repetitive Epic check of my lab feeds?

-         Stress eating feeds- eating mindlessly and too quickly in front of a computer or     when binge watching late night TV?,

-         Alcohol feeds- how else to unwind the anxiety exacerbated from all the other   feeds?

With these feeds, where are you placing your attention and what are you really getting?  Are these feeds serving you or, by pulling the attention away, moving you farther from your goals? Mindfulness training is about showing up to our own present moment. 

When we do strength training, we are making the muscles stronger. When we practice mindfulness, we are training our minds.  The neuroscience research finds that even small moments of mindfulness, many times a day, can change the brain. The research behind this demonstrates that mindfulness practice can reduce stress and anxiety.  It also can help with emotional eating, and help change our mindless habits.

Learning to be more present in our daily lives can help us tease out for ourselves, “Is this behavior helping me or hindering achieving my goals?”  Am I drinking more caffeine daily because of staying up too late and need it now to feel awake?  Then there’s the domino effect: is the additional caffeine increasing feelings of anxiousness, blood pressure or rapid heart rate, contributing to an irritable bowel scenario, increased crankiness, or irritability?  Is my worrying about this now interfering with my sleep?

Take a few moments noting what is “feeding” you today?  Ask yourself “Is it bringing me closer to my goals?  What am I really getting?”  Then check in with the body on how you are feeling- Relaxed? Anxious? Tired? Content?  Take a brief moment to do a mindfulness practice- noticing the physical sensations of these feeds as you engage in them.  Where do you feel them most in your body? Head? Chest? Belly? Hands?  What does this feel like inside? Then take a deep breath in and let it out.

Next month, we will begin to address anxiety and how we can begin to unwind it in ourselves.


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News and Notes    More

News and Notes

New Unwinding Anxiety Course to Be Offered Starting in January Monday, January 16 - February 20, 5:30 pm- 7 pm This 6-week, 90-minute Zoom class taught by Cawood Fitzhugh focuses on mindfulness practices, which support skillful responding to stressful challenges of everyday life.  Participants will learn how to identify the habits around anxiety and begin to unwind the unhelpful automatic ones. The practices learned will help to foster resilience, well-being, and social connection through more kindness and compassion and understanding how the brain works and the neuroscience behind it. [Read more]

News and Notes

The Mindfulness Center Will Be Offering a Holiday Pause Every Monday in December December 5,12,19,26 from 5:30 pm - 6:15pm Need a little reset?  Treat yourself to a pause for 45 minutes to sit, reflect, connect and replenish during this Holiday season.  Join us together for a "drop-in" guided meditation and discussion.  Just drop in any Monday afternoon.  Free.  Registration is required. You can register in advance for the Pause at: After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. [Read more]

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