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Mindfulness Meditation for Stress Awareness: Practical Self-Transformation

A colorful butterfly perched on a flower with its wings spread


April is Stress Awareness Month and the beginning of Spring, which makes it a great time to adopt a simple new mindfulness meditation practice.


to the present using an open and accepting attitude. This is how we learn a little more about ourselves and the internal stories and behaviors that shape our personality and our choices. We can learn about our triggers, especially what makes us feel stress and anxiety— whether it’s an environment, a person's energy, a worrisome thought about the future, a physical ailment, or just a wandering thought. And it only takes a brief moment of tuning back into ourselves.


Mindful awareness of stress responses can be cultivated through practices like mindfulness meditation exercises, mindful breathing, or mindful movement like yoga asana, mindful walking/ hiking, making art, or practicing mindful communication. Any of these practices can help get better at positioning your attention in the here and now, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future (which as a talk about in my classes, can both be good things if we are doing very conscious and intentional past/ future work, but not so good things if we’re just leaning into a subconscious pattern or escape mode).


An incredible thing about mindfulness practices is that often just by becoming more aware of our body and breath, or our thoughts and responses, we immediately become more relaxed and experience the benefits of feeling more relaxed. For example, you may notice during a mindful body scan exercise that you’re feeling lower back pain. When you can detach for a moment from judging that discomfort you may find an awareness connecting that physical pain to an argument you had recently, or a worry about money for example. You may also just know that you have always had back issues and that the issues themselves cause you stress. Whatever the case, when you let go of needing an answer or needing something to shift, it sometimes changes on its own.


When we notice our stress and anxiety and can allow ourselves to rest in what is, while still honoring ourselves with kindness and self love, we can often feel our stress melting away, or becoming less intense or rigid. We may sleep better that night, or feel less pain in our body, or have more creative, inspired ideas, or become more open in our relations or willing to give our energy to helping others. Our energy becomes less blocked by chronic stress, or the experience of our stress.



Here are some things that happen when practicing a simple mindfulness meditation that help with stress awareness (and resolution): 


  1. Increased Present Moment Awareness: Mindfulness practices help us to tune into our current experience without judgment. Heightened awareness lets us recognize the signs of stress and anxiety as they arise in real-time.

  2. Observing Patterns: Through mindfulness meditation, we can observe recurring patterns in our thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations, including those related to stress and anxiety. This observation helps us identify triggers and develop strategies for better managing our reactions.

  3. Creating Space: Meditation cultivates a mental space between stressful stimuli, enabling us to observe our internal responses without immediately reacting. This space empowers us to choose how to respond rather than being swept away by our emotions.

  4. Body Awareness: Mindfulness practices often include body scan meditations, which increase awareness of physical sensations. This heightened bodily awareness helps us recognize the physical manifestations of stress and anxiety, such as muscle tension or shallow breathing. Some patterns of muscle tension are purely responses to perceived anxiety or threats in our outer environment, while some are longer held responses and adaptation methods shaped by our past experiences.

  5. Breath Awareness: Becoming aware of our breath encourages us to realize its patterns, and how intricately related to our stress they may be. How deep or shallow our breaths are, how free-flowing or limited our capacity for air is, whether we stop breathing or hold the breath during stressful thoughts or worries, and if there are any particular places in the body that can feel more open and free when we breathe consciously— all of these notions and more help inform us of the deep relationship between our nervous system and our breathing.




By focusing on these aspects of a mindfulness meditation practice, we can develop better, mindful stress awareness and a deeper understanding of underlying anxieties or fears. We can then decide to make small, conscious shifts in our self-talk and our daily habits so that we start to cope in healthier ways.

Even if you have only 5 minutes a day to dedicate to self care, you can make solid steps forward by using a technique that you resonate with. We might even get inspired to make bigger changes in our lives so we can begin to experience more peace and ease, more of the time.


Sounds good right?

Now is always the best time to get started. Join me on Sunday at 10am ET for our Free Meditation Series and the basics of mindfulness and learn some of the practices that lead to awakened living. Sign up here and I’ll see you soon!



 
Jessica Crow, founder of CNTRD Wellness and CNTRD Meditation sitting in Carroll Hall Gardens in Brooklyn NY

Jessica Crow is the founder of

CNTRD Wellness and CNTRD Meditation.

She helps people harness the power of meditation and mindfulness to change their lives and the lives of others through practical classes and courses for the everyday practitioner and budding meditation teachers.

Follow her on Insight Timer to listen to free guided meditations and attend free classes.


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