Mindfulness Exercises For Anxiety & Stress

Reduce anxiety, stress, depression, trauma and chronic pain with these free mindfulness exercises, guided meditations, mindfulness worksheets and more.

facing challenges by others

Facing Challenges By Others

To begin this Mindfulness Exercise on Facing Challenges, please bring kind awareness to- why you chose this topic- how your ...
Read More
Guided Spoken Visualization

You Are Magnificent: Guided Spoken Visualization

You Are Magnificent: Guided Spoken Visualization is a piece of music and guided meditations to help you live in the ...
Read More
Verbal Aikido How To Respond To Unreasonable Challenges

Verbal Aikido: How To Respond To Unreasonable Challenges

Resolve conflicts through the lens of Verbal Aikido to identify how you can listen with intent, respond with humility, and ...
Read More
When Not To Listen to Your Employees

When Not To Listen to Your Employees

The workplace should be a good environment to grow into, and working with your employees could make it seem difficult ...
Read More
Giving Yourself Care Through Physical Touch

Giving Yourself Care Through Physical Touch

Giving yourself care through physical touch is a guided meditation script that promotes self-love and compassion. Hands can give comfort ...
Read More
Making an Effective Request

Making an Effective Request

Sometimes, it may prove difficult to request from people in your workplace. Learn how to make an effective request to ...
Read More
Lesson from Nature

Body Healing (Binaural Beat)

Binaural Beat for Body Healing. Binaural beats are auditory illusion perceived by the brain when two different tones are played ...
Read More
Leaders Turn Anxiety Into Confidence [Video]

Leaders Turn Anxiety Into Confidence [Video]

People follow a true leader, who then turns the team's anxiety into confidence. A true leader also empowers the team ...
Read More
Practice Guided by Wisdom [Audio]

Practice Guided by Wisdom [Audio]

Kittisaro says an important principle of practice, which could be called agility or tuning. Tuning, as the practice matures, it’s ...
Read More
Resolve Conflicts as One Team [Video]

Resolve Conflicts as One Team [Video]

It can be quite challenging to maintain a team and resolve conflicts as one unit. Watch this video and learn ...
Read More
Dharmette by Gil Fronsdal

Dharmette: Clear Seeing

Gil Fronsdal leads a Guided Meditation Dharmette: Clear Seeing. Sometimes the word "Vipassana" is translated as Clear Seeing. The "passana" ...
Read More
The End Of Suffering

The End Of Suffering

A video on end of suffering as viewed in the perspective of David Pearce, a Genomic Bodhisatva. Can we end ...
Read More
Identifying Personal Values

Identifying Personal Values

Can you identify your core values? Are you living your life in accordance with them? This mindfulness exercise will help ...
Read More
Gil Fronsdal

Pausing

Gil Fronsdal leads a Guided Meditation Pausing. To practice generosity to the people you're with and if you're alone to ...
Read More
Journaling

Mindful Journaling

This Journaling Mindfulness Exercise will guide you on how to reflect on some of the wonderful things that you are ...
Read More
finding your way out of the three fears

Finding Your Way Out of the Three Fears

To begin this Mindfulness Exercise on the 3 Fears, please bring kind awareness to- why you chose this topic- how ...
Read More
Does Willpower Play In Awakening?

What Part Does Willpower Play In Awakening?

Little to no part; instead, surrender to the moment.Instance 150Guided AudioMeditations Effective for reducing stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia.$48 Download ...
Read More
Martin Aylward

Sex, Survival and Social Drives [Audio]

A talk on sex, survival and social drives by Martin Aylward:I’m giving you a very consistent attention, or we’re endeavoring to ...
Read More
Lesson from Nature

Overcome Addiction (Binaural Beat)

Binaural Beat to Overcome Addiction. Binaural beats are auditory illusion perceived by the brain when two different tones are played ...
Read More
Never Negotiate Without a Safety Net [Video]

Never Negotiate Without a Safety Net [Video]

BATNA is of great help with organizational deals and mediations. Learn more about it and how you can discover and ...
Read More
what defeats you

What Defeats You

To begin this Mindfulness Exercise on What Defeats You, please bring kind awareness to- why you chose this topic- how your ...
Read More
Dealing with Death - Alan Watts, Jason Silva

Dealing with Death

The reason we die is to give us the opportunity to understand what life is all about. The process of ...
Read More
Mindfulness For Anxiety: Mind full vs mindful

Mindfulness For Anxiety: Mind full vs mindful

Picture yourself walking through the park on a beautiful spring afternoon.  The sun is peaking through a cluster of trees ...
Read More
tracking your insights

Tracking Your Insights

Do you know, how mindfulness exercises help you to track your insights? Explore the best mindfulness practices to learn more ...
Read More
Minfulness

Buddhism & The 12 Steps [Audio]

Buddhism & 12 Steps Weekly class series, by Kevin Griffin:Just to let you guys know, I’ll ___ this later, but ...
Read More
Nature of Awareness

Trust

James Baraz talks about trust in relation to self-discovery. And how it relates to believing, and how it facilitates the ...
Read More
Nature of Awareness

Sacred Fertilizer

Sacred Fertilizer- sometimes we need a powerful dose of challenges, tribulations, crisis such as loss of loved ones or unbearable ...
Read More
Let Go of What Doesn’t Serve You

Let Go of What Doesn’t Serve You

Rediscover yourself through Qoya, let go of what you craved, hoped or planned and get ready to experience the life ...
Read More
Guided Meditation On Forgiveness

Guided Meditation on Forgiveness [Audio]

Forgiving doesn’t mean we don’t take care. It’s a movement of our own heart to re-open to life. That we ...
Read More
Guided Mindfulness Meditation on Joy [Video]

Guided Mindfulness Meditation on Joy [Video]

Guided Mindfulness Meditation on Joy. Feel the joy within you & the space you’re in and the ones you love ...
Read More
Relax the eyes

Relax the Eyes

Gil Fronsdal talks about Relaxing the Eyes. One of the important aspects of meditation is to have a relaxed mind ...
Read More
Mindfulness exercise

Connection to Life

Guy Armstrong talks about connection to life. How the ego puts us into differentiating ourselves making us less connected to ...
Read More
Three Mindfulness Exercises for Anger

Three Mindfulness Exercises for Anger

Anger is perhaps the oldest and most primitive emotion. Anger is easy to recognize in others, but not always in ...
Read More
mindfulness exercises guided meditation 2

Tranquil Guided Meditation

Ajahn Sumedho leads a tranquil guided meditation about Samadhi which is an intense concentration that increases awareness and mindfulness and ...
Read More
Restoring Confidence When Negatively Impacted

Restoring Confidence When Negatively Impacted

Restoring Confidence When Negatively Impacted. Trauma & deep internal challenges can leave its mark on confidence. This can help restore ...
Read More
Calming Mindfulness Meditation Before Sleeping

Calming Mindfulness Meditation Before Sleeping

Listen to this short mindfulness meditation by Jason Stephenson, followed by 45 minutes of peaceful sleep music to help you ...
Read More
Gil Fronsdal

Guided Forgiveness

Gil Fronsdal leads a Guided Forgiveness meditation. In preparation for a Loving-kindness practice is a practice of forgiveness. Forgiving is ...
Read More
Serenity: A Guided Meditation

Serenity: A Guided Meditation

Jack Kornfield leads Serenity: A Guided Meditation. First, orienting the participants on spirt rock's programs. This meditation is best for ...
Read More
Nature of Awareness, Big Mind Guided Meditation, Loving Humanity, seven factors of awakening

Hatred Never Ceases by Hatred

Hatred does not cease from hatred; hatred ceases by love alone. This is an ancient and eternal law. James Baraz ...
Read More
Nature of Awareness

Sex, Violence And The State Of Grace

Ajahn Amaro explains about spiritual discipline in fighting addiction. How sex, violence and the state of grace are intricately related ...
Read More
The Camel Knows The Way: Reflections on Faith

The Camel Knows The Way: Reflections On Faith

Spring Washam talks about reflections on faith through the story of The Camel Knows The Way. The talk about faith ...
Read More
Beginning Our Day

Beginning Our Day, Volume 2

Find out how mindfulness can help you reflect on your reactions to unpleasant feelings, and to identify your habits and ...
Read More
snow globe exercise for kids

Snow Globe Exercise for Kids

To begin this Mindfulness Exercise on an Exercise for Kids, please bring kind awareness to- why you chose this topic- how ...
Read More
gaining strength by taking initiative

Gaining Strength by Taking Initiative

To begin this Mindfulness Exercise on Taking Initiative, please bring kind awareness to- why you chose this topic- how your belly, ...
Read More
7 Mindfulness Exercises for Relaxation

7 Mindfulness Exercises for Relaxation

7 Mindfulness Exercises for Relaxation. Exploring a variety of mindfulness exercises for relaxation can help us to truly feel what ...
Read More

Anxiety and Stress Reduction Through Mindfulness Practice

The Prevalence of Anxiety and Stress in Modern Times

The sources of stress in modern day life are seemingly infinite. From small everyday situations to major life events, it can feel as if there is no escaping the constant pressure of the world around us. Since the dawn of the digital age, a time when it was believed that computers would make our lives easier, life has, in fact, become busier. Perpetual distractions live just a click away, making it challenging for us to find stillness and a sense of inner peace. Even when we are doing seemingly nothing, we are still doing something – surfing the web, making appointments, and taking care of all sorts of business. There is plenty of action in our lives and very little meaningful restoration.

Along with this persistent experience of stress has come the prevalence of anxiety. While the two terms are often used interchangeably, there is in fact a subtle difference.

Stress is what arises when an interrupting factor enters the picture, upsetting the normal balance of ones life. It is the body’s response – physical, mental, and/or emotional – to any uprising that requires some type of change or action. It can be acute, being a response to a single circumstance, or chronic, being a response to prolonged pressure. These days, the chronic variety of stress is on the rise.

The signs of stress vary from individual to individual, including but not limited to:

  • Physical signs – chest pain, headache, sweating, increased heart rate, fatigue, upset stomach, digestive issues, and sleep disturbance
  • Emotional signs – anxiety, lack of motivation, irritability, depression, emotional withdrawal, and feelings of overwhelm
  • Behavioral signs – changes in appetite, substance use or abuse, overuse of technology, increased emotional upset, and poor communication leading to relational struggles

Anxiety, on the other hand is the experience of fear, nervousness, or apprehension. It is often the result of stress. It can be mild or severe, varying in the impact and control it has over ones life. Often, it is not clear what has triggered the anxious feelings, but the experience is strongly felt nonetheless. Sometimes, this lack of understanding the cause perpetuates the feelings.

There are numerous signs that point towards anxiety, including but not limited to:

  • Feelings of nervousness, fear, or worry
  • Feelings of panic or impending doom
  • Difficulty concentrating on the present moment
  • Fixation on or rumination over the past or future
  • Feelings of agitation or irritability
  • Difficulty regulating emotion
  • Difficulty falling asleep, or waking in the middle of the night with a racing mind
  • Withdrawal from support systems or the outside world at large
  • Physical symptoms of stress (i.e. digestive issues, sweating, and fatigue)

Both of these experiences, and the collection of symptoms they nurture, are widespread in our modern day cultures. While there may be numerous approaches to handling stress and anxiety, mindfulness practice is often the most undervalued and infrequently practiced remedy of them all. However, the use of mindfulness is growing as many of us are looking to get right to the root of our experience. As we become familiar with the ways that mindfulness can help us to manage our experiences of anxiety and stress, we find ourselves inspired to practice (and perhaps even come to teach) these invaluable skills.

How Mindfulness Helps to Manage Anxiety and Stress

When stress and anxiety arise within the body and mind, mindfulness techniques can help to reduce the perceived control that these responses hold over our thoughts and our actions. By drawing our awareness back to the present moment while maintaining compassion and curiosity towards our experience, we begin to disentangle the thoughts that bind us to our perception of whatever has arisen. Mindfulness techniques empower us to take a closer look at the present moment, disempowering our experience of fear at the same time.

Mindfulness as it applies to stress reduction has been well researched and well respected since the late seventies. In 1979, Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR) at the University of Massachussets Medical Center. As a complementary approach to traditional medical treatments, the eight-week program helps to address a variety of conditions, including but not limited to:

  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Grief and depression
  • Digestive distress
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic illness and pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Sleep issues

One related study aimed to examine the effects of an 8-week mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction course. Results showed that the program significantly reduced stress-related psychological symptoms and increased participants’ sense of control over their lives. It was concluded that mindfulness meditation techniques could be a powerful coping strategy, holding power to transform the way that we respond to life stressors. Another body of research discovered that MBSR training has the potential to reduce emotional reactivity in individuals with social anxiety disorder, while also promoting emotional regulation.

The Role of the Breath

In many mindfulness techniques, the breath plays a central role. As a continual stream of life force flowing into and out of the body, the breath acts as an anchor to help root us more deeply into the present moment. As we come into the present, the mind softens and our attachment to anxious thoughts subsides.

When we find ourselves up against a stressor, whether real or perceived, the body engages its fight-or-flight response. The sympathetic nervous system kicks in, releasing a variety of stress hormones to combat whatever we are up against. The heart speeds up, the digestive system slows, perspiration begins, and the breath becomes shallow. While all of these responses are natural defensive mechanisms of the body, they do not serve us in times when the stress lives predominantly in our minds – in those quiet hours of rumination, worry, and fear.

As we become more mindful of the body, specifically in moments of mental stress, we start to observe these physiological reactions. When we notice them, we are in a better position to counteract them. One way to overcome the fight-or-flight response is to consciously observe the breath and to then guide it deeper into the belly. This is known as diaphragmatic breathing, a technique that initiates the relaxation response.

This response, a term coined by Dr. Herbert Benson that helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, helps to:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Slow the heart rate
  • Improve digestion
  • Release anxiety and depression
  • Ease mental chatter
  • Harness one’s capacity for focus and clarity
  • Relax the body’s muscles
  • Restore hormonal balance
  • Improve circulation

All of these physiological movements work to restore our sense of balance, in both body and mind. It can be said then that our breath is a powerful tool for alleviating stress and anxiety. In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh:

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.”

Mindfulness Techniques to Reduce Anxiety and Stress

There are numerous techniques we can start practicing in order to help alleviate the stress and anxiety that is present in our lives. The three following exercises can be explored to help better understand these challenging feelings and to help overcome them. There are also a multitude of online resources available to help assist with this discovery. In any moment, choose which approach or recording feels right for you.

For these practices, come into a comfortable seated position with your back straight. You may sit on the floor, on a cushion, or in a straight-backed chair – whichever position best suits your present needs. Relax your shoulders and rest your hands on your thighs or in your lap. Gently close your eyes.   

Observing Your Thoughts

  • Take a few breaths to ground yourself into the present moment, observing any sensations as you inhale and as you exhale.
  • Continue to breathe mindfully as you expand your awareness to note the surface beneath you and the air around you. Without judgment, simply become aware of what you observe, using your senses to draw your mind into the body.
  • As thoughts arise, begin to view them as if you are an outside observer. There is no need to condemn or criticize your thoughts; simply open your awareness to them, detaching yourself from the stories they attempt to weave.
  • Whenever a thought arises, observe what is moving by noting its associated action. For instance, you might note, “planning,” “thinking,” “fearing,” or “rejecting.” Keep these notes action-based, refraining from attaching any sense of the I-self to them
  • Notice the body and mind beginning to relax as you practice. Continue this for as long as is necessary to bring yourself into a greater sense of peace and comfort.

Mindful Breathing

  • Draw your awareness to your breath, beginning to observe its present depth, rhythm, and flow. Do not try to change it in anyway; simply observe the way it moves and any way that it might change as you focus on it.
  • You may notice that the breath naturally deepens within a minute or two. If it remains shallow, shift your attention to your belly, observing its rise and fall. Notice if the breath moves alongside this shift in attention, filling your lungs to their full capacity and pushing into your abdomen.
  • Allow the chest space to soften, opening a little bit wider if the deepening process proves challenging. In any case, continue to focus on your breathing, allowing it to bring your attention away from your thoughts and into the life force that nourishes your body.
  • Continue to breathe mindfully for a minimum of five to ten minutes.

Sound Meditation

  • Explore the power of sound by listening to an online audio recording designed for meditation, such as a binaural beats track. These tracks are best listened to through headphones.
  • Come to a comfortable position, perhaps lying down in this case for maximum relaxation. Press play and draw your awareness to your breath for a minute or two to ground yourself.
  • Continue to breathe mindfully as you open up your sense of sound. Open your heart and mind to the transformative power of this form of music.
  • Listen for 20 to 30 minutes, allowing sound to be your primary focus for this meditation.

Try Our Free 100-Day Mindfulness Challenge

Free Mindfulness Exercises Delivered Each Day

Receive daily mindfulness meditations, worksheets and infographics to help you start each day mindful.

>
mindfulness exercises