by clicking the "Next" arrow.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Mindful : December 2014
with it. We see that our thoughts, emo- tions, and physical sensations come and go like bubbles in a pot of boiling water. “This helps to calm our a nxious, wild mind while increasing our capacity to be present with the truth of our life in just this moment, whatever that may be,” says Lipp. “Our body, with all its senses, tells us everything we need to know.” Many are feverishly taking notes when she asks us to please put away our notebooks. “I want you to experience what it feels like to pause, not write about it.” Throughout the day, Lipp and Zim- merma n lead us through guided medi- tations, and we break into small groups. Martha, a woman in my group, says she hopes the workshop will help her become more conscious—unlike her mother. “I think anxiety is in my wiring,” she adds. “There’s a rag ing battle between my primitive brain and my prefrontal cortex.” Leslie confides that whenever a strong emotion comes up, her knee-jerk reaction is to push it away. “This is not working for me,” she says. For each of us, I think, hearing each other ’s stories helps break down the isolation we feel inside the cages of our own fear. It’s no accident that Lipp is leading this workshop. About ten years ago she was asked by her meditation teacher to help others deal with depression. “ I saw that lurking beneath depression is anxiety,” she tells me over lunch a few weeks before the workshop. In fact, she doesn’t like either label. “The words anxiety a nd depression aren’t helpful. They just give a name to transient mood cushion, Brach recommends alternating short periods of sitting meditation with mindful movement—combining stretch- ing or yoga and walking. Sometimes, it suffices simply to pause and take five deep breaths, expanding the inbreath and slowing the outbreath—a technique that helps me during 2 a.m . flopsweats. Brach also urges practicing with others. “ We frequently frame meditation practice as a solo thing, but what’s true in practice, as in life, is that we’re interde- pendent,” she says. “Often the best way to soothe our ner vous system is with others. When we practice mindfulness in a g roup, we see that most people feel anxious to some degree. We see that anx- iety is not just our personal pathology, it’s part of being human.” It’s for this reason—practicing with others—that I sig n up for a daylong workshop: “Mindfulness a nd Anxiety” at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woo- dacre, CA. There are about 200 of us, from 20-somethings to 70-somethings, with most people falling somewhere in between. The crowd looks as ordinary as an audience at the local multiplex. Yet, when Lee Lipp, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and meditation teacher who is co-lead- ing the workshop with David Zimmer- man, a Zen priest, asks participants to describe in one word why they’ve come, the answers illuminate every nuance of anxiety: “Nervous. Fearful. Stressed. Disassociated. Overwhelmed. Unsettled. Unsafe. Agitated. Worried. Uneasy. Inse- cure. Unlovable...” The list goes on. “Mostly we don’t tell each other or ourselves what ’s happening, but in here we can say what our experience is really like,” says Lipp. The sense of relief that ripples through the room is palpable. “Anxiety is not our fault, it’s the consequence of causes a nd conditions in our lives,” she explains. “How we relate to anxiety is what matters. It can lead to more suffering or become an opportu- nity to free ourselves from suffering. By familiarizing ourselves with the habit patterns of our minds and bodies, we interrupt our reactivity and over time it starts to lessen.” In other words, when we pause to obser ve the actual process of our life moment to moment, as opposed to spinning around inside our thoughts like a hamster trapped in a wheel, we create a tiny gap in our awareness that allows us to notice and name what’s hap- pening instead of completely identifying states.” Mood states that Lipp beca me all too familiar with in childhood, given her absent father and a mother diagnosed as pa ranoid-schizophrenic. “There was no one to take care of me. I was worried all the time. But at a certain point it became counterproductive to tell my story over and over,” she says. “Mindfulness prac- tice has helped me untangle my story and discern the thoughts that have perpetu- ated it. When we become really quiet and settled, even the story itself falls away.” Value of therapy There are times, though, when digging through the contents of our story may be necessar y. Talk therapy or some form of body-centered therapy may help us to better understand the source of our anx- iety, as well as help us tolerate it when it arises. The deeper I’ve gone in various forms of therapy, the greater my capacity to maintain awareness when storms and squalls rip through my mind and body. “The problem is that mindfulness has been so inspirational and demonstrably helpful for so many people that there’s been a big push to replace psychother- apy with it,” says Mark Epstein, M.D., a New York City psychiatrist and author of several books on mediation and western psychology. “That’s a shame. Mindful- ness can’t do what therapy does. There’s no one foolproof treatment for anxiety.” What’s more, he adds, “Anxiety is like the tip of an iceberg poking up out of the sea. It points toward something unacknowl- edged that needs to be understood.” Our meditation seat can ser ve as a sort of base camp, a safe space to which we return, while also availing ourselves of other ways of coping with anxiety. In this regard, my friend Matthew is an inspiration. With a diag nosis of bipolar disorder and proneness to severe anxiety, Matthew benefits from just about every possible approach: medication, psycho- therapy, daily aerobic exercise, a strong bond with a meditation teacher a nd reg- ular practice. “I make the effort even if I’m wired and flooded with fear,” he says. “If the experience is a wild roller coaster ride, so be it.” At such times, he finds that simply following his breath helps. But at other times, he says, he’s able to let → The age at which symptoms commonly emerge in children who are suffering from anxiety disorders. 6 years old December 2014 mindful 41 mental health