Originally Posted by JohnnyEnnui
Someone posted that anxiety is a distraction.
Anxiety can make it difficult to concentrate on the present, but it doesn't have to be a distraction. It can actually be a point of focus for mindfulness. We can focus on our anxiety. Become aware of your heart beat. Sense the areas of your body that are tense and the sensation that is tenseness. You'll find that the anxiety will soon fade. But if the anxiety is distracting you from perhaps paying attention to an instructor or a book you are trying to read, if you focus on the breath at the same time you're engaged in those activities, you'll be better able to concentrate. Since it doesn't take much brain power to focus on the breath, you still have plenty of room to focus on another activity simultaneously.
The poster then basically said that by being aware of one’s breath, one can be “mindful” and avoid distraction. I don’t completely agree with that. In fact, I think that focusing on one’s breath can be just as much of a distraction, albeit a more healthy one.
Focusing on the breath is a mindful technique for being in the present and can help keep you in the present when worry and ruminations are trying to get you out of the present.
So, can breathing really put one into a state in which self-awareness can be attained, when the self-awareness that is necessary involves looking at one’s psychological history and re-experiencing all of the pain that was part of that history?
No, mindfulness is simply being in the present.
Still, doesn’t the work that needs to be done to heal involve much more than taking deep breaths or fixating on some other “object”, as was also suggested?
Yes, understanding the root of our problems is a big part of recovery.
I understand that mindfulness is a tool, but I think it's only a tool for managing anxiety, not understanding and resolving it or what's underneath it.
That's true. Mindfulness alone isn't going to make you better but it can help quite a bit. The practice of mindfulness and meditation can actually change your brain chemistry so that you are better able to handle stress. It also makes you more aware of the all interesting things there are in the world.
Mindfulness doesn't have to be just concentrating on your breath. Like I mentioned before, you can concentrate on your heart beating, which can actually lower your heart rate. You can concentrate on all your senses such as how your clothing feels against your skin. I like to concentrate on sounds -- especially sounds of nature, but any sounds can be a point of attention. Even annoying sounds can be relaxing if we concentrate on them.