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Treating OCD with Meditation

written by: Roohi Khan • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 3/18/2011

Although medications bring relief to the person with OCD, many people are turning towards alternative methods of controlling their obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions. Meditation for OCD is one approach that can bring peace of mind.

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    Mindfulness Meditation and OCD

    Mindfulness meditation is increasingly being used as a regular part of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

    We are usually obsessing about past events or worrying about the future or overanalyzing the present situation. Being mindful means focusing our attention on the present moment, without judging it. It involves a quiet, calm and conscious observation of what is happening in the moment.

    Since the practice of mindfulness makes a person more aware of their thoughts and actions, the OCD sufferer is able to become detached from obsessive thoughts and does not react automatically to them. It helps him or her observe and accept their thoughts, fears and anxieties without overanalyzing them, making them calmer and more capable of handling what is going on in their head.

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    How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation

    Practice this OCD meditation in a quiet environment. Make sure that nothing distracts or interrupts you.

    • Choose a posture that you feel comfortable with. Avoid lying down since you may just fall asleep. The best position is to cross your legs and sit up with your spine straight. If you have difficulties bending your knees, you can also sit straight on a chair.

    • Mindfulness meditation requires focusing on only one thing, which can be your breath or a word or phrase. You may also choose to focus on an object in your surroundings if it makes it easier for you to concentrate. Once you have picked your spot and the thing that you plan to focus on, you can begin your meditation practice.

    • Sit with your back straight and focus your attention on your breathing. Notice the air passing in and out of your nostrils without trying to control your breathing.

    • Your mind may wander off towards your obsessive fears and worries and you may begin to feel anxious. Without trying to push the thought or feeling away, simply observe your mind and gently bring your attention back to your breathing. Keep focusing from one moment to the other on your breath without pushing your thoughts away or judging them.

    • Practice mindfulness meditation for five minutes once a day and slowly increase to thirty minutes.
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    Meditation and OCD: Daily Life

    Regular practice of mindfulness meditation will make it easier for you to be more mindful in your daily life. Each time an obsessive thought arises, just observe it without judging and become aware of the present moment. For example, if you are walking, just focus your attention on each step that you take. If you are eating, you can simply slow down and focus on the food and how it smells, feels and tastes.

    While practicing mindfulness meditation, OCD sufferers may experience high levels of anxiety at first since it can bring out fears and worries. However, with regular practice, one can learn to be more comfortable with these fears without automatically reacting to them.

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    References

    OCD Recovery Center: Protocols: Meditation and Relaxation Response

    http://www.ocdrecoverycenters.com/about/prot_meditation.html

    Help Guide: Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief

    http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_relief_meditation_yoga_relaxation.htm



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