Working with Anxiety - 10 Areas to Explore

 

 

Note: There appear to be two primary forms of anxiety. There is specific anxiety referring to matters of past, present and/or future. Second, there is anxiety without any obvious connection with specific issues. The second kind of anxiety expresses as waves of painful sensations, feelings and thoughts that enter into consciousness bringing a darkness to the hour(s) and much longer.

 

  1. Anxiety is the result of various primary causes (Pali: hetu) and secondary conditions (paccaya) ignored over a period of time. Causes and conditions have to be named. For example, what are the primary desires and fears that produce anxious activity in body, speech and mind? What are the supportive conditions? How and where does anxiety show itself - work, travel, habits, assumptions of continuity, resistance to change, relationship to the future, ageing, trying to stay positive? There needs to be an examination of these areas and a willingness to cultivate a change of attitude, stay centred in the here and now, cultivate mindfulness through the senses and actions that include initiating and sustaining specific changes to reduce and dissolve anxiety.

  2. Anxiety is time bound and rises and falls with various strengths. Sit with a straight back and observe the feelings/sensations changing in the body without the storyline. Relax into that area. There has to be inner preparation for the times of the day when it is most intense. Experiment with those times in terms of what you do. Anxiety continues more easily in an environment of routines. Breathing exercises, outdoors, music, movement can interrupt the anxiety. Movement of body energies and sound (chanting OM, chanting triple gem etc) send powerful vibrations through the mind and body.

  3. Engage in regular physical exercise, especially for the stomach and abdomen area, where anxiety mostly stores itself. Don't overdo it. Adopt a very gradual programme of exercises, such as yoga, tai chi or go to the gym. Take wise advice if you do. Use exercise machines and weights, or simple exercises at home, to strengthen the inner walls and stomach linings. Adopt a mindful approach rather than employing will power that puts pressure on vital organs.

  4. Change the diet. Keep away from all junk food as it stimulates the cells in artificial ways. Eat and drink natural, organic food, as much uncooked as cooked, free as possible from stimulants. Cut out the alcohol including the evening, since it lowers emotional and mental strength. If you do touch the wine or beer, make sure you drink at least three times as much water to water down the effects of alcohol.

  5. Don't be concerned (a subtle form of anxiety) about being awake in the night. The night hours are a wonderful period for creativity and reflection (the Buddha was enlightened in the middle of the night).

  6. Take wise risks every week, small ones or big ones. Trust and confidence is the antidote to anxiety. If you use the word 'anxiety' about yourself a lot, then drop the word. It has probably got charged with anxiety (through papanca -proliferation of projections and thoughts building upon the proliferation of projections and thoughts upon anxiety). Use a completely different but brief description of your experience.

  7. Sit with a straight upright back in the car, office and home, so stomach can breathe. Go for fast walks so body energies can flow up and down, do lots of stretching exercise anywhere, anytime, including the back of the plane on a flight.

  8. Don’t be afraid to work on a slow, gradual and systematic reduction of any medication. Don't be afraid and don’t get foolishly ambitious.

  9. Appreciate and acknowledge when these waves of so-called anxiety are not operating. Remember to let lots of light and colour into your eyes, remember the impermanent condition of unwanted mind states and refuse to feel sorry for yourself (i.e. become a victim). Regard it all as a process for that is what it is.

  10. Acknowledge within yourself that you can still get on with life – at home, at work, as a partner, friend, traveller, parent, forms of service and range of commitments. Keep clear about your strengths and keep responding to them. Find a wise voice to show the way out of anxiety.

 

 

 

 May all beings enquire into the experience of being human 

 Christopher Titmuss's

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