Affecting over 40 million Americans, anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, excessive uneasiness, apprehension and may lead to panic attacks, depression and other more serious behavioral disorders. The causes of anxiety are highly personal and varied ranging from fear of the future, fear of judgement, an inability to cope with reality, stress, unresolved emotional trauma or grief, to side effect of certain medications and over usage of drugs and alcohol.
In order to overcome anxiety, it is important to understand what it really is. Anxiety is not physical, in the sense that it won’t show up in your blood tests or X-rays, rather it is an experience in the mind. It’s an energy and is a symptom of underlying imbalances.
We are energetic beings and are highly susceptible to the energy around us even if we may not realize it. Energy is everywhere and we pick up energy from our environment. An example would be to become fearful when we are surrounded by people or news that are focused on all the bad things happening in the world. We pick up the energy of fear around us and it produces more fear and anxiety if we continue to focus on it. While Western Medicine’s drug therapy approach may be a desirable short-term solution, the ancient time-tested Science and wisdom of Ayurveda provides a long-term promise to overcome it.
Understand the Nature of the Mind
Let’s begin with understanding the nature of our mind. Our mind releases a thousand thoughts per wink of an eye. We interact with our environment via our senses and our thoughts are affected or formed by what we take in through our senses. We live in a time where we not only consume products but we consume a lot of data and information. By default, we are subjected to information overload, whether it is at the checkout at a local grocery store, gas station or at the gym. When we consume information without awareness, it becomes part of our subconscious and fills it up. Habitually looking at the phone, scrolling through social media, watching YouTube may seem harmless but are filling our psyche with information we don’t know what to do with. Seemingly engaged, we become more and more disengaged from ourselves and feel ungrounded which results in the mind reacting rather than responding. Continuously looking for distraction and entertainment, our mind is ripe and ready for our clear directions. It’s up to us to train the mind and give it a direction. This is when we become in charge rather than our mind. To overcome anxiety is to train our mind in another direction. Consider the following in learning how to train the mind.
- Conscious Breathing Breath is natural and conscious breath is when we pay attention to the qualities of the breath. The sound, the movement and the rhythm of the breath are the qualities of the breath that the mind can pay attention to. By paying attention to the breath, we have also redirected the senses and in so doing have redirected the mind; Listening to the sound of the breath, feeling the movement and the rhythm of the breath, seeing (by focusing our gaze at the tip of our nose or a short distance ahead of us), smelling and tasting by noticing if the breath is hot or cold, and if it has an odor. With practice, we can train our senses and thus our mind to redirect its’ focus by breathing consciously. Take a moment now to sit and breathe consciously.
- Body Awareness
Gently close your eyes or focus your gaze at the tip of your nose or a few inches ahead of you at a fixed object. Continue to breathe consciously and drop into your body. Pay attention to your hips, your legs and feet. Allow yourself to become heavy in your seat and in your feet. Energy follows the mind. By dropping our mind into the body, we are redirecting and stabilizing our energy into the body. By paying attention to the lower part of the body, we are grounding our energy to the part of the body which is closer to the earth’s stabilizing energy so we can feel stable. When your body feels settled, gently focus on the movement in the belly as you breathe, noticing your belly expanding as you inhale and contracting as you exhale. Make this conscious breath a belly breath. This is where our navel center is – the most important and basic center of human life. It is closest to the Source energy; the source of our life when we were in our mother’s womb and living life from this center is much easier than living from the head.
- Integration into the Heart
Once you feel settled in your body and breath, take a moment to ask what you are
anxious about? Is it worry, fear, conflict, anger? Is it situational or chronic? Do you naturally tend to worry? Now gently drop this awareness of your anxiety into the heart center. Become aware of your anxiety – i.e. what it feels like, looks like, sounds like, smells and tastes like. Allow the anxiety to expand in your awareness so you can experience it fully. This may feel uncomfortable and distasteful but the end result of this exploration would be better than you are feeling right now. Allow the anxiety to come through fully without resisting, judging, or understanding it. Continue to breath and be present with it. Be in total acceptance of it; accepting that this is your experience and making it your friend.
From years of working with clients, I have learned that underneath all emotions, there is fear; fear of being abandoned, fear of being rejected or judged, fear of not being enough, fear of being found out, fear of death to name a few. Ask if this is true for you? This process will reveal all that’s there emotionally and will bring it to surface. Stay here as long as it feels bearable. This is where you may need individual guidance to work through it.
Fear is nothing but lack of Love. When fear shows up, it’s ready to know love. Fear is love, it’s just the other side of it; the side that we tend to push away and kick out from the pain of feeling it. We don’t push it away, we push it down deep into the subconscious where it blindsides us with feelings of worry, anxiety and depression. Here you can open your heart to all that has been revealed so it can know Love. We include fear, anxiety, anger and all the other emotions that have risen in the One Flow of Love. It may feel difficult to open your heart but you can just sit with it and notice it. Over time it will become easier and you will feel better. We overcome fear by loving it just like we overcome darkness by bringing light to it. Opening our heart to the dark emotions makes them merge with Love and become Love. To heal our anxiety is to love our anxiety. This makes us whole – as we begin to love the parts of us that are fearful and anxious. This is our journey to wholeness. Make a note of how you feel and see if it is any closer to how you really would like to feel – at peace.
- Affirming New Pathways
The on-going chatter in the mind is natural; just like we redirected the senses, we are going to redirect the chatter in the mind by using a Mantra or affirmations. When we repeat them especially with feeling and conviction, they create pathways or grooves for our mind to flow through. Here are the affirmations that I suggest you use in the morning and at bedtime. You can change them to better suit your current challenges; these are positive outcomes that you are seeking, saying it out loud as if they have already come true.
- I am a peaceful soul.
- My body is healthy and vital.
- My family is united, we love and respect one another.
- Today, I am on God’s duty, everyone who comes in contact with me feels peace and contentment.
- Cultivating Acceptance and Trust
Life is uncertain and unpredictable; it has its own flow whether we like it or not. When we go against it, we suffer; when we flow with it, we might be awe-struck as to the possibilities and adventures that lie ahead. Life is a mystery to be experienced by each one of us in our own way. We don’t have to like or agree with anything but we must accept it. Life is not against us; when we go against it, we suffer. The path only becomes clear when we apply our awareness to it. Attaching a prayer to your worry would be to trust the unknown. That unknown is the non-physical part of each one of us; waiting to be found and united with us. By fostering this connection, we create an inner-filter or a foundation to interact with our outer environment. Instead of being influenced, we become the influencer. Our world certainly can use more of us who are guided internally.
Hope my perspective on anxiety has shed some light and stirred up some thought. We are seeking to free the energy of anxiety and not freedom from anxiety. Love is the way to free and transmute this energy. If you are ready to find peace and calm in your life, check into my 4 week audio course to how to overcome anxiety and live a calm and peaceful life. The cost is $97.