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demotivating anxiety John Hooper 11/21/11 9:11 PM
RE: demotivating anxiety Oliver Myth 11/22/11 1:39 AM
RE: demotivating anxiety katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 11/22/11 6:38 AM
RE: demotivating anxiety John Hooper 11/22/11 11:37 AM
RE: demotivating anxiety katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 11/22/11 5:31 PM
RE: demotivating anxiety Jane Laurel Carrington 11/22/11 9:25 PM
RE: demotivating anxiety Oliver Myth 11/23/11 12:52 AM
RE: demotivating anxiety John Hooper 11/23/11 11:34 AM
RE: demotivating anxiety Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 11/23/11 11:56 AM
RE: demotivating anxiety John Hooper 11/23/11 5:47 PM
RE: demotivating anxiety Oliver Myth 11/25/11 2:17 AM
RE: demotivating anxiety John Hooper 11/25/11 6:05 PM
RE: demotivating anxiety Oliver Myth 11/26/11 3:00 AM
RE: demotivating anxiety Jane Laurel Carrington 11/23/11 11:57 AM
RE: demotivating anxiety katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 11/22/11 7:08 AM
RE: demotivating anxiety Brian Eleven 11/23/11 4:50 PM
RE: demotivating anxiety John Hooper 11/23/11 5:50 PM
RE: demotivating anxiety Brian Eleven 11/23/11 6:23 PM
RE: demotivating anxiety John Hooper 11/24/11 1:24 PM
RE: demotivating anxiety This Good Self 11/27/11 3:23 AM
RE: demotivating anxiety John Hooper 11/28/11 11:32 AM
RE: demotivating anxiety This Good Self 11/28/11 6:29 PM
RE: demotivating anxiety This Good Self 11/28/11 7:40 PM
RE: demotivating anxiety John Hooper 11/29/11 9:12 PM
RE: demotivating anxiety katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 11/30/11 8:41 AM
RE: demotivating anxiety katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 11/28/11 10:10 PM
RE: demotivating anxiety John Hooper 12/16/19 12:09 PM
RE: demotivating anxiety Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/16/19 2:01 PM
RE: demotivating anxiety Siavash Mahmoudpour 12/16/19 2:12 PM
RE: demotivating anxiety Laurel Carrington 12/18/19 10:56 AM
demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/21/11 9:11 PM
My main affliction in life is anxiety. For over 30 years I have tried countless things, from pharma to biofeedback to all forms of meditation. I meditate every day, and have for a long time, and for a while the anxiety left. Oh joy! But eventually it came back. When it comes back, it is like everything I worked for is just washed away, and I am defenseless in suffering. Yes, I do stay with it. I don't try to escape. It doesn't let up, it is like a living hell. It destroys my confidence that my practice means anything. Then, eventually, it gradually fades away in it's own time, for no reason.

It is back and I am staying with it again. It fills me with dread, fear, and worry. I watch it rise over and over in waves, pangs coming in my heart, and lesser pangs in the center of my forehead. I label it and that helps a little, but it keeps coming. It is destroying my confidence in my practice again. Is there anything I can do beside stay with it, allow it to be, label what I feel?

I normally watch my breath for two 20 minute sessions a day. I do about 20 minutes of compassion meditation at night.

Any help would be appreciated. Does anyone have any ideas?

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/22/11 1:39 AM as a reply to John Hooper.
John,
My heart really goes out to you on this. All my life I have been moving around from new place to new place frequently with intense anxiety that comes from needing to adapt to somewhere new, and frequently at times I will experience a lot of social anxiety (normally attributed to being away from home, but it's foundation is definitely located in the body/mind). It is not pleasant or in my control.

You seem to realize that your anxiety is irrational. That’s the starting point (sounds like a re-occuring starting point in your case). If it's not disappearing, than the source may be that the anxiety comes from your body (muscle tensions, etc.), or it may come from automatic responses to outside experiences (learned from childhood), or from some sort of spiritual purification cycle (such as described in MCTB by Daniel Ingram or AH Almaas' work). Maybe all three.

Since it is a chronic problem, nothing may help more than building some rapport with a few close friends or by living in a harmonious environment and working harmoniously with people. When there is some consistency and acceptance it can start as a HUGE building block for further work. Huge.

How old are you? What kind of environment do you live in? Does the returning anxiety seem to have anything to do with anything particular? Benefit may come from articulating what you think about it. It's something you might want to explore to it's depth!

Confidence would also help. If you can recognize yourself overcoming the anxiety over and over again then you can relax a bit about needing to overcome it. This means also noting and becoming intensely aware of the times when you are NOT anxious, when it happens, where it happens, why it happens. Anxiety isn't all of the time after all, right? Isn't it a bit of a relief just to recognize that sooner or later it WILL go away?

What a relief change and impermanence is!

Please write back!
Oliver

Edited to say: I am really impressed by the work you have already done to deal with it. How about fasting? Eating/digesting can be a massive stressor. Fasting cools the nerves and lets one be rational and quick in the head without physical nervousness (once the hunger pangs pass). I do it for self-maintainance in order to cool down from social stress, sometimes once or twice a week.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/22/11 6:38 AM as a reply to John Hooper.
Hi John,

Thanks for your post. I am responding to your post, because I can relate to the history you have provided.

Have you considered every-moment meditation? Mindfulness, zen, actualism, just-doing?

You're posting on a buddhist site, so perhaps you have conviction in the three characteristics of existence: anicca, dukkkha and anatta?

When I made a commitment to really sink into the problem of interior misery and anxiety (including a lifetime of anxious dreaming, aka nightmares, which I thought everyone surely was having), it took about nine months to see a permanent, initial shift.

If my experience is useful to you, then here it is:
1. Take care of the body -
a. aerobic, intense exercise. Here is a user-friendly slide-show.
b. stretch gently and actively with long, slow deep breathing. Loren Fishman (great general explanation of stretching and breathing), Ray Long (nice muscle imagery here), and Herbert Benson (all med doctors if that information encourages you), have useful information on this

2. commit the mind to here and now attention. Not ruminating here and now, attending to that which is here and now. Check the senses if you are not sure if you are here and now or ruminating for later/past times. Instead of carving out time for meditation, carve-out time for i) ruminating and ii) practical planning, and hang here-and-now attentiveness/mindfulness off of that simple skeleton for the great bulk of your day. Apply curiosity and willingness. Save any strong emotive responses for "20-minute rumination meditation".

3. Know that you can change your mind and make the past 30 years a thing of the past 30 years.

4. Sincerity and willingness in every moment to make the change (conviction or insight into anatta helps, but theist faith can provide the same effect, which is essentially that one's sense of self is not to be taken too seriously - that no self, (or higher self, divine self depending on any religious traditions) is to be sought and realized)

Best wishes.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/22/11 7:08 AM as a reply to John Hooper.
And, there's a loop that seems to occur in chronic stress: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal_axis#Stress_and_disease

Mammal studies are indicating that regular exercise can help re-regulate a hypoactive HPA system (e.g., PTSD) and hyperactive HPA (e.g., depression).

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/22/11 11:37 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Thank you everyone for your input, I appreciate your kindness.

Oddly enough, eating less or fasting gives me a lot more energy, and actually makes my anxiety worse in the short run. Of course, that might be because I was sedating myself with too much food before. Right now I am eating very little. Maybe my nerves will calm down once I am fully adjusted to having more energy.

I think exercise is an excellent suggestion, as I have fallen out of the habit and only walk a few miles every other week. It used to be almost every day. At work, I have access to a Yoga class, so I believe I will sign up for that and take advantage of the gym. I live in Michigan, so when it gets cold I start avoiding long walks.

katy steger:
3. Know that you can change your mind and make the past 30 years a thing of the past 30 years.


That might be the source of my discouragement. All of my anxiety vanished about six years ago. After carefully avoiding caffeine for years, I was drinking coffee every morning, something that would have sent me over the edge before. Then, about a year ago, the anxiety returned. I thought I was completely past it. It is good to talk about this, because now I am seeing how proud and attached I was to my "attainment" of extinguished anxiety. It was a sure sign of progress, I thought. I am grasping, and I want my inner calm back.

Maybe a better way to mark my progress would be to go by the steps detailed here, on this site.

Is there anyone who would be willing to help me with this? I have no idea what stage I am in. I can count breaths at least up to 200 without distraction. I sometimes just use "ahm" as a mantra or do compassion meditation. I have worked with koans for long periods of time, and when calm I can sit without thought for fairly long periods. Like I said, I've been doing this for decades and I've tried everything. Maybe a definite path with clear signposts would keep me moving in the right direction.

I'll go study the steps again.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/22/11 5:31 PM as a reply to John Hooper.
Hi John -

Thank you everyone for your input, I appreciate your kindness.
For my part, you are welcome. I came by way of the DhO similarly.

Oddly enough, eating less or fasting gives me a lot more energy, and actually makes my anxiety worse in the short run. Of course, that might be because I was sedating myself with too much food before. Right now I am eating very little. Maybe my nerves will calm down once I am fully adjusted to having more energy.
Passion flower is known to help anxiety. In the event you are on any drugs (especially sedative medications (CNS depressants)), then seriously consider not taking Passion Flower.

I think exercise is an excellent suggestion, as I have fallen out of the habit and only walk a few miles every other week. It used to be almost every day. At work, I have access to a Yoga class, so I believe I will sign up for that and take advantage of the gym. I live in Michigan, so when it gets cold I start avoiding long walks.
An excellent combo. If the yoga style is "flow" or "ashtanga", then it will involve a lot of fast, contracting movements and, for relaxation and changing muscle memory towards relaxation, then you'd want more of a classic hatha - wherein asanas are comfortably active and engaged for (at least) two minutes (eventually) - gently working through the arc reflex as explained by authors in earlier hyperlinks.

Is there anyone who would be willing to help me with this? I have no idea what stage I am in. I can count breaths at least up to 200 without distraction.
I am not the person to help in the aspect, only to say that it may be worthwhile to only count to 10 and keep repeating, versus counting progressively. Counting to higher and higher numbers may serve to re-establish some attainment which can reinforce a sense of self (versus here and now, anatta). Tho I do understand that you may be mentioning it here in order that a prospective meditation helper knows something of concentration ability.

Best wishes, and welcome to the DhO.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/22/11 9:25 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
I also have terrible problems with anxiety. I'm trying to work on it with noting practice and grounding in the body. Today I was noting with a teacher over Skype, who advised me to begin by grounding in physical sensations, and then express compassion. As I did so I noted the painful knot through the midsection that always signals fear, and then as I kept noting that I found my eyes begin to sting, my throat begin to contract, and I ended up in tears. We noted for awhile, and I cried through the whole thing, and then noticed that the knot wasn't there any more. What seems to have been happening is the anxiety was masking sadness. I can't say that I have no more anxiety, but it was an interesting exercise, and I'm hoping it suggests a new direction.

My plan for overcoming anxiety in the longer term is to go for stream entry. Like you, I have tried many interventions, including lots of psychotherapy and drugs. The only medication that seems to work for me is a beta blocker, and even that isn't always effective. But I have a prescription and take one or two as needed.

Your meditation practice sounds like a form of tranquility. If you try insight practice, you'll end up at some point in the Dark Night, and things get worse. I believe quite strongly that I'm there now. You may be there already and not know it. The only solution to Dark Night is to continue with insight until you get stream entry.

You will also find on Dharma Overground a lot of people practicing actualism. I have not tried this approach, but you might wish to investigate it and decide for yourself. There are a lot of people here who can help with that. I wish you the best. This is not a pleasant way to live; I know that from experience!

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/23/11 12:52 AM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
This is an excellent topic. It's on my subscribe list now : ). Thanks all.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/23/11 11:34 AM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
Jane Laurel Carrington:

Your meditation practice sounds like a form of tranquility. If you try insight practice, you'll end up at some point in the Dark Night, and things get worse. I believe quite strongly that I'm there now. You may be there already and not know it. The only solution to Dark Night is to continue with insight until you get stream entry.


The description of the Dark Night seems to apply to much of my life, unfortunately. I'm not sure what is the exact definition of "stream entry" but even as a child I had strange experiences, periods of merging with the environment in a timeless state that was far more real than ordinary reality, beautiful, just so infused with ... aliveness ... I can't really describe it. I didn't ask for any of these experiences, nor the dark and terrifying ones that followed. I knew absolutely nothing about meditation or any of this. My fear was that I was just crazy.

That is why, over these many decades, I have tried everything. I haven't been desperate for more beautiful moments, I have been trying to escape the darkness, fear, and endless anxiety. Sometimes it happens, and it is all gone like it never existed, and I feel normal. But then it is back. Maybe I should try to recreate those extraordinary moments, when the world is changed, lighted from within, and all problems have ceased. Maybe that is stream entry.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/23/11 11:56 AM as a reply to John Hooper.
John Hooper:
The description of the Dark Night seems to apply to much of my life, unfortunately. I'm not sure what is the exact definition of "stream entry" but even as a child I had strange experiences, periods of merging with the environment in a timeless state that was far more real than ordinary reality, beautiful, just so infused with ... aliveness ... I can't really describe it. I didn't ask for any of these experiences, nor the dark and terrifying ones that followed. I knew absolutely nothing about meditation or any of this. My fear was that I was just crazy.

That is why, over these many decades, I have tried everything. I haven't been desperate for more beautiful moments, I have been trying to escape the darkness, fear, and endless anxiety. Sometimes it happens, and it is all gone like it never existed, and I feel normal. But then it is back. Maybe I should try to recreate those extraordinary moments, when the world is changed, lighted from within, and all problems have ceased. Maybe that is stream entry.


Freedom independent of conditions is just that. Searching for a particular experience or moment or feeling or sensation, and trying to reside in that, or the antithetical trying to get away from a particular experience or moment or feeling or sensation, will not lead to the peace you seek.

You need to identify what the suffering is in your life. You have to figure out what causes that suffering to arise. You've already noticed that both the good and the bad periods come and go... so you have to figure out what causes the suffering to cease, once it has arisen. Then you must simply train your mind so that the conditions which cause suffering to arise, no longer come into play, and the ones that cause it to cease, do. (Hint: grasping at experiences or being averse to experiences is suffering and causes suffering; doing that does not cause suffering to cease, ultimately.) This is where practice comes in.

Thus practicing, you will gradually suffer less and less until the day comes when suffering is no more.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/23/11 11:57 AM as a reply to John Hooper.
Stream entry is a term denoting the first path of the four-path model of enlightenment. There's a page from the Hamilton Project website that might help you identify what your experience has been, and what I suggest you may want to aim for: http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com/p/yogi-testimonies.html. The "beautiful moments" you describe sound as if they may be the "Knowledge of the Arising and Passing Away of All Phenomena," otherwise known as the A&P, or the 4th vipassana nyana. Daniel Ingram's book is a great guide for understanding these things.

Trying to get out of a bad place and back into a beautiful one is natural and understandable, but to make progress on the path what you really have to do is investigate as much as possible where you actually are. This can be miserably unpleasant, but in the end you find yourself disembedding from whatever misery you're in as you prepare yourself to move on to the next stage in the progress of insight. You are welcome to read through my own practice thread, which I keep at Kenneth Folk Dharma: http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/thread/4588871/Laurel%27s+practice. I describe there my own experience with the A&P, and with Dark Night (which you'll hear me bitching about extensively in the most recent posts). I am looking forward to the day when I can describe myself experiencing first path! There are other yogis on that website, as well as on this one and the Hamilton Project, whose practice threads are a wealth of helpful, real-life testimonies. May you be safe and protected, may you be peaceful, may you live with ease and with kindness, and may you awaken in this lifetime.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/23/11 4:50 PM as a reply to John Hooper.
I've also dealt with depression/anxiety and have found that for me forgiveness and releasing/relaxing has helped. It may or may not work for you, I can't say, but I've seen a dramatic change in 6 weeks. This was after about 1 1/2 years of vipassana, which helped only slightly, and caused me periods of suffering that were worse then before I began meditating. The site I would suggest you check out is:
http://www.dhammasukha.org/index.html
They also have a yahoo group in which you can get more personalized instruction.
The main thrust of the practice is to smile and release any cause of tension, then relax that tension. It sounds a little too simple, which kept me from really trying it for months, but it actually works...for me. My experience has been that my previous efforts at 'concentration' just caused more tension(suffering/craving) to arise.
I don't represent this teacher or get anything from it, but it has helped a great deal, perhaps it could also ease your suffering. Best of Luck to you.

Metta
Brian.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/23/11 5:47 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
You've already noticed that both the good and the bad periods come and go... so you have to figure out what causes the suffering to cease, once it has arisen. Then you must simply train your mind so that the conditions which cause suffering to arise, no longer come into play, and the ones that cause it to cease, do.


I am being very honest when I say that the good and bad periods seem to come and go as they please. Everything can be light and wonderful and then -- bam! crushing anxiety or depression. I can be in the darkest place, and then for no discernible reason ... it just lifts. That is exactly what has been driving me crazy all this time. That is why I've decided to try the concentration meditation to at least be able to produce a joyful state with some reasonable certainty.

I'm not arguing with what you are saying at all, everything you say is true. It could be that I have not been aware enough to notice what is really going on.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/23/11 5:50 PM as a reply to Brian Eleven.
Brian Eleven:
The main thrust of the practice is to smile and release any cause of tension, then relax that tension. It sounds a little too simple, which kept me from really trying it for months, but it actually works...for me.


I am amazed that you mentioned smiling, because that is one of the things I am doing in my concentration meditation to produce a pleasurable mental state, and it is really working well. It has only been a few days though, so I'll have to wait and see what are the long-term effects.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/23/11 6:23 PM as a reply to John Hooper.
John,
I know this sounds simplistic, but try always smiling, not just when sitting. Think of it as mindfulness of your mouth!emoticon It just relaxes the mind and eases suffering. Other people smile back at me, which also improves my mood.
I've also found forgiving myself and others helps me to relax throughout my day. If someone cuts me off and I get upset, I forgive them, then I forgive myself for getting upset. I've found this to, again, relax me and help ease my suffering. I've notice after doing this that by the end of the day I've accumulated Much less tension. I would go through my day becoming more and more tense with each little perceived slight from others. Now I can let these go, to a large extent...and if I remember.
If no one is upsetting me, I forgive myself... for making mistakes, for doing things that hurt me or others, for not being perfect. The idea is to make forgiveness your default response. The site I mentioned has a short article about forgiveness practice, and I received some instruction from Sister Khema, a nun, on the yahoo group.
It's worked very well for me, maybe it could for you. And if not maybe it will lead to something that will.

Metta,
Brian.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/24/11 1:24 PM as a reply to Brian Eleven.
Thank you Brian, I have joined the Yahoo Group you suggested, so I am hopeful to have the same positive experiences you have had. Yes, why not smile all the time! It feels good, and it makes others feel good as well. It will make a very excellent mindfulness practice throughout the day, so thank you again for the idea. I hope to learn more through the group.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/25/11 2:17 AM as a reply to John Hooper.
John Hooper:
I am being very honest when I say that the good and bad periods seem to come and go as they please. Everything can be light and wonderful and then -- bam! crushing anxiety or depression. I can be in the darkest place, and then for no discernible reason ... it just lifts. That is exactly what has been driving me crazy all this time. That is why I've decided to try the concentration meditation to at least be able to produce a joyful state with some reasonable certainty.

I'm not arguing with what you are saying at all, everything you say is true. It could be that I have not been aware enough to notice what is really going on.


This sounds like a spiritual purification cycle to me. I have found that even when my anxiety or dark nights return I am more and more peaceful and euanimous with it, although it might be worth mentioning that some dark nights can be worse after achieving fruition (MCTB first path). Dark Nights don't even seem all that bad for me recently, but if they come back hard I have to be prepared.

Work when it's good, work when it's bad. Always be ready to up the ante at a moments notice! We don't make spiritual progress by being lazy!

I like Brians most recent advice too. Smiling is a huge stress reliever.

Oliver


Edit:
John Hooper:

That is why, over these many decades, I have tried everything. I haven't been desperate for more beautiful moments, I have been trying to escape the darkness, fear, and endless anxiety. Sometimes it happens, and it is all gone like it never existed, and I feel normal. But then it is back. Maybe I should try to recreate those extraordinary moments, when the world is changed, lighted from within, and all problems have ceased. Maybe that is stream entry.


Consider that maybe you've already had stream entry. Fruitions are hard to spot and when not actively practicing vipassana might not arise for weeks/months at a time. The bolded part above seems to suggest to me that you have been in equanimity territory quite a few times. Maybe instead of valuing the the high experiences where everything seems different one should find a more inclusive practice that includes the ordinary peacefulness of daily life...? Also, those high states can become a lot more subtle and peaceful during certain stages, however that doesn't make the dark nights any more pleasant.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/25/11 6:05 PM as a reply to Oliver Myth.
Olyver Mith:
This sounds like a spiritual purification cycle to me. I have found that even when my anxiety or dark nights return I am more and more peaceful and euanimous with it, although it might be worth mentioning that some dark nights can be worse after achieving fruition (MCTB first path). Dark Nights don't even seem all that bad for me recently, but if they come back hard I have to be prepared.


I used to think I just suffered inexplicable bouts of depression, because I knew nothing of all this. I do not know what you mean be "fruition" though, because I am new to the lingo here. Over the decades, I have learned to handle these Dark Nights. For a long time I reacted with panic and avoidance, but after decades I no longer try to escape. I try to examine them, go into them, look with an open mind.

Olyver Mith:
Consider that maybe you've already had stream entry. Fruitions are hard to spot and when not actively practicing vipassana might not arise for weeks/months at a time. The bolded part above seems to suggest to me that you have been in equanimity territory quite a few times. Maybe instead of valuing the the high experiences where everything seems different one should find a more inclusive practice that includes the ordinary peacefulness of daily life...? Also, those high states can become a lot more subtle and peaceful during certain stages, however that doesn't make the dark nights any more pleasant.


Please explain "fruitions" for me. If stream entry can happen spontaneously to someone very young, then I think it is possible that it has happened more than once, maybe. Certainly I was in equanimity for a while after my lifelong anxiety (that started after the possible stream entry experiences) -- back then I kept describing myself as being free. I was free. Not just free from anxiety, but really free.

I was very detached however. In my freedom, I realized that I had become indifferent to the suffering of others, even those close to me. I went to someone who told me that I could stay free and indifferent, but that I there was another step I needed to take. I needed to come back, open my heart, feel, and live in the real world. He said this would be a painful process.

That was the end of detachment and equanimity for me, and then the anxiety came back, then more Dark Night. Instead of detached peace, I have suffering, but also an increasingly open heart. My detached peace would have probably vanished anyway.

I'm not really sure about any of this.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/26/11 3:00 AM as a reply to John Hooper.
Ah. This is interesting. If you want to read more on fruitions then I would read the entire chapter called MCTB The Progress of Insight in Daniel Ingram's book, Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha.

Basically it is a short moment where the mind has a very spacious awareness and then shortly 'blips' out of reality for half a second or so, with nothing to find in the gap. It is something that can happen very naturally. After one has had this experience (on accident or not) they tend to go thru spiritual purification cycles automatically. Some meditators will practice for months or years to try and get a fruition.

If it happened, it happened, if not then not. It shouldn't be that big of a deal to know if you did right now (but maybe interesting to know whats happening if it happens later).

John Hooper:
I was very detached however. In my freedom, I realized that I had become indifferent to the suffering of others, even those close to me. I went to someone who told me that I could stay free and indifferent, but that I there was another step I needed to take. I needed to come back, open my heart, feel, and live in the real world. He said this would be a painful process.

That was the end of detachment and equanimity for me, and then the anxiety came back, then more Dark Night. Instead of detached peace, I have suffering, but also an increasingly open heart. My detached peace would have probably vanished anyway.


Ah. These are bittersweet words. I have had to deal with my heart opening up (as it relates to me) and some suffering that came with it, but at the same time I think it has let me see the world as it really is, and allowed me to interact with people as they really are. It was either take the dive and explore some more or continue to stagnate and feel this lingering guilt for not taking it to the next level.

If I had to look for a sign of progress and happiness that is consistant over time (so that I am not floundering about while waiting for dark nights to end/so I can be purposeful no matter how I feel), I would say I am at my best during the times when I am authentic and aiming for what is best for myself and everyone around me, even if I'm anxious or feeling unpleasant body sensations. I really, really want what is best for people and I'm not afraid to suffer occasionally for it (a suffering which seems to decrease over time as I adapt). Does that make me naieve? Maybe, but I'm happy with it and it seems wholesome to me : ).

There is also something about acting naieve and authentic which allows one to really learn and be impacted from ones experiences on a deep level. This in itself is very rewarding. I know that I'm developing myself instead of developing masks to wear in front of people.

It also provides a chance to use personal intellegence (logical/emotional/social intellegence) to it's fullest and be okay with it if I end up wrong. I was raised in an intellectual family, so I tend to think this way. Being open and accepting of naieveness is a kind of fearlessness to act and be confident. Cause if I'm wrong, guess what? I got something valuable out of it for next time.

You will get a lot of opinions around here and a lot to learn. I hope find something useful : )
Oliver

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/27/11 3:23 AM as a reply to John Hooper.
The answer to anxiety is to not indulge in it.

Unless the fear is extreme, it's possible to choose just not continue with the bodily reaction. But no one believes this! Instead they use all manner of special techniques to treat it.

At some level, when anxiety continues beyond a few seconds, it is because we allow it to continue. And we allow it because we believe it has meaning and so shouldn't be interfered with.

Fear is caused by certain thoughts. These thoughts are about expectancy of psychological or physical pain. eg. "I might get bitten by a dog if I walk this way". Well if that's true, then certainly I need to be tense, don't I? I might need to be able to run away quickly if it appears. The whole thing about anxiety rests on this one philosophical question: Do thoughts create reality?

So do they? Do thoughts such as "I might get bitten by the dog" cause the dog to bite you? My extensive experience tells me "yes, they do".

But don't try to stop the thoughts, and don't try to replace them with positive thoughts. Just stop the body reacting and realize that the body is creating further trouble when it reacts like that, because it gives credence to the thoughts that created it in the first place.

No one needs a special spiritual path, all that's needed is to overcome fear. Fear is the only impediment to growth in all aspects of life, I've realized. And guess what? This is my own experience over many years - I didn't read it anywhere! Came up with it all on my own! Fear is the software of the ego. Fear is all the ego has to work with. Fear is the only thing that holds it in place.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/28/11 11:32 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
The answer to anxiety is to not indulge in it.


I wouldn't argue that you are wrong, but I can tell you, after decades of anxiety, that:

1. Facing my fears
2. Refusing to indulge
3. Distraction
4. Just about anything else

didn't work for all of my anxiety. Some of it just seemed to be physically or neurologically based. I used to describe it as feeling like adrenaline was just being dumped into my bloodstream. However, now that I've been meditating again my anxiety has subsided. The next time it comes up I will be sure to try what you suggest. What would be the best way to work with a free-floating dread? I was reading Krishnamurti long ago, and he said that all fear and anxiety comes from thought, and that such thought needed to be examined. The trouble has been that I often can't find a thought that is causing my anxiety, or the anxiety simply jumps from thought to thought, refusing to subside.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/28/11 6:29 PM as a reply to John Hooper.
Right, because a lot of the time the anxiety-causing thoughts are subconscious or pre-conscious. (Pre-conscious just means that you can identify them if you look hard enough). So you just have this feeling that's very uncomfortable.

Since you often can't access the causative thought, remember you can change subconscious thought patterns by altering what your body is doing, and by altering your moment to moment behaviours.

This can be done by asking "if I was a really relaxed and peaceful person, how would I be right now?" then behaving that way in all your small daily actions. This shuts down the offending negative thoughts in the subconscious. The answer to the question may come in the form of: "well I'd relax my shoulders for starters" or "I'd go and clean the house" or "I'd switch off the tv" or "I'd switch on the tv"...whatever it is.

Sometimes guys make the mistake of trying to shut down social anxiety by changing their body in the wrong way, eg. standing up extra tall and puffing the chest out etc. which is actually the opposite of what you'd do if you were confident. So you really have to find the answer to the question and not assume confident = physically big (or great hair or cool car etc). Trying to be *something better* will reinforce that your natural self isn't good enough, so the cycle feeds in the wrong way.

Like Adyashanti says, "take the backwards step".

One of the early effects of doing this properly is that you'll occasionally get a massive surge of anxiety, more than you'd ever had before. That's the ego trying to reassert itself. Ignore it. Go back to the question "if I was...".

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/28/11 7:40 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
The climate change debate is an interesting study in anxiety.

The scientific evidence is supposed to be pretty compelling that man's activity has buggered the climate, so why deny it?

Simply because if you start believing it on a mass scale, you make it true. Next thing, Armegeddon. So yes the scientists might be very accurate and clever, but that's no reason to believe it. Just acting as though everything is fine could be quite a useful approach to cooling the planet back to its right level.

Climate change deniers are possibly a little more aware (unconsciously) that fearful emotions create the thing that is feared. Climate change believers are strict scientists who have no idea how thoughts create reality (they believe their own thoughts and emotions, just like a phobic does).

Science isn't really scientific anyway. The most strictly controlled experiments can be made to go this way or that, depending on who is conducting it (observer effect).

When people say "the figures are incorrect" or "it's a tax grab" or "Scientist x has found this or that is true"... all this is beside the point.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/28/11 10:10 PM as a reply to John Hooper.
The trouble has been that I often can't find a thought that is causing my anxiety, or the anxiety simply jumps from thought to thought, refusing to subside.


Hi John - did you see this video posted recently on the DhO? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqrpKUTMXgY
Check out 1hour 26minute point. That may give you an encouraging and different take on your mind. The whole video is interesting.

[edit: name change]

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/29/11 9:12 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
This can be done by asking "if I was a really relaxed and peaceful person, how would I be right now?" then behaving that way in all your small daily actions. This shuts down the offending negative thoughts in the subconscious. The answer to the question may come in the form of: "well I'd relax my shoulders for starters" or "I'd go and clean the house" or "I'd switch off the tv" or "I'd switch on the tv"...whatever it is


I'll give that a try the next time I have anxiety. For now it is pretty much gone. Maybe the help I have been getting here is really working. If it stays away, I would have to say that my switch to concentration meditation has made a real difference, but who really knows.

katy steger:
Check out 1hour 26minute point. That may give you an encouraging and different take on your mind. The whole video is interesting.


What do you mean? That is when he is talking about Eckhart Tolle, right?

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
11/30/11 8:41 AM as a reply to John Hooper.
What do you mean? That is when he is talking about Eckhart Tolle, right?

Yes. You mentioned anxiety/fear that does not subside despite your practice efforts. There are a few examples given in Murphy's lecture of persons whose darkest nights (i.e., perceived visits by Mara's daughters, then armies; perceived feelings of extreme anxiety and self-loathing, etc) have converted into bliss and liberation*. I mention this in consideration of what the mental state of anxiety-fear may lead to: the perception of being liberating.

Best wishes in your practice!




*if Murphy is referring to here the interhemispheric intrusion hypothesis (and I don't remember hearing these words, which describe a hypothesis proposed by his mentor Persinger), then a caution for certain mental conditions and certain meditation techniques is offered in the last sentence of Persinger's summary for Percept Mot Skills. 1992 Dec;75(3 Pt 2):1308-10.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
12/16/19 12:09 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Eight years later, there is very little of this kind of anxiety now.  There was advice to watch the causal chain, to see where thought asserted fear.  It was not seen for a long time, but then there it was.  A feeling arose that was "fear" and the mind went from there.  But was it fear?  No, it was only a feeling.  It honestly was not fear.  Further tests came along eventually, and instead of running, all forms of fear, dispair, and emptyness were sat with and passively but attentively watched.  Great curiousity and a true desire to know, really, "What is this feeling?"  Without the stories of the self, each was only a physical sensation, or impotent thought.  At last, these feelings were invited, their arising was desired for further investigation.  Exactly the same feelings that induced panic are no longer even interesting.

Fear is avoidance.  Be very curious and sincere.  Only deal with exactly what is there, not conceptual thought and stories.  Embrace darkness and emptiness without prejudice.

Thanks to Daniel for this site, those who helped, and all who contribute.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
12/16/19 2:01 PM as a reply to John Hooper.
Wow, this was great news. Thanks for sharing! 

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
12/16/19 2:12 PM as a reply to John Hooper.
John Hooper:
Eight years later, there is very little of this kind of anxiety now.  There was advice to watch the causal chain, to see where thought asserted fear.  It was not seen for a long time, but then there it was.  A feeling arose that was "fear" and the mind went from there.  But was it fear?  No, it was only a feeling.  It honestly was not fear.  Further tests came along eventually, and instead of running, all forms of fear, dispair, and emptyness were sat with and passively but attentively watched.  Great curiousity and a true desire to know, really, "What is this feeling?"  Without the stories of the self, each was only a physical sensation, or impotent thought.  At last, these feelings were invited, their arising was desired for further investigation.  Exactly the same feelings that induced panic are no longer even interesting.

Fear is avoidance.  Be very curious and sincere.  Only deal with exactly what is there, not conceptual thought and stories.  Embrace darkness and emptiness without prejudice.

Thanks to Daniel for this site, those who helped, and all who contribute.

Glad that you had success with anxiety.

I was a very relaxed person for most of my life, but 6 years ago something happened that caused a very intense anxiety attack, that I really thought that I was dying. I couldn't breathe, and my whole body was very tense and stiff.., couldn't eat or swallow.. . After staying in hospital for two days I guess, that passed, but after that, I started to have anxiety attacks, and for about three years, most days I had one or more episodes of that. That was the main cause that I started looking for meditation. Luckily I found Shinzen, and doing his Focus In techniques for a few months, helped me come back and be able to live with this problem. I still have that to some extent, but those techniques gave a very powerful tools for dealing with anxiety. I think Shinzen has a lot to offer for anyone that is suffering from similar problems.

RE: demotivating anxiety
Answer
12/18/19 10:56 AM as a reply to John Hooper.
So glad to hear it! I can say the same. Anxiety and fear used to be the defining experience of my life, but not any more.