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Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?

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Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 3/20/13 10:29 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Jane Laurel Carrington 3/20/13 11:27 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 3/20/13 11:38 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Jane Laurel Carrington 3/20/13 11:49 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Mike H. 3/20/13 11:53 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 3/20/13 12:06 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Mike H. 3/20/13 12:15 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Jane Laurel Carrington 3/20/13 12:32 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Jinxed P 3/20/13 2:36 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 3/20/13 11:56 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Jinxed P 3/21/13 9:40 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 3/21/13 10:35 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? anti anti camper 3/21/13 11:37 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Jane Laurel Carrington 3/21/13 1:10 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 3/21/13 1:36 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Jane Laurel Carrington 3/21/13 1:59 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Jinxed P 3/21/13 12:18 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 3/21/13 1:24 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Jinxed P 3/21/13 2:24 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? This Good Self 3/21/13 7:36 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 3/21/13 7:51 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Adam . . 3/21/13 9:23 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Change A. 3/21/13 9:56 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Brother Pussycat 3/22/13 4:38 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Dream Walker 3/21/13 2:32 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Elijah Smith 4/24/13 5:34 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Rob Wynge 5/10/13 10:00 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 5/10/13 11:10 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Rob Wynge 5/10/13 11:14 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Pål S. 12/6/13 4:23 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Elijah Smith 5/10/13 5:22 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Jane Laurel Carrington 3/22/13 4:47 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 3/22/13 11:20 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Jane Laurel Carrington 3/22/13 12:46 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Rob Wynge 3/22/13 9:58 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 3/23/13 12:19 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Rob Wynge 3/23/13 12:32 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 5/11/17 6:11 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 5/11/17 6:12 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Jane Laurel Carrington 4/1/13 6:49 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 4/1/13 7:17 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Jane Laurel Carrington 4/1/13 8:06 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 4/1/13 8:17 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Some Guy 4/1/13 9:08 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? This Good Self 4/1/13 11:32 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Pål S. 4/2/13 5:07 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Cedric . 4/2/13 6:49 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? This Good Self 4/2/13 10:28 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 4/3/13 12:30 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Pål S. 4/3/13 4:22 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Simon Ekstrand 4/3/13 6:26 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? This Good Self 4/4/13 2:35 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Dan From Virginia 4/4/13 8:23 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 4/4/13 7:33 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Dan From Virginia 4/5/13 8:56 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Jane Laurel Carrington 4/5/13 9:19 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Dan From Virginia 4/5/13 1:14 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 4/5/13 1:15 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 4/5/13 1:55 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Dan From Virginia 4/5/13 7:01 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Elijah Smith 5/9/13 10:21 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Dan From Virginia 8/29/13 11:37 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Dan From Virginia 4/5/13 7:02 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? M B 5/11/17 6:14 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? M B 4/2/13 3:03 AM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? fivebells . 4/1/13 8:00 PM
RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety? Chris Dipster 4/1/13 8:06 PM
By "overcome anxiety", I don't mean permanent deactivation of fight-or-flight response, but rather the ability to fully control one's behavior and act rationally in the midst of intense danger?

Allow me to use a ridiculously over-the-top scenario:

Let's say you have a fear of snakes and public speaking. Could you, after successful meditative practice, deliver a captivating speech to an auditorium holding thousands of people with a python dangling over your head?

Although I assume meditation will eventually help the anxiety system cool down dramatically (am I correct in assuming this), can you have complete freedom within the most intense anxiety?

Thanks.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/20/13 11:27 AM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
That's one of the questions I asked in my thread on anxiety and phobias. The truth for me so far is that I am worse than when I started, phobia-wise. I got third path on New Year's Eve. However, I don't mind quite so much as I once did. I say "quite" because there are still times when I do mind a good deal. The problem with insight meditation in particular is that there are stages on the path when a person is more inclined to anxiety because that is precisely what the practice uncovers (which is why I think I'm worse). The more the ego comes under attack, the more it goes on the defensive. People tell me that it's worst after third path, awaiting final release. I am finding that to be the case.

In addition, I'll say that while some people may have succeeded at getting rid of phobias, the conditioning of the mind can be so powerful that the stickiness of phobias defies intervention. I've worked at desensitizing over and over again, and what happens is it gradually gets better, even to the point where I think I'm over it, but then a new exposure can suddenly throw me all the way back to square one, especially after a lapse of a couple of weeks. Maybe after 4th path I'll have a different story. In the meantime, I'd avoid speaking in a packed auditorium with a python dangling over your head.

For the record: I speak in public with no trouble pretty much every day, sometimes to large audiences with little preparation, and have been happy at the reptile exhibit in the Children's Museum wrapping a lovely snake around me and caressing its smooth skin. But stick a stringed instrument in my hand and ask me to play for one 5-year-old and I shake like a leaf. Sitting in the back of the viola section playing an orchestral concert will induce the desire to run out of the room. Thinking about playing an upcoming concert will raise a feeling of malaise for weeks in advance. I'm also terrified of driving on freeways (ordinary roads are mostly fine). I'm waiting a bit to see when and whether it's time to throw in the towel once and for all and own it as my peculiar disability.

Another example: Mohamar Quaddafi, tough guy, could not endure getting on an elevator. I stopped feeling ashamed of myself (well, I started to stop) after hearing that story. It may be apocryphal, but even so, people who seem to have no fear can react strongly to specialized situations.

One final word: at times of intense danger, as for example once when I found myself staring down the barrel of a gun (literally), I have become calm enough to drop all fear and do whatever was needed with total rationality and control, including driving on the hated freeway. The trauma registers after the fact.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/20/13 11:38 AM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
Wow, I'm sorry to hear that, Jane.

I'd personally opt for surgical damage my amygdala before I'd accept a life full of fear. But before I do something extreme like neurosurgery, I want to give meditation a go.

Is it possible that something in your meditative practice has gone haywire? I say this because almost all the research I've sampled on PubMed seems to support the idea that Meditation helps regulate amygdala activity (of course, to what extent is something I'm trying to find out for myself).

For the record, I neither fear public speaking nor snakes, but I thought my question was best illustrated with an example.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/20/13 11:53 AM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Based on my limited experience, and my limited achievements in meditation, I have a couple of thoughts. This is an issue that I have worked with over some time.

As an initial matter, I would try not to rely on meditation to address a specific concern, which may be better handled with behavioral therapy or even a medication. (There is behavior therapy for either of the things you bring up, and there are medications one can take to handle a public speaking engagement). In my humble experience, meditation is much more for the "big picture" issue of dhukka (unsatisfactoriness/suffering) rather than a "fix" for a specific behavior or response someone has in a specific situation.

I had to hear statements like this at least 50+ times before it sunk in. I believe Ingram, among others, have addressed this in their books.

I will try to limit my remaining thoughts to only what might be useful to you. Some people might experience greater anxiety at times, related to meditation. However, meditation might help you de-stress generally, over time.

It might also help you to stop feeling self-blame from thoughts like "I shouldn't be feeling this anxiety" and instead let you just let go of the feeling, once it passes. The anxiety can just be a set of passing, transitory, physical and mental reactions that aren't "you" and you don't need to feel upset over feeling. I like to think of the sutta where the Buddha talks about a man being struck with either one or two darts - sorry I don't have the cite handy.

Best of luck with your practice.

EDIT - after seeing the preceedings two replies, it looks like public speaking isn't your specific concern, Chris. As to your specific question of whether a "successful" mediator can "fully" control fear reactions, I do not know. Some of the research on brain function you might be citing, above, might show a change in some indications of brain function on a scan, but what does that mean in real life, functional terms? etc.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/20/13 11:49 AM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
It's not quite as bad as I'm making it sound, at least not most of the time, but then again, I have occasionally wished to have my amygdala excised and be done with it. I'm not really serious about that, though.

I don't think my meditative practice has gone haywire, but I do think that dry vipassana is one of the more challenging approaches a person can take, and that is the approach to which I, like a moth to a flame, have been attracted. It's possible that a greater focus on samatha can take the nerves down a notch or two. But I wanted the big bang for the buck, and went for noting and bare attention. I don't regret it--it's been amazingly successful in terms of progress over a short time--but there are costs along the way. I am thinking now about more of a metta-based practice for the home stretch.

I do not know what to make of all the accolades for meditation as a form of stress relief. I have tentatively concluded that the people who benefit are probably wired differently than I am, so I'm sure some people do benefit. I'm also sure that whatever they're doing, they're not dismantling the illusion of self over a period of months. If they are, it's unlikely that they're feeling comfortable with it all the time. So think carefully about your goals, and about the type of meditation you wish to pursue. And along those lines, how phobias might respond to such an approach would depend entirely on the strength of the lingering effects of trauma in the brain.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/20/13 12:06 PM as a reply to Mike H..
Mike Howard:

As an initial matter, I would try not to rely on meditation to address a specific concern, which may be better handled with behavioral therapy or even a medication. (There is behavior therapy for either of the things you bring up, and there are medications one can take to handle a public speaking engagement). In my humble experience, meditation is much more for the "big picture" issue of dhukka (unsatisfactoriness/suffering) rather than a "fix" for a specific behavior or response someone has in a specific situation.


Unfortunately, I'm already trying the behavioral therapy and it's not enough. Meditation is last hope before I take extreme measures.

I've been reading Shinzen's PDFs and watching his videos, and I was under the impression that meditation could be so potent that one could actually exhibit fearless behavior after successful practice (Basically like being on Benzos but without the nasty side effects), but I'm starting to get the sense that this isn't the case. Meditation seems more akin breathing retraining or positive visualization in terms of effectiveness for anxiety.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/20/13 12:15 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
It is good that you are already working on these other approaches then, even if, unfortunately, they aren't really working at this point. I hope you find some way of addressing these issues. Personally, i have an issue with public speaking and i take a medication before I have such an event, and thankfully that solves most of my acute problems with that.

I think it is ultimately very hard to say what the effectiveness of meditation would be for different peoples' anxieties or fear responses, in different situations. Shinzen Young tends to strike me as a very optimistic teacher, but I really don't have any basis to disagree with him, or dispute him.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/20/13 12:32 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Chris Dipster:

Unfortunately, I'm already trying the behavioral therapy and it's not enough. Meditation is last hope before I take extreme measures.


Sorry to hear that things are that bad. I'd say without question that my meditation practice has placed distance between me and the stuff I'm afraid of, so there may still be fear manifesting, and I may not like it, but I know now that it is not me. This does really help alleviate suffering, even if the fear is still there. It begins to take on the significance of a big nuisance and a pain in the neck, not a drama. The stress response manifests, but it's like a hangnail or a toothache (depending on intensity). Not that toothache is inconsequential, but it's not as big a drama as an existential crisis.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/20/13 2:36 PM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
Chris,

I used to suffer from anxiety. I don't anymore. And I promise you, I had it worse than you. I'm talking panic attacks that lasted for days..endless worrying I had Schizophrenia..etc..And I cured myself. Without drugs. Naturally.

Most of the benefit came from...(this was before I meditated)

1. Exercise
2. Diet.Go Paleo
3. Sleep
4. Try the positivity challenge..also known as the 7 day mental diet.
http://vst.cape.com/~rch/fox.html
5. Relaxation exercises

The above 5 things took me from supremely anxious person to nearly normal, or just your everyday slightly neurotic person. But adding meditation has really calmed me down.

I think the problem that people like Jane run into is that they don't spend enough time doing Shamatha practice. There are people like Alan Wallace who recommend that you reach Shamatha before even beginning insight practice. That if you don't do shamatha, then things won't go as smoothly as they could if you just did insight practice.

I haven't reached shamatha yet, or even close, so I haven't started insight practice, but I highly recommend doing concentration exercises (shamatha). If I do two hours a day, it really does feel like I took a xanax.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/20/13 11:56 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P:
Chris,

I used to suffer from anxiety. I don't anymore. And I promise you, I had it worse than you. I'm talking panic attacks that lasted for days..endless worrying I had Schizophrenia..etc..And I cured myself. Without drugs. Naturally.

Most of the benefit came from...(this was before I meditated)

1. Exercise
2. Diet.Go Paleo
3. Sleep
4. Try the positivity challenge..also known as the 7 day mental diet.
http://vst.cape.com/~rch/fox.html
5. Relaxation exercises

The above 5 things took me from supremely anxious person to nearly normal, or just your everyday slightly neurotic person. But adding meditation has really calmed me down.

I think the problem that people like Jane run into is that they don't spend enough time doing Shamatha practice. There are people like Alan Wallace who recommend that you reach Shamatha before even beginning insight practice. That if you don't do shamatha, then things won't go as smoothly as they could if you just did insight practice.

I haven't reached shamatha yet, or even close, so I haven't started insight practice, but I highly recommend doing concentration exercises (shamatha). If I do two hours a day, it really does feel like I took a xanax.


I don't want the cure to include anything other than my own mental fortitude. I currently lift weights and get a sufficient amount of sleep, but I want to reach the state where even if I could no longer exercise nor experience deep sleep that I wouldn't be compromised by anxiety.

Changing diets and using relaxation techniques are dicey propositions. I recognize they worked for you, but I want to be able to ingest as many stimulants, carbs, etc. as I desire and put myself in continuously high stress environments without succumbing to anxiety.

I am of the mind that if one can in principle be cured of anxiety afflictions through meditation alone then I'll either do it or will die trying. Anxiety and anxiety alone is the sole focus of my life. I use to read a wide variety of literature and have indulge in many interests. Now, I spend nearly every waking hour thinking about anxiety and how I can cure myself of it and it's been that way for over a year. So now I'm finally going to put my obsessive thoughts and my attention to detail to good use.

Meditation is a delicate technique to begin with, but my guess is that the difference between people that greatly improve and people that completely improve is probably so subtle that I'll need to be attuned to every minute detail.

The trick is going to be remaining focused and motivated when I'm let's say 80% improved. Thankfully I'm an extreme perfectionist and harsh critic. It'll be tempting to forget about the remaining 20%, but I definitely have concrete goals as a way to measure how far along I am. If any goal remains unchecked then I know that I can't rest just yet.

Another thing working for me is that my meditation will revolve around anxiety and nothing else. If any component of my meditative exercises addresses something other than anxiety then I will either alter it or throw it away.

If I succeed and totally conquer anxiety, I'll be sure to let everyone here know and exactly how I did it.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/21/13 9:40 AM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Chris,

I don't want the cure to include anything other than my own mental fortitude. I currently lift weights and get a sufficient amount of sleep, but I want to reach the state where even if I could no longer exercise nor experience deep sleep that I wouldn't be compromised by anxiety.

Changing diets and using relaxation techniques are dicey propositions. I recognize they worked for you, but I want to be able to ingest as many stimulants, carbs, etc. as I desire and put myself in continuously high stress environments without succumbing to anxiety.



You think if I eat a slice of pizza now I will freak out and start having anxiety? Haha, of course not. It doesn't work like that.I can go into high stress environments, public speeches, dates, job interviews, etc and not feel anxiety because my body no longer produces the stress response to anywhere near the level it once did.

The reason you feel anxiety is because your body and brain are out of working order. Your amygdala is overactive, you produce too many stress hormones and your body is in a mild state of flight or fight response nearly all the time. I'm sure you know this.

Imagine being obese and trying to lose weight. You should do everything you can to lose weight. Diet, exercise, sleep, everything. And once you lose weight and get in shape, you can eat slice of pizza here and there and you are not suddenly become fat overnight. You can miss a week of working out and you aren't suddenly going to lose all that muscle you built instantly. Your body is now in good working order, you are in good shape and it is not going to suddenly fall to pieces just because you missed a couple of workouts or ate some cake.

And once you do everything you can to quell your body's stress response you are not suddenly going to freak out if you miss working out for a week or drink a cup of coffee. Why? Because your body and brain are in good working order, in good enough shape to withstand high pressure situations, stimulants, etc.. and not go haywire.

It is not like I still spend 30 minutes a day doing relaxation exercises. I don't need to do them anymore. I still eat very healthy, workout a few times a week, etc. But I do that not because I need to because of anxiety, but because I like it, it makes me feel good, I am in fantastic shape, I am incredibly healthy and I want to live to 120.

I am of the mind that if one can in principle be cured of anxiety afflictions through meditation alone then I'll either do it or will die trying. Anxiety and anxiety alone is the sole focus of my life. I use to read a wide variety of literature and have indulge in many interests. Now, I spend nearly every waking hour thinking about anxiety and how I can cure myself of it and it's been that way for over a year. So now I'm finally going to put my obsessive thoughts and my attention to detail to good use.



The prognosis for people with anxiety is good. It is one of the most treatable mental afflictions out there. Millions of people have suffered from anxiety and millions of people have got ridden of it. There is formula for how to do it. You don't need to reinvent the wheel. There are millions of people who have done it and we know how to do it. Just do what they did. That's what I did and it worked.

The main book I read that really saved me was The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. I bought that book. Followed the directions to a T, and Voila! Anxiety went away.

Meditation is included in the program by the way,

I have given that book to a half dozen people who suffered from anxiety and all of them were helped tremendously by the book to the point where they no longer get anxiety at any rate different than normal people.

The only people who don't get they anxiety handled are the people who don't follow the prescription. The people who think "Oh that may have worked for you, but it won't work for me! I'm special, I am somehow different than every other human out there. My body is an anomaly". Those are the people who never get fixed.


I am of the mind that if one can in principle be cured of anxiety afflictions through meditation alone then I'll either do it or will die trying.


This is like saying "If in principle I can build a car using only a screwdriver and a screwdriver alone than I'll either do it or will die trying." Why limit yourself to only one tool in the toolbox?

Not even the Buddha would say you should only use meditation to cure anxiety and nothing else. Have you heard about the whole Noble eightfold path? There is a whole lot of stuff in there besides meditation. The majority of it, actually. Most of it to do with how you live your normal every day life in a way that won't produce stress.

The trick is going to be remaining focused and motivated when I'm let's say 80% improved. Thankfully I'm an extreme perfectionist and harsh critic. It'll be tempting to forget about the remaining 20%, but I definitely have concrete goals as a way to measure how far along I am. If any goal remains unchecked then I know that I can't rest just yet


Ironically, the key to success in meditation, and what meditation primarily is, is just learning how to REST. It is focused relaxation, at least the shamatha path.

Another thing working for me is that my meditation will revolve around anxiety and nothing else. If any component of my meditative exercises addresses something other than anxiety then I will either alter it or throw it away.

If I succeed and totally conquer anxiety, I'll be sure to let everyone here know and exactly how I did it.


You don't see it now, but this kind of attitude is the product of anxiety. Just relax. You think anxiety is this huge unstoppable demon that you need to figure out a new way of beating and if you do you will tell the world!

But it's not. Anxiety is easy to beat. Although trust me, I understand from your perspective how crazy that sounds..I was once there. But really it is. All you have to do is follow the directions. Get the anxiety and phobia workbook, and follow the directions.

1. Eat healthy..Paleo..recommended
2. Exercise
3. Sleep
4. Practice cognitive-behavioral-therapy... a fancy term for replacing negative thought patterns with more positive, rational ones
5.Do 30 minutes of relaxation exercises a day. I recommend muscle relaxation.
6. Meditate.

It won't happen overnight. It takes time. Just like a fat person won't become skinny overnight. It takes time. Your brain needs to re-wire itself.

Good luck man.

Feel free to hit me up with any questions.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/21/13 10:35 AM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P:
Chris,

I don't want the cure to include anything other than my own mental fortitude. I currently lift weights and get a sufficient amount of sleep, but I want to reach the state where even if I could no longer exercise nor experience deep sleep that I wouldn't be compromised by anxiety.

Changing diets and using relaxation techniques are dicey propositions. I recognize they worked for you, but I want to be able to ingest as many stimulants, carbs, etc. as I desire and put myself in continuously high stress environments without succumbing to anxiety.



You think if I eat a slice of pizza now I will freak out and start having anxiety? Haha, of course not. It doesn't work like that.I can go into high stress environments, public speeches, dates, job interviews, etc and not feel anxiety because my body no longer produces the stress response to anywhere near the level it once did.

The reason you feel anxiety is because your body and brain are out of working order. Your amygdala is overactive, you produce too many stress hormones and your body is in a mild state of flight or fight response nearly all the time. I'm sure you know this.

Imagine being obese and trying to lose weight. You should do everything you can to lose weight. Diet, exercise, sleep, everything. And once you lose weight and get in shape, you can eat slice of pizza here and there and you are not suddenly become fat overnight. You can miss a week of working out and you aren't suddenly going to lose all that muscle you built instantly. Your body is now in good working order, you are in good shape and it is not going to suddenly fall to pieces just because you missed a couple of workouts or ate some cake.

And once you do everything you can to quell your body's stress response you are not suddenly going to freak out if you miss working out for a week or drink a cup of coffee. Why? Because your body and brain are in good working order, in good enough shape to withstand high pressure situations, stimulants, etc.. and not go haywire.

It is not like I still spend 30 minutes a day doing relaxation exercises. I don't need to do them anymore. I still eat very healthy, workout a few times a week, etc. But I do that not because I need to because of anxiety, but because I like it, it makes me feel good, I am in fantastic shape, I am incredibly healthy and I want to live to 120.

I am of the mind that if one can in principle be cured of anxiety afflictions through meditation alone then I'll either do it or will die trying. Anxiety and anxiety alone is the sole focus of my life. I use to read a wide variety of literature and have indulge in many interests. Now, I spend nearly every waking hour thinking about anxiety and how I can cure myself of it and it's been that way for over a year. So now I'm finally going to put my obsessive thoughts and my attention to detail to good use.



The prognosis for people with anxiety is good. It is one of the most treatable mental afflictions out there. Millions of people have suffered from anxiety and millions of people have got ridden of it. There is formula for how to do it. You don't need to reinvent the wheel. There are millions of people who have done it and we know how to do it. Just do what they did. That's what I did and it worked.

The main book I read that really saved me was The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. I bought that book. Followed the directions to a T, and Voila! Anxiety went away.

Meditation is included in the program by the way,

I have given that book to a half dozen people who suffered from anxiety and all of them were helped tremendously by the book to the point where they no longer get anxiety at any rate different than normal people.

The only people who don't get they anxiety handled are the people who don't follow the prescription. The people who think "Oh that may have worked for you, but it won't work for me! I'm special, I am somehow different than every other human out there. My body is an anomaly". Those are the people who never get fixed.


I am of the mind that if one can in principle be cured of anxiety afflictions through meditation alone then I'll either do it or will die trying.


This is like saying "If in principle I can build a car using only a screwdriver and a screwdriver alone than I'll either do it or will die trying." Why limit yourself to only one tool in the toolbox?

Not even the Buddha would say you should only use meditation to cure anxiety and nothing else. Have you heard about the whole Noble eightfold path? There is a whole lot of stuff in there besides meditation. The majority of it, actually. Most of it to do with how you live your normal every day life in a way that won't produce stress.

The trick is going to be remaining focused and motivated when I'm let's say 80% improved. Thankfully I'm an extreme perfectionist and harsh critic. It'll be tempting to forget about the remaining 20%, but I definitely have concrete goals as a way to measure how far along I am. If any goal remains unchecked then I know that I can't rest just yet


Ironically, the key to success in meditation, and what meditation primarily is, is just learning how to REST. It is focused relaxation, at least the shamatha path.

Another thing working for me is that my meditation will revolve around anxiety and nothing else. If any component of my meditative exercises addresses something other than anxiety then I will either alter it or throw it away.

If I succeed and totally conquer anxiety, I'll be sure to let everyone here know and exactly how I did it.


You don't see it now, but this kind of attitude is the product of anxiety. Just relax. You think anxiety is this huge unstoppable demon that you need to figure out a new way of beating and if you do you will tell the world!

But it's not. Anxiety is easy to beat. Although trust me, I understand from your perspective how crazy that sounds..I was once there. But really it is. All you have to do is follow the directions. Get the anxiety and phobia workbook, and follow the directions.

1. Eat healthy..Paleo..recommended
2. Exercise
3. Sleep
4. Practice cognitive-behavioral-therapy... a fancy term for replacing negative thought patterns with more positive, rational ones
5.Do 30 minutes of relaxation exercises a day. I recommend muscle relaxation.
6. Meditate.

It won't happen overnight. It takes time. Just like a fat person won't become skinny overnight. It takes time. Your brain needs to re-wire itself.

Good luck man.

Feel free to hit me up with any questions.


I've read The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook (5th Edition) and just about every textbook on CBT/Mindfully-based Cognitive Therapy (Internet piracy is a wonderful thing) that I could get my hands on.

How they define "cure" is not how I define it. So their formula means bubkes to me.

These books are a recipe for mediocrity. I'm looking to be exceptional.

Looking at Meditation as if it is just one tool in the toolbox is the wrong analogy. Relaxation Techniques, dietary adjustments, breathing retraining are contraindicated in many anxiety afflictions because they can easily become safety behaviors and forms of avoidance (e.g., breathing retraining to avoid fight-or-flight symptoms). Safety behaviors and avoidance are fuel for anxiety -- that's cognitive-behavioral therapy 101.

I've already experienced with this for myself. I once used Magnesium supplements and noticed a decline in my anxiety. I stopped using them for that very reason. I know that sounds stupid, but that's how serious I am about my goals.

If I was content for any amount of improvement then I'll just pump myself up with Benzos and become an obese, lethargic dullard pushing paper at a dead end job. But I assure you that's not going to happen. I'd never accept that fate.

Many psychologists, psychotherapists and mental health professionals figure that whatever it takes to get to get clients functional is sufficient. They don't care if they're laying out roadblocks to keep you from being exceptional. I don't begrudge people that are perfectly content with scenario, but that's simply not good enough for me.

People that achieve at high level don't usually worry about eating like a caveman, performing PMR or avoiding stressful situations. Unlike psychologists, I study successful people that achieve great things.

The biggest difference between the Woody Allen-type and a World Leader isn't solely their anxiety system (which I do think would improve with meditation anyway), but the difference in tolerance for uncertainty, fight-or-flight, pressure and discomfort. Don't get me wrong, I love Woody Allen as much as the next guy, but I'd prefer to act more like a president than a pitiful schmuck.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/21/13 11:37 AM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Chris,

From where I sit (and indeed it isn't really my business), you are speaking shockingly impolite to Jinxed P. Jinx'ed recovery from anxiety sounds anything but mediocre. On the contrary it sounds like he gave anxiety a back alley beatdown. I genuinely hope you find the miraculous cure you are describing. But it sure sounds like you are spoiling for a philosophical fight rather than addressing a burdensome case of anxiety.

aac

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/21/13 12:18 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
How they define "cure" is not how I define it. So their formula means bubkes to me.

These books are a recipe for mediocrity. I'm looking to be exceptional.


AKA..you never followed their advice, and are still anxious..and still searching for a cure..hmm...I wonder why?

I'm sorry for the tough love, but you are Exhibit A of a person who never gets cured and remains anxious..because for some strange reason they come up with excuses of why what works for everyone else won't work for them.

Listen, I understand where you are coming from. But you have to learn how to walk before you can run. To become exceptional you have to be normal first. Michael Jordan didn't just walk out on to a basketball court and start doing 360 dunks. He learned to shoot a lay up first.

I don't ever want to feel the slightest tint of stress or worry again either. But to get there I am going to do everything possible (not just meditate). I also know that I couldn't meditate when I was really anxious (meditation actually made it worse), and that to be able to meditate I had to calm my anxiety down. There is also a reason why monks live in monasteries, take vows of celibacy, shave their heads, wear robes all that stuff. It's because they want to reduce every possible source of stress in their life so as to be able to meditate more effectively. No one 'just' meditates. If they did they wouldn't get very far. Even in Ingram's MTCB what is the very first training? Morality. I.E ..living your life in such a way as to reduce worry and stress. Then comes meditation. Otherwise meditation will simply not be very effective, unless you get all that other stuff handled.



Looking at Meditation as if it is just one tool in the toolbox is the wrong analogy. Relaxation Techniques, dietary adjustments, breathing retraining are contraindicated in many anxiety afflictions because they can easily become safety behaviors and forms of avoidance (e.g., breathing retraining to avoid fight-or-flight symptoms). Safety behaviors and avoidance are fuel for anxiety -- that's cognitive-behavioral therapy 10


And is meditation your new safety behavior and form of avoidance? emoticon Why you think meditation is somehow different in this respect I don't know...but your fears are unfounded anyway..

You are looking at relaxation techniques the wrong way. You are looking at them as a crutch for when you feel anxious in a particular moment. I think they are good in that they can calm you down for those moments, but I recommend them for a different reason. You have to re-wire your brain to become calm as a BASELINE. That is what you want. The way to do this is become calm more often, its like an upward spiral. You do this by doing relaxation techniques, not just for feeling more calm in that particular moment, but because by doing relaxation techniques you are re-wiring your brain to feel calm. And the more calm you feel the more the 'calm' part of your brain gets exercised and the stronger it becomes. Eventually calm becomes the 'norm' and you no longer need to do the relaxation exercises.


Many psychologists, psychotherapists and mental health professionals figure that whatever it takes to get to get clients functional is sufficient. They don't care if they're laying out roadblocks to keep you from being exceptional. I don't begrudge people that are perfectly content with scenario, but that's simply not good enough for me.


Haha..a healthy diet does not become a 'roadblock' to being exceptional. Think about that for a second...when in the history of the world has the following conversation ever took place?

"Man, that guy Joe could have been great. But the poor fellow wouldn't stop eating his grass fed beef and vegetables."

Haha. Never. Never has that been said.

It's like riding a bike. First you learn with training wheels. Eventually you get to a point where you can throw the training wheels a way.

You want to go from A to Z, but skip all the steps in between. But it just doesn't work like that. It's a recipe for failure.


People that achieve at high level don't usually worry about eating like a caveman, performing PMR or avoiding stressful situations. Unlike psychologists, I study successful people that achieve great things.


I'm not quite sure what your idea of success is..but it is probably very different from the people on this board. Your definition of success seems to be something along the lines of wealth/fame/high status all the things Buddhists would tell your are false idols. And as Malcolm Gladwell would say, those people who do achieve 'great' things are usually driven by a deep seated insecurity. The farther you go along the buddhist path the more you will realize this is true. Your desire to be 'great' to be 'exceptional' in the sense you are using it is nothing but the symptom of some insecurity.

Most people here would say that success is extreme mental health 'freedom from suffering' , and endowed with positive mental states, love, compassion, kindness, and that someone like Donald Trump who if you follow his twitter is obviously a fairly miserable person is not successful, but a failure.

But I think you would be wrong if you said that 'successful' people don't think a healthy lifestyle contributes to their success. But don't take my word for it. Take Richard Branson's.

Richard Branson on exercise

President Obama works out for an hour every single morning.



The biggest difference between the Woody Allen-type and a World Leader isn't solely their anxiety system (which I do think would improve with meditation anyway), but the difference in tolerance for uncertainty, fight-or-flight, pressure and discomfort. Don't get me wrong, I love Woody Allen as much as the next guy, but I'd prefer to act more like a president than a pitiful schmuck.


I agree. But you can't go for a pitiful schmuck to a world leader without becoming 'normal' first.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/21/13 1:10 PM as a reply to anti anti camper.
All of this is very instructive. I am inclined to make a confession, which is that a part of me does seem to think that what works for other people won't work for me. I am a true drama queen, I think I'm special, and that my suffering is much greater than anyone else's, my brain chemistry far more complex than regular folks' and thus I take refuge in the knowledge that no one has ever been as sensitive as I. emoticon Which, when I put it this way, sounds so ridiculous that all I can do is laugh. So I will revisit that workbook and get motivated to take on some of the interventions I've been ignoring. Thanks, Jinxed P!

However, there's one clarification: I think anxiety in general is not completely the same as dealing with a phobia. My experience with phobias is that they are extremely sticky. Jinxed P may not have had entrenched phobias (I don't know), or if he did, these methods might have helped him but may not do the same for everyone (even the followup to that workbook admits this). So then the trick is to avoid letting phobias grow into something that dominates a person's life. My meditation practice has in fact stopped them from doing that, plus I'm reserving judgment on whether said phobias might disappear altogether at a later point in my practice. They just haven't done so yet.

Jinxed P is correct in recommending samatha. I'd add metta to the list. I might even do some metta practice aimed at my sweet little lizard brain, which is only trying to protect me. I can see wanting to cut it out (surgically), but that is not a particularly loving thing to do. I prefer to have compassion on the little darling, even if it irritates me at times.

The one thing I'll say to Chris is that being human means learning to live with imperfection and vulnerability, even after attaining what we folks here call awakening. People who think they can crash through that ceiling are kidding themselves. Perfectionism is not a guiding principle for this practice, but a phenomenon in oneself (and others) to be investigated with compassion and an open mind. I truly sympathize with Chris, however, having many times wished I could be a deva in a new incarnation and live with complete ease. What I aim for instead are the Four Divine Abidings: Loving-kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy, and Equanimity. We can't arrive at any of those places without truthfully touching our own pain, over and over again, and owning it, loving it, loving ourselves with it, recognizing it and loving it deeply in others, and ultimately resting in the faith that This Is It, It has always been It, and will always be It. All of my best wishes to all of you for your most authentic and profound happiness, and may you awaken in this lifetime.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/21/13 1:24 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Let's say you're afraid of heights and your task is to climb Mount Everest.

If you avoid the task (the most basic type of safety behavior) then obviously you won't get off the ground.

If you take medication you could probably work up the courage to start climbing, but combined with the nasty side effects of the drugs and the lack of cognitive restructuring, you probably wouldn't get very far.

Let's say you do a radical lifestyle change by making all the right dietary choices, maintaining a regular practice of relaxation techniques, visualizing your self on the beach, having your quinoa and beans in your knapsack, listening to enya's voice sing over the roaring sound of a waterfall, etc. you'd probably get somewhat further, but it takes an entire constellation of external factors to coincide. What happens when the high levels of CO2 starts to kick in at higher altitudes? If you couple that with the same irrational fear of heights, suddenly your body--despite all the elaborate precautions--still tailspins into a full blown panic attack. I doubt you'll reach the top.

If you find a way to be totally unburdened by physical sensations (i.e., successful meditative practice), you can optimally perform under intense conditions. This is the only possibility of reaching the top. It wouldn't matter if you downed four cups of coffee, ate a twinkie and found out that you were just terminated from your job before you left.

The people capable of enduring immense stress in extraneous circumstances achieve great things. People that need the stars to align in order to function do not achieve great things. That's just a fact.

I probably am chasing false idols or whatever you want to call it, and I'm probably the poster child for the westerner that wants enlightenment as a means for unenlightened ends, but that doesn't change the fact that I'm going to be as diligent as possible. And I don't care if my meditation leads to anything other than the freedom of anxiety. I don't expect to be improved in any other way.

If I conquered anxiety, then I'd definitely consider using Magnesium and maybe some other supplements if I thought that it could regulate my anxiety system. Otherwise, it will be an impediment.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/21/13 1:36 PM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
Jane Laurel Carrington:


The one thing I'll say to Chris is that being human means learning to live with imperfection and vulnerability, even after attaining what we folks here call awakening. People who think they can crash through that ceiling are kidding themselves. Perfectionism is not a guiding principle for this practice, but a phenomenon in oneself (and others) to be investigated with compassion and an open mind. I truly sympathize with Chris, however, having many times wished I could be a deva in a new incarnation and live with complete ease. What I aim for instead are the Four Divine Abidings: Loving-kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy, and Equanimity. We can't arrive at any of those places without truthfully touching our own pain, over and over again, and owning it, loving it, loving ourselves with it, recognizing it and loving it deeply in others, and ultimately resting in the faith that This Is It, It has always been It, and will always be It. All of my best wishes to all of you for your most authentic and profound happiness, and may you awaken in this lifetime.


I'm sorry to hear you couldn't "crash through the ceiling". But your past experiences don't dictate my possibilities (And I'm not convinced that you couldn't vastly improve either). If I followed your thinking, I'd say it's impossible to make the NFL. No matter how much time and effort I spent practicing and how many steroids I used, I would never be fast enough to play on that level. Obviously since people do play in the NFL, my limitations are not universal.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/21/13 1:59 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Chris Dipster:

I'm sorry to hear you couldn't "crash through the ceiling". But your past experiences don't dictate my possibilities (And I'm not convinced that you couldn't vastly improve either). If I followed your thinking, I'd say it's impossible to make the NFL. No matter how much time and effort I spent practicing and how many steroids I used, I would never be fast enough to play on that level. Obviously since people do play in the NFL, my limitations are not universal.


I fully understand why you would want that. I also acknowledge that you and I obviously want different things. I sincerely hope that you find what you are looking for.

Laurel

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/21/13 2:24 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Chris Dipster:
Let's say you're afraid of heights and your task is to climb Mount Everest.

If you avoid the task (the most basic type of safety behavior) then obviously you won't get off the ground.

If you take medication you could probably work up the courage to start climbing, but combined with the nasty side effects of the drugs and the lack of cognitive restructuring, you probably wouldn't get very far.

Let's say you do a radical lifestyle change by making all the right dietary choices, maintaining a regular practice of relaxation techniques, visualizing your self on the beach, having your quinoa and beans in your knapsack, listening to enya's voice sing over the roaring sound of a waterfall, etc. you'd probably get somewhat further, but it takes an entire constellation of external factors to coincide. What happens when the high levels of CO2 starts to kick in at higher altitudes? If you couple that with the same irrational fear of heights, suddenly your body--despite all the elaborate precautions--still tailspins into a full blown panic attack. I doubt you'll reach the top.

If you find a way to be totally unburdened by physical sensations (i.e., successful meditative practice), you can optimally perform under intense conditions. This is the only possibility of reaching the top. It wouldn't matter if you downed four cups of coffee, ate a twinkie and found out that you were just terminated from your job before you left.

The people capable of enduring immense stress in extraneous circumstances achieve great things. People that need the stars to align in order to function do not achieve great things. That's just a fact.
.



Chris,

two things.

1)I think you may have an unrealistic expectation of where enlightenment will get you. For instance, the Dalai Lama with all his meditative accomplishment (hours upon hours a day since he was four years old) still got scared when he first started flying in airplanes.

2)You have a false assumption that relaxation techniques, good diet..etc.. are crutches.

They aren't.

They are ways of changing the functioning of your brain so that it doesn't produce the stress response. Of PERMANENTLY changing the way your neurons function. What would happen if you 'imaginary scenario' is that the person would do relaxation techniques, eat healthy ( I don't eat quinoa or beans..more like a nice steak and a sweet potato), coupled with climbing smaller mountains first. Then what would happen at the higher altitudes of everest? They wouldn't freak out. Why? Because their body doesn't produce the flight or fight response. It's baseline level is one of calm, not of stress.

Another analogy:

Let's say Lance Armstrong has just been diagnosed with cancer..

Doctor: Lance you need to do chemotherapy
Lance: But I want to win the Tour De France!
Doctor: You can win the Tour De France, but you have to get rid of your cancer first.
Lance: But Jan Ullrich won the Tour De France and he didn't have do chemotherapy!!
Doctor: But Lance, Jan Ullrich doesn't have cancer. He doesn't need to do chemotherapy. You have cancer. You need to get rid of cancer. Once you do, you don't have to do chemotherapy anymore.

And the analogy to our conversation..

Jinxed: Chris you should eat healthy, do relaxation techniques
Chris: But I want to be a world leader!
Jinxed: You can be a world leader, but you have to get rid of your anxiety disorder first.
Chris: But Obama is a world leader and he doesn't have to eat paleo and do relaxation techniques!
Jinxed: But Chris, Barack Obama doesn't have an anxiety disorder. He doesn't need to do those things. You have an anxiety disorder. You need to get rid of it. Once you do, you don't have to do relaxation techniques anymore or eat healthy.


Anxiety is an illness just like any other. Relaxation techniques, eating healthy, sleep, exercise are the treatments. They are ways of changing the functioning of your brain and hormonal system to one of a baseline calm.

Once you are cured of your anxiety, you no longer have to use those treatments. Just like if you take antiobiotics for an infection, once the infection is gone you can stop taking antibiotics.

Myself, numerous people I know and millions of others around the world are walking proof that what I'm saying is true. I had an anxiety disorder, and I needed to do relaxation techniques, exercise, eat healthy etc... to get rid of it. But once I got rid of it, I no longer have an anxiety disorder. I don't need to do muscle relaxation before a job interview. The stars don't have to be aligned. I can get three hours of sleep the night before an 8am interview, go on an empty stomach and still not freak out about it. Why? Because I don't have an anxiety disorder anymore!

Your assumption that relaxation techniques, eating a healthy diet etc, are just crutches/band-aids is simply false. They are ways of curing the underlying disorder and once it's gone..you don't need to do those things anymore..

I don't know how to put it anymore bluntly.


Get it?

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/21/13 2:32 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Be suspicious of listening to yourself. You got where you are listening to yourself. Is the advice you give yourself go through the same scrutiny as others? Why or why not?

I used to think I could use my broken consciousness to fix my broken consciousness and I of course never questioned it because I was using my broken consciousness to avoid investigating it.
The more I investigate the patterns I engage in, the more I realize the effort it takes to be aware of the patterns and willingness to change them.
Good luck
~D

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/21/13 7:36 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
The Dali Lama was afraid to get on a plane??

I guess I've always had very high expectations of those at the top of the meditation game. I always felt that someone who had truly evolved would not be at all afraid of death. That was my main measuring stick. But also, anyone who is afraid of humiliation, embarrassment, personal harm, loneliness...all that.

You can see it in a person's eyes....all those things. It's quite sad. I feel disappointed hearing that. But it's good to have a reality check.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/21/13 7:51 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
The Dali Lama was afraid to get on a plane??

I guess I've always had very high expectations of those at the top of the meditation game. I always felt that someone who had truly evolved would not be at all afraid of death. That was my main measuring stick. But also, anyone who is afraid of humiliation, embarrassment, personal harm, loneliness...all that.

You can see it in a person's eyes....all those things. It's quite sad. I feel disappointed hearing that. But it's good to have a reality check.


I briefly practiced a TM-like meditation technique (Natural Stress Relief) for six weeks in order to quit smoking. After six weeks not only did I manage to quit smoking, my intense, obsessive fear of death actually evaporated.

You are probably are asking why on earth would I stop after such profound change. I don't have a good answer for this. I probably read one too many articles about how TM is a sinister cult and that the technique's potency is equivalent to any basic relaxation technique. Not to mention, I didn't have any other goals I needed to accomplish at that point, so I had little motivation to continue. I obviously regret that decision.

But I haven't worried about death in three years. This experience gives me hope because I can see profound the change can be after irregular, short-term practice. And I think Mindfulness coupled with my current mindset could be even more powerful and profound.

I do agree though that it's always discouraging to hear when the gurus exhibit neurotic behavior. Maybe they weren't as focused on conquering anxiety as we are.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/21/13 9:23 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Remember that there are other people here and in traditional structures claiming the end of things like anger anxiety etc.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/21/13 9:56 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/22/13 4:38 AM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P:


1)I think you may have an unrealistic expectation of where enlightenment will get you. For instance, the Dalai Lama with all his meditative accomplishment (hours upon hours a day since he was four years old) still got scared when he first started flying in airplanes.





AFAIK, he only started taking meditation seriously when he was in his twenties or so.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/22/13 4:47 AM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Okay, Chris, I found an answer: The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne. He says that with proper desensitization training, one should be able to do more than mitigate the symptoms, one should be able to eliminate the phobia. Desensitization is arduous and unpleasant, and there are setbacks during the process, which is why I have failed so far: I've gotten to a certain point and given up. If you are determined, though, this is apparently what works. He says success includes giving up all crutches. The process takes from 6 months to 2 years, 3 to 5 exposures a week. Before you let someone cut into your brain, get this book and give it a try.

As for meditation: I think it's highly successful at reducing overall stress levels when approached properly. Samantha is best for this, with a mixture of mindfulness. Dry vipassana can be counterproductive, but if your goal is awakening it is powerful. In my case, generalized anxiety has overall been significantly reduced, except during points in the cycle when it tends to spike a bit. When I first answered you on this thread it was spiking. My phobias have not gone away, but as I said I have not fully undertaken the desensitization. I tend to think that a meditation program can help a person face that process, if approached intelligently (I.e., without unrealistic expectations). It can allow a person not to identify with the physical experience of anxiety, which opens some space around it and allows one to continue with desensitization. Meditation as most people approach it on this forum is a means of awakening, of gaining direct, experiential insight into the three characteristics: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and no-self. It is not snake oil. Many people, including me, begin by hoping it will miraculously solve all our problems for us. It will not do that.

Thanks for posting this question and for persisting in pressing all of us on it. It has gotten me to face a few facts I needed to face.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/22/13 11:20 AM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
Jane Laurel Carrington:
Okay, Chris, I found an answer: The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne. He says that with proper desensitization training, one should be able to do more than mitigate the symptoms, one should be able to eliminate the phobia. Desensitization is arduous and unpleasant, and there are setbacks during the process, which is why I have failed so far: I've gotten to a certain point and given up. If you are determined, though, this is apparently what works. He says success includes giving up all crutches. The process takes from 6 months to 2 years, 3 to 5 exposures a week. Before you let someone cut into your brain, get this book and give it a try.

As for meditation: I think it's highly successful at reducing overall stress levels when approached properly. Samantha is best for this, with a mixture of mindfulness. Dry vipassana can be counterproductive, but if your goal is awakening it is powerful. In my case, generalized anxiety has overall been significantly reduced, except during points in the cycle when it tends to spike a bit. When I first answered you on this thread it was spiking. My phobias have not gone away, but as I said I have not fully undertaken the desensitization. I tend to think that a meditation program can help a person face that process, if approached intelligently (I.e., without unrealistic expectations). It can allow a person not to identify with the physical experience of anxiety, which opens some space around it and allows one to continue with desensitization. Meditation as most people approach it on this forum is a means of awakening, of gaining direct, experiential insight into the three characteristics: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and no-self. It is not snake oil. Many people, including me, begin by hoping it will miraculously solve all our problems for us. It will not do that.

Thanks for posting this question and for persisting in pressing all of us on it. It has gotten me to face a few facts I needed to face.


Jane: I've read that book. What Bourne is spelling out is graduated exposure therapy, which is at the heart of CBT. It should only take "6 months to 2 years" if you add crutches like relaxation techniques, breathing retraining, dietary changes, etc. If you simply engage in desensitization without any of that stuff it should happen much faster.

You have to push the densensitization as much is humanly possible. For example, you mentioned that you're afraid of freeways. If it's the speed on freeways that you dislike, then your goal should eventually be speeding on an autobahn.

You eventually want to be performing tasks that would make most people frightened with ease. That's how you become exceptional, not just functional.

One way to make the exposures more intense is to prime yourself with stimulants.

However, engaging in desensitization is very difficult. If my meditation can foster total peace of mind in the midst of intense fight-or-flight you can then have complete control to positively change your behaviors (i.e., endure desensitization) and then become cured. That's been my goal all along.

If I reach that then I would consider some of the things Jinxed mention as way to downregulate the anxiety system. Anxiety is like a terrorist. You don't make concessions for it and you certainly don't negotiate with it. Once you give it an inch, it will take a mile.

My goal is not awakening. If awakening is a necessary condition, then I'll strive for it, but my goal is to conquer anxiety. Nothing else.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/22/13 12:46 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Spoken like a true spiritual warrior! You and Chogyam Trungpa would get along just fine. I suggest you give the approach a try and let us know how it works. While you're at it, you might want to read Trungpa's book "Smile at Fear".

I teach a public speaking component in one of my classes, and one thing I tell people is that they have to be able to stand up in front of any audience under any conditions (malfunctioning computer, background noise, whatever) and speak with perfect ease. It can be done. But I also personally believe that if there's a phobia, you have to cure that first (Jinx's comparison to cancer). You on the other hand are willing to take no prisoners. I respect that. There is a risk of re-sensitizing oneself, yet I think the approach might be just the ticket for the right person. Good luck!

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/22/13 9:58 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Chris Dipster:

My goal is not awakening. If awakening is a necessary condition, then I'll strive for it, but my goal is to conquer anxiety. Nothing else.


Hey Chris, what does it mean to you to "conquer anxiety"? You have been given some great advice on this thread, but you seem unsatisfied with it. Are you hoping to get to a place where you can do the thing you fear without feeling the slightest fear? As in gone, zlich, nada? Or do you have a lesser goal, such as "feeling the fear and doing it anyway"? I am confused as to what you want to hear, since the others have said some very wise stuff, but you're unhappy.

Since you seem to have read everything there is to read on this topic, surely you know that the more you want to get rid of an uncomfortable body sensation, the more it will stay. Don't you see that your passion for destroying fear is massive resistance against fear, which will only make it increase?

I recommend meditation, but I doubt most people can go from deep phobias to sitting on the cushion to zero manifestation of fear, without any exposure technique or the types of therapies mentioned above. This hasn't worked for my issues. Then again, I haven't spent a year in Burma doing Mahasi noting for 20 hours a day. Maybe that would be strong enough medicine, but I wonder what would happen when you came back ordinary life.

In that spirit, I'll add one more technique. If you want no safety behaviors, no crutches, straight up CONQUERING, then the next time you confront something you fear, tell yourself that you want to be more afraid. Make it a challenge, like trying to set a personal best new push up record, when you know damn well the last few will hurt like hell and your arms will be shaking and the sweat will be pouring. Try to make it hurt as much as possible. Many people willingly invite that physical pain for things like personal bests in various exercises, so do that for your fear events. "I'm scared, one a scale of 1-to-10, this is an 8, no good, make it an 10! No, an 11! Let's see how much I can take."

If that is too intense, take it down a notch and try the Enda Foa (look her up) technique that she uses for people with OCD. Speak into a tape recorder and describe your worst fear coming true in all of its horrifying detail, fully letting yourself freak out. Then listen to it for an hour a day for at least 10 days. There are some awesome stories about this technique in some of her writing. People go from full freak out to being totally bored by what had been there worst fears (fear is at the heart of OCD). There are more details on the internet if you're interested in trying it.

Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional, nor do I play one on TV. Please consider any advice as non-professional suggestions for you to explore and implement using your best judgement about what is appropriate for you.

Best of luck, keep us updated.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
3/23/13 12:19 AM as a reply to Rob Wynge.
Rob W Stewart:
Chris Dipster:

My goal is not awakening. If awakening is a necessary condition, then I'll strive for it, but my goal is to conquer anxiety. Nothing else.


Hey Chris, what does it mean to you to "conquer anxiety"? You have been given some great advice on this thread, but you seem unsatisfied with it. Are you hoping to get to a place where you can do the thing you fear without feeling the slightest fear? As in gone, zlich, nada? Or do you have a lesser goal, such as "feeling the fear and doing it anyway"? I am confused as to what you want to hear, since the others have said some very wise stuff, but you're unhappy.



The very first line of the original post actually defines it:

By "overcome anxiety", I don't mean permanent deactivation of fight-or-flight response, but rather the ability to fully control one's behavior and act rationally in the midst of intense danger (The question mark was a typo).

By "overcome anxiety" I mean conquer it. I did omit that I believe by conquering it I also anticipate to be nearly free from anxiety (as much is humanly possible). I can't say that my anxiety system would never activate. You could always artificially pump extreme amounts of adrenaline into my body. Without neurosurgery I'm not sure this is possible for any human being. Not yet anyway. Maybe in the next ten years we may have developed a way to exert complete control of the anxiety system. I'm sure Kurzweil would think so.

I unfortunately can't wait that long.

I've previously outlined the sketch of a cure:

Meditation -> Exposures a.k.a. desensitization -> cure (Easier said than done)

My question is essentially asking whether people have been able to experience total peace of mind in the midst of intense fight-or-flight. If I could achieve that, then I would be cured because I understand what behavior modifications I need to make in order to extinguish the fear.

I would also add that avoidance and safety behaviors create anxiety, not a passion to get rid of it.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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3/23/13 12:32 AM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
I might debate your last point, but it doesn't matter. I re-recommend the two strategies I mentioned above. And as for whether someone ever overcame anxiety with meditation, go to Youtube and search for "Yongy Mingyur Rinpoche panic". He has several videos describing how he conquered (yes, totally conquered) his panic attacks by making the panic the object of his meditation. That is, instead of focusing on the breath, or whatever, he focused on the feelings of panic in his body and was cured in 3 days. He already had some experience in meditation, so it probably takes longer for others, however, there is an example for you. Bonus: he is also very funny.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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5/11/17 6:11 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
b:



btw here's my own experience: I've been struggling with anxiety for about a year. Using dry insight, I discovered how there was a part of me, which always wanted to go back to anxiety and kept feeding it. At some point I just decided that battling anxiety can't work. Also it's not fun, so why do it. After that, in the last weeks, it has largely subsided. I'm still somewhat nervous on my baseline, but it's not really anxiety any more.


I should say that avoidance and safety behaviours maintain anxiety. Technically a fear could arise from trauma or any multitude of reasons, but there's only one reason longstanding anxiety is maintained. This is probably true for even rational anxiety.

If I walked up to you and put a gun to your head you would most likely feel terrified and your body would go into intense fight-or-flight. If I did that once a day to you, I'm sure after ten years you wouldn't view it as anything more than bizarre/annoying.

If your dry insight conquers anxiety, let me know.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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5/11/17 6:12 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
b:
Chris Dipster:
b:



btw here's my own experience: I've been struggling with anxiety for about a year. Using dry insight, I discovered how there was a part of me, which always wanted to go back to anxiety and kept feeding it. At some point I just decided that battling anxiety can't work. Also it's not fun, so why do it. After that, in the last weeks, it has largely subsided. I'm still somewhat nervous on my baseline, but it's not really anxiety any more.


I should say that avoidance and safety behaviours maintain anxiety. Technically a fear could arise from trauma or any multitude of reasons, but there's only one reason longstanding anxiety is maintained. This is probably true for even rational anxiety.

If I walked up to you and put a gun to your head you would most likely feel terrified and your body would go into intense fight-or-flight. If I did that once a day to you, I'm sure after ten years you wouldn't view it as anything more than bizarre/annoying.

If your dry insight conquers anxiety, let me know.


I very much doubt that. I used to have this excellent violin teacher a few years ago who was a professional musician, playing in an orchestra. When I asked him, whether he still experienced stage fright, he told me: "the older I get, the more it becomes"

Anyway, why exactly do you want to achieve this total conquest of anxiety, and why do you think it might even be possible?
Also: if you achieved it, what would you do with that ability?


I bet that your violin teacher was engaging in some sort of safety behavior. Or there was another underlying fear (that he didn't address with graduated exposures) that manifested in stage fright. Otherwise his experience contradicts everything espoused by Cognitive Therapists and his brain should be donated to science.

Why do I think it's possible? Not sure. I've contacted (mostly online) a handful of people that claim to have overcome anxiety disorders. Am I deluding myself? Maybe.

But what is my alternative? Just lead an anxiety-ridden life wallowing in mediocrity...? No way. As I said, I'd actually travel to Sweden and have a a surgeon damage my brain (i.e., neurosurgery) before I'd do that. I'd rather risk becoming a slobbering idiot than accept my current state.

What could I do with this ability? Achieve great things. People that achieve great things don't worry about fight-or-flight. They are unburdened by irrational cowardice.

I'll have plenty of time to be content with stagnation when I'm dead. As long as I'm alive, I'm gonna try to reach my goals.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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4/1/13 6:49 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Who are these people, may I ask? And how did you arrive here--did one of them recommend meditation?

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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4/1/13 7:17 PM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
Jane Laurel Carrington:
Who are these people, may I ask? And how did you arrive here--did one of them recommend meditation?


That's why I've set out to learn meditation. I always try to learn from the success of others.

One person who I know wouldn't mind me sharing his name is Robin Hall. He's a cognitive therapist from the UK who had intense Panic and Anxiety Disorders his entire life. He was *cured* through CBT and Mindfulness.

Here's direct quote from an e-mail he sent to me: " is the most powerful life changing tool known to man - no competition".

He thinks that CBT works faster for dealing with anxiety disorders, but even as a professional cognitive therapist, he defers to mindfulness.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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4/1/13 8:00 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Meditation can certainly help to mitigate anxiety. For this purpose, I suggest you emphasize concentration practice rather than insight practice.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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4/1/13 8:06 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Thank you. I understand why he recommends mindfulness. Please don't use my (sometimes) negative results as a measurement. What I need to emphasize here is that the anxiety can get worse for some people before it gets better, and that's because the practice of vipassana does force you to confront all sensations head on. So I agree that avoidance does not deliver the goods.

When I first answered you I was in the middle of a great big "NO!!!" but then I got through it. I've been through a couple more of those since. Not everyone is as aversive as I've been most of my life. I've talked about being loving toward your fear--that's one approach, but a warrior approach is valid as well. Actually, the one you're loving and fighting for is yourself, free of fear.

The other day I faced a difficult task and felt a thrill of fear just zap through me. It was actually energizing! I found that I welcomed it. Then I stepped up and had a spectacular result. But I'm by no means out of the woods.

Kenneth Folk, who has been my teacher for quite some time, told me, "Get completely familiar with aversion. Become the world's expert on Laurel's aversion." He taught me an exercise, which is rate your aversion at any given moment on a scale of 0 (none) to 5 (maximum). Not pain, not simple unpleasant sensation, but aversion, which is resistance. If you go through the day doing this whenever you think of it, you are applying mindfulness.

First you have to single out the sensations that are specific to aversion, to figure out where grief or fear or anger end and resistance begins. This isn't as easy as it sounds. Most people automatically see such emotions as inherently bad, and don't recognize the spiral that ensues when we resist them. You might even experiment with a bad smell (Tommy McNally once did this with his dog's farts!) and break down the sensation of the smell into the smallest possible components, working to recognize your personal response of "yuck!" in relation to those zaps of sense-data. If you can isolate it and observe it, you're no longer embedded in it.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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4/1/13 8:06 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
Someone that I've never contacted is the guy that the user Rob W. Stewart mentioned: Yongy Mingyur Rinpoche.

I ended up reading his book Joyful Wisdom. He may be of interest to people suffering from anxiety. He claims to have fully recovered from Panic Disorder after three days.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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4/1/13 8:17 PM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
Jane Laurel Carrington:

Kenneth Folk, who has been my teacher for quite some time, told me, "Get completely familiar with aversion. Become the world's expert on Laurel's aversion." He taught me an exercise, which is rate your aversion at any given moment on a scale of 0 (none) to 5 (maximum). Not pain, not simple unpleasant sensation, but aversion, which is resistance. If you go through the day doing this whenever you think of it, you are applying mindfulness.

First you have to single out the sensations that are specific to aversion, to figure out where grief or fear or anger end and resistance begins. This isn't as easy as it sounds. Most people automatically see such emotions as inherently bad, and don't recognize the spiral that ensues when we resist them. You might even experiment with a bad smell (Tommy McNally once did this with his dog's farts!) and break down the sensation of the smell into the smallest possible components, working to recognize your personal response of "yuck!" in relation to those zaps of sense-data. If you can isolate it and observe it, you're no longer embedded in it.


I'm happy to hear that you've been progressing Laurel. Your initial post seemed very bleak.

I've actually sort of been doing that with fear, but from a CBT viewpoint. For instance, one of my fears is needles (not extreme fear, but I'm starting with the small stuff). So I will watch people injecting themselves on YouTube. However, what I did was try to use rational thought (cognitive restructuring), but this is simply fighting thought with more thought. And it's only been effective up to a point. I still have sensations arise when I see needles withdraw blood.

After all, seeing a needle isn't the problem, it's my physiological response to seeing it. So perhaps I need to practice mindfulness after inducing the uncomfortable sensations.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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4/1/13 9:08 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
My experience with anxiety since practicing is that it's like a bad penny. I keep thinking I'm done with it, and then realize whole new depths. So, there is great relief, but (sometimes) greater awareness of further distress.

One way that meditation seems to help is that when I can see how some behavior or conditioned response works in my mind, it becomes much easier to change - or changes by itself - compared with not practicing. I picked up the workbook y'all were discussing. One thing jumped out at me. Under social phobia, it said that one of the primary triggers of social anxiety was fear of appearing anxious. That's exactly what happens to me! And I've often noticed that people I know who say they have a lot of anxiety always appear to have their ducks in a perfect row. It's so surprising to find out their anxious. So seeing that, and then seeing it in myself, started to change it.

I think whether you use psychotherapy, meditation, medication, or anything else, this kind of thing is always a work in progress. On one level, it can be so debilitating in life. On the other hand, it spurs us to study our minds from many angles, our diets, exercise... because we don't have the illusory luxury of settling for 'normal neurosis' or normal happiness.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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4/1/13 11:32 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
I haven't read the whole thread. However it's likely that no one has said this:

When you feel anxious, try to consciously increase it. Try to make it worse. As you do this say "I'm very scared...and I want to make it worse still...I'm very scared...very tense, more tension, quicker breaths, more tension, I'm anxious".

By making an effort to increase it, that is the ultimate in acceptance. Acceptance heals. Any attempt to reduce "what is" = resistance. And what you resist persists. You have to take the 180 degrees opposite approach. Don't cure it, consciously make it worse.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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5/11/17 6:14 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Chris Dipster:
b:
Chris Dipster:
b:

Anxiety and anxiety alone is the sole focus of my life. I use to read a wide variety of literature and have indulge in many interests. Now, I spend nearly every waking hour thinking about anxiety and how I can cure myself of it and it's been that way for over a year. So now I'm finally going to put my obsessive thoughts and my attention to detail to good use.



Hi,

I just entered this thread. I haven't read it all, but read many of your posts and the first third of the many responses.


I've suffered from a lot of anxiety in my life. Sometimes very long panic attacks, and more often just chronic longterm worry. I still get somewhat anxious in some social situations or about some health concern. However, I feel well "cured" of anxiety, and soley through meditation. I'll talk a little bit more about what I mean, and hope it's a support.



Someone said that to meditate you make your mind your friend. Most people lose mindfulness when fear arises, not realizing that there can be an enormous sense of peace, wellbeing and ease in the midst of fear. To truly make one's mind one's friend is to let it be just as it is. Of course, to achieve an imperturbably non-reactive meditation usually requires plenty of skillful means: letting things be doesn't mean surrendering to suffering, but rather exercising ingenuity and discernment to abandon reactivity so that peace can be realized. Only you can know whether you've gotten to such a place.




Touch fear with a mature meditation practice allows for compassion to grow, knowledge, and a beautiful fearlessness. Now, although I sometimes feel more afraid than the average person in some situations, it's no longer a cause for me to suffer and unconciously avoid that situation. Furthermore, I playfully step into incredibly uncomfortable circumstances (bring on the pythons!!) that the average person would balk at, knowing that no condition can touch my meditation. It's fun!



Living from a place of increasing conciousness (we can learn about our fear when we're not busy avoiding it), I find non-avoidance-based ways of appropriately responding to it. Sometimes the solution is just to sit with it. Sometimes it's to ignore it. Other times I need to think about what is worrying me, and take action to address those concerns thoroughly. The result is that I'm increasingly comfortable entering into a range of circumstances that formerly caused me great anxiety. Although I do not feel I'm on some fast (or slow) track to an anxiety free life, I don't care to be. Peace is more delicious.



Through developing meditation, fear has become for me like a fertile ground, rather than a poisonous desert. Although there's fear, meditation allows me to see that the suffering of fear lies in the discomfort in relationship to fear, rather than the fear itself. So make your meditation comfortable!



Use your "attention to detail" to make your meditation comfortable, although the obsessive thinking wont help you much! Find a teacher to help you with this. Having the breath as an anchor has been immeasurably helpful to me. My teacher once told me that the breath can take me all the way to full awakening. Think of the breath as a friend. When in doubt about how to meditate, go back to the breath. Find some pleasure in the breath. If you can't find any pleasure in it, just stick with it, and keep paying close attention to the sensations. Eventually, this may help build concentration and strengthen your sense of wellbeing. There can be freedom from sticky thoughts and emotions.



Notice how your intimacy with your breathing, and sense of it as a refuge from becoming a victim to your thoughts and emotions, begins to shift your relationship to the thoughts and emotions when they arise as more predominant than your mindfulness of breathing, either in regular life or formal meditation. Your sense that you can step out of them to experience the breathing brings confidence and freedom. And the breath continues to build calm and precision of mindfulness. The two feed one another. You can apply your attention to detail to this path in a wonderfully passionate and absorbing way over a long period of time!



As your meditation matures, you can then go into experiences that are not the breath. Your sense of mindfulness versus non-mindfulness will be quite strong, and you can make an effort to be clearly mindful of whatever is arising in each moment. This is letting go. If you keep practicing, and let go enough, sooner or later they'll be nothing left to let go of, and you can be free. Then you'll know what to do, how it is, and be well.



May it be so.

Blessings,
om mani padme hum

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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4/2/13 3:03 AM as a reply to M B.
wow, I'm sorry to see that my paragraphing was lost and all that is in a huge block of text.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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4/2/13 5:07 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
I haven't read the whole thread. However it's likely that no one has said this:

When you feel anxious, try to consciously increase it. Try to make it worse. As you do this say "I'm very scared...and I want to make it worse still...I'm very scared...very tense, more tension, quicker breaths, more tension, I'm anxious".

By making an effort to increase it, that is the ultimate in acceptance. Acceptance heals. Any attempt to reduce "what is" = resistance. And what you resist persists. You have to take the 180 degrees opposite approach. Don't cure it, consciously make it worse.


You can only fool yourself for so long. It's good to accept, but to try and make it worse is just stupid. Why would you try to make it worse? Because you want anxiety to go away, that's your true intention. If you didn't want anxiety to go away then why do anything about it in the first place? Be authentic.

Let's face it, if there was a simple trick one could do that would 'fix' anxiety in that moment, everyone would be doing it.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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4/2/13 6:49 PM as a reply to Pål S..
Just to encourage: I just got back from a month long TMC retreat. My anxiety which was pretty bad has gotten way better.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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4/2/13 10:28 PM as a reply to Pål S..
Pål S.:


You can only fool yourself for so long. It's good to accept, but to try and make it worse is just stupid. Why would you try to make it worse? Because you want anxiety to go away, that's your true intention. If you didn't want anxiety to go away then why do anything about it in the first place?


I thought I explained it very clearly in my post. Acceptance heals. The mind sometimes needs to be tricked into acceptance. By saying to oneself "ok anxiety, go for it, express yourself fully" that's complete acceptance. Why don't you try it before you condemn it? Makes no sense eh?

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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4/3/13 12:30 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
What C C C says isn't crazy or even radical. It's called the "One Move Technique" in some circles.

I don't think it's a standalone solution, but if you read through the entire thread you will see that I've incorporated this idea into my method.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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4/3/13 4:22 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Pål S.:


You can only fool yourself for so long. It's good to accept, but to try and make it worse is just stupid. Why would you try to make it worse? Because you want anxiety to go away, that's your true intention. If you didn't want anxiety to go away then why do anything about it in the first place?


I thought I explained it very clearly in my post. Acceptance heals. The mind sometimes needs to be tricked into acceptance. By saying to oneself "ok anxiety, go for it, express yourself fully" that's complete acceptance. Why don't you try it before you condemn it? Makes no sense eh?


You seem to have an idea of oneself over here tricking a mind over there to accept anxiety coming in from somewhere else? Anyways, if that works for you or anyone else by all means keep doing it. What I wanted to touch upon was something underlying acceptance; why does acceptance sometimes 'work' and other times don't? This liberating feeling of always having the choice to accept anything -- turning into the despair of shitty sensations still persisting despite the acceptance -- but that's not really acceptance because of the resistance to those sensations... so is the acceptance success-factor dependent on the choice of accepting/not accepting or ones current position within this loop, this fractal... this cycle?

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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4/3/13 6:26 AM as a reply to Pål S..
Pål S.:
C C C:
Pål S.:


You can only fool yourself for so long. It's good to accept, but to try and make it worse is just stupid. Why would you try to make it worse? Because you want anxiety to go away, that's your true intention. If you didn't want anxiety to go away then why do anything about it in the first place?


I thought I explained it very clearly in my post. Acceptance heals. The mind sometimes needs to be tricked into acceptance. By saying to oneself "ok anxiety, go for it, express yourself fully" that's complete acceptance. Why don't you try it before you condemn it? Makes no sense eh?


You seem to have an idea of oneself over here tricking a mind over there to accept anxiety coming in from somewhere else?


The subconscious is very good at repressing unpleasant emotions, and like CCC says, it is very helpful to bring your conscious mind to bear on the emotion so as to experience it fully and stop repressing.

Pål S.:
Anyways, if that works for you or anyone else by all means keep doing it. What I wanted to touch upon was something underlying acceptance; why does acceptance sometimes 'work' and other times don't?


Because acceptance can be very difficult, the subconscious can pull any number of tricks to avoid dealing with unpleasantness. Acceptance is a skill that has be practiced.

Metta,
Simon

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
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4/4/13 2:35 AM as a reply to Pål S..
Pål S.:
C C C:
Pål S.:


You can only fool yourself for so long. It's good to accept, but to try and make it worse is just stupid. Why would you try to make it worse? Because you want anxiety to go away, that's your true intention. If you didn't want anxiety to go away then why do anything about it in the first place?


I thought I explained it very clearly in my post. Acceptance heals. The mind sometimes needs to be tricked into acceptance. By saying to oneself "ok anxiety, go for it, express yourself fully" that's complete acceptance. Why don't you try it before you condemn it? Makes no sense eh?


You seem to have an idea of oneself over here tricking a mind over there to accept anxiety coming in from somewhere else? Anyways, if that works for you or anyone else by all means keep doing it. What I wanted to touch upon was something underlying acceptance; why does acceptance sometimes 'work' and other times don't? This liberating feeling of always having the choice to accept anything -- turning into the despair of shitty sensations still persisting despite the acceptance -- but that's not really acceptance because of the resistance to those sensations... so is the acceptance success-factor dependent on the choice of accepting/not accepting or ones current position within this loop, this fractal... this cycle?


I agree that if such an approach is used with feelings of sadness or depression, that attention/acceptance will aggravate the feeling and should be avoided like the plague. I've never had anything good come from attending to and accepting such feelings. I have thought in the past that this might be because sadness is not a primary emotion, but a reaction of the brain to prolonged and/or severe anxiety. Maybe it only works with primary emotions like anxiety. Severity of anxiety might also make a difference as to its effectiveness.

Here's one example I remember where I used the technique for moderate/strong anxiety. I had been invited to an event where I knew no one but the host. On arriving I felt anxious about this situation, and even more so when I walked in and found a big gathering of people with closed off groups of 3 and 4 talking amongst themselves and I couldn't see the host anywhere. Yikes. I escaped outside, and did the technique and it gave me a comfort I wanted. I went back in and a bunch of synchronistic happenings had me included in a group in minutes. Thereafter things just flowed as I met new people. For me, busting into a group of 4 strangers deep in conversation is still an extremely hard thing to do. I would still have to use some sort of technique to get me through that. With a few drinks under my belt, I'd be fine doing that, but relying on dutch courage is avoiding the issue obviously..

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
4/4/13 8:23 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
From my personal experience, I have to agree with what C C C alluded to in
...When you feel anxious, try to consciously increase it. Try to make it worse. As you do this say "I'm very scared...and I want to make it worse still...I'm very scared...very tense, more tension, quicker breaths, more tension, I'm anxious"... You have to take the 180 degrees opposite approach.

as a real cure. I didn't realize this practice was known by others as I've never seen anyone else post as C C C had, but I'm glad to see it. I wrote the following in response to Fitter's thread on this same subject back on 3/26/13 and it is a bit more detailed on steps on what I believe C C C is referring to.

Personally, I was dealing with trauma and anxiety. I will note that this is what worked for me and that it is not for everyone, but I found the result has been that the world in which I live has changed. So you could say that the traumas and anxieties are gone, but in experience I just feel like my normal self (sans these aspects) while the change feels like the world around me has been transformed to one that feels safer, friendlier, and in general a lot more fun, plus a ton more of my thinking has been freed (from anxiety) to focus on what it would appear I'm interested in.

Having said that, Fitter wrote:
I can see this happening. The physical shaking and even the queasiness do not go away, but it's possible not to attach significance to it, and avoid the spiral of escalating thoughts/sensations. So far, though, I'm not to the point of not caring. The escalation, once underway, is almost impossible to stop. If it never gets going a person can deal reasonably. But some situations are too stress-inducing for me to stop the escalation at the beginning.


So the entry point is very familiar; where you wrote
The physical shaking and even the queasiness do not go away, but it's possible not to attach significance to it, and avoid the spiral of escalating thoughts/sensations.
Using largely plain descriptive language here to support a repeatable practice...what I would do is literally do a reverse of "avoid the spiral of escalating thoughts/sensations". I head straight for "the spiral". If you remember the "hotter/colder" game we played as children, as variant of concentration practice, play hotter colder with the *escalating sensations*. Essentially as you keep working towards the "spiral" you are getting "hotter" and there are signs that will let you know you are getting to the right place
  1. first, the "radio player" voice of the mind, will let you know by *escalating thoughts*
  2. for me, a deeper sign the heart will palpitate with an atrial fibrillation
  3. for me, a even deeper sign is a slight to moderate convulsive movement in the gut
In particular, I note these signs as progress towards "hotter" because the mind may be telling/yelling and possibly screaming at you to "stop". That is a good sign you're going in precisely the right direction, ie your attention and concentration are fixed on sensations and thoughts that are "hotter". Keep your concentration focused and when one *sensation and/or thought pair* begin to hit upon an even *hotter sensation or thought pair*, allow attention to go to the "hotter" one, in other words - allow attention to make a gentle switch to trade up. :-)

Existing insight (seeing through content to context) in this can be helpful, for obvious reasons, but isn't necessary. I'll also note this can lead to insight. If you have good insight practice already, but seeing through content it isn't yet an instant reflex, then use practice to bring yourself to context first. Then allow yourself to get lost in the content. Yes, that's right. You have to let go and allow yourself to become what you behold (context becomes content again). If being context is a reflex, no worries as it'll co-pilot of its own accord. If being context (insight to see through content) isn't in the repertoire, no worries; essentially by simply holding attention towards the energetic center, the pocket of your consciousness that's giving you the anxiety can come to the surface - given enough time in concentration in the "hottest spot" found in the "hotter colder" game. And simply by holding concentration long enough, the center (aka "spiral" as you said) will flicker and fade like a candle at the end of its wick. With that fading, don't stop; keep concentration for a while (at least minutes) into the quiet. Content is silently dropping (attachment withering) leaving only context even if you can't see this for a while.

It is always best to do this when the anxiety is freshest, that is when it is naturally arising, but do this practice in private until you're confident you can handle it in more public places. If you can't get somewhere private, note/write down the thoughts arising around the sensation and use them for sitting. Tears, sobbing, and many other phenomenologies will occur. Just note them (don't resist them, but don't act on their content - this is not a good time to get up and tell someone off even if every fiber of your being says so...that's just the content talking and right now you're giving yourself to something not to act on, rather something to unfetter.)

You may think you've got it, just to see it pop up again. You may note that the anxiety is greatly weakened and/or that there's a second trigger to the anxiety...rinse and repeat. After a while, you can do this anywhere and your ability to see through such content becomes an unshakable reflex.

Finally, the clearest sign we realize the anxiety is truly gone, is usually when you begin to worry what will happen to you without the anxiety to 'shepherd/push' you (believe it or not). And this belies another phenom in this that to fully resolve one thing, such as a defense mechanism, can then reveal yet another wound it was covering. And in this sense, things can seem better having traversed a "layer" and then worse for a while as we dismantle ourselves.

Hope this helps,

Dan from Virginia

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
4/4/13 7:33 PM as a reply to Dan From Virginia.
Dan from Virginia:
From my personal experience, I have to agree with what C C C alluded to in
...When you feel anxious, try to consciously increase it. Try to make it worse. As you do this say "I'm very scared...and I want to make it worse still...I'm very scared...very tense, more tension, quicker breaths, more tension, I'm anxious"... You have to take the 180 degrees opposite approach.

as a real cure. I didn't realize this practice was known by others as I've never seen anyone else post as C C C had, but I'm glad to see it. I wrote the following in response to Fitter's thread on this same subject back on 3/26/13 and it is a bit more detailed on steps on what I believe C C C is referring to.

Personally, I was dealing with trauma and anxiety. I will note that this is what worked for me and that it is not be for everyone, but for I found the result has been that the world in which I live has changed. So you could say that the traumas and anxieties are gone, but in experience I just feel like my normal self (sans these aspects) while the change feels like the world around me has been transformed to one that feels safer, friendlier, and in general a lot more fun, plus a ton more of my thinking has been freed (from anxiety) to focus on what it would appear I'm interested in.

Having said that, Fitter wrote:
I can see this happening. The physical shaking and even the queasiness do not go away, but it's possible not to attach significance to it, and avoid the spiral of escalating thoughts/sensations. So far, though, I'm not to the point of not caring. The escalation, once underway, is almost impossible to stop. If it never gets going a person can deal reasonably. But some situations are too stress-inducing for me to stop the escalation at the beginning.


So the entry point is very familiar; where you wrote
The physical shaking and even the queasiness do not go away, but it's possible not to attach significance to it, and avoid the spiral of escalating thoughts/sensations.
Using largely plain descriptive language here to support a repeatable practice...what I would do is literally do a reverse of "avoid the spiral of escalating thoughts/sensations". I head straight for "the spiral". If you remember the "hotter/colder" game we played as children, as variant of concentration practice, play hotter colder with the *escalating sensations*. Essentially as you keep working towards the "spiral" you are getting "hotter" and there are signs that will let you know you are getting to the right place
  1. first, the "radio player" voice of the mind, will let you know by *escalating thoughts*
  2. for me, a deeper sign the heart will palpitate with an atrial fibrillation
  3. for me, a even deeper sign is a slight to moderate convulsive movement in the gut
In particular, I note these signs as progress towards "hotter" because the mind may be telling/yelling and possibly screaming at you to "stop". That is a good sign you're going in precisely the right direction, ie your attention and concentration are fixed on sensations and thoughts that are "hotter". Keep your concentration focused and when one *sensation and/or thought pair* begin to hit upon an even *hotter sensation or thought pair*, allow attention to go to the "hotter" one, in other words - allow attention to make a gentle switch to trade up. :-)

Existing insight (seeing through content to context) in this can be helpful, for obvious reasons, but isn't necessary. I'll also note this can lead to insight. If you have good insight practice already, but seeing through content it isn't yet an instant reflex, then use practice to bring yourself to context first. Then allow yourself to get lost in the content. Yes, that's right. You have to let go and allow yourself to become what you behold (context becomes content again). If being context is a reflex, no worries as it'll co-pilot of its own accord. If being context (insight to see through content) isn't in the repertoire, no worries; essentially by simply holding attention towards the energetic center, the pocket of your consciousness that's giving you the anxiety can come to the surface - given enough time in concentration in the "hottest spot" found in the "hotter colder" game. And simply by holding concentration long enough, the center (aka "spiral" as you said) will flicker and fade like a candle at the end of its wick. With that fading, don't stop; keep concentration for a while (at least minutes) into the quiet. Content is silently dropping (attachment withering) leaving only context even if you can't see this for a while.

It is always best to do this when the anxiety is freshest, that is when it is naturally arising, but do this practice in private until you're confident you can handle it in more public places. If you can't get somewhere private, note/write down the thoughts arising around the sensation and use them for sitting. Tears, sobbing, and many other phenomenologies will occur. Just note them (don't resist them, but don't act on their content - this is not a good time to get up and tell someone off even if every fiber of your being says so...that's just the content talking and right now you're giving yourself to something not to act on, rather something to unfetter.)

You may think you've got it, just to see it pop up again. You may note that the anxiety is greatly weakened and/or that there's a second trigger to the anxiety...rinse and repeat. After a while, you can do this anywhere and your ability to see through such content becomes an unshakable reflex.

Finally, the clearest sign we realize the anxiety is truly gone, is usually when you begin to worry what will happen to you without the anxiety to 'shepherd/push' you (believe it or not). And this belies another phenom in this that to fully resolve one thing, such as a defense mechanism, can then reveal yet another wound it was covering. And in this sense, things can seem better having traversed a "layer" and then worse for a while as we dismantle ourselves.

Hope this helps,

Dan from Virginia


Wow! This is the response I was waiting for. Very, very interesting. You've given me a clear direction.

Thank you, Dan.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
4/5/13 8:56 AM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Chris Dipster:

Very, very interesting. You've given me a clear direction.

I'm glad to pass this along. There are other notes I could pass along, but don't want to confuse and honestly they're all things one learns along the way. Remember everything is always hardest the first time we try.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
4/5/13 9:19 AM as a reply to Dan From Virginia.
I'll chime in and say that I made a paper copy of these notes and intend to give it some serious attention. So thank you.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
anxiety meditation emotions ingram hotter colder game road signs amplitude vibration trauma expression emotion mind and body tradition
Answer
4/5/13 1:14 PM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
Jane Laurel Carrington:
I'll chime in and say that I made a paper copy of these notes and intend to give it some serious attention. So thank you.

You're very welcome Janet. I've become fond of saying anxiety, trauma and phobia seem to make for "bigger road signs" along the path. Road sign referring by to what I grok Daniel Ingram refers to as noticeable vibration

For my part, I'm new to this site and working on matching/translating the wealth of terms here into my experience. It seems if going into "the spiral" is the "hotter" of the "hotter/colder game", then perhaps this is noticing a specific frequency of a vibration (as well as picking up on the content of related specific thought patterns) as an entry point, then using the thinking mind, emotions and the body to help assist tuning in to larger and larger amplitudes (hotter and hotter) of the vibration (anxiety, trauma, phobia) to its home pocket. I've found the seeing of the vibratory physical content/manifestation while simultaneously experiencing the traditional feeling of the anxiety, trauma, phobia at the same time and in iterations is a tell tale sign that resolution/reinterpretation/transmutation is close at hand. Apologies if I mangled the terms, I'm new to this tradition.

I think Janet noted this above and in my experience phobia is different from anxiety. Just in my experience of myself, anxiety, trauma, and phobia are related in a sense. Anxiety seems strongest felt in the thinking mind and then emotion, and then into the lower body. Phobia for me seems felts strongest in the lower body, then expression into emotions and the thinking mind. Finally, trauma seems pretty even spread of the three. Please take that with a grain of salt, but thought I'd share.

Dan

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
4/5/13 1:15 PM as a reply to Dan From Virginia.
Dan from Virginia:
Jane Laurel Carrington:
I'll chime in and say that I made a paper copy of these notes and intend to give it some serious attention. So thank you.

You're very welcome Janet. I've become fond of saying anxiety, trauma and phobia seem to make for "bigger road signs" along the path. Road sign referring by to what I grok Daniel Ingram refers to as noticeable vibration

If going into "the spiral" is the "hotter" of the "hotter/colder game", then perhaps this is noticing a specific frequency of a noticeable vibration and/or picking up on a related specific thought pattern as an entry point, then using the thinking mind, emotions and the body to help assist honing/tuning/grokking in to larger and larger amplitudes of the vibration (anxiety, trauma, phobia) to its home pocket. I've found the seeing of the vibratory physical content/manifestation while simultaneously experiencing the traditional feeling of the anxiety, trauma, phobia is a tell tale sign that resolution is close at hand. Apologies if I mangled the terms, I'm new to this tradition.

I think Janet noted this above and in my experience phobia is different from anxiety. Just in my experience of myself, anxiety, trauma, and phobia are related in a sense. Anxiety seems strongest felt in the thinking mind and then emotion, and then into the lower body. Phobia for me seems felts strongest in the lower body, then expression into emotions and the thinking mind. Finally, trauma seems pretty even spread of the three. Please take that with a grain of salt, but thought I'd share.

Dan


So you've become completely unburdened by anxiety? How bad was it before you started meditating?

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
4/5/13 1:55 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
And do you have an e-mail where I could ask you more in-depth questions?

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
anxiety meditation fear traumas dead sleep defense mechanisms limbic system steering wheel fundamental change quiet place girl friend personal life imagination monkey transition
Answer
4/5/13 7:02 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
So you've become completely unburdened by anxiety? How bad was it before you started meditating?

Yes. The world has become a very quiet place. I have to remind myself to do things these days. I can easily lose track of hours and what day it is - like I did yesterday. I bought myself a watch with the date on it - I have to say most of the time it works much better than anxiety and trauma, but it does require you to actually remember to look at it.

I used to go to bed every night with anxiety and wake up every morning with another tremendous anxiety. As in the moment my eyes opened (wait for it) bam. In between going to bed and waking up, anxieties and traumas drove me like a monkey-with-a-steering-wheel-on-my-back in so many areas both in work and personal life. I won't go into specifics, but it is interesting how my early life traumas got leveraged into a highly successful career. Although I was "functional", just to be clear if I had't woken up, I'm pretty sure I would have been unable to sustain my life...and if I had been able to sustain it, what a nightmarish way to live. God help a person caught between two conflicting anxieties or traumas.

The transition was not easy either. Once you start disassembling defense mechanisms, you may quickly or slowly realize why they were there; protecting another pocket that may now be highly exposed and active. You may even develop a fear of how you'll move in life without them, but hey that's novelty. While you're doing this deep work, you may realize how these contributed to your sense of identity now they're gone. I hear "identity" bandied about in some places (not here). Once you learn what this means (first person) this is a fundamental change that is essentially unrenderable in the imagination.

I recall my girl friend around 2004 once said to me (with a sense of what a positive trait it was) that from a dead sleep I could answer the phone take a work call at 3am and be totally awake. A limbic system used to going from 0 to 70mph in 1 second will do that for you.

...now I drink lots and lots of coffee and I eat a lot more icecream, but that's just me ;-)

PS Important to note, if/when something does pop up, attention goes to it like a reflex and it is important to note that I have no idea what the future holds, but there only curiosity of fear (what's inside that/hello, who are you and welcome.) and no fear of fear.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
4/5/13 7:01 PM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Chris Dipster:
And do you have an e-mail where I could ask you more in-depth questions?

I just tried the email messaging built into the www.dharmaoverground.com site and it's a bit clunky - killed my browser.

If you like, you can email me here: c8e12e65@opayq.com <-not very catchy, but this is a real email address via maskme.

If you don't mind disclosing, I think this site is dedicated to having these discussions in this semi-public sphere so others can benefit from the exchange in the future. Might want to change your handle to something slightly more anonymous.

Dan

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
4/24/13 5:34 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P:
Chris,

I used to suffer from anxiety. I don't anymore. And I promise you, I had it worse than you. I'm talking panic attacks that lasted for days..endless worrying I had Schizophrenia..etc..And I cured myself. Without drugs. Naturally.

Most of the benefit came from...(this was before I meditated)

1. Exercise
2. Diet.Go Paleo
3. Sleep
4. Try the positivity challenge..also known as the 7 day mental diet.
http://vst.cape.com/~rch/fox.html
5. Relaxation exercises

The above 5 things took me from supremely anxious person to nearly normal, or just your everyday slightly neurotic person. But adding meditation has really calmed me down.

I think the problem that people like Jane run into is that they don't spend enough time doing Shamatha practice. There are people like Alan Wallace who recommend that you reach Shamatha before even beginning insight practice. That if you don't do shamatha, then things won't go as smoothly as they could if you just did insight practice.

I haven't reached shamatha yet, or even close, so I haven't started insight practice, but I highly recommend doing concentration exercises (shamatha). If I do two hours a day, it really does feel like I took a xanax.


Hi Jinxed P,

Did you find that relaxation exercises are helpful on top of meditation? Also did you try any of the supplements recommended in the book? I already do a lot of the things in the book though I guess I could do them to a further extent. I normally go to the gym 3 times a week but usually only do weight training, I am going to try adding aerobic exercise. I also get a lot of sleep and eat reasonably well, though not perfect by any means (I get a lot of my calories from wheat sources). I am going to start doing CBT as well. I've been meditating for two years using varying techniques but I am likely going to go back to classic shamatha. Trying to be mindful all the time actually seems to have made things worse for me, I'm going to drop that habit for now.

Thanks for you input emoticon

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
5/9/13 10:21 PM as a reply to Dan From Virginia.
So is the general consensus that for people with anxiety, concentration is preferable to insight?


Also a weird note on CBT is that it has been found that behavioral therapy, without cognitive restructuring, is empirically just as effective for both anxiety and depression. This is weird.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
5/10/13 10:00 AM as a reply to Elijah Smith.
Elijah Smith:


Hi Jinxed P,

Did you find that relaxation exercises are helpful on top of meditation? Also did you try any of the supplements recommended in the book? I already do a lot of the things in the book though I guess I could do them to a further extent. I normally go to the gym 3 times a week but usually only do weight training, I am going to try adding aerobic exercise. I also get a lot of sleep and eat reasonably well, though not perfect by any means (I get a lot of my calories from wheat sources). I am going to start doing CBT as well. I've been meditating for two years using varying techniques but I am likely going to go back to classic shamatha. Trying to be mindful all the time actually seems to have made things worse for me, I'm going to drop that habit for now.

Thanks for you input emoticon


Being mindful all the time will make things worse at first because you are not using the distraction strategies you usually use to avoid confronting the unpleasant physical sensations of anxiety. However, it's been mentioned in some of these anxiety-related threads that mindfulness is a type of exposure therapy. If you went to a CBT therapist, they would basically try to cure by making you scared in small, workable doses, until your body habituated to those feelings, and then they would increase the degree of anxiety-inducing stimulous over time until your body habituates to all the things that use to freak you out. And yes, they give you mental strategies to help you deal with your anxious thoughts as well (that's the "cognative restructuring" part).

Mindfulness may not involve small workable doses as you expose yourself fully to the uncomfortable feelings, but it may give you a sense of distantace from them ("oh look, there's fluttering in my chest"), which may also make them workable in a different sort of way. The other good thing about mindfulness is that when you're not in the midst of an anxiety attack, it keeps you grounded in the present, which is to say, less likely to let your mind spin off into thoughts about the future, which are the cause of most anxiety driven feelings. Personally, I want to retrain my brain to deal with what's right in front of me, and stop inventing a future full of nightmares, most of which will never come true.

I'm not suggesting that you don't do any of the other things Chris mentioned, but I wanted to put mindfulness in some context for you. There is a reason why mindfulness is now the hottest topic in behavioral therapy.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
5/10/13 11:10 AM as a reply to Rob Wynge.
I've covered everything here:

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4180540

I have been inactive recently and will continue to be until I'm cured. How long this will take, I don't know. I don't want to give people here the impression that I've given up--I'm still working at this diligently.

I've learned almost all of Shinzen's techniques. After a solid two months of practice, I'm at the point where I can experience intense fight-or-flight with equanimity. I'm not at the finish line, but I'm approaching it. I say this because the sensations of anxiety produce little to no distress.

I now have to overcome intense anxiety sensations in any context. Once this happens anxiety goes away.

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
5/10/13 11:14 AM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Chris Dipster:
I've covered everything here:

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4180540

I have been inactive recently and will continue to be until I'm cured. How long this will take, I don't know. I don't want to give people here the impression that I've given up--I'm still working at this diligently.

I've learned almost all of Shinzen's techniques. After a solid two months of practice, I'm at the point where I can experience intense fight-or-flight with equanimity. I'm not at the finish line, but I'm approaching it. I say this because the sensations of anxiety produce little to no distress.

I now have to overcome intense anxiety sensations in any context. Once this happens anxiety goes away.


It's great to hear you're making such progress! I am a big fan of Shinzen Young as well. Which of his technqiues in particular has helped you the most?

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
5/10/13 5:22 PM as a reply to Rob Wynge.
Rob Wynge:
Elijah Smith:


Hi Jinxed P,

Did you find that relaxation exercises are helpful on top of meditation? Also did you try any of the supplements recommended in the book? I already do a lot of the things in the book though I guess I could do them to a further extent. I normally go to the gym 3 times a week but usually only do weight training, I am going to try adding aerobic exercise. I also get a lot of sleep and eat reasonably well, though not perfect by any means (I get a lot of my calories from wheat sources). I am going to start doing CBT as well. I've been meditating for two years using varying techniques but I am likely going to go back to classic shamatha. Trying to be mindful all the time actually seems to have made things worse for me, I'm going to drop that habit for now.

Thanks for you input emoticon


Being mindful all the time will make things worse at first because you are not using the distraction strategies you usually use to avoid confronting the unpleasant physical sensations of anxiety. However, it's been mentioned in some of these anxiety-related threads that mindfulness is a type of exposure therapy. If you went to a CBT therapist, they would basically try to cure by making you scared in small, workable doses, until your body habituated to those feelings, and then they would increase the degree of anxiety-inducing stimulous over time until your body habituates to all the things that use to freak you out. And yes, they give you mental strategies to help you deal with your anxious thoughts as well (that's the "cognative restructuring" part).

Mindfulness may not involve small workable doses as you expose yourself fully to the uncomfortable feelings, but it may give you a sense of distantace from them ("oh look, there's fluttering in my chest"), which may also make them workable in a different sort of way. The other good thing about mindfulness is that when you're not in the midst of an anxiety attack, it keeps you grounded in the present, which is to say, less likely to let your mind spin off into thoughts about the future, which are the cause of most anxiety driven feelings. Personally, I want to retrain my brain to deal with what's right in front of me, and stop inventing a future full of nightmares, most of which will never come true.

I'm not suggesting that you don't do any of the other things Chris mentioned, but I wanted to put mindfulness in some context for you. There is a reason why mindfulness is now the hottest topic in behavioral therapy.


I've practiced pretty diligently for a year and a half and not exactly had that experience. Mindfulness has helped for some feelings, especially overt ones, but for subtle, long lasting doubt, I haven't had relief. I just made a post elsewhere talking about this... I have been able to expand my behavioral base greatly, but since practicing mindfulness I have been getting periods of doubt characterized by repetitive thoughts of will I ever not feel this way, will I ever get better, etc. Maybe this is closer to depression but I've never really considered myself depressed. Could be the precise way I've been practicing, not sure.


Also, just FYI, cognitive restructuring has been shown to not be very necessary on top of pure behavioral therapy, which is sort of disconcerting to me since behavioral expansion has not been sufficient thus far. (http://www.actmindfully.com.au/upimages/Do_we_need_to_challenge_thoughts_in_CBT.pdf)

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
8/29/13 11:37 AM as a reply to Elijah Smith.
Elijah Smith:
So is the general consensus that for people with anxiety, concentration is preferable to insight?

Also a weird note on CBT is that it has been found that behavioral therapy, without cognitive restructuring, is empirically just as effective for both anxiety and depression. This is weird.


Dear Elijah, insight is useful with anxiety if the insight presents you with greater clarity (hence less distraction) in getting to the root of the anxiety. I'd offer in my experience this thing called here "concentration" is pretty useful if you play the hotter/colder game with the sensation of anxiety, that is to say concentration focused on the path to *hotter*. Going up to and holding in "hotness" until it fades, breaks, you pass through it, is the way. Once you experience it, once is not enough...much like potato chips.

Insight is simply the mind congealing a grasp on Truth. Hence insight itself is simply a finger pointing to the moon and not the moon itself. Why is that important? Because insight isn't an end in itself; its a side effect. A side effect of what you say? As anxiety or other pockets of self are *surrendered to and surrender themselves* (say by the hotter/colder game) in this way self is lost and when self is lost new insights can present themselves because of the change in perspective. So the apparent "gain" of insight is actually a side effect of the loss of self, aka "I gained nothing at all from supreme enlightenment."

Have a lovely day,

Dan

RE: Can meditation help someone overcome anxiety?
Answer
12/6/13 4:23 AM as a reply to Chris Dipster.
Chris Dipster:
I've covered everything here:

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4180540

I have been inactive recently and will continue to be until I'm cured. How long this will take, I don't know. I don't want to give people here the impression that I've given up--I'm still working at this diligently.

I've learned almost all of Shinzen's techniques. After a solid two months of practice, I'm at the point where I can experience intense fight-or-flight with equanimity. I'm not at the finish line, but I'm approaching it. I say this because the sensations of anxiety produce little to no distress.

I now have to overcome intense anxiety sensations in any context. Once this happens anxiety goes away.

You still around Chris? Can I get a status update?