Oakville Zen Meditation

#157 ANXIETY: watching anxiety with awareness March 27th 17

                                              Anxiety:  Watching anxiety with awareness

If you notice that you are becoming more and more anxious because you are stuck in the traffic and you may miss an important meeting, simply try to be fully aware of your anxiety. Make your mind competing with itself: the anxious one against the awareness one.

But if you are able to do so, you will soon notice that your anxiety begins to be less oppressive and may fade away.


Because, despite its enormous power, our mind cannot deal with two thoughts or two mental states at the same time. This is key to understand and to use as weapon to control our emotions such as anxiety. In our brain/mind : 1 + 1 cannot be equal to 2 but equals to 1 since one of the mental state has to go.

How it works?

Before applying mindfulness on anxiety, your anxiety is the main component of your mind activity.

This is an “ 100% anxious mind”

But, as soon as you force your mind to become aware of your anxiety, your mind, now, is experiencing two mental states1) anxiety and 2) awareness of it. Your mind has now no choice but being “anxious” and “aware of it” at the same time. This is conflict and one mental state has to go. Both cannot survive together since, again, our brain/mind cannot deal with two thoughts at the same time.

Once you are aware of your emotion something in the mind has to give away and the emotional mind will back off against the awareness mind.

As your awareness mind becomes more and more pervasive, your anxious mind is losing ground, its intensity and its grip and your awareness mind is growing. In other words, what you do is to put your mind in competition with itself. It is like a mental tug of war, one mind against another mind.

By the way, as we said before few times our body is an excellent proxy of our emotional mind and will react immediately to our emotions even before they become conscious. Learn to scan and read your body as we talked about before.

This method might seem difficult at the beginning, especially at the heat of the moment, but with practice, you will gradually get used to it. When the emotion is invading the mind the only defense we have is to create a new state of mind such as that awareness and acceptance to block the invader that is the emotion.

During meditation:

In fact, this is exactly what we are doing while meditating by focusing on one state of mind called "breathing" in order to compete with another state of mind one called "wandering thoughts".

This method of making two states of mind in competition should be used with all afflictive thoughts the same way that, during meditation.

If you get the habit of looking at thoughts and emotions when they arise, that is to be aware of the, they will dissipate before they take you in hostage.

It will become easier to retain mastery of our mind and to deal with the conflicting emotions that pollute our daily life and activities.


The fact that human mind cannot deal with two thoughts or mental states at the same time should be used all the time when a thought or emotion is popping out, trying to take over the entire mind and driving you nuts.

By bringing a new thought such as a state of awareness against the initial emotion, one force the mind to give up one of them, usually the emotional one.

If every time a powerful disturbing emotion arises we should learn to pay attention to it in a mindful way. Once the emotion is under control, proper action can be undertaken.

Finally, use your body reactions as a flag to read your subconscious emotional mind. They are one.