Oakville Zen Meditation

492 Anxiety. Creating a mental tug-of-war to deal with it Feb 24th 24

 Anxiety: a mental tug of war to deal with it.

Anxiety can be defined as the capacity to predict a negative outcome of an even X which does not exist yet. It is based on the fact that the human brain is biased- by default- towards negative outcomes x5 more than towards positive outcomes. 

Anxiety is one of the leading causes of adult consultation, affecting 35% of the population.

It is the #1 cause of pediatric/ youth consultation, and growing even faster than the adult one. 

General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is related to common domains of life such as love, work, rat race, money, health, aging, relationships, commuting, traveling, etc...

Social Anxiety Disorder ( SAD) is the fear of having a negative evaluation by others. It is frequent among teens.

Worry, fear, regret, guilt panic attacks are part of anxiety. 

Weirdly, anxiety is created by a future negative outcome that we do not control, created by an event that we also do not control. 

Being chronic or acute, this negative emotion called anxiety is a prime stressor as far as its prevalence, intensity, and negative mental, physical, and societal impacts. It is acting like a black hole sucking all our energy, and, making our life miserable. 

There is always the release of stress hormones while under anxiety-related stress. 

Always read your body's responses to anxiety-driven stress still the body is the great proxy on our mental state including the subconscious one. I will not describe them here.

Therapeutic approaches.

Besides conventional medicine such as medication, BCT, psychology, and psychiatry, there is a role 

for the practice of mindfulness-based meditation.

How it works? The practice of active awareness as taught by Zen

As you know, despite its enormous power, our mind cannot deal with two thoughts or two mental states at the same time. This is key to understanding and using this discovery as a weapon to control our emotions such as anxiety. This is Zen teaching.

As soon as you force your mind to become actively aware of your anxiety “ I have anxiety”, the mind has no choice but to experience two opposite mental states at the same time:

1) The emotionally anxious mind vs..  2) The focusing rational mind i.e. “I have anxiety”.

Therefore, you are creating a mental conflict between them. It is like a mental tug of war, one mind against another mind. One has to go because both cannot exist simultaneously. 

In other words, what you do is to put your mind in competition with itself. 

Eventually, the emotional mind will back off against the focusing mind  aware of it.” I have anxiety”

As your awareness mind becomes more and more pervasive, your anxious mind is losing ground, its intensity, and its grip, and your mental awareness mind is growing over time. 

This method might seem difficult at the beginning, especially in the heat of the moment, but with practice, you will gradually get used to it. 

When negative emotion is invading the mind the only defense we have is to create a new cognitive state of mind such as active awareness / focusing on the culprit, and acceptance to block this invader which is called anxiety in this presentation.

It can be applied to any other negative emotional states of mind such as anger, guilt, regret, fear, etc..,  THANKS