What is anxiety?
How to overcome anxiety and fear in our life is a common question. Anxiety may be a reaction to repeated stress in our life (see Living without stress). It is an impure state of mind that is worried and afraid about every day things. We feel on edge and anxious about all the things around us that no one else sees. Our world appears menacing and dangerous. These feelings become continuous and irrational. We can’t control our negative thoughts and feelings even if we try. In reality anxiety and worry are useless. Worrying about things in our life doesn’t solve our problems but gives them energy and power over us.
What are the causes of anxiety?
In Buddhism we understand that all our unpleasant experiences arise from negative karmic potentials in the mind; the negative energy remaining in the mind from past negative actions. Unhappy and negative minds can cause these potentials to ripen. Problems don’t exist outside the mind. In Transform Your Life Geshe Kelsang says:- Suffering, problems, worries, unhappiness, and pain all exist within our mind; they are all unpleasant feelings, which are part of the mind. Through controlling and purifying our mind we can stop them once and for all. To understand this fully we need to understand the relationship between the mind and external objects. All the things we perceive are mere appearances to mind, like things seen in a dream. If we think deeply about this we shall understand how we can cause all the unpleasant things that we are afraid of to cease simply by abandoning impure, deluded states of mind, and we can cause all the pleasant things we desire to arise simply by developing a pure mind. When we are worried and anxious we are viewing the world from the perspective of someone who is unable to cope and will be overwhelmed.
How to overcome anxiety?
- Start by developing confidence it is possible to free your mind from anxiety through understanding its nature and causes.
- Then learn to control your thoughts and cultivate positive experiences through the practice of meditation and mindfulness. Through these methods you shall be able to establish peace within your mind and all your unpleasant experiences will cease. Even short periods of breathing meditation have proven helpful in controlling anxiety.
- You can also practice methods to purify the mind of negativity such as the meditation on Taking and Giving. By purifying your mind and building up a stock of positive energy you will develop for yourself a strong and positive mind free from fear and worry.
- Finally learn positive ways of relating to yourself and the world around you. Make effort to stop identifying with your faults and limitations and instead cultivate strong self confidence and self-esteem by integrating meditation into your daily life.
An effective way to overcome anxiety is to practice meditation; then we will be dealing with the underlying causes of all the worry and fear in our lives.