Friday, October 10, 2008

Anxiety.

My zen class held class at Uto-An, the local zen place of worship. I hesitate to use the words temple,monastary, or any other term for buddhist religious gathering, because it is simple a rented house where we do zazen in the livingroom. But there is suits our needs, and is simply Uto-An.
It's very peaceful, and Koun led us through a ceremony chanting the heart sutra, as well as a couple other chants, my favorite being one praising compassion.
It was fun. I am going to start going on Sundays, after mid-terms.

On a less-then-cheerful note, I have been dealing with a very debilitating anxiety condition. Anyone have any advice, particularly Buddhist-based advice, on how to deal with anxiety? It would be much appriciated.

4 comments:

TaraDharma said...

ah, anxiety. i have what is called an 'anxiety disorder,' as does my daughter.

Insofar as Buddhist practice goes, I would think that meditation and breathing that centers you would help keep the general stress level down, which helps. But not always. You could always see a doctor -- sometimes medical intervention is needed. No shame in that!

Max said...

good blog

Barry said...

I'm very sorry to learn about your experience with anxiety. It's a common enough experience, but that doesn't help much when we're in the middle of it.

There are medications that can have anxiety as a side-effect, so that's one thing you might consider (if you use medication).

More generally, and from a Buddhist perspective, anxiety arises from our intention to control outcome.

We humans naturally seek security - in relationships and in our material circumstances. When we study this impulse toward security, we find that it's rooted in a desire to get certain outcomes from the various situations in our lives. We think that if we get a desired outcome, we'll be secure.

But, as you certainly know from your own experience, no outcome can provide security. That's because security cannot come from anything or anyone outside of ourselves.

So anxiety can appear when we begin to confront the impossibility of gaining the security we want from things and people.

For some people, Buddhist practice itself, rather than producing calm and stability, can result in anxiety. Perhaps you may be having such an experience. And for some longtime practitioners, the anxiety never quite goes away.

But for most people, with ongoing zazen, anxiety begins to diminish. In part, that's because we become more acquainted with how our mind functions, especially its hunger for something that cannot satisfy.

Also, with ongoing zazen, our dantien (hara) - our energy center - becomes stronger and more stable. This means that the ongoing, non-stop change of human life will no longer "throw us for a loop" quite so easily. We become responsive, rather than reactive.

This responsiveness is the result of our ability to see how our mind functions. In particular, we see how our mind naturally falls into certain habits and loops - and these cannot of course respond to the actual truth of the moment.

So . . . that's this Buddhist's take on anxiety. I will also say that people close to me suffer from a very debilitating form of this condition. And they successfully take medication, on an as needed basis, to moderate the symptoms. It's worth considering, especially if anxiety limits your ability to function in the important areas of your life. In conjunction with meditation practice, it might be beneficial.

Best wishes in your practice!

Barry

Jordan said...

My first bit of advise would be not to go looking for advise on the internet….
Seriously, if you have access to a decent teacher; then please take advantage of their council.
That said I have found that the basic breath meditation works well in about any situation.
The breath is always with you, or if it is not than you have bigger problems than just anxiety! You can always fall back to paying attention to the breath. Add to that Proper diet, regular exercise; avoid sweeteners, alcohol and junk food. Pretty mundane stuff but it is pretty important.

There is an article linked on my blog called Tso Chan. You might want to look that over once or a hundred times. I have found it to be helpful for my own practice.

Be well,
Jordan