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  • Mindfulness: Anxiety Is Not Bad!
    Learn How To Reduce Anxiety Without Medication.

    October 6, 2019
    By Dr. Manijeh Motaghy – Founder of Perfectly Here and Mindful Business Institute. Affiliate MARC UCLA Teacher, Doctor of Psychology in Management Consulting. Member of International Mindfulness Teachers Association.

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    I wrote this article called Mindfulness: Anxiety Is Not Bad, to help many of you who are caught up by the negative feelings of it and can’t see it’s truth and benefits.

    Anxiety is an uncomfortable feeling. It’s an emotion that is felt through the body. We feel these little jittery movements in the gut or the shoulders or the chest. It feels like it’s alerting us about coming danger. This is a natural physiological, neurological and psychological process. It’s a wonderful gift that if we didn’t take it personal we could see its benefits and learn from it. There are times that we have experienced this feeling so often that it’s become a habit. It shows up for no real reason. Also there’s the case that we might have acted carelessly and the consequences of our actions are about to catch up with us. We feel anxious. The presence of anxiety gives rise to feelings of worry, negative thinking and fear. This is why and how Mindfulness of our breath and body becomes really useful.

    When the feeling of anxiety is present we can take a few deep breaths and as we exhale, let the sensations of tingling or jittery reduce. This, you may find not be enough. A big reason that it would not be enough is because of the way we live our lives, constantly acting in ways that are not skilful. For example, we may spend money carelessly and when the time comes to pay for the mortgage or rent, there may not be enough money to cover it. This is a real issue and no matter how many breaths we take and calm ourselves, if we continue not taking a good inventory of our money and expenses we will continue to be alerted by our physiological, neurological and psychological mechanisms. Something is wrong and it feels real uncomfortable. Without Mindfulness of what’s going on we run to the doctor, spend money we are short of on medications or supplements to calm the anxiety.

    Meanwhile, the anxiety doesn’t subside because we act in ways that put us in shortage of money. We continue to struggle, fight the anxiety and at times feel like drowning.

    What to Do For Some Relief:

    Stop for a minute, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. Just stop. Take a breath. Understand that anxiety is a natural phenomenon. It’s a built-in mechanism that we do want to have. It’s good for us to have it. It’s like a reliable friend alerting us of our ineffective behaviors.

    Next, sit somewhere quietly. Continue taking a few deep inhalations and exhalations. Begin to reflect. Be honest, it’s not about judging. It’s about investigating. What is the message of this feeling, this anxiety? Why am I being alerted? Try to look at it not from a victim point but with the intention of finding the cause of this anxiety. In this way the intelligent part of your brain teams up with the instinctual part that is causes the anxiety to begin with. Asking the instinct, what is it? How am I causing you to become fearful, worried and anxious?

    As you sit quietly, you can even take notes of your thoughts. You may hear answers like, “It’s because I bought too many items this month. I wasn’t thinking. Why wasn’t I thinking? That’s right I got caught up in the pleasure it gave me. Or I gave too much to so and so to help them out. Or I didn’t show up to work and didn’t make as much as I needed. Or because I had to spend money on the car repair that showed up. I had to do it. Without  a car I couldn’t take care of life.” There could be so many different scenarios. The goal is to arrive at the truth that causes this anxiety.

    Let’s say the problem is that you had spent more money than you should have in certain area and now you are feeling fear of not having enough. This is an opportunity to learn that budgeting is useful and essential. You can seek out how to create a budget. Taking it one step further you can look at the underlying reasons, motives and feelings that made you spend more in an area that caused an issue. This takes a bit more presence of mind. You may not have the time nor think about doing this at first. But this is a very important work. One that can prove to improve all aspects of your life. So, you take time to quiet the mind. Breathe deeply so you can understand what is going on behind the scene.

    Underneath our experiences,

    Lay five invisible energies of Clinging, Aversion, Restlessness, Doubt and Lethargy. These qualities are felt by all human beings who have not become enlightened yet. It is normal to have them. But if we don’t understand what they are and not be able to recognize them, they can cause a lot of suffering in us.

    For example, restlessness is a high energy in the body and like all other experiences it passes through. When we feel it, not understanding it, we may act it out. This acting out could be you running around doing more and more. Not able to stop and rest until your body is exhausted. And sometimes the more you do doesn’t mean the less you will have to take care of. You may do things that are not necessary and cause yourself to spend more money than you should. Then, those jittery feelings we call anxiety show up to alert you. To stop. To take a breath. To rest. To become aware of the results of your actions. 

    As anxiety is so uncomfortable, you don’t like it, then aversion, this other underlying feeling shows up. Now you have a triple whammy. Restlessness, anxiety and aversion. Man what a formula for suffering. Of course, doubt is around the corner to tell you that nothing is working. Your life is a mess and you need a way out. If you are prone you take a pill, drink alcohol, do more shopping, blame someone else for your misery. Whatever it takes to get out of this entangled web of suffering. Finally, clinging shows up with a fantasy of wanting things to be otherwise. Before you know it divorce is on the table and a whole new saga of suffering starts. If these are not your examples, you can extrapolate and apply what I’m saying to any circumstances in your life.

    Just sit and think about it.

    Take a breath. If tears come, let it. Know that you are not crazy, nor broken nor is it your fault that you can’t see the real causes of suffering (irritation, agitation, worry, fear, anxiety, etc.). We all need knowledgeable teachers and effective practices to understand these things in order to rise above them.

    So you are not stuck. You can catch yourself in the midst of anxiety, stop to take a breath and let go of judgment. Learn what behaviors give rise to the kind friend, anxiety, and gradually make the necessary changes in your life to have less worries.

    Anxiety is not bad.

    You can learn from it about yourself and your life. Breathe deeply, walk slowly. Take time to be alone to sort things out and allow anxiety to be there for you. Heck, since the word anxiety has a bad rap, you can rename it for yourself. Something like the owl. Owls are known for being alert and wise. So, when you feel sensations of anxiety, say to yourself my own wise and alert friend, Owl is here. Let me see what I can learn from it.

    With Love,

    Manijeh Motaghy