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Tools that helped me

Natsuka

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Hello, all.

I've been reading people's stories here, and sympathizing with many. I had a terrible anxiety situation about a year ago, it involved all kinds of difficult circumstances, medications and hurtful social relations, but also the kind of anxiety attacks I had never experienced before, which was scary in itself. There are also the aging and fears and thoughts that particular part of life brings.

All this of course sent me on a journey to search for answers, help, and solutions. There are books people recommend here, some people feel like medications are the solution, others seem hopelessly lost and focus on their anxiety so much they seem to create those panic attacks - there was a particular story about someone that always experiences it in the same time and place, and because of that, they expect to experience it, which leads to them experiencing it - as in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Now, whatever helps someone, that's fine with me. I don't want to take anything away from anyone, only to offer some perspectives and tools that helped me. It's amazing how even when we can't control something (like emotional state) directly, we can GREATLY affect it by certain thoughts and focusing a certain way - I never even realized this before.

One thing I would like to recommend right off the bat, is Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche's videos - he's a monk that had anxiety and panic when he was young, and he tells his story of how he overcame it - surprisingly, he actually became 'friends' with the anxiety, welcoming it, and existing together with it,and eventually, it just disappeared.

Our own perspective can both create terrible things for us to experience, as well as relieve us of it.

When we feel physical pain, we often just want to get rid of it, and may feel fear about it - then we pop a pill or try to escape it in one way or another, and that's it.

However, I experimented with altering this usual perspective to something else, when I had a tooth removed. I could've taken pain pills, but I decided to observe the pain, exist with the pain, let the pain be, and just experience the pain as fully as possible. I wanted to examine the pain, I wanted to just focus on the pain, so there's nothing else in the world. It sounds terrible, but it's actually a different perspective to the pain that makes a very interesting moment in time - suddenly you are not running away from the scary thing, but you are allowing it, almost encouraging it, and by doing so, you are able to handle it and it loses its scariness. Suddenly you are the master, and it is just something that you allow to exist with you.

The pain is still the same, it won't disappear or change, but because your perspective is no longer fear-based and panicky, but more just an 'observer' of sorts, your EXPERIENCE of pain changes completely. Now it becomes more like a 'challenge to endure and to maybe even affect in some ways while observing it' instead of 'nuisance to get rid of'.

I watched someone else's video about anxiety, and he mentioned an interesting thing that helped me GREATLY. In fact, after that, I felt like the anxiety wasn't scary anymore, it wasn't something to run away from, it was something I can handle, almost wanting it to happen so I can try this tool.

He mentioned how when you are feeling panicky and 'the worst feeling ever', you can, instead of just doing what you normally do, first of all, let it happen, and secondly, you can start thinking about the moment in the future, when this feeling has gone away. You can start imagining or remembering what it feels to feel good again, the relief, how that feels - focusing fully on what you EXPECT to feel after the anxiety is over, and has gone away, and so on.

This seems like a simple, stupid trick, but unexpectedly, the more I did this, the more I started to already FEEL the way I am 'expecting to feel soon, when the awful feeling is gone'. Thinking about the 'future feeling' actually BROUGHT that feeling to me. This helped me get over the worst, and I DID end up feeling exactly as I envisioned.

I didn't directly control the anxiety or fear, I just FOCUSED on something really good. The power of imagination affects feelings more than I realized. If I had just let myself be told (by the anxiety) what to imagine, I am sure I would have felt worse and worse. Instead, _I_ took control of what I am thinking and imagining, and I kept bringing my focus back to the 'future good feeling I expect to have', until it actually became a reality.

Now, it's not a miracle fix or anything, and it can take a LONG time for anything signifigant to happen, and this might not work for you.

This worked for me, however, it took the worst edge off, and gave me something to at least TRY, and even that was a psychological help if nothing else. It was something else, too, though.. it's sometimes difficult to keep our focus on one thing - mind tends to wander. That's ok, though. You can always just bring your thoughts back to the expected good feeling as many times as you want. You are free to think whatever you want, so you are allowed to imagine the good feeling after the bad feeling is gone.

I am sorry if this sounds amateurish or too 'soft' approach, or 'mumbo-jumbo' - after all, everyone's experience is different, and I don't know how deep, dark and scary your particular experience has been or is, or how hard medications you might actually need to take for it.

I am just offering something to try, something that helped me so much that I didn't need anything else, so if you feel like you have nothing to lose, maybe this approach could help.

There's one more thing I want to say at the end that could also help, at least perspective-wise.

People are often seeking meaning in their lives. There are so many bored people out there that start doing drugs, because nothing else feels meaningful, they don't feel like their life has a purpose.

When you think about things from a more spiritual perspective, (I know, this is poison to some people, my apologies) things can start making more sense. Perhaps I was a cruel dictator or just an angry thug in some life, so now I have been given the opportunity to pay my karmic debts by feeling anxiety and fear.

Our horrible experiences might have a purpose this way, we're actually doing good work by going through it. Perhaps we -shouldn't- be in a rush to just quickly fix everything so we could go on with our 'real lives', but perhaps experiencing this kind of stuff is the MOST MEANINGFUL thing we can do in our life. Maybe we don't have to rush to end the experience, but savour it and try to get everything we can out of it.

After all, why did we come to this world? To live a perfect, trouble-free life in a paradise? Surely not. Every nuisance, irritation, fear and awfulness has a reason, and as long as we have karma to pay, we might as well see this as an opportunity to do something meaningful instaed of just doing what everyone else is doing, we have a special experience to make our life meaningful.

Think whatever you will, perhaps this kind of spiritual perspective is too much, but I am only offering it in case it might help someone. It certainly helps me gain more humble perspective, and appreciate the difficult circumstances I have to live in for now.

Everything IS temporary after all, so in 100 or 200 years, we might not even remember what we are going through right now.

I hope this post helps.
 

MATD

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Your description is pretty much the same as in Carl James’ book, It’s Only Anxiety, which is based on the work of Dr Claire Weekes and her books, but without your spiritual dialogue. No ill will intended here, just making an observation. Thank you for your input. I think it gives more validity to Dr Weekes work, proving that her acceptance method is capable of providing relief and recovery from anxiety. It also proves that other people have been able to reach the same conclusion about anxiety without collaboration.
 
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Jonathan123

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Hi. Natsuka. Now and then a little gem of a post comes up, and this is one. I am not sure about karma, the paying of debts from a previous life, and maybe having to suffer for making others suffer. That is a very Eastern concept and difficult for the Western mind to accept, but the rest of your post is spot on. Making friends with 'IT'! I have said this before, and most will think I have flipped. But I know exactly what you mean. It is a teaching experience and we can make friends with the teacher. If we hate it, fight it or struggle with 'IT' all we do is strengthen it. 'IT' thrives on rejection and trying to get rid of it. Embrace it. Be kind to it and to yourself.
I have always said and still believe that there is not only mind and body, which most modern therapies seem to dwell on, but there is also spirit in man. Mind, body and spirit make up our psyche. This is NOT religion. When we suffer as we do it means we are out of balance. The scales are weighed heavily down on the negative side. Spirituality is so often equated with religion when, I believe, it has little to do with it. Religion complicates things and muddies the waters. Spirituality is about Love. 'Loving they neighbour as thyself'. The big part of that is 'as thyself'. If you don't love yourself it's difficult to love anyone else. This is not narcissistic love, oh no! It's about self worth, self esteem.
Love, unconditional Love embraces all beings, no matter what so called 'sins' they may have committed. We have to respect the laws of the land and behave in a responsible way, but at the same time recognising that there is that almost indefinable something in us that can help so much in our present state. Thanks for that.
 
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