Anxiety is a good thing. It has kept us safe throughout evolution by keeping us aware of potential threat and danger. Anxiety disorder is when we worry about things may or will never happen. This is a debilitating disorder that may require medication or therapy.
Anxiety has been identified as one of the greatest symptoms of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is expected that this anxiety will be with many people for many years if not for a generation. The important thing is that it doesn’t need to be. Just as we can be vaccinated against a virus we can also be vaccinated against unhelpful emotions. And, just as we can be treated for the symptoms and effects of a virus we can also be treated in the same way for anxiety. I think of it as taming your anxiety.
In the eastern psychotherapy the mind is often described as a monkey. This is the part of our mind that, if left unattended, can run off and create havoc for us. It is the part of your mind over which you feel you have little or no control. Actually, you can tame and control your monkey, it is just that you need to get to know it. This is called self discovery.
Monkeys come in many, and every, variety. Some are mischievous, funny or playful, while others can be negative depressive or angry. When people loose self esteem and self worth it is monkey business. When people become addicted to drug, religion, moaning or misery the monkey is at work. Whenever the mind plays tricks and does things that we do not want the monkey is out to play games with us. Sanity is when we know our monkey and are able to tame the beast and gently get it back into it’s cage and keep it safe and quite.
The devil finds work for idle hands
The unoccupied mind will allow the monkey to run off and throw bananas at you. They may be bananas of joy and hope or misery and hurt. In human consciousness the most common monkey that most of us need to deal with is the anxious monkey.
Anxiety is simply the fear of the future
The reason we call what we do ‘Live In the Present’ is because in the now there is nothing but the present. When we bring the unresolved past into the present we call it depression and, when we bring unhappened and feared futures into the present we call it anxiety. Anxiety is the fear of what is yet to come.
The only way to overcome anxiety is to live in the present – LITP
Ed and I meet each week and have our own LITP time, it is the podcast. A while ago we were talking about people who do actually have to LITP. A racing motorcyclist travelling at 200 mph must live in the present or die. A moment of not being present can easily lead to a miscalculation and death. Equally a surgeon with scalpel poise over a brain or a heart must LITP to complete a successful operation. In fact anyone who is focussed on who they are and what they are doing is living in their present. But, as soon as they allow their mind to slip into either the past or the future they are lost.
The Mindful Moment
As much as I can my life is lived in the now. My LITP, comes mainly through the practise of meditation. The focus on breath and body is the experience of the present and the current heart beat forms the present just as the last heart beat was the past and the next one will be the future.
How do you – or can you – live in your present?
Sad to say but, few people really do LITP. Most people are in the depression of the past or the anxiety of the future. The only way to tame anxiety is to discover your way of living in your present. All that antidepressant and anxiety medications do is to dull our sensations. We get the same effect from the self medication of drugs or alcohol. When the medication, drugs or alcohol have worn off, guess what? Back comes the anxiety just as before.
The bottom line is, if you want to tame your anxiety then engage your consciousness into something that excites you, something that makes you feel good. It might be exercise, a sport, a job, a skill, a hobby, a craft, whatever it is you will be focussed in the now, in your now, and you will no longer need to worry about what was or what will be. You will have created a new habit of LITP and you will have tamed your anxiety and be living in the now.
How will you live in your present?
This weeks resource is the Anxiety self help guide available on the site liveinthepresent.co.uk as a download.