I’ve written occasionally on anxiety as it’s so prevalent in Western society. They define anxiety as uneasiness and apprehension about the future. Fear of possible change.
Anxiety tells us we’re resisting. Like worry, it shows our attention is on the future, not what is in front of us. Many call it stress, a major factor in illness.
Anxiety is also often a major driver of the mind’s stories. The mind doesn’t like uncertainty, so it categorizes and explains everything. Unfortunately, those narratives are not always based on reality so they fail, making us feel even less secure. Yet we hold on to those stories anyway.
The world is actually quite orderly and intentional but it’s much harder to see that on the surface where diversity is at its maximum.
While it’s rajasic in quality, anxiety tends us towards tamas (inertia) rather than being a motivator for release. It’s a great way to get depressed or sick.
When we become more conscious of our anxiety, there is a tendency to resist that resistance and not allow it to complete. In the spiritual process, anxiety may come up because of current concerns, awareness of collective anxiety, or old unresolved anxiety arising to be healed.
In my experience, I had a lot of anxiety when young. During a long retreat in my early 20s, I processed a LOT of that. I became quite restless, so light activity was valuable in helping be with it and allow. Otherwise, the anxiety rising to purify can provoke current anxiety and just reinforce itself. 🙂
The key I’ve found is an effortless meditation to take you beyond the anxiety. This brings relief but also teaches us how to be with life in healthier ways. Also, learning the basics of emotional healing amplifies that so we can move out of old habits of resistance.
Recently, I ran into a TED talk by Johann Hari on the topic that I thought insightful. His emphasis is more toward depression but the insights hold true. While fear of the future is a major driver of anxiety, he observes this may have a deeper cause, unmet social needs.
He found that a major driver of depression and anxiety is a disconnection from others, a lack of “tribe.” The pandemic and trend to online “social” media can make this worse. Many “friends” are purely virtual and superficial. We can only connect so far online.
Some people have found their tribe through spiritual circles. But like modern advertising, they can have “junk values” too. Like an overemphasize on superficial purity. For example, eating a special diet while carrying nasty judgments of others. Or issues with rejecting natural needs.
Rather than resisting, he speaks of paying attention to those signals as they’re telling us something is out of balance. By connecting with others and being in relationship and community, we’re more able to meet our needs – especially if that community also has a sattvic orientation.
I’ll note again that meditation is much superior to medication. Research has found it more effective and without the negative side-effects. Medication can still have a role though, as he describes.