Meditation for anxiety

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Meditation for anxiety

Postby greggorious » Mon Jul 02, 2012 4:24 pm

Do you think it's best to just do Samatha, concentrating on breath or counting breath, as the best way to counter anxiety? It's something I've suffered with all my life. Or do you think sitting and really observing my anxiety would be better, or both?
"The original heart/mind shines like pure, clear water with the sweetest taste. But if the heart is pure, is our practice over? No, we must not cling even to this purity. We must go beyond all duality, all concepts, all bad, all good, all pure, all impure. We must go beyond self and nonself, beyond birth and death. When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the true Buddha is timeless, unborn, unrelated to any body, any history, any image. Buddha is the ground of all being, the realization of the truth of the unmoving mind.” Ajahn Chah
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Re: Meditation for anxiety

Postby ringo » Mon Jul 02, 2012 5:24 pm

"Now, on any occasion when the mind is restless, that is the wrong time to develop analysis of qualities as a factor for awakening, persistence as a factor for awakening, rapture as a factor for awakening. Why is that? The restless mind is hard to still with those mental qualities.

"Now, on occasions when the mind is restless, that is the right time to develop calm as a factor for awakening, concentration as a factor for awakening, equanimity as a factor for awakening. Why is that? The restless mind is easy to still with those mental qualities.

Aggi Sutta: Fire
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Meditation for anxiety

Postby greggorious » Mon Jul 02, 2012 5:51 pm

How about telling me what you think rather than quaoting a sutta?
"The original heart/mind shines like pure, clear water with the sweetest taste. But if the heart is pure, is our practice over? No, we must not cling even to this purity. We must go beyond all duality, all concepts, all bad, all good, all pure, all impure. We must go beyond self and nonself, beyond birth and death. When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the true Buddha is timeless, unborn, unrelated to any body, any history, any image. Buddha is the ground of all being, the realization of the truth of the unmoving mind.” Ajahn Chah
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Re: Meditation for anxiety

Postby ringo » Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:03 pm

When I'm anxious and this comes to my attention, I recollect the virtues of the Triple Gem, the virtues of the devatas etc. Such recollections cause unskilful mental qualities to subside.
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Re: Meditation for anxiety

Postby mynameisadahn » Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:47 pm

greggorious,

The sutta cited above has been helpful to me personally. I believe it tends to answer your question, stating that more concentrative practice would be better for anxiety.

However, anxiety varies greatly. There is chronic, generalized anxiety or more acute forms, like panic attacks. In my limited experience, a bit of samatha practice is helpful for the more chronic or underlying anxiety, but I've been unable to directly "solve" my more acute anxiety, which is a fear of public speaking.

I find a bit of metta to be helpful after experiencing a difficult day of dealing with public speaking situations, as it allows one to 'forgive yourself' and cease blaming oneself for experiencing this acute anxiety.

I've already read in more secular books, by Kabat-Zinn, that some individuals may not want to focus on the breath, as this can be difficult for certain individuals with anxiety.

These are just some thoughts. It would be great if others had thoughts on this topic as well.
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Re: Meditation for anxiety

Postby befriend » Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:51 pm

look into mindfulness based stress reduction with john kabot zinn.
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Re: Meditation for anxiety

Postby Sam Vara » Mon Jul 02, 2012 7:17 pm

Hi greggorious,

I tend to move between two different types of meditation practice. Sometimes a very tightly focused concentration on the breathing at one point; and sometimes a more diffuse awareness of the body including "sweeping" techniques. This latter type is currently taught by Ajahn Sucitto at Chithurst, which I attend regularly, and features in his book:

http://www.cittaviveka.org/files/books/Meditation.pdf

If there is a difference between the two, it is that I have found the former type of meditation to have a big impact in terms of mental clarity and focus, but later in the day I can feel a bit irritable and tense. As if I am mentally tired, and have been trying too hard. The latter form has a better effect on my overall levels of relaxation and happiness. Things just seem to go more smoothly.

You might want to play around with the two types, to see which suits you best.

Wishing you all the best with it, anyway.
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Re: Meditation for anxiety

Postby Alobha » Mon Jul 02, 2012 7:55 pm

greggorious wrote:Do you think it's best to just do Samatha, concentrating on breath or counting breath, as the best way to counter anxiety? It's something I've suffered with all my life. Or do you think sitting and really observing my anxiety would be better, or both?


I don't think either of them is the best way to counter anxiety. Sitting meditation alone won't do it. When the problems occur, that's when you have to look and see the defilements. When you think you will die, that's when you have to look at the thoughts. When you fear you will get a heart attack, that's when you have to listen to the feelings. When you perceive a situation as dangerous, that's when you have to look at your perceptions. When you crave to run away from a situation, that's when you have to observe the craving. When you believe, that your anxiety will intensify endlessly until you die, that's when you have to investigate reality, not the fantasy.
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Re: Meditation for anxiety

Postby mirco » Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:17 pm

Hey Greg,
greggorious wrote:Do you think it's best to just do Samatha, concentrating on breath or counting breath, as the best way to counter anxiety? It's something I've suffered with all my life. Or do you think sitting and really observing my anxiety would be better, or both?


Bhaya-bherava Sutta: Fear & Anxiety wrote:
Buddha Gotama: "The thought would occur to me: 'Is this that fear & anxiety coming?' Then the thought occurred to me: 'Why do I just keep waiting for fear? What if I were to subdue fear & anxiety in whatever state they come?' So when fear & anxiety came while I was walking back & forth, I would not stand or sit or lie down. I would keep walking back & forth until I had subdued that fear & anxiety. When fear & terror came while I was standing, I would not walk or sit or lie down. I would keep standing until I had subdued that fear & anxiety. When fear & anxiety came while I was sitting, I would not lie down or stand up or walk. I would keep sitting until I had subdued that fear & anxiety. When fear & terror came while I was lying down, I would not sit up or stand or walk. I would keep lying down until I had subdued that fear & anxiety."

Later he abides in the jhanas. After that

Bhaya-bherava Sutta wrote:"When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of the ending of the mental fermentations. I discerned, as it had come to be, that 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress... These are fermentations... This is the origination of fermentations... This is the cessation of fermentations... This is the way leading to the cessation of fermentations.' My heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, was released from the fermentation of sensuality, released from the fermentation of becoming, released from the fermentation of ignorance. With release, there was the knowledge, 'Released.' I discerned that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world."


Recogize the anxiety, release it & relax. Return to the meditation-object. Again & again.
Mind will become calm & clear and you will understand the nature of anxiety, of how it works. It's an impersonal process.

Regards :-)
I get what I give
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Re: Meditation for anxiety

Postby robertk » Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:51 pm

Understand anatta and it is pretty hard to feel anxious. Combine that with contemplation of death, done in the right way.
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Re: Meditation for anxiety

Postby pegembara » Tue Jul 03, 2012 4:38 am

Anything that settles the mind is suitable:

Some examples:
1. Breath - anapanasati
2. Body scan
3. Metta
4. Body parts contemplation- head hair, body hair, nails, teeth and skin
5. Recollection of virtues of the Buddha
6. Chanting
7. Recollection of peace


I sit now before the Buddha and contemplate that by seeing the aggregates as empty He attained great peace. It is His unmoved stillness and sorrowless compassion that shall be my inspiration.
Those who are angry at injustice, impatient for change, despairing at tragedy, elated today and depressed tomorrow are soon exhausted.
But those whose minds are always still and who abide in peace are abundant in energy. They, like the Buddha, are islands of peace in a sea of turmoil and a refuge to all beings.

Therefore I will seek peace and quiet, avoiding always the loud, the noisy and those who wish to argue.....

I will strive to restore harmony to those who are at odds.....

I will speak without abuse or harshness, gebtle always with words sweet and true......

I will strive to be conciliatory and yielding, never being the source of conflict for others....

May all who live in turmoil find peace they long for.......

May my heart be free from agitation of defilements......

May my abiding in peace help in the freeing of the heart.......
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: Meditation for anxiety

Postby pegembara » Tue Jul 03, 2012 4:38 am

Anything that settles the mind is suitable:

Some examples:
1. Breath - anapanasati
2. Body scan
3. Metta
4. Body parts contemplation- head hair, body hair, nails, teeth and skin
5. Recollection of virtues of the Buddha
6. Chanting
7. Recollection of peace


I sit now before the Buddha and contemplate that by seeing the aggregates as empty He attained great peace. It is His unmoved stillness and sorrowless compassion that shall be my inspiration.
Those who are angry at injustice, impatient for change, despairing at tragedy, elated today and depressed tomorrow are soon exhausted.
But those whose minds are always still and who abide in peace are abundant in energy. They, like the Buddha, are islands of peace in a sea of turmoil and a refuge to all beings.

Therefore I will seek peace and quiet, avoiding always the loud, the noisy and those who wish to argue.....

I will strive to restore harmony to those who are at odds.....

I will speak without abuse or harshness, gebtle always with words sweet and true......

I will strive to be conciliatory and yielding, never being the source of conflict for others....

May all who live in turmoil find peace they long for.......

May my heart be free from agitation of defilements......

May my abiding in peace help in the freeing of the heart.......
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: Meditation for anxiety

Postby marc108 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 3:04 pm

you may find my post here useful:

viewtopic.php?f=17&t=13126#p196665
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."
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