Sometimes we feel nervous, afraid, or anxious while doing something. So, How can we attain peace in afraid mood or anxious mood?
By acknowledging your anxious mood as a truth (dhamma). Don't push it away, don't try to change anything, don't blame or criticize yourself. It is a truth and therefore has the 3 characteristics of reality, namely anicca (it has beginning, middle and end), dukkha (it obviously doesn't satisfy you), anatta (you cannot control it; it arises due to certain conditions/habits/situations). Why should it be different?
As for how to actually deal with fear/anxiety, you could listen to this talk from Ajahn Jayasaro. He describes how fear/anxiety works. It has both a physical and a mental aspect. Fear builds up using a feedback loop. If there is a fearful thought, a reaction in the body follows, you become worried about your bodily reaction with your mind, which then causes more tension in the body ... You can break that cycle by staying with the body and watching the feelings/sensations there (more detailed in the video).
Being at peace means to be at peace with whatever arises, not getting things or mind states that are peaceful and dependent on external causes. Peace means you're never at war with yourself :)
When anxiety arises, we should fully acknowledge its arising, by thinking or noting: "I feel anxious; I feel anxious" or simply: "Anxiety has arisen; anxiety has arisen".
Then start to investigate into the causes for why the mind is anxious; including why certain objects make the mind anxious .
Then wisely reflect (think) in ways to reduce the power of the anxiety, such as: "This anxiety is irrational & unnecessary; I am safe; I am not in danger; this anxiety is impermanent; it will pass; the Buddha, Sangha & other practitioners have overcome anxiety & found freedom from it;" etc.
If anxiety is arising towards a worldly task, such as study or work, think: "I can only do my best; being anxious will not help my endeavor; if I can, how can I improve".
Anxiety is an emotion that can be resolved by rational or wise thinking.
In addition, mindfulness with breathing meditation can also help resolve anxiety.
Following factors hinder peace.
- Sensual desire (kamacchanda)
- Ill-will (byapada)
- Sloth and torpor(thina-middha)
- Restlessness and remorse (uddhacca-kukkucca)
- Skeptical doubt (vicikiccha)
Anxiety is caused mainly by Uddhacca-kukkucca. And it can be abandoned by developing tranquility, concentration and equanimity of the mind.
If there is water in a pot, stirred by the wind, agitated, swaying and producing waves, a man with a normal faculty of sight could not properly recognize and see the image of his own face. In the same way, when one's mind is possessed by restlessness and remorse, overpowered by restlessness and remorse, one cannot properly see the escape from restlessness and remorse that have arisen; then one does not properly understand one's own welfare, nor that of another, nor that of both; and also texts memorized a long time ago do not come into one's mind, not to speak of those not memorized.
It is natural for people get into situations where they feel nervous, afraid, or anxious amidst the hustle and bustle of Life today with so many commitments and stresses. A way out of this is to somehow create some free time, to have a space to grow, to improve your spiritual practice. An answer lies in reducing your activities. When you have few duties, you have time to practice, because the answer lies in the Dhamma.
For this you need mindfulness and the stillness. With the stillness, you’re in a position to let go of nervous activity, to let go of unskilful things in the mind. With mindfulness and letting‐ go of the unwanted, you get to see things clearly. In Dhamma—kayagatasati—is mindfulness immersed in the body. It is a whole‐body awareness, that helps you feel more and more settled and at ease. Then your nervousness will begin to fade away. You will become calm.
In the back of our minds there’s always the fear of pain, fear of suffering. To be at peace we have to get past that fear. If you’re afraid to face up to pain, the mind can never be in control over itself because it’s afraid. Then even your own mind is not a friend.
We’re afraid of many things. There are fears associated with greed, with anger, with delusion. That is where you have to focus to understand your fears. You have to understand the emotions behind them. Then you will get to know which part of fear is dependent on greed / passion, / on the aversion, and on delusion. Then, when you address the underlying emotions, the fear will subside. So learn to separate the physical from the mental side. Remember that wherever there’s clinging there’s weakness and that’s what constitutes fear. Then you will get to know whether it is a realistic fear or not. This will help you find ways to overcome fear. If you practice proper the Dhamma... there is nothing to fear.