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I struggle with anxiety and intrusive thoughts and I've found that meditation helps a lot to calm my restless mind. I am familiar with key concepts of Buddhism. I read a tiny bit about it directly and from Schopenhauer.

I've been thinking about it for a while and I want to incorporate it into my daily lifestyle. Do you have any tips with starting to implement this on daily basis and maybe something more towards anxiety problems?

Thanks in advance

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I find these videos by Ven. Yuttadhammo on anxiety very useful:

If you like to learn more about this type of meditation (Vipassana) practice you can find his introduction video series to the method here.

May you be well and happy.

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    thank you so much for your time and recommendations. I wish you the same
    – john
    Jan 14 at 12:50
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Someone once approached Venerable Sariputta in agony.

MN143:4.1: “I’m not keeping well, Master Sāriputta, I’m not alright. The pain is terrible and growing, not fading, its growing, not its fading, is evident. The winds piercing my head are so severe, it feels like a strong man drilling into my head with a sharp point. The pain in my head is so severe, it feels like a strong man tightening a tough leather strap around my head. The winds piercing my belly are so severe, it feels like a deft butcher or their apprentice is slicing my belly open with a meat cleaver. The burning in my body is so severe, it feels like two strong men grabbing a weaker man by the arms to burn and scorch him on a pit of glowing coals. That’s how severe the burning is in my body. I’m not keeping well, Master Sāriputta, I’m not alright. The pain is terrible and growing, not fading, its growing, not its fading, is evident.”

Sariputta responded at length. Part of his reply was:

MN143:6.1: You should train like this: ‘I shall not grasp sight, and there shall be no consciousness of mine dependent on sight.’ … ‘I shall not grasp sound … smell … taste … touch … thought, and there shall be no consciousness of mine dependent on thought.’ That’s how you should train.

From this we can understand that it is critical to acknowledge the pain without attachment. Indeed, this is an important point emphasized in many suttas:

AN3.133:2.3: They truly see any kind of feeling at all—past, future, or present; internal or external; coarse or fine; inferior or superior; far or near: all feeling—with right understanding: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’

Understanding that "This is not mine..." can also help in daily life. Please also see a doctor. There may be an underlying medical condition for constant anxiety.

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    Thank you for your thoughtful and kind response. I am already having medical care but the results arent really what I hoped for so Im complementing it with Buddhist meditation and its getting better.
    – john
    Jan 14 at 21:18
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Your question is not an easy one. Anxiety is not a secondary or auxiliary problem, it's a problem that goes to the very heart of Buddhism and indeed to the very heart of what it means to be alive.

To resolve this problem completely and exhaustively requires complete and perfect penetration into the core principle of Buddhism.

To be perfectly without anxiety is to be perfectly at peace. It's not an easy feat, unless we are taking about sedated "peace" or "peace" of a stupid person unaware of issues. To be perfectly at peace while being fully aware of all the existential trials and tribulations is what we Mahayana Buddhists call to be in Nirvana. This unconditional peace regardless of circumstances requires (is enabled by, depends on, comes from) the special level of insight into the basic principles of sentient existence. We call this level of insight Enlightenment.

I just want to set expectations, so you know what you are asking for, a solution to The Fundamental Problem. It's not something you can achieve "by the way", between other things. It takes extraordinary focus and determination.

The principles themselves are simple, I will explain them to you right now. It is fully grasping the implications and integrating them in one's life is what most people find difficult.

Sentient existence is a phenomenon that is 100% subjective. Everything we ever encounter in life is subsumed in our subjective experience. This subjective experience is a flow of shapes our mind takes. In other words, our entire existence is a sequence of mindstates. I'm not saying nothing else exists, I'm saying mindstates is what really matters because nothing in our actual subjective lives can be experienced outside of mindstates.

Mind is an interpreter. Everything we experience has a meaning to us, pointing to some other meanings, each of them pointing to yet other meanings. We follow these chains of meanings leading us to some conclusions and determinations. We follow associations, memories, stereotypes, generalizations, and signs. Our mindstates, the shapes our subjective existence takes, and our very universe (as we see it) are largely defined by these chains of interpretations.

Our categories of "good" and "bad" are right there among these meanings and signs. Our feeling joyful or fearful or satisfied etc. - is nothing but a step in a series of mindstates induced by the interpretation sequences. When we take some of these meanings and categories very seriously, when we identify with them, when we are attached to them - they lead us down certain interpretation chains that end up feeling bad.

I won't tell you that all our interpretations and all our categories are arbitrary and therefore should be abandoned, no. Although that is not far from the truth, it's technically not accurate. Instead I will say this: our categories and understandings are simplistic and superficial. Being simplistic and superficial they are one-sided and unnecessarily polarized. Being onesided and polarized they lead to conflict (whether tangible or abstract). Anticipation of conflict is anxiety.

Are you with me so far? Anxiety, just like most other discordant mindstates, comes from a clash of interpretations, which comes from attachment to simplistic superficial categories, meanings and signs we have internalized as "the reality". The good news is, it's not the actual reality. The Actual reality is open, multidimensional, and ambiguous in the good sense of the word.

The way to living without anxiety is to let go of the illusory safety and illusory stability of our categories and meanings and values - and to embrace the seeming groundlessness of the truly open mind. This requires undoing one's habitual stereotypes and prejudices not only about life, society, the world - but also about ourselves. When all of these are perfectly open, the process of interpretation has no ground to stand on, leading to indescribable mind no longer terrorized by its content.

To master this Liberation and to get fully confident operating from the perspective of groundlessness, being confidently nobody, undefined - is the only mathematically possible way to absolute and total cessation of anxiety.

In practice the end state looks surprisingly warm and humane. After all, we are born undefined and we die undefined, it's only in the middle that we pretend to be someone we are not. Coming back to being honestly and 100% authentically what you really are feels like putting down an unbearable unnecessary load. Who knew you can simply be your imperfect self and that in itself is the greatest thing in the world and the true Nirvana? It's the simplest thing in the universe but the hardest to grok and master.

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  • Thank you for this much detailed and thoughtful response. I get your point (although not in full detail probably). Yes what you said certainly bothered me, and still does to some extent, however I think the worst is the images that I see in my mind, the "3rd eye" that disturbe me, not the thought himself or the action of having it, but the image. Im trying to do meditation and mindfulness. Thank you again
    – john
    Jan 15 at 20:27
  • Those images come from some kind of interpretation process, too. Just saying :)
    – Andrei Volkov
    Jan 15 at 20:40
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There are methods to help with anxiety, although not necessarily buddhist.

Here is a meditation which may help. It's called Infinite Bloom; something I have been practicing since I was little.

The three main steps broken which have been broken down the sake of simplicity. To make the most out of this technique, once you have completed reading the components of each main step, have a go before continuing. Getting someone to read it out this first time can help even more.

Growing the bloom:

  • Get comfortable and close your eyes.
  • Think of all the qualities that make you you, an individual.
  • Hold those characteristics together and think what kind of flower matches those characteristics. You could think of that flower as a symbol of yourself.
  • Imagine just the bud of 'that' flower, one that glows from within.
  • Gather energy for the bud to bloom, but make it grow as many petals as you can possibly imagine.

Assessing the bloom:

  • Is it a happy flower?
  • Are there individual petals that are not doing so well?
  • Is a petal smaller than they should be?
  • Is there any festering petals?
  • If there is a festering petal, is the fester coming from inside or outside?
  • When you are focusing on a particular petal remind you of a connection; something or someone?
  • The petals don't just reach out, they connect with petals from other blooms and if a petal has been compromised then the connected bloom is in some way responsible or at least a participant in the result.

Cultivating the bloom:

  • If a petal is festering and causing the flower to become ill, there is nothing wrong with letting that petal drop away from the flower. If that doesn't settle your mind, when the petal drops away, it returns to the mud and becomes nutrients for another petal to grow.
  • By dropping the petal, it is dropping the last connection with the individual that comes to mind. This is is an important process because if we don't let a subject drop we will subconsciously continually brew.
  • If there is a wound left by the festered flowers, applying something along the lines of pure liquid silver to the wound will create a bandaid of sorts.

This technique is designed for assessing and managing emotional connections - something people just don't do. When we go about our day we may have to focus on what we are doing but how much energy is spent thinking about our kids (if we have them), our worries, all that stuff cluttering our brains?

Unfortunately when there is too much going on in the background it all distracts us; from our performance, what we want to think about and prevents us from seeing the opportunities we are looking for - which in turn gives us more worries to clutter our brain.

The beauty of the Infinite Bloom is it's catered for the individual by being 'your' flower and can be done in a matter of a few seconds when you get good at it.

Cultivate in harmony

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  • thank you for your answer and time, I will definetly try and research this more. I think your recommendations are really what I needed, I relate to all you said. My intrusive thoughts really disrupt my daily activities, specially demading "intelectual" like learning or reading, even the way I enjoy life. I was wondering about buddhism philosophy because of that too, new perspetive of looking at thing. Now just out of genuine curiosity, and excuse me because I'm new to this, isn't associating "myself" with an object against the "letting go" of the "self" in buddhism?
    – john
    Jan 13 at 18:25
  • Thank You for the response and feedback brother. Gathering conscious energy to focus on a task is one of the main goals of meditation. Understanding where it all goes is the best (personal bias) way to getting the control we require. As this technique is 'management', you could think of it as setting the foundation for reprogramming the mind so when you practice a gathering technique there is less of a rebound effect.
    – Beau. D
    Jan 14 at 4:00
  • Very good question, this would come down to individual perception. No need to apologise! My perception in a nutshell? If one had to truly define the self, there would have to be a level of mastery over oneself - before even attempting the concept of "letting go". Symbols are a language just like any other, except the meaning are individualistic to ourselves as a general rule (through the process of association and perception). The flower is simpler way to envision something that would otherwise be difficult to describe - like a circuit diagram as opposed to a complicated system.
    – Beau. D
    Jan 14 at 4:12
  • thank you for all this information, I will try my best and research it. Thank you very much
    – john
    Jan 14 at 12:58

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