Knowing Anxiety – Attention, Control, Pathology of Positivity

Anxiety is a state where you are worried about the future or about something that happened in the past repeating as a memory and being afraid that it might happen again. You are never in the present moment; your mind is always looking forward to things or ruminating over the things that happened.

An exercise like, mindfulness meditation that teaches to stay present to the present moment, without interpretation and meaning-giving – will help you manage your anxiety.

Attention through mindfulness. Attention is not concentration. Concentration is exclusive, you concentrate on a particular thing. Attention is awareness, there is no exclusion or inclusion. There is nothing to accept, things are there whether you accept or not. There is no seeking, wishing or hoping. Attention is goalless. You simply are aware of what is happening, what is, in the moment, around you, inside you, the sensations, the mood, the things that arises in your perception without labels such as happy, angry, tree, chair, blue, green etc – for all of these are the meaning that we give to things. And these stop us from further being curious and observing.

You cannot control your thoughts. It is impossible, when you think you are, it is another thought in itself. It is not an outcome that can be achieved through will or more work. Or practice. The controller is just another thought, another fragment of your mind trying to dominate other fragments.

Using thoughts as objects of mindfulness. Common meditation practices like vipassana are centred around watching the sensations of your breath. In the same way – there are no distractions in mediation, your frustration can be the object of meditation, your anger, your pain and your thoughts. Watch the thoughts themselves when they arise.

Trying to be positive is being negative. Which means you want to run away. To meditate in order to be happy is the same thing. When you say you want to overcome something, overcome your anxiety or overcome your fear, that is the fear itself that is speaking. And when you act out from that thought, you are still in the loop of fear or anxiety – and giving more energy to it, and therefore solidifying your fear and anxiety even more.

Chasing after happiness will not bring about happiness. Happiness should not be the measure of spiritual success, much like money is in the material world. People go after money, power, sex or something else in order to feel happy. Happiness is an emotion and trying to hold on to it is greed and therefore satisfaction is unlikely to come around.

Don’t be quick to label your anxiety as anxiety. You are being lazy when you label things like that. ‘I have felt this before – I am anxious, or I am afraid’ You stop being curious about what is actually happening and being lazy. It is fear and that’s that. Is it? I am acting certain way because so and so. If you have concluded, then that tells you that you are not really interested in – lets say ‘overcoming’ anything. You just want to make sense of things verbally, so that you can defend your position. It is just an idea and a concept.

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