Do you suffer from anxiety?
Do you have
- Feelings that something is going to go wrong?
- Are you constantly overwhelmed and struggling to find clarity or make decisions?
- Constantly feeling restless?
- Not being able to take a full breath because your heart rate is so fast and your breath is shallow?
- Muscle stiffness in your whole body?
There are many symptoms. I had severe anxiety for two years, but these are the main ones I suffered from.
- When the phone rang I would sit and watch it ring.
- I didn’t want to see anyone so I would isolate myself.
- I would feel tired yet restless and my mind felt like it was being clawed out from the inside.
- I would go for a drive in my car and eat junk food and then get paralyzed and not be able to get out of my car.
I once didn’t go to work for 3 months and for most of that time I just sat on the porch staring into thin air. I was so disabled by my mind with absolutely no direction or clarity. I became obsessed with having a peaceful external environment and when my friends were around everything they did would irritate me and this would make me angry. I wasn’t much fun to be around.
I tried so many things to try to be free from anxiety.
- My body was constantly sore and stiff so I would go for massages and did daily stretches to try and free up my body.
- I battled my way through social situations, forcing myself out of my comfort to attempt to socialise when I could gather the strength.
- I tried doing whatever I wanted and tantalizing my senses with whatever I felt liked.
- I tried eating myself to death.
- I tried getting a well-paid job and earning a good wage.
- I tried getting a stable home environment.
- I tried travelling.
When I was younger I used a lot of drugs. In the beginning, they provided me with what felt like a deep connection and relieved all of my anxieties in a way that was more fun and powerful than I had ever experienced. The experience lasted much longer than any other thing that I had tried. The problem was that the effects are still temporary and this led me to use more and more until eventually, my strongest desire was to live in this dream world that I had created where there was no anxiety. This never lasted and every time it faded away, leaving me painfully empty. Before I knew it, 10 years had passed and I had become completely dependant on the substance. Due to this, my actions had destroyed my relationships with family and friends and my health. At that time I didn’t think I would make it to see 30 years old.
Every attempt I made to be happy left me unsatisfied and wanting more of whatever it was, knowing that there was not enough of it in the world to satisfy me. This was unbelievably frustrating!
I realised that absolutely nothing I tried worked and when I looked around I could see that most people seemed to have the same problem, whether conscious of it or not.
I desperately needed some answers so, out of sheer desperation, I decided to embark on a deep spiritual journey to attempt to find the root cause of this human condition.
I accepted that none of my own ideas had worked or were ever likely to. All of the things that this material world advertises and we are therefore brainwashed to believe will make us happy leave us feeling empty and wanting.
People always go on about yoga and meditation being good for you. Inherently knew this to be true, but getting round to having a go took some time. I finally attempted some guided meditation on youtube. I did it twice; it made me feel temporarily calm but it didn’t give me any answers and it was a lot of effort. I didn’t feel compelled to do it again as I wasn’t much of a fan of sitting still, especially when self-motivated.
This is where things started to change
A friend invited me to a yoga and meditation retreat. There was a speaker there who was an authority on the Vedas (this is the Sanskrit word for knowledge and these contain ancient knowledge on all aspects of life including spiritual yoga texts). Hearing this philosophy completely changed the course of my existence. He gave a lecture about the fundamental essence of the human being. Who are we if we strip away all of the labels and material? What is actually left that is not temporary? He explained that we are fundamentally spirit soul, we are not matter but the spirit within. That is what we are. We are that which is gazing out and having the experience. The body and the mind are simply tools that we use. It is similar to going for a drive in your car and identifying as the car. You’ll notice that some people even do this when they have a nice car to raise their status. They make this an extension of themselves, yet they are not the car, nor are they the body or mind. The body has a set of requirements; it needs food, water and sleep at the minimum. If you do not do this it will die. It is then no surprise that when you give things to the body expecting it to make you happy that it does not work because it is not really you. You can tantalize every one of the 5 senses to the max and still feel empty inside. That is because it is not you! You are the spirit soul, which means that the nourishment that you require to feel satisfied is spiritual.
One thing became clear. All of the anxiety that I had been experiencing had not been punishment or even out of place. It was a guidance system that had been trying to help me get onto the right path.
Everyone has heard the cliche “you need to find yourself”. I’m not sure if that’s what I intended to do. I wouldn’t have considered myself to have ever been a spiritual person. In Fact, I’ve been badly behaved and a drug addict for most of my younger life. The only reason that I ended up where I have is out of sheer desperation. What I have come to realise is that you don’t get to choose whether or not you are spiritual, you just are. This is one of the few things that is true. You do however get to choose whether or not you want to live in illusion and you can believe that you are the body and having a Ferrari will make you satisfied. One thing that is for sure is that if you work your whole life earning it expecting it to be a source of joy you will be disappointed.
Mental health problems cause us a great deal of pain, there is no debating that. If you walked into the road and got hit by a bus this would also cause you a great deal of pain. This teaches us that it is dangerous and that we should not do it again. Poor mental health is no different and can also be fatal. We should be looking at our mental health for guidance and when it is not in good shape we should be looking to make changes. When we are suffering we are out of alignment with who we truly are and are suffering from material identification.
What can we do about it?
Firstly we should accept that we know very little about what is going on in this universe and most of what we know is probably wrong. This is an easy conclusion to come to being that what we consider to be true is changing constantly and what we considered to be true 10 years ago we know to be false today. Similarly what scientists stated to be fact 30 years ago has also been proven to be false.
Instead of believing that we know everything, we should prioritise finding the truth by trying to answer some of life’s most profound questions.
Who am I?
Why am I here?
What is my purpose?
We need to figure out who we truly are at the very core of our being, unconditioned by arrogance, pride, anger, conceit, and ignorance. These are symptoms of fear, insecurity, and ignorance (lacking true knowledge).
Our true nature is expressed through freedom, purification of our existence, cultivation of spiritual knowledge, charity, self-control, sacrifice of selfish desires, austerity and simplicity, non-violence, truthfulness, freedom from anger, renunciation, tranquility, aversion to fault finding, compassion and freedom from greed, strength, and health, gentleness, modesty and steady determination, forgiveness, cleanliness, freedom from envy and freedom from the desire to be honoured.
These are truly divine qualities that most of us would love to possess and in this position, there is no chance of any illusory mental discrepancy such as anxiety or depression.
How do we move towards this?
By now most of us have figured out that we can’t control the weather, most of us have also figured out that we can’t control other people, especially at work and through the heartbreak of relationships. A lot of us including me have figured out that we can’t even control ourselves. Sometimes we say things that we don’t mean to, we do things that we wish we didn’t and we often have thoughts that are adverse and unkind. All of the things that I have just named are material and by nature are ever-changing. Attempting to control the ever-changing will only ever lead to frustration, anger, and rage.
As spirit the only thing that we can really do is desire. Thoughts, feelings, and actions all stem from those desires. The problem is that when we identify as being the body we attempt to fulfill our deep desire for spiritual connection through material things because we think that it is the only way. We are unaware that material nourishment cannot possibly satisfy us.
What we consciously want and what we really want are not always the same thing. We may think that we want a partner and it will be the obsession of our mind. It will be all that we focus on day and night and we will block out everything else. Our desire is to be deeply connected and satisfied in a state of transcendental bliss because it is our true nature. No partner is ever going to be able to deliver the goods because they are limited and in a material body that is temporary. It can be fatal to rely on this for happiness and security.
We may think that we want to be rich and famous because then we can have freedom and be happy. The reality is that this desire is so strong because we are insecure and feel weak. We desire power because the void inside is so dark and empty that the only way we believe that it can be filled is by receiving public recognition for so-called success. We may believe that owning something as grand as a mansion, a speedboat, and a Bently will make people respect us more. Whilst this may raise your material status that emptiness inside will grow as will your anxiety that comes with your lack of privacy, mass external judgment, and other personal invasions.
Therefore it is possible that your own desires are the cause of your own unhappiness. This was true in my case. Whilst it might be tough owning up to being the cause of our own unhappiness it is a good thing because we have the power to do something about it.
Nearly everyone I talk to knows this to be true but still, I urge everyone to try to figure out what their deepest driving desires are and whether they are motivating you in ignorance. If they are the destination is never what you expect, the path is often destructive and there is no lasting satisfaction at any stage.
In my last post I emphasized that in any normal circumstance you need other people to experience feelings of love and completeness. Feelings that blow mere happiness out of the picture when connecting on a deeper spiritual level. I also touched on the importance of service. Part of the reason why we are here is that we desired to be the boss. We come here to attempt to lord over the material nature, but unfortunately, as you may have noticed, the game is rigged. The reality is that we are an incredibly tiny yet very valuable part of an infinitely bigger picture. Our false identity will lead us to believe that this is not the case and we will try again and again to control this material world. We try to make it the way we want, owning what we want and taking whatever we want. This always fails. Not even our body belongs to us truly. The hand belongs to the body, it may not want to do as the body tells it to but because it is a part of the body it must serve it. Similarly, we must serve the bigger picture.
As stated we must look after the body for its survival, there are many duties that must be performed in this world, such as going to work and earning a living to pay for food and rent. This is all part of our duty. We must, however, look to see how we can be of service.
We must not be attached to the fruits of our actions. When performing acts for others and ourselves we should not be attached to the outcome. When doing something nice for someone else never expect anything in return. Often when doing something for someone else we can desire something in return but we should never desire honour, we should never desire happiness and we should never desire liberation. All of these desires of self-serving.
The common denominator in every mental health condition is that you can’t see beyond yourself. In this condition, it is very difficult to get out but placing your focus on how you can serve others will bring you out of this mindset because it will bring you closer to your true nature. Many psychologists will dig deep into trauma attempting to figure out why you are the way you are but the soul is conditioned over many lifetimes and they are unlikely to get to the root cause of anything. If you spend your time focusing on the negative you will be drawn into it. My suggestion is to make the highest cause your cause, the cause that is in alignment with who you are and focus on that. The opposite of anxiety is to welcome and accept every emotion as it arises so surrender to what you can’t control and find a cause so meaningful that it is an act of your very being. Make it so meaningful that no matter whether you are happy, tired, scared unmotivated or full of joy you can be who you are and do what it is you are here to do.
This is a long process. Who knows how many lifetimes we have spent trying to figure this out? Be patient and don’t expect it to happen overnight. It will require a lot of work and small steps with steady determination.
There will be external judgment along the way but don’t forget that you could have performed the world’s most charitable act, most would applaud but many would criticise you because they are envious. This will never end and often the more authentic we become the more envious people become, but don’t forget that being who other people want you to be is the worst thing you can ever do because you could not be further away from yourself.
Fearlessness, joy, wealth, strength, satisfaction and liberation are not goals but the symptoms of who you really are.
Keep on trucking