“… And they lived happily ever after.”
How many of us grew up with an idea of such an ending? We were convinced that happiness was always going to be the ultimate outcome.
But where is that ending? When will it come? How long will the struggle last before we finally reach that point?
As we grew up, most of us ended up being shaped into skeptics. We started believing that the happy ending was not possible for us. Unfortunately, that mindset is one of the greatest culprits for anxiety. The mere idea of living an unhappy life with no purpose makes us afraid of death and life itself.
Let’s clarify something once and for all: you are what you attract. If fear defines you, you attract more fear and more anxiety. You attract what you feel. Ultimately, you attract what you hope from.
No; the happy ending won’t happen just because you hope for it. It will happen if you work for it. Reducing anxiety is the first step.
Let’s focus on that aspect, shall we? How can we reduce anxiety and live happily ever after?
Understand What Anxiety Is
You know it when it kicks in. You feel hopeless, scared, and desperate. In technical terms, anxiety is an emotion characterized by worrying thoughts and feelings of tension, as well as by physical symptoms, such as increased blood pressure and shaking. An anxious person is tortured by constant concerns and negative thoughts. They are nervous and afraid even in the most common situations in life.
Severe anxiety practically affects your day-to-day living.
The statistics are devastating. This condition affects 40 million adults in the USA. The good news, however, is that we can control it when we understand it.
Regarding its physical and emotional symptoms, you might recognize the following ones:
- Sleeping troubles
- Inability to focus on work or study
- Increased heart rate
- Inability to connect with people
It’s important to realize that the things your brain identifies as threats are not actual threats. When you identify the triggers, you’ll be able to start controlling your response to them.
Do Everything to Reduce the Clutter
Start with the physical clutter that surrounds you. All those items in your home… do you really need them? Do you really need ten body lotions, four shower creams, tons of cosmetics, three toothpastes, and countless objects that are making a mess out of your home? No. You don’t need them.
The physical clutter is tightly connected to the mental clutter. When you declutter your office and living space, you’ll find it easier to relax and focus. With time and effort, you’ll come to the point of mental decluttering, too.
The clutter in your mind is what’s causing anxiety. When you develop a habit of keeping things clean, you’ll translate that attitude to your thoughts, too.
Practice a Thought-Decluttering Meditation
Now, onto the mental decluttering. How do you achieve it? Through meditation, of course!
Have you heard of samskaras? According to Indian philosophy, those are mental impressions, recollections, and psychological imprints. Everything you see, do, hear, think, or feel goes into your subconsciousness as a samskara. It’s no wonder why we’re so cluttered.
When suppressed samskaras start coming out to surface, you get anxious. You’re afraid and nervous without even knowing why. You can’t always identify the source of your anxiety.
Instead of suppressing samskaras and waiting for them to cause damage when different triggers bring them to surface, we can do something about them. We can “neutralize” them through meditation.
Here’s how that goes:
Take your preferred seated asana, close your eyes, and start with a positive intention. Focus on your breath. Don’t think of anything as you breathe in and you breathe out. After a while, start recreating the day. Visualize everything: you got up, you took a shower, you juiced some fruits, you went to work… It’s like a movie passing in front of your eyes. It’s important not to judge. Just see the events as they occurred. If you had a disagreement with someone, don’t think about what you should’ve said. Don’t think how much that person hurt you. Just see the event as it was. “I was hurt” is a conclusion you can make, but don’t get into details. It’s like a river that passes by. When you’re done recreating the day, focus on your breathing again. Come out of the meditation, and go to sleep. Don’t think about anything else and don’t do anything else.
Needless to say, you’ll be practicing this meditation in the evening. When you’re mindful about everything you experienced, you’re neutralizing those impressions before you send them to your subconscious levels. They won’t be potent enough to cause anxiety attacks in future.
You can only do this technique for the things you’re currently experiencing. For the samskaras that are already hiding deep inside, there’s not much you can do. Just recognize them when they are triggered and be mindful about the causes and consequences.
Achieve the State of Silence
Your mind works non-stop, doesn’t it? You decide to spend an evening alone, thinking you’ll relax, but your mind doesn’t leave you alone. It’s time to do something. Turn the phone off. Don’t check emails. Don’t watch TV and don’t access the Internet. Just be with yourself and with your thoughts. With time and effort, you’ll come down to the state of pure silence. It takes a lot of practice to get there, but it’s a goal worth achieving.
Do this for at least an hour a day. The practice of silence will help you isolate yourself from the chaos of life. That’s one of the rare moments when you can sense pure happiness.
When you reduce anxiety, you’ll start believing again. Suddenly, that “happily ever after” ending of the story will seem achievable. You’ll get the will to fight. You’ll get the will to live!
Justin is a blogger from Leicester, England, UK. When not teaching his little students and rooting for Leicester FC, he loves to share his thoughts and opinions about education, writing and blogging with other people on different blogs and forums. Currently, he is working as a part-time writer at CareersBooster. Follow Justin on Facebook and Twitter.