Meditation and the cultivation of Equanimity can help with anxiety

I have been struggling intensely during this pandemic.  My GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) has been off the charts awful.  I’ve been experiencing panic attacks every other week.  The more I  resist the anxiety, the worse it gets.    Again I started searching for ways to care for myself or I would never make it.

I had heard of the Calm app but I figured I had used other meditation apps and they hadn’t really helped me.  After yet another recommendation for the app, I looked at it again.  There is a fee to use it but compared to the downward spiral I was in and the thoughts I was having, this seemed like a small price to pay for help.

There is a 30-day course on How To Meditate.  The lessons are only 10 minutes long and you sit in meditation as you do them. Doable right?!

I discovered the concept of Equanimity and am in love with this idea.  Equanimity is the ability to neither push away or grab onto any sensation or experience; having an inner smoothness.  It is not bracing against things or becoming startled or afraid. It is a 3rd option.  An option of being both open and present where sounds, thoughts, or events just pass through us.  And we just watch or feel them go by.  How awesome is that?  Developing this skill or muscle is both possible and essential to living in this noisy world.

My struggles with anxiety get harder the more I resist against those anxious feelings.  My mind wants to deny the physical reactions to anxiety because I don’t want to struggle again or anymore.  But things actually get worse the more I try to do that.  Loud noises also trigger my anxiety.  I would love to just let the noises happen and just observe them as they go by and not jump or react with irritability.  Gritting my teeth and denying that noises are triggering does not work.  Observing the noise, that it might have triggered my anxiety, and letting it all just pass through is a skill I would like to develop.


Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the base on which yoga and meditation rest. As we practice yoga and meditation, we are essentially practicing mindfulness. Why not extend the focus we employ during yoga and meditation into everyday tasks and experiences? Try not to worry about the past, try not to worry about the future just be in the here and now. Of course thoughts of the past and the future will come and go. The trick is to merely recognize them without judgment. It is a continual practice. Mindful living encourages positivity, gratitude for the moment, and peace. As we start observing what is in front of us, in the here and now, we focus on those little things in life. For example, when we go for a walk notice what is around you and truly take it in. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Do you pass others and acknowledge them with a smile or do you act as if they were not there? As you begin to notice, and be thankful for, the small things such as the color of the sky, the trees, the flowers, and those we pass along the way, you essentially live a deeper life. Peace comes, acceptance comes; stress and anxiety start to melt away.

image created by microyogi
image created by microyogi

As you adopt a practice of mindfulness, you will start do notice a shift in your awareness:

  1. You will develop a keen sense of curiosity for everyday things. You will cherish them more. The commute to work, arriving back home after a long day.
  2. You will learn the art of forgiveness for yourself and others.
  3. You will learn to practice compassion and learn to connect more deeply with others.
  4. You will learn to be ok with all that is not perfect.
  5. You will develop a greater trust in both yourself and others.
  6. You will learn that things come and go in life; you will also learn to accept and appreciate that.
  7. You will develop a sense of gratitude for the great moments in your life; and a sense of grace for those moments which seem horrible.

Of course this will not all come at once. There will be days when anxiety will try to rule the day. However, when you know you can slow down the tailspin into deep anxiety by thinking differently, perhaps the day can be saved and there may be some moments which you can be thankful for. To live in this day and age of stress, of the pressures created by our society, media, our peers, and our occupations we need something to help us through. We need to remember that life does not have to be about go, go, go and more, more, more, and bigger, bigger, bigger. Remember the little things, those things we can be grateful for. If you catch yourself feeling anxious about what’s to come in life, find one small thing to focus on during that moment. Perhaps it is a sunny day. Maybe it is raining. We can find gratitude for either situation, lessen our anxiety, and increase our happiness. Even if it is just by a hair, it is still progress. The practice will be life-long. Try to let go of self-judgment, accept your way of thinking and just be.

Live right now, not yesterday, not tomorrow. Live in today. In the now.

Disclaimer: All articles written on microyogi are opinions and not meant to serve as any kind of instruction for how to move your body. I am merely writing to serve as a means of trying to find my own answers. I am not a certified trainer or medical expert.