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Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation?

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A place to share and discuss the practice of Zen Buddhism without teachers. Debates about whether practising without teachers is possible or desirable are not appropriate here, nor are criticisms of Zen Buddhist practice with teachers.

Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation?

Postby chisox100 on Sun Mar 23, 2014 6:09 pm

I have always been a very anxious person. Not bad enough to justify getting medication but just bad enough it effects me on a day to day basis. I have done body scan meditations and they can help me a little with reducing anxiety. I am curious what everyone would reccomend as the best form of mediation to work on as an anxiety reliever?
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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun Mar 23, 2014 7:25 pm

Welcome, Chisox100!

I always suggest not to ignore physical practice, to support meditation. There are so many great practices. Yoga, martial-arts of all kinds, running, etc. (if your M.D. gives the clearance that exercise is OK). Yoga schools are ubiquitous, much more so than Zen Buddhist practice places. Many colleges offer Yoga classes or "Open" Yoga-practice sessions, in their "Rec" centers. :)

A yoga teacher may be able to recommend some meditation practice that would suit. It's always better to be introduced to a method "in-person", so questions and answers can be negotiated in real-time, and issues cleared-up fast. And so you'll have a continuing resource in the teacher over weeks and months.

I find the synergy of physical practice and sitting practice to be very natural, and very powerful. Each supports the other!, and us.

Welcome once again to ZFI,

Best, --Joe

chisox100 wrote:... the best form of mediation to work on as an anxiety reliever?
"The abundance of Nature is not a matter of its 'providing' ". -- William James, c. 1901.

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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby macdougdoug on Sun Mar 23, 2014 8:53 pm

Acceptance - of what is, including yourself (can I live with how I actually am? No suppression, nor escape from who I am)

Interest - in what is, including yourself (eg. Who is judging? Is the Judge competent? Is the judge seperate from what is judged?)

Understanding of duality brings tremendous change.
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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby Avisitor on Sun Mar 23, 2014 10:53 pm

chisox100 wrote:I am curious what everyone would reccomend as the best form of mediation to work on as an anxiety reliever?


I don't know what everyone would recommend as the best form of meditation to work on as an anxiety reliever.
But, if you want to know what I would recommend then it would be to do what works when you have anxiety.
Yeah, it sounds simple and is probably much harder to do.
That is what practice is for. And yes, you have to practice to reduce your level of anxiety when you do have anxiety.
Otherwise, you will not know if it works.

When I had anxiety, I would remember to compose myself by looking at my breathing.
Then continue working on the activity that was making me anxious.
Practice makes it better.
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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby Chrisd on Sun Mar 23, 2014 11:14 pm

How is your concentration? If you are new to this, following the breath is usually recommended, because you will get lost for long times using other methods. I think breath counting is great for beginners. You breathe in and out naturally. On the outbreath you count "1", inbreath again naturally, outbreath "2", all the way up to "10" then you start over again. Please find a teacher to guide you in this. Teachers exist for people that are anxious. It's their function and purpose to help those people. If people would be fine, they would need no teacher.

Best of luck :peace:
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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby fukasetsu on Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:38 pm

chisox100 wrote:I have always been a very anxious person. Not bad enough to justify getting medication but just bad enough it effects me on a day to day basis. I have done body scan meditations and they can help me a little with reducing anxiety. I am curious what everyone would reccomend as the best form of mediation to work on as an anxiety reliever?


Hi Chisox, meditation in dharmic traditions are usually not done with the idea of improving onesself, to get rid of something or attain something. Such "happenings" are spontaneous and may be called "fruits" of practise, but we dont sit with preconceived ideas, notions or goals. At least I don't, so it would be inappropiate for me to advice you in such a way. However due to (Zen) practise you might discover some insights about anxiety or perhaps even discover you aren't the person you think to be, so any issue then would instantly dissolve or be liberated. But meditation done with the sense of seeking relieve from anything is counterproductive,
well depending on the goal that is. First question you want to ask yourself is why you want to be relieved from your anxiety in the first place, if you look at your own answer, you might understand why folks practise.
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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby chisox100 on Tue Mar 25, 2014 12:58 am

The idea that I am going into this expecting results may be perhaps why it hasn't worked yet. That is a very good point to make.

[quote="macdougdoug"]Acceptance - of what is, including yourself (can I live with how I actually am? No suppression, nor escape from who I am)
/quote]
What is a good form of meditation to work on this?
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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby Seeker242 on Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:58 am

Simple breathing meditation is good for this as it deactivates the "fight or flight" response, activates the parasympathetic nervous system, reduces the production of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine, etc.

All you need is a simple breathing meditation. Many scientific studies have shown it to be quite efficient and effective. :)

One of the many articles out there on it.
"Just Breathe: Body Has A Built-In Stress Reliever" http://www.npr.org/2010/12/06/131734718 ... s-reliever

A couple of good videos here: 1st is on posture and 2nd is on breathing technique. Be sure to turn on closed captioning, as it's in Japanese with English subtitles. :)



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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby Kojip on Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:25 pm

Hi chisox. When I first learned to sit there was a lot of heavy anxiety. Any attempt at relief was like laying a wet blanket on top of the problem. It was still there, just covered up. Once I was involved in daily activity again, the anxiety came back. The only solution I found (was taught) was to sit and be anxious. Instead of trying to get rid of the anxiety I learned to sit and say "this is anxiety, it feels just like this". Sitting and allowing myself to be anxious, giving myself permission to feel anxious, and having an attitude of curiosity. Sitting and being aware of .... thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, the sensation of wanting feelings to go away, as well as the sensation of the bum on the cushion, the sounds in the room and outside the window. The whole thing, the way it is, like the color of my shirt. This way something else can be, a more open space that is not locked into trying to get a good feeling, and trying to get-rid-of a bad one. It is a practice that just has to be done , with patience.
richard/\
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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby macdougdoug on Tue Mar 25, 2014 3:07 pm

Dear Chisox

Life is always 'as it is', there are no tricks for living fully, only tricks for avoidance.

Please look carefully at what you say and what you ask for, they show what you want.

PS - good meditation advice from Kojip and seeker - I would add that living fully is acceptance and interest. Zazen is acceptance and interest.
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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby Riverstone on Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:18 am

Are you supposing that by resisting anxiety, that you will be rid of it? This sounds like seeking for safety. The only safe place to stand is on the ground of Impermanence. Naturally if you are not familiar with being groundless it is anxiety inducing. If things have gone smoothly for a little while and there is a sudden shift I do discover that I have generated ground of some sort and I must be comfortable with a little anxious groundlessness, to let go. There is no gaining idea. All things pass, if you cling to anxiety by desiring it to be gone,how can you let it pass through? Meet what arises.
There is no fear in being a novice, an expert on the other hand has something to lose.
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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby TigerDuck on Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:21 am

chisox100 wrote:I have always been a very anxious person. Not bad enough to justify getting medication but just bad enough it effects me on a day to day basis. I have done body scan meditations and they can help me a little with reducing anxiety. I am curious what everyone would reccomend as the best form of mediation to work on as an anxiety reliever?


The best form of meditation that work as anxiety reliever is the meditation can make you realize the precise nature of reality.

Other form of meditations are essentially useless.

Meditation that you do relieve you, and you don't do suffer you, is useless meditation.

Through nonconceptuality, he is immovable.

[Nagarjuna]
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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby creature on Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:04 pm

chisox100 wrote:I have always been a very anxious person. Not bad enough to justify getting medication but just bad enough it effects me on a day to day basis. I have done body scan meditations and they can help me a little with reducing anxiety. I am curious what everyone would reccomend as the best form of mediation to work on as an anxiety reliever?


I have anxiety disorder, zen meditation has been a life-saver and a huge help for me where other things have failed (therapy/medication etc). But if you approach meditation with the purpose to relieve anxiety, it's easy to make it an even bigger problem, and a cause of anxiety itself.. catch my drift? In my experience it is best to just sit with whatever. Having this kind of attitude as a foundation will help you understand how to relieve anxiety, and not activate it during the day. Don't try to fix everything.

Breath counting is a great way to start. Read and reflect on poems or verses by the ancients. If applicable, cut down on media consumption and stuff with a lot of emotional association or content.

TigerDuck may be well-meaning with his post, but I would caution against trying to look into the "nature of reality" or anything like that through meditation. At this point, stuff like that is just unnecessary brain noise. When you sit, just sit - leave all questions behind for a while, big or small.
"What is inherent in you is presently active and presently functioning, and need not be sought after, need not be put in order, need not be practiced or proven.
All that is required is to trust it once and for all."
- Foyan, Instant Zen, pg. 23
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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby Jojo on Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:42 pm

I suffered from anxiety for nearly all my life, and regular sitting did the trick. There is very good advice here in this thread, and Kojip and creature bring it exactly to the point.

I want to add: Sit very regularly from the beginning. If you miss one or two or a week´s sitting, do not reproach yourself but get back to sitting at the next opportunity. The sitting will regulate itself, just keep beginning again and again. Sit, if possible, in the morning AND in the evening. Sit, if possible, units of no less than 20 minutes (you can split each unit in two in the beginning, with a short yoga stretch in between). Find yourself a group to sit with, because you will be in need of companions and motivation.

Talk to others on what you experience. Talk to different teachers, go to many retreats. Collect others experiences and opinions, but do NEVER simply copy anybody´s approach, posture, behaviour, opinion. Eventually, you must create your own way.

Getting to know your body and your way of being, for the anxiety to dissolve, may take a few weeks, a few months or even a few years. For me it took a couple of years because I did NOT do what I am advising here.

Edit :And finally: beware of people who want to teach you :blush: Listen to your body and your breath. They are your teachers. Anxiety has a physical side. Explore it.
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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby Chrisd on Sun Apr 13, 2014 9:56 pm

Hi Jojo,

Might you share how you sit and what worked for you? Maybe useful :heya:
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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:48 pm

No experience with anxiety, here. I did not come to Zen Buddhist practice for that, at all.

I find, however, that practice and its results have made me more available to others. It's magical. It's not something I expected. Who are these "others"? Dunno. But they are not other.

We're "all in this together", ...in a very strong sense. ;) --Joe
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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby Michaeljc on Mon Apr 14, 2014 6:02 am

Kojip wrote:Hi chisox. When I first learned to sit there was a lot of heavy anxiety. Any attempt at relief was like laying a wet blanket on top of the problem. It was still there, just covered up. Once I was involved in daily activity again, the anxiety came back. The only solution I found (was taught) was to sit and be anxious. Instead of trying to get rid of the anxiety I learned to sit and say "this is anxiety, it feels just like this". Sitting and allowing myself to be anxious, giving myself permission to feel anxious, and having an attitude of curiosity. Sitting and being aware of .... thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, the sensation of wanting feelings to go away, as well as the sensation of the bum on the cushion, the sounds in the room and outside the window. The whole thing, the way it is, like the color of my shirt. This way something else can be, a more open space that is not locked into trying to get a good feeling, and trying to get-rid-of a bad one. It is a practice that just has to be done , with patience.
richard/\


This says it all to my way of thinking. But, unfortunately/fortunately it is a realisation. Can we make our selves believe that this is all that is necessary through rational thought? For this we are dependent on the influence over time within a regular sitting program. To address the OP question we must continue to sit. Zazen will present the solution in spite of what we may think or want. For Zazen to weave its magic it needs time – not just 20 minutes most days. If one needs a teacher and group to do this, so be it. We do have to learn the correct posture.
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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby Jojo on Mon Apr 14, 2014 6:13 pm

Chrisd wrote:Hi Jojo,
Might you share how you sit and what worked for you? Maybe useful

Hi chrisd :heya: I cannot really, because currently it changes every day.
Actually, I sit like Kojip describes it so precisely. The main elements are perception of physical sensation, curiosity like a scientist, and trust.
The only solution I found (was taught) was to sit and be anxious. Instead of trying to get rid of the anxiety I learned to sit and say "this is anxiety, it feels just like this". Sitting and allowing myself to be anxious, giving myself permission to feel anxious, and having an attitude of curiosity. Sitting and being aware of .... thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, the sensation of wanting feelings to go away, as well as the sensation of the bum on the cushion

Unlike Kojip, I was not taught this, though. I was taught to maintain a correct posture. Only when I started visiting retreats with more than six hours sitting per day, I understood that I MUST SIT THE WAY I AM.

michaeljc, you are right. We must learn the correct posture. but WHAT IS a correct posture? i am not sure any more if a teacher can teach this. I needed a teacher to correct my attitude, or to encourage me. But, physical normality cannot be taught because as an anxiety person you do not have a clue what it feels like. Now, I trust zazen completely. If you sit often enough, and long enough, the body/mind works its way through anxiety´s rigidity to natural posture.

You are also right with this: This cannot be done in 20 min per day. Thanks to you :rbow: in January I started sitting two hours per day. Somewhere here on the forum you wrote: "anything less than 2 hours per day is just maintenance." I trust in what you write. Your writing is simple and honest. And, time was ripe for me to pick this up and do it. And this makes a revolution. But I could in no way have done it from the start. Somewhere I read that Sheng Yen requested his students to sit at least 20 min in the morning and 20 min in the evening. This seems to be a reasonable starting point.

All this, of course, is just my opinion, a personal experience. I am glad to read about other´s experiences, especially from older disciples.
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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby Michaeljc on Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:00 pm

WHAT IS correct posture?


The guidelines on this throughout history are too consistent to disregard. It is a posture that maintains itself without strain. While there is the odd teacher outside of the norm most are remarkably similar in what they recommend. By lucky coincidence, it is also the posture that is most conducive to the influence of Zazen. I don't think that we need to get too hung up over what we do with the legs. The spinal column is what is important.

Many months back I got absolutely ridiculed by a teacher on another forum for saying that it is similar to standing and also the correct posture when one is riding dressage on a horse. Lo and behold very recently on this forum Guo Gu comes out with exactly the same statement. Stand up in rigid attention as though a soldier on parade then completely relax downwards. There it is - the Zazen posture.

Full or half lotus support the correct spinal posture. That is their only function. If we are doing something less demanding we have to check our spinal posture more often and if need be adjust. But, more demanding means a little more discomfort. A reasonable degree of discomfort can be beneficial. It settles the mind. We should not try to avoid it completely.

First and foremost trust in yourself. Embrace everything. Teachers are just signposts.

Just as a matter of interest: correct riding posture requires a saddle with the correct 'set' i.e. the cushion at the right height and angle.

Why is this posture so important in riding? – Because it is the only position in which the rider can feel and influence the horse through the seat. When the horse is going perfectly, most of the control is through the seat i.e. being ‘grounded’.

m
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Re: Most efficient way to relieve anxiety through meditation

Postby Avisitor on Tue Apr 15, 2014 4:24 am

chisox100 wrote:... what everyone would recommend as the best form of mediation to work on as an anxiety reliever?


To practice ...
Form?
More practice ...

:lool:
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