If you’re like most people, you’ve probably experienced anxiety at some point in your life. Your heart races, your stomach churns, your thoughts go round and round.
It’s certainly not an easy thing to deal with. If you’re lucky, perhaps you’ve only experienced it every now and then. But for some people, their anxiety can be so severe that it disrupts their daily living.
Believe or not, Buddhist monk Mingyur Rinpoche used to have such severe anxiety that he frequently experienced panic attacks. After years of fighting it, he came across a strategy that worked for him. Check it out below:
If you haven’t got time to watch the video, Buddhist monk Mingyur Rinpoche says there are two ways to make your panic worse:
“First you follow to panic and you believe in your panic because the panic tells you that’s everything fearful and a problem and you think there’s a problem…you’re listening to panic…this way your panic becomes your boss…The second way to make your panic get worse is that you don’t like your panic, you hate your panic…it’s not good, it’s terrible and this panic is ruining our life…So you have a fear of panic, but if you have an aversion to your panic, panic becomes your enemy and your panic becomes stronger.”
However, despite these two perilous situations, Rinpoche says there’s a third option:
“There is hope. There is a third option. The third option is to make friendship with panic…How? You cannot make friendship with panic just by thinking “I want to make friendship with panic.” There are three meditation techniques. Calm and abiding meditation. Kindness and compassion meditation and pranayama meditation.”
By making anxiety become your friend, Rinpoche is echoing a lot of the advice recommended by psychology experts.
It may surprise you to learn that acceptance is actually one of the best ways to reduce stress and anxiety, according to psychologist Erin Olivo.
Acceptance isn’t simply about being passive or making an effort to avoid change. But practising acceptance is what enables you to embrace change. It helps mange your emotions.
The true source of your anxiety and stress in your life is not that particular thing you think is making you have anxiety. It’s the emotion that’s getting to you.
If you deny these distressing emotions, you end up fighting against it which leads to more stress and anxiety. According to psychologist Erin Olivo:
“If you want to stop stressing, you need to be in charge of your emotions, rather than your emotions being in charge of you. This is the heart of Wise Mind Living and acceptance is the quickest route there.”
Of course, if you can change what’s causing you anxiety, then by all means go ahead. But many of us are unable to change situations that cause us anxiety.
So, how can you practice acceptance?
According to Erin Olivo, there are no step-by-step instructions. Acceptance is an attitude, not an action. It’s a state of mind that identifies a situation, acknowledges it and allows it to be.
Here’s what acceptance is not: Ignoring or burying your head in the sand. Acceptance does not mean you stop trying to change things. It’s simply a perspective.
This is what Buddhists understand so well. They say that pain is a part of a life, no matter. It’s their first noble truth. Suffering is the result of how we handle pain. You can’t avoid pain, but you don’t have to suffer. This Alan Watts quote sums it up best:
“There will always be suffering. But we must not suffer over the suffering.” – Alan Watts
You create anxiety and stress when you deal with something difficult by ruminating about it, finding others to blame and generally telling yourself how it terrible it is.
You’re struggling against anxiety, rather than accepting to yourself that whatever it is is happening and that’s just the way it is.