Recently I received, from a mental health practitioner, a diagnosis of Anxiety Disorder…
Which I chose to see as a key to freedom from Anxiety!
The great philosophers tell us: Our challenges come not from our circumstances, but rather the views we take of them
And like my inspiring colleague Ernest Kirkwood—who served three decades’ prison time—says: If we keep doing the same old thing, we keep getting the same old thing
I’ll admit—after receiving my diagnosis, I considered doing something I’d never considered: taking psychiatric medication
The Anxiety had simply become too troubling!
My diagnosing practitioner had mentioned SSRIs—David Letterman discussed the benefits he receives from SSRIs, during his interview with Kanye West
Letterman used to rip phones off the walls
His words made me think…are these SSRIs for me?
Yet, as you’ve read at length in these pages (perhaps at nauseating length): For 17 years, I’ve been hearing disembodied voices, entertaining beliefs about government interest in my affairs, etc.
I’ve been taught and taught myself to use it to my advantage…the voices are spirits, angels, willing to guide anyone—not just me—and I’m fortunate to have them in my life
The “government interest” gave me reason to leave an unfulfilling career in biotech (nothing wrong with biotech, of course…it’s just not for me) to find my purpose in life: Unifying cops and communities affected by incarceration
If disembodied voices and government conspiracies can be viewed as an advantage, so can a little Anxiety!
(again, it was actually more than a little…the point being, you too can triumph)
One blessing of a decade of meth addiction, it taught me the value of hard work, perseverance, and discipline, in overcoming even the most challenging circumstances
After my diagnosis of Anxiety Disorder, I began intense work…
Reading and re-reading Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, by Shunryū Suzuki, and practicing his teachings
As I understand Suzuki, Zen is about practice (proper posture, spine straight, breathing, etc.) much more than any intellectual understanding of Buddhism
Soon after deepening my Zen practice, I finally got around to reading the great book Breath, by James Nestor
By coincidence, James is friend and former Krav Maga student of mine, and great encourager of my own writing
Breath inspired me to expand upon months of Wim Hof Method…deepen my breath work, grasp the value of what’s freely available to heal us
And soon after, I began intense prayer work…praying for other’s happiness
Even those I most resent! (especially them)
Since I got clean off meth, my teachers have enlightened me as to the power of thought…more powerful even than actions or words
Prayer being a form of thought, of course…I realize that when I pray for others’ happiness, this may well be my best and surest means to facilitate their being happy
For we can perform acts and/or utter words, intended to make others happy…yet the outcomes, are far from certain
When I was on meth, a relative acted on behalf of my happiness, by allowing me to stay under her roof…she had the best intentions, of course
Yet I stole money from her, which I used to buy cigarettes…of course, my relative did nothing wrong…
The point is, it’s hard to know whether what do in an effort to facilitate happiness, actually accomplishes that goal
Whereas prayer for others’s happiness, channels the power of thought…immense, and poorly understood (at least by me)
Of course, one could argue that by not taking action to facilitate others’ happiness, we harm them
Yet I’m discovering that it’s far more difficult…to honestly pray for other’s happiness, than it is to say or do something intended to facilitate other’s happiness
I suppose prayer to be at or near the top level of pure intent
Many, many times I’ve said/done something to help others, while at the same time harboring negative thoughts about those very same people!
It’s ridiculous…like hitting the gas and brake at the same time
Yet I’ve sacrificed many days and hours volunteering inside jails and prisons, coaching people society labels the “very worst of the very worst”
Intending to help them…yet my mind full of criticisms…doubts about my own ability to help (Anxiety!) channeled into finding fault with others (even my fellow volunteers, ashamed to say)
I’m still going to volunteer in prisons, of course…once these trying times allow me to do so (these trying times being due to the pandemic…not my Anxiety)
And when I resume my in-prison work—and in the days and months (hopefully not as long as years) leading up to it…I’ll be praying hard for other’s happiness
Any you know what? Praying for other’s happiness increases my own!
And do you know what happiness is the opposite of?
(Hint: it begins with the letter “A”)
In the words of Viktor Frankl: When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves
From my writing place on the porch of my childhood home in Ashburnham, Massachusetts
I can Almost see the vegetable garden
“Almost” because a shrub obscures my view
The garden starts as seeds, and transforms into a bounty of zucchini, tomatoes, beans
(sometimes the bounty goes to the deer, when they get around the fencing)
The frost will come, and it will thaw…next winter’s snows, will turn to water and rain
I’ve discovered: when it comes to overcoming anxiety, the teachers are out there
It can be difficult to accept their teaching…because of the anxiety
Zen practice, breath work, prayer…all free!
And simple…and not too time-consuming
And without what side effects might come from medication
In these challenging times, your struggles may be on par with…or greater than…mine
Give some of the above a try, and drop me a note, let me know how it’s all going for you
Thank you for your inspiration!
Resources For You
If you know or are a person who is struggling, check out my free PDF: Ten Helpful Questions to Ask When Someone You Love is Recovering From Addiction
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