Anxiety is a natural human condition we all experience but in our modern society it's become a mental health issue, in fact it's the leading mental health issue around the world. There are many real reasons to be anxious these days; the pandemic, the climate crisis, isolation, inequality and a growing restlessness with politics and dysfunction of the system. I do not want to in anyway discount this because I actually believe anxiety is a reasonable and wise response to all these things which are not just an individual problem and require systemic change to heal.
“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” - Jiddu Krishnamurti
Anxiety can perpetuate when we struggle to balance our alert action state of mind with rest/recovery and love/reciprocity. When we become out of harmony with our emotions, life and environment our health starts to decline and this includes our mental health. Rest, care and reciprocal connection to our relationships and natural world are most helpful in giving us time and space to soothe our nervous system, feel more attuned, resource our energy and be held by something bigger than the individual self. Our brains and bodies are wired for this type of connection and our survival is dependant on our ability to socially organise effectively and live sustainably on earth.
Another part of healing anxiety and other ills that is often overlooked in popular approaches to healing involves taking meaningful and aligned action to right the wrongs we see in our world. The wrongs that cause our reaction of anxiety in the first place and part of that is listening deeply and connecting it to the wider context of our lives. In requires us to understand the connection between our environment, thoughts and emotions. In this sense our anxieties can be powerful messengers and motivators for the new way of being in the world that we are tasked with creating. When we listen to our bodies and understand ourselves we can respond in a way that creates meaning, value and a sense of purpose.
This then gives us agency in our own healing journey and it also provides empowerment through learning to trust ourselves, be engaged in meaning making, contributing to human potential. It's creative and holistic and requires the person to participate in the treatment rather than just receiving it. It's not a popular approach to working with anxiety because it can't be made into a cookie cutter approach, scaled and measured because the things that bring us into balance, purpose and meaning in our lives are almost always subjective, dynamic and relative.
Mindfulness meditation can be a powerful catalyst for being able to create some spaciousness and stillness in the perpetual restlessness of anxiety. This state of spaciousness can be a good ground for unpacking the mind, body and spirit. Using a mindfulness approach to counselling that brings you back into the present to investigate what is actually happening now as it unfolds in the therapeutic relationship. This is why I created The Discovery Program to help my clients with life skills that can sustain wellbeing and growth. Examining your inner and outer life can help you de-centre and shift from reactive patterns that become unhelpful into expanded perspectives where you can begin to explore a whole new way of being in the world.