UPDATE MARCH 2013 – I have just released a new e-book about how I beat anxiety using meditation – see Anxiety Meditation
1) Lack of time – not a lot I can do about this at the moment; gotta put food on the table.
2) Negative frame of mind – basically, I am a musician who also writes personal development stuff, and over the years of I have noticed a roller-coaster shaped trend to my personal development content output based on my reoccurring and longish cycles of depression.
Basically when I am feeling groovy, I write lots of personal development stuff, but when I am going through a prolonged “dark night of the soul” my armchair-Zen-style blatherings tend to dry up (which is very inconvenient because it is quite a lucrative writing market for me when I have good momentum going).
Zen and the Art of Being Miserable?
When I am dark, I find it easy to keep writing music, because these are works of art that feel fully at home with states of mind of like depression, anxiety and paranoia. After all where would some of my favourite musicians like Nick Cave, Pink Floyd or Morrissey be without their “black dogs”?
But it would be hypocritical of me to write about meditation, enlightenment and success ideas when I am failing to practice what I preach. Besides, it’s impossible, I can only write from the heart.
So, suffice to say, I have been in one of these stretches of feeling down for all of this Australian winter, which happened last winter too. By “feeling down” I mean depressed moods, hopelessness, anxiety, paranoia and fear. The question is – why?
SAD … and Other Suspects
Well, this is complex, but through trial and error I have found that alcohol doesn’t help, so cutting right back on that makes a big difference. Also I have been mighty, mighty tired for the last couple of years, which is par for the parenting course, but nonetheless, no doubt aggravates the problem.
Further, the fact that I have been lately afflicted during winter leads one to suspect a case of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). And, let’s face it, with my extended, outrageous youth not that far behind me and my remaining taste for the occasional toke of the old University Cigarette (if one should happen to be passed around), I may have simply screwed my nerves up for sake of experimentation and kicks.
Anyway, causes aside, being male, all I really care about is “how can I fix this quickly, cheaply and without having to talk to anyone about it?”, so I was quite chuffed when “The Universe” or (insert preferred deity here) sent me some unexpected help in the form of a book by Brenda Shoshanna called “Fearless: The 7 Principles of Peace of Mind.
I read this book while at my worst point in my mid-winter blues, where my anxiety and paranoia was so bad as to be almost quite silly. Cars would drive up our quite street at night while I was trying to sleep and I would feel startled, worrying that “they” were coming to get me. Crazy stuff like that; quite absurd really, but nonetheless disconcerting.
A West-Meets-East Zen Approach
Well this book, Fearless, is all about how to combat these feelings, with just the kind of West-Meets-East Zen approach that I love, so it really hit the spot.
It helped me at night (when my anxiety was at its worst) to lie in bed before sleeping and go over the book. Chapters like “Recognising the Voices Within” and “Meeting Fear Face-to-Face” really helped me to work through things quietly on my own.
I guess the main points of the book were not new to me, being an old self-help/Zen-waffle junkie from way back, but it is always great to be reminded of the core ideas of Eastern philosophy and how they really are very liberating.
After all, unless you’re on a ship that is actually sinking or you are literally being physically attacked right now or something horrible like that, the rest of our fear and anxiety is an imagined load of old cobblers – fantasies with little-to-no basis in reality (reality being NOW).
I could go on forever, but let me rest by saying that if you have any problems with fearfulness, anxiety and/or paranoia then I highly recommend that you get your hands on Fearless: The 7 Principles of Peace of Mind as soon as possible because it may help you as much as it helped me to feel better.
(By the way, I am generally feeling much better thanks, I have kept the booze to a minimum, boring as that may be, and the days down-under are getting longer, and while I am not on any kind of high, things certainly don’t seem as bleak to me as they did a month or two ago. And soon – the spring!)