Benjamin Franklin said that the two certainties in life are death and taxes, but I would add another set: stress and anxiety. No matter what phase of life I’ve been in, what techniques I use, and what beliefs I have, I’ve always suffered from pangs of stress and anxiety. So recently I’ve decided to take a different tact, and rather than getting rid of them, I’m trying to accept them as part of who I am.
This approach has come about from my delving into Buddhist techniques of living. What I find attractive about Buddhism is that it contains many techniques that do not require taking on a new belief system. Moreover, one can get the juiciest bits of Buddhism without having to learn Pali or to understand the cultures of Thailand, Tibet, or India.
One of my favourite Buddhist teachers is the American, Tara Brach. She’s got the uncanny ability to translate Buddhist concepts into “secular” language and crucially she is very funny! When it comes to stress and anxiety, she talks about using a technique called RAIN. The full details can be read here or viewed here, but my summary is:
(R)recognise: focus on whatever thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations are coming up. Notice what is easy or hard to pin-point
(A)llow: this is one of the crucial bits, just let whatever comes up be. Don’t try to change it or problem solve it, just give it permission to be. It may help to vocalise this, for example by saying : “I consent to fear”. This almost always takes the edge off.
(I)nvestigate: for tougher issues, this stage takes things a step further. Focus on what the body is telling you, which parts are tightening up. With feelings, investigate what deeper feelings are underling them. Again, there is no judging going on, so there is no need to change anything.
(N)nourish or non-identification: this is more the outcome of R, A and I. The trick is not to associate who you are with your “issues”. They are like the weather, constantly changing.
Hope you find this useful!!!