Newly found Anxiety and Unrest

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Newly found Anxiety and Unrest

Postby noahjoseph » Sat Jul 04, 2015 7:07 am

Hey guys,

I've been into this stuff for a year or so now. I'm 21 and in college for Engineering. I have read The Power of Now and am half way through New Earth. I medidate 20-40 minutes a day, and have had profound results in an overall better temperament and genuine happiness. I've seen improvements in all of my relationships. Now for the issue:

I've never struggled with anxiety, hopelessness, purposelessness, or depression. This issue started with a bad flu. I was trying to sleep, but obviously couldn't. In my restless, excruciatingly tired state, I began to fear my lack of sleep and what it would do to me. This fear and anxiety lead to more lack of sleep, which in this weakened state lead to more halucination, fear, and anxiety. I started to think that maybe the cold medicine I took was reacting badly. I think what got me the worst was the absolute lack of control. I had a full panic attack. Cold sweat, chills, difficulty breathing. I broke down like I never have before, and just wanted it to end.

Moving forward, after the flu, on random nights I would remember this panic attack, and my stomach would drop. It would form this pit inside me of hopelessness and fear. The kind of feeling you get when your life path is altered in some extreme way, like being fired from your job. Being present, acknowledging it only made it worse. Focusing on the anxiety produced more anxiety. I found the only way out was to play some music from my early teen years (Good Charolotte) and get lost in thought (yes, thought, the opposite of presence).

I even had trouble causually drinking with friends. The slight loss of control from alcohol made me fear spiraling into this dark tunnel.

Then, recently, it started pervading my daily life. It shows up in quiet times, when I'm not actively working on something with purpose. Part of me thinks this is just my body's defense mechanism. It craves purpose; if I'm not working on something to better myself, it gets restless. Maybe this isn't so bad. But the lack of sleep, the fear, that pit that makes you wonder if life is worth living needs to go. I'm not suicidal, but it's very difficult to describe this dark feeling; especially when I'm not feeling it right now.

What do I do? Have I just hit a point in my life where a mental illness has started to take hold and I need medication? Or is this a spiritual problem? How do you beat something that gets worse with presence? Focusing on anxiety only produces more anxiety. It's so random, when it's gone it's like it was nothing but a bad dream; when it's there it scares the s*** out of me, because it's not me... Or maybe it's just some dark, repressed pain-body that I can't control.

Thanks in advance guys,
Noah
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Re: Newly found Anxiety and Unrest

Postby lmp » Sun Jul 05, 2015 6:14 pm

There are at least five components to fear as I see it. If you look at what is active in you when you are afraid.

1. Thoughs about the future, 'I might go insane etc'.
2. Resistance, I do not want this.
3. Thoughts about I, the one this is happening to.
4. Trying to understand what fear is.
5. The uncomfortable feeling in the body.

So the first one is really fear of what the outcome might be, the future which nobody knows, the fear of our own imaginay power/ability.

The second is the reaction when it comes, when it comes we know all the other symptoms will be triggered, the bad feeling, the uncertainty about the future etc. you already mention some aspects of it, 'this needs to go', 'listen to some music', think about something else, resistance, avoidance, and why not...just because someone said be present with anxiety, perhaps he meant be present a little bit so you learn a little bit each time, who knows eh.

The third is the I this is happening to, the I that examines what it means to be present and so forth. What is it?

The forth is to understand what fear and axiety is, and you are asking questions about it now in order to have some input on that.

The uncomfortable feeling in the body. Normally we are not afraid of our sensations as we have had sensations all our life, but when it comes to fear we tend to be afraid even of how it feels.

I dont know about you but I had to to into each of these topics in order to get anywhere, Im not saying you should do it, but it might interest you.
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Re: Newly found Anxiety and Unrest

Postby bastian » Sun Jul 05, 2015 8:06 pm

Hi Noah,

I can draw a parallel from a spiritual experience I had. Maybe it helps, maybe not.

It's the ego's full panic mode. When you withdraw energy from your ego - like you do with meditation and reading Eckhardt's books - the ego fears for its survival. Two things happen: your illness you had is in its true nature neutral. It just is. But the ego used it to instil heavy amounts of fear. It labeled it much more vigorously than before. It tells you, you might get supersick and be not able to work or live any more. You might die and you loose all your strength. This way it keeps up the fear and thus the unconsciousness. BUT: the good part - it comes at a cost. The ego leaves its hideout and shows itself - unless it succeeds and you turn away in fear. Don't get me wrong. These situations can be frightening as **** and I can totally feel you. But as soon as you are courageous enough to FULLY FULLY face it, you will experience an amount of bliss you never could have dreamed of!

I've experienced it this way: When I grew my consciousness I had a point when suddenly all my unconscious thoughts emerged. It was like a machine gun firing depreciations: I am useless because of this, I am unworthy because of bla, I am superguilty because of blub. It became so rapid, that dozens of thoughts emerged within seconds. Then suddenly I was sucked into a void. It was like a black hole. It even made a sound as I was sucked in by a vacuum cleaner... and then boooom: I've entered my first superconscious state. For some seconds I've transcended thoughts. It was like entering a complete different dimension of being. It was sooooooo out of space for me. And then my mind/ego came back and I tell you: It came back ROARING!!! It labeled the state as if was entering hell. It told me that this is a psychosis I will never leave anymore. It came like a waterfall into this black hole. Back then I was close to panicking. I've heard of people stopping to meditate for decades after having such an experience.

Today I can only laugh about it - I've entered dozens of superconscious states and experienced bliss that is far beyond words.

Have trust Noah, love,

Bastian
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Re: Newly found Anxiety and Unrest

Postby noahjoseph » Tue Jul 07, 2015 5:07 am

There are at least five components to fear as I see it. If you look at what is active in you when you are afraid.

1. Thoughs about the future, 'I might go insane etc'.
2. Resistance, I do not want this.
3. Thoughts about I, the one this is happening to.
4. Trying to understand what fear is.
5. The uncomfortable feeling in the body.


This is great. I could never describe it this well. I was unable to identify all of the points where the ego was shining through.

Normal fear is easier to deal with; I've found ways to kick myself into the present and drive forward. It's why Eckhart Tolle has given me the confidence to branch out socially. This fear, however, is fear of fear itself. Before I'm able to kick myself into the present, I start labeling this new sensation. Identifying with it, linking it to past negative experiences. Before I know it, I've drawn up my ego's entire repertoire of negative emotion. I think the reason this was never a problem before is because I had no prior panicking experiences with which to draw negative emotion.

Here's the question, though: Usually with fear, or anything I'm resisting I take a three step process; 1. Breathe. 2. Clear my head, become present. 3. Do whatever is most enjoyable/best for growth in the situation (usually doing the thing I fear in the first place). My way of avoiding the "what you resist persists" paradox is to take massive action.

I'm laying in bed with this, trying to sleep. What is there to do? Nothing. Nothing but think about other things. Or become completely present, but presence requires alertness and alertness will keep me from sleeping. Any advice?
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Re: Newly found Anxiety and Unrest

Postby noahjoseph » Tue Jul 07, 2015 5:15 am

I can draw a parallel from a spiritual experience I had. Maybe it helps, maybe not.

It's the ego's full panic mode. When you withdraw energy from your ego - like you do with meditation and reading Eckhardt's books - the ego fears for its survival. Two things happen: your illness you had is in its true nature neutral. It just is. But the ego used it to instil heavy amounts of fear. It labeled it much more vigorously than before. It tells you, you might get supersick and be not able to work or live any more. You might die and you loose all your strength. This way it keeps up the fear and thus the unconsciousness. BUT: the good part - it comes at a cost. The ego leaves its hideout and shows itself - unless it succeeds and you turn away in fear. Don't get me wrong. These situations can be frightening as **** and I can totally feel you. But as soon as you are courageous enough to FULLY FULLY face it, you will experience an amount of bliss you never could have dreamed of!

I've experienced it this way: When I grew my consciousness I had a point when suddenly all my unconscious thoughts emerged. It was like a machine gun firing depreciations: I am useless because of this, I am unworthy because of bla, I am superguilty because of blub. It became so rapid, that dozens of thoughts emerged within seconds. Then suddenly I was sucked into a void. It was like a black hole. It even made a sound as I was sucked in by a vacuum cleaner... and then boooom: I've entered my first superconscious state. For some seconds I've transcended thoughts. It was like entering a complete different dimension of being. It was sooooooo out of space for me. And then my mind/ego came back and I tell you: It came back ROARING!!! It labeled the state as if was entering hell. It told me that this is a psychosis I will never leave anymore. It came like a waterfall into this black hole. Back then I was close to panicking. I've heard of people stopping to meditate for decades after having such an experience.

Today I can only laugh about it - I've entered dozens of superconscious states and experienced bliss that is far beyond words.

Have trust Noah, love,

Bastian


You're definitely right in that it's the ego, hitting me with a firehose of negative emotions. Through meditation I've learned to briefly transcend thought. It's a great feeling. But transcending thought only works when I'm not running away from thought. Trying to transcend thought in this situation more feels as if I'm resisting. I'm going to try feeling the emotion without labeling it by calling it "bad" or even "good". Just watch it, to see what it does. Maybe it'll help. Maybe it'll get worse. I'm sure I'm not in any real danger anyway, so I might as well try.
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Re: Newly found Anxiety and Unrest

Postby ashley72 » Tue Jul 07, 2015 6:11 am

noahjoseph wrote: In my restless, excruciatingly tired state, I began to fear my lack of sleep and what it would do to me. This fear and anxiety lead to more lack of sleep, which in this weakened state lead to more halucination, fear, and anxiety. I started to think that maybe the cold medicine I took was reacting badly. I think what got me the worst was the absolute lack of control. I had a full panic attack. Cold sweat, chills, difficulty breathing. I broke down like I never have before, and just wanted it to end.


Panic attacks arises due to positive feedback. Where the output signal of the nervous system feeds back into the input signal of the nervous system causing a positive gain in the output signal => Increased feelings of danger i.e panic.

How to overcome panic is very easy once you clearly see the dysfunction that occurs. This is how you overcome panic attacks.

You need to stop treating the symptoms of fear as danger. In other words, stop treating the output signal of fear, as fear itself.

What happen to you just before the panic arose.... you were feeling anxious which caused you to be hyper vigilant and very awake and alert even though you were tired. This exhaustion of feeling tired and the inability to fall asleep at that time made you start treating those symptoms (output signal) as dangerous & something you should avoid... this in turn made you more hyper vigilant, awake and alert to those symptoms of danger.... so you started to get more of what you didn't want...... and panic arose abruptly!

Next time you have a panic attack, and trust me it will happen again now that its happen once. You need to see the fear symptoms of hyper-vigilance and restlessness as not dangerous in themselves, but just very uncomfortable and unpleasant but transient. Expose yourself to that unpleasantness and uncomfortableness until it subsides and you no longer feel that way. This is how you overcome panic attacks by exposure to the symptoms of anxiety.
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Re: Newly found Anxiety and Unrest

Postby Enlightened2B » Tue Jul 07, 2015 7:08 am

Great thread. Noah, I've had almost the exact same issues as you for about 15 years or so now since my college days when I started having sleeping issues. I've had on and off sleep anxiety issues and also sleep anxiety in relation to 'noise anxiety' which would plague me during the day as well as I would constantly worry about my sleep environment even when I wasn't home. I almost dreaded coming home at times. Not falling asleep was never the problem for me. It was the fear of not falling asleep or the fear of hearing a noise that would disrupt my sleep environment. Some of the most traumatic difficult experiences of my life that brought me to the edge and I still deal with it at times on and off due to compulsive thinking patterns. That pit in my abdomen and in my lower chest area has always been quite pronounced during my anxiety attacks.

Ashley gives good advice on anxiety and I would listen to him as he is someone has suffered from it himself.

The problem I personally find with comments such as 'face fear' is that it's incredibly nebulous and vague. Sure, we should face fear. No doubt. but, what exactly are we facing? The sensation? The thought? It's the compulsive thought itself that brings on the powerful emotion in the pit of your torso. Exposing yourself to the emotion most certainly does relieve the anxiety temporarily, until thought comes back again with the same story, because more often than not, compulsive thinking is what brings on these types of anxiety attacks in the first place. I've had OCD type of thinking since I was a kid in many situations of my life outside of just sleep, and I know first hand what it can do. So, how do you stop the compulsive thought which brings on the anxiety?

Ultimately, I've found that the big issue is 'control'. Wanting to control. Sleep is one of those things where you absolutely have to let go of control and deal with uncertainty and be TOTALLY TOTALLY ok with the idea of 'not sleeping' before going to bed at night. If you're trying to control whether you sleep or not, you're basically resisting. Instead, it's a metaphor for aligning with your nature. Letting go of control and simply allowing your experience to be. Nowadays, I say....if I sleep, I sleep. If I don't sleep, I don't sleep. This too shall pass. It's more difficult for me when I have a disturbance in my actual sleep environment though which can cause me some intense anxiety for days at a time.
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Re: Newly found Anxiety and Unrest

Postby bastian » Tue Jul 07, 2015 2:04 pm

Thanks to all contributing here, it is really a helpful thread.

The problem I personally find with comments such as 'face fear' is that it's incredibly nebulous and vague. Sure, we should face fear. No doubt. but, what exactly are we facing? The sensation? The thought?


Hmm, good point. To be honest I have no academic answer or anything close. I can only relate to my own experiences. Maybe it was even exactly the point that I was so conception-less. When I conquered my fear (I don't relate to my story earlier in the thread) I've reached such a deep desperation but didn't budge an inch anymore because I wasn't willing to take it anymore (many years of deep depression should pass until I reached that point). I didn't try to watch my thoughts or anything. I just stopped. When this happened it was like a higher force took over and I was led into incredible bliss. I mean what happened then was completely out of human control... but I fell back from this enormous graceful state, collected some of my old suffering patterns again, and am very willing to learn from all of us here.
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Re: Newly found Anxiety and Unrest

Postby Rob X » Tue Jul 07, 2015 5:30 pm

Noah

When I had been meditating for about a year or so I went through a similar thing. And I have heard of others who describe something similar (all meditators report issues of some kind.) As we become more open and sensitive our minds become receptive to the existential rawness of existence. Think of it as a form of growing pains.

In my case, I had no choice but to just live through it although it was pretty scary. It came and went for several months and eventually I just began to get used to it. When it arose I would say to myself 'oh here it comes… if this is what the cosmos wants to do then okay, bring it on.' And I would be curious about it and try to hold it in awareness. It wasn't at all pleasant but my strategy was to make use of it and in that way I began to fear it less and less. Eventually it just stopped happening.

This curiosity and allowing is not the same as focusing on it in thought. Thinking about it will make it worse - it's our stories that scare us to death. Just let it happen in all of its rawness and unpleasantness - it's not going to kill you, it's a phase of change.

And don't worry, it's not the onset of mental illness.
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Re: Newly found Anxiety and Unrest

Postby lmp » Tue Jul 07, 2015 6:26 pm

noahjoseph wrote:
There are at least five components to fear as I see it. If you look at what is active in you when you are afraid.

1. Thoughs about the future, 'I might go insane etc'.
2. Resistance, I do not want this.
3. Thoughts about I, the one this is happening to.
4. Trying to understand what fear is.
5. The uncomfortable feeling in the body.


This is great. I could never describe it this well. I was unable to identify all of the points where the ego was shining through.

Normal fear is easier to deal with; I've found ways to kick myself into the present and drive forward. It's why Eckhart Tolle has given me the confidence to branch out socially. This fear, however, is fear of fear itself. Before I'm able to kick myself into the present, I start labeling this new sensation. Identifying with it, linking it to past negative experiences. Before I know it, I've drawn up my ego's entire repertoire of negative emotion. I think the reason this was never a problem before is because I had no prior panicking experiences with which to draw negative emotion.

Here's the question, though: Usually with fear, or anything I'm resisting I take a three step process; 1. Breathe. 2. Clear my head, become present. 3. Do whatever is most enjoyable/best for growth in the situation (usually doing the thing I fear in the first place). My way of avoiding the "what you resist persists" paradox is to take massive action.

I'm laying in bed with this, trying to sleep. What is there to do? Nothing. Nothing but think about other things. Or become completely present, but presence requires alertness and alertness will keep me from sleeping. Any advice?


I'm not a practicing therapist, perhaps my advice are dangerous, but I don't think so. You can just read and see what you think about it for yourself.

When it comes to fear about fear it is the first point in my little list, fear that fear will persist and grow and become so strong that it will damage something in us. Who wants to panic, eh.

I faced the worst fearful thoughts I had, tested out if they were true. My worst thoughts were along these lines: if I don't resist, manage, control my fears I will go insane, I will end up afraid for the rest of my life, and so forth. Those were hard thoughts to deal with and it took both courage and some resignation before I decided to see what would actually happen if I let go and let fear run its course or have its way with me. So I just lay down in bed with the intention to finally see what fear would do to me.

I found out that fear has no such agenda or power as to drive me mad or anything like that. Actually it more or less just subsided when those bad thoughts were not insisted upon. I had expected something more to happen but basically there was just a relief and not much more.

As it is often said, fear is a warning signal in the system, but when we become afraid of this warning signal and develop dreadful thoughts about it, we become locked into a chain of events that we cant get out of. If we have scary thoughts about what will happen I don't really see how they can loose their power unless we test them out to see if they are true. Do you? Fortunately they are not true. Fear cannot harm you, but it can cause a lot of resistance which is very painful, when resistance escalates it can reach the point of panic.

I think if you were to test out your fearful thoughts that you could then sleep, because fear itself might come and go but the notion that it is harmful in the way you previously thought would have been proven not to be true.

Does it sound too dramatic perhaps?
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Re: Newly found Anxiety and Unrest

Postby ashley72 » Tue Jul 07, 2015 9:24 pm

The problem I personally find with comments such as 'face fear' is that it's incredibly nebulous and vague. Sure, we should face fear. No doubt. but, what exactly are we facing? The sensation? The thought?



YOU SHOULD NEVER TREAT THE WARNING SIGNAL OF FEAR AS DANGER ITSELF


Very simple. You face the "symptoms" of fear. I also like Robs use of "warning signal" instead of the word "symptom".


So in this case with Noah he was lying in bed feeling restless and sleep deprived because of rising anxiety. The restlessness or insomnia is a warning signal of fear....now panic arises which is an elevation in our fear level because we treat the insomnia or warning signal also as "danger signal"... this is second order fear... so you cause a feedback loop of warning signal feeding back again as a danger signal so a panic cycle arises.

Fear has many different types of warning signals, rapid heart rate or heart palpitations, sweaty palms, insomnia etc... if you treat any of these first order warning signals as "dangerous" and something life threatening you will naturally feel increasingly fearful so you will get more of what you don't want. In other words, the warning signal gets locked onto as a danger signal stuck on accelerate.

Anxiety sufferers don't see that this treatment of the symptoms of fear or the warning signal of fear as the cause of the panic... most sufferers get tricked into blaming the situation... "Lying in bed at night" not the insomnia as the trigger... so they might avoid lying in bed or going to bed at night.

The way to overcome the insomnia and not make it worse is to exposure yourself to the unpleasantness of insomnia and not be afraid of insomnia or treat the insomnia as dangerous or life threatening.. But just treat the insomnia as something unpleasant and transient or short lived. This stops elevating the fear into a panic cycle.... Output feeding into the input signal.

Panic attacks can be easily conquered or overcome once you realize how you've been tricked into treating the symptoms of fear as fear itself.

1st order Anxiety which is different from panic (2nd order anxiety) can also be overcome by exposure therapy. You need to expose yourself to whatever causes your anxiety and stay with that trigger until you stop treating it as dangerous.

If you want to overcome the irrational fear of the "dark" the only way is to expose yourself to the darkness (trigger) and stop treating it as dangerous... in the case of a tiger it is completely rational to treat it dangerous or life threatening so it would be irrational to exposure yourself to a tiger in the wild which would eat you for dinner because your in its food chain.

The nervous system is a great asset for a human being, it's just we have to use it in the right way for it to be useful and not dysfunctional.

As Rob says, You should never ever treat the "warning signal" of fear as danger itself... otherwise you will creat a panic disorder! This should be a lesson every single child is taught at primary school.
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Re: Newly found Anxiety and Unrest

Postby Enlightened2B » Wed Jul 08, 2015 8:32 pm

Great stuff Ashley.

Thanks for explaining.
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