I'm Matt, creative, writer and illustrator of the book "Tell Your Negative Thoughts to STFU". This is an anxiety blog where you'll find my ramblings on mental health, with various book recommendations and some chill music thrown in.
I’m not an overly spiritual person, but there is something that interested me in buddhism with the story of a demon called Mara. Mara was the demon of self-doubt and appears in the story of the prince Siddhartha Gautama, on his journey to enlightenment (and becoming the Buddha). Ultimately, Mara tests him in battle, which is as much a physical battle as it is Siddhartha’s battle for liberating and disciplining his mind. Siddhartha prevails and becomes enlightened. However even after the battle, Mara still shows up from time to time in the now-Buddha’s life. And when he does, the Buddha simply says “I see you, Mara”.
The Buddha has effectively recognised his enemy and as a result, that enemy loses his power.
Anxiety and depression are illnesses that any sufferer will do anything to avoid. We try to ignore them, distract ourselves from them or anaesthetise ourselves enough so we don’t feel anything. But just like the story of Mara, sometimes it is better to be consciously aware of the demons we face. And to face them, without self-judgement or blame.
This is called being ‘Mindful’. About living in the now.
And yes, it’s not that simple for many people who are facing these kinds of illnesses.
But if we can start to say “I see you” to our anxiety or depression, it does lose some of its power, because we no longer are letting it control us. We are facing up to it.
One thing I love to do is go running in the local country lanes.
They say that exercise is superb for lowering stress and anxiety, so I look at running as a way of keeping myself calm.
The other day I just had one of those runs where you feel like a sack of potatoes being pushed up a hill. I was puffed and felt like my legs were deadweight.
But then I realised that I was overthinking it. I was thinking about how far I had to go, how steep the hill was, and how hot it was.
So I changed my thinking. I thought “one step at a time, it’s cool”.
And this strikes me as a way to tackle over-worrying about the future. If you spend too much time worrying about how difficult it will be to get a new job, or how much effort it is to plan a wedding or how much home renovating you need to do, you will stress about it.
The better way to live is to not worry about how far you’ve got to go. Or the effort required.
My sleep’s all over the place at the moment, thanks to the uncertainty of the current job market (the UK’s in a major recession thanks to Coronavirus and our political overlords) and well, anxiety.
I woke up at 5.30am this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I got up and threw some shorts and a t-shirt on, to go running.
I’ve been listening to some new radio/podcast shows featuring downtempo music, that help to relax me and get me in the zone as I run. Unlike the ‘Future Astronauts’ podcast I mentioned in another post, these shows are more meditative. And at the risk of sounding like a wanker, I thought they were worth a mention.
The first is SOMA FM’s Mission Control radio station. If you like your space stuff (personally I’m a sci fi and space fan) then this is an interesting mix of ambient music and recordings from NASA mission archives. It’s quite fascinating to hear the astronauts reporting back to their control room, over some relaxing beats. Have a listen : https://somafm.com/missioncontrol/
The second podcast Ultima Thule is another great ambient and chill out podcast that is less concerned with what is cool, and more concerned with deep, meditative sounds and weird, mystical monologues from various poets and randoms, mixed in over ambient and chill out music. Check it out : Ultimate Thule Podcast.