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What we experience as anxiety is not caused by a singular emotional state, but a complex accumulation of thoughts and emotions. Any one of these thoughts or emotions by themselves would be no problem to deal with, but when they build up upon each other they become overwhelming. We struggle to function with the feeling of being overwhelmed, insisting to ourselves that we are fine until one trigger becomes the the straw that breaks the proverbial camels back and the whole stack of thoughts and emotions collapses into a panic attack and we shut down completely. It's like being a computer operating beyond its capacity. It tries and tries to perform all the tasks being demanded of it, functioning less and less efficiently until the computer can take no further demands, and crashes completely.

Now, unlike a faulty computer, we cannot just add more memory or trade in our minds to accommodate a greater task load. Medication only addresses symptoms, and if you are having enough anxiety symptoms that you need medication to function, you are already in trouble. If the problem lies in the accumulation of thoughts and emotions, then that is where we must deal with it.

The vast majority of our thoughts are completely unnecessary, along with the emotions that accompany them. Most of our thinking is concerned with rehashing the past, planning the future, judging ourselves and others, and creating stories and fantasies. Mindfulness meditation trains us to be in the present moment, enjoying life in the now, rather than drowning in a sea of negative thoughts and emotions.

Meditation practice is not therapy or counseling, and is not meant to take the place of these valuable tools. If you are experiencing debilitating anxiety or depression it is recommended that this practice be supported by talk therapy. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255, 24/7 free and confidential.

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