The Anxiety Relief Program is intended for those whose worries and anxieties are getting out of control or have already done so. It is based on the principles of trust, acceptance and, above all "mindfulness", which means moment-to-moment awareness of events in the mind and body while maintaining calmness. This quality is the basis of Buddhist meditation. It has no religious content and is used with great success in well over 300 clinics in the US for treating stress and chronic pain.
The acceptance of anxiety and the enhancement of mindfulness paradoxically reduce its negative effects, enabling coping with situations which create anxiety.
A series of exercises is given, each of which helps to develop mindfulness of the effects and symptoms of a particular anxiety disorder. The reader is helped to select those exercises which will benefit him by answering questionnaires and so can choose his own program for bringing his anxiety under control. The exercises include visualizations which give a training in facing anxiety calmly and "shrinking" it so that it no longer dominates daily life. Considerable stress is laid on the way in which the reader breathes, which has a profound effect on mind and body. For this there is a series of exercises which correct the breathing, reducing both the onset of anxiety and its symptoms. Other exercises combine correct breathing with body movements.
No fixed exercise program is given. but the reader is invited to construct his own on the general principles given and suiting his situation, making changes according to his progress.
Aside from anxiety, the author has treated many patients having conditions of stress, pain and tinnitus (see www.tinnitusconsult.com). He has led seminars and taught meditation as a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka and to patients in Germany.
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January 27, 2005
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Excerpt from The Anxiety Relief Program by Dennis Radha-Rose
INTRODUCTION TO ANXIETY
Anxiety is a feeling like hunger - it creeps up on you whether you want it or not.
Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize winner
What is needed rather than running away or suppressing it or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.
Introduction? Who needs an introduction to anxiety? We all have it at least from time to time, and if we didn't we would often find ourselves in threatening situations, for it is a warning signal that something is not right with our world, that there may be something dangerous out there - or worse, in here, in our body or mind.
How the program helps you to cope with anxiety
You can't stop the waves of anxiety but you can learn to ride them. No program, medication or therapy will cure a severe illness or change a situation such as your bank account being in the red. External circumstances remain as they are. But what we can do is to change the way in which we react to the situation so that the object of anxiety does not control us, which means keeping ourselves under control. Then we are in the best possible position to cope with the outside situation and improve it as much as it can be. The Anxiety Relief Program will help you to do this. Of course, some anxieties are imaginary, such as that of a person who continually washes her hands because she is afraid they are "contaminated". Here the ARP helps by changing the relationship to the thought of contamination.
Since 9/11 there is a new and appalling cause for anxiety - terrorismdirected against us all. It is all the worse because there is no way to know what will happen next, and we cannot do anything personally to prevent it. But we have to learn to control our anxiety about it so that it will not destroy us.
Sometimes anxiety becomes excessive and to overcome this you need to understand why and how it happens. Although the popular (and not so popular) press often prints lengthy and colorfully illustrated descriptions of the neurophysiology of anxiety, we need not concern ourselves with that here. It is far more important to discover from our own experience what gives rise to our anxiety, how we feel it and above all what we can do to overcome or at least cope with it. If you have, say, acute anxiety when you have to board a plane, you will hardly be helped by thinking about what your amygdala, limbic system and other parts of your brain are doing. But you can be helped by the Anxiety Relief Program, therapy or both. It may be early in the book to say so, but though a quick Valium taken at the check-in may help you board the plane, tranquilizers lead to dependence, and so on your next trip you will probably have to take two...
Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If allowed to do so, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained. You can't think of anything except what you fear. It does not help to try to suppress or deny it or merely to try to distract yourself from it. You cannot run away from it because it will follow you wherever you go. You have to face up to it, admitting to yourself that you are excessively anxious and that this can dominate your life. True, you can take tranquilizers to get over a crisis point, but they only work for a limited time and help only with the symptoms. Tranquilizers do not solve the basic problem but cause you to avoid confronting and accepting your anxiety, which is the only way to cope with it. You can go to a therapist, who will be a help, but even he or she will tell you that in the end you must do the actual work of coping with your anxiety yourself.