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Anxiety and Meditation

Sam Harris | 8:36


 Okay, so I got your questions on Reddit, and when I last looked at this page, there were over 1300 of them. So needless to say, I will not make much headway, but I really thank you for delivering so many questions and voting them up, and I, I can only assume that the ones that came first, now were the ones that, in fact, were reliably voted up.

Some of these questions surprised me, but, and maybe I'll dig around a little to find. Others that are of interest. So there are many questions on anxiety and one person wrote, anxiety is a monster that is crippling and paralyzing and keeps you in a loop of debilitating negative emotions. Even when one desperately wants out.

What are the causes? What can one do to help themselves? What steps, big or small do you suggest? Well, the, the neurophysiology of anxiety is pretty well understood, but I don't think understanding it in any detail really helps. There are drugs you can take to mitigate the effects of anxiety. I should say upfront.

I have no clinical experience and this is not my area. I would think that if anxiety is really crippling, there's some role for drugs to play, whether it's beta blockers that impede the effect of adrenaline on your heart rate, so you don't get the racing heart experie. Or anti-anxiety drugs that work on the neurotransmitter gaba.

But in general, the people who work with anxiety therapeutically to my understanding, don't recommend you take those drugs and that you do something more along the line of cognitive behavioral therapy, which is to say you, you expose yourself in manageable ways to the things that provoke anxiety. You reframe them conceptually, you become open to feeling the effects of anxiety and realize you can get through it.

And there's certainly a role for meditation and mindfulness to play in this part of the process. For instance, many people are afraid to fly, and even those of us who aren't especially afraid to fly, can feel anxious in significant abule. Now, why do we feel anxious? Well, we have some thought that turbulence might be dangerous, right?

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