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What is Anxiety?

Anxiety takes hold for a reason…

The Anxiety Disorder Association of America (ADAA) publishes statistics that nearly 18% of all adults in America have an anxiety disorder, and that it is the most common mental “illness” in America.  How is it that nearly a fifth of adults in this nation are suffering from a mental disorder?  I believe calling anxiety a mental illness is misleading.  We live in a very, very, very fast culture.  Moving from one task to the next, only to break long enough to check our news feed on facebook or the latest email.  Most of us are bombarded with stimuli nearly every second of our day.  If you are like me, you are often on the go, creating something, or socializing, or fantasizing about what’s next.

Anxiety isn’t really a disorder if you imagine trying to relax in this extreme paced environment.  It simply is a way of joining a fast paced river so you don’t drown.  Obviously, there are other reasons that anxiety can be persisting such as a spiritual crisis, fear of an event, stress of uncertainty, etc.  But, many times, it seems anxiety is really the culture we live in, more than a disorder of the masses.  That’s probably why 1/5 of our nation is characterized as having this disorder.  I’m guessing that the actual number is much higher when you account for people who never share about their anxiety.  So, the big question is how to stay relaxed with so much going on around us?  It takes practice.  It takes patience.  It takes looking deeper into the inner landscape to see how we are moving quickly, and learning how to slow down.  I’m learning that it is a human birthright to relax deeply.  Not just on the vacation once a year.  But every single day.  The paradox is it takes discipline and precise listening to deeply let go and relax.  I notice the more I listen close enough to my own anxiety, it is really just a voice screaming at me to fully let go.