I never thought that religion and anxiety could go hand in hand. What the Baghavad Gita taught me about anxiety simply blew my mind and since practicing the guidance received from it, I have seen many changes in myself – for the better.
“The Gita does not decide for us. But if, whenever faced with a moral problem, you give up attachment to the ego and then decide what you should do, you will come to no harm. This is the substance of the argument which Shri Krishna has expanded into 18 chapters.”
― Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi
The Early Years
I was born into a Christian household. My father was Dutch Reformed and my mother a Catholic. She converted when they got married.
Growing up, I remember not being forced to go to church services. In retrospect, this was more for their convenience than mine. Although believers in their faith, they never attended church much themselves and I think that those times that they were in attendance, they sought peace and quiet. So one (usually my dad) would go, and the other would stay with the children at home.
Something they DID force me to do, however, was to attend “Sunday School”. From age 7 to 17, after which you get confirmed into the church and may take part in communion.
I despised going to these classes. There were many kids from different schools, so I hardly knew anyone. I had selective mutism, I was shy, and I had social anxiety. I always tried to make myself as invisible as possible during those classes. I used to love it when we had a “big mouth” as part of the class. Someone who thrived on attention, loved the interaction, and had many questions to ask. The more spotlight for them, the less there was for me and that suited me just fine.
During my teenage years, I went through a period of regular church attendance, with my friends, not my family. I did this to be “cool” and “fit in” as my group of friends at the time were firm believers in their faith and brought up that way.
I never really felt comfortable in church.
The songs were so slow and depressing.
The preacher was judging and solemn.
The congregation comprised many hypocritical and sanctimonious members.
I just never felt welcome, always judged and out of place.
The last time I willingly attended a service (not including weddings and funerals) was at my confirmation. It was also the first and last time I ever participated in communion.
By the time that it was time for me to get confirmed and accepted, I was counting the days to my “freedom” from the Christian church and their ways of worship.
Nobody could force me to set a foot in church after that. Yes, the community might have frowned upon me, but it really was the only time in my life where I did not care at all what people thought of me for going “faithless” and leaving the church.
I had started exploring other faiths and ways of thinking, including atheism, and soon my world was turned upside down. It was like a curtain was drawn and my mind opened up from this box that was created around me for my entire life.
I started reading a lot of non-fiction about anything from quantum physics to religions of the world. I consumed a lot of information and I guess I was young and felt a bit overwhelmed without any guidance, so I eventually settled on spirituality as my base of faith and sorta made up my own rules as I went along.
The road wasn’t easy. I faced many periods of no faith to absolute faith to confused about faith in a higher being or beings.
Anxiety-wise, I used the Universe (my God) as some sort of therapist having regular conversations and prayer sessions in my head. Sometimes I could feel the answers and other times not. The times when the answers did not come, eventually stopped bothering me because those times were always met with an external factor causing me to get the answers or clarity or comfort that I need.
The Greatest Discovery
As mentioned earlier, I started forming my own beliefs as I went along. I’m going to list a few of them. See if they sound familiar to a specific religion. 😉
- I believe that God isn’t just one thing, but EVERYTHING and can manifest himself in any form.
- We are all connected by energy and God is also within all of us.
- I believe that when you die your “Soul” returns to energy form for a while before returning to another body to continue learning and growing.
- I believe in the law of karma.
- I don’t need a building to confirm my belief, all I need is to focus on the Universe/God and the greater good.
Sound familiar? If you thought along the lines of most Eastern Religions, you would be right. And I was lucky enough to again do research into the Hindu religion while doing research for an article on anxietypanda.org.
Again, something clicked and opened up in my brain. I am now an avid student of Hinduism and although still very new and unguided (thank goodness for books and the internet, especially YouTube) I have finally found what I have been looking for religion-wise. I am currently on the verge of Smartism, but who knows where my path will lead?
One of the first books I purchased was the Baghavad Gita. Specifically, one that had additional explanatory commentary that helped to clarify the meaning of some of the conversations. I was amazed at how the advice that was given by Krishna to Arjuna could be applied to yourself when you experience Anxiety.
Lessons on Anxiety from the Baghavad Gita
Don’t let anxiety prevent you from doing things that you like – remember that your body is just a vessel. Like a pen – even though the pen is used to do the writing, the pen does not get blamed when the words are written incorrectly.
Just like the pen, you are merely a vessel that is steered by your God in order to let be what should be.
Nothing that you do and nothing that happens to you is because of you. And as bogus as it sounds, I really think it is true.
Keep your attention and focus on God, that’s all you need to do.
Perform all your actions with detachment – not happy or sad for a good outcome, and not happy or sad for a bad outcome. Don’t do things because you want to be rewarded for it. Do things because it is a necessary thing to be done in the flow of things. Everything you do must be for God.
Material gain, I promise you, will NOT bring you happiness. Sure it may bring short-lived happiness while you are here in your current body, but it does not last eternally.
Unattachment is sure to bring you relief from anxiety.
It’s okay, in fact, it’s preferred that you be yourself. Anxiety might cause you to want to withdraw and become a scared little bunny all alone in your room, but don’t let that change who you are.
You have nothing to be afraid of because fear isn’t real.
You are anxious about something that has not even happened yet, and you have no guarantee that it even will happen. So, why let that get you down?
Your mind can be your best friend or your worst enemy. When it becomes overly anxious, it is definitely in enemy mode.
Luckily, your mind can be trained. You can train it to reject negativity and accept positivity.
Negativity is connected to the material world, one that will not bring you the true happiness you need.
When your mind is guided by positivity, you are guided by God and therefore get closer to him. Your mind will experience clarity and stillness like never before…
Meditate – the Baghavad Gita teaches us to meditate and focus our attention on God (Krishna). Doing just this simple task will put you well on the path to becoming a less anxious person.
There is much solace to be found in religion and anxiety can surely be stilled by simply tuning in to basic scriptures, no matter what your religion.
I happen to have found what I needed by reading the Baghavad Gita, and I’m so glad I got to share what I have learned from it with you.
Please feel free to share your views or elaborate on this topic in the comment section.