What Helps Sarah Wilson With Anxiety

Anxiety is something that most people suffer at one time or another, that sense of panic you feel before an important meeting or when you open a credit card bill that you’re not sure how you are going to pay. It might manifest in physical symptoms like a tightness in your chest, sweating or palpitations. For most of us this feeling subsides once we take a deep breath and just get on with the task ahead. 

But that’s easily said than done.

For some people anxiety is totally crippling. They become immobilised with fear and anxiety rules their lives. They suffer insomnia and become anxious about going to sleep, because they know that they are not going to sleep. It becomes a vicious cycle, the lack of sleep causes further anxiety and soon they are fearful about leaving the house and reluctant about engaging in social activities, they start to cancel and then become anxious about being that the person who always cancels.

In her book, First, We Make The Beast Beautiful, Sarah Wilson details what’s like living with anxiety day in and day out. It has two sides – the side that drives you to work hard and seek perfection, but also the side that shuts you down and can ruin relationships and make working 9-5 impossible.

Sarah Wilson says, “when people ask me for the ‘one thing’ that’s helped with my anxiety, I tell them there’s been no one thing. But if pressed, I conceded that meditation has steered me to most of the good things that have happened in the past seven years. The other thing I tell them is that the thing about meditation is that you always have it with you. You don’t have to rely on anyone or anything. You sit. With yourself. And just meditate. This is incredibly powerful in itself.”

I teach Vedic Meditation the same type of meditation Sarah Wilson practises, her teacher Tim Brown is the teacher who taught me to be a teacher. After twenty years of meditating I am able to manage my own anxiety very well, but in my early twenties it would give me terrible insomnia. And more recently when I was diagnosed with breast cancer nine years ago, I experienced some initial panic attacks around my surgery and around the time of my six monthly scans. I now actually meditate three times a day during those scan times to give me extra protection over panic attacks and also to take back my power from the anxiety, because I won’t let it rule my life.

The reason meditation helps with anxiety is because it calms the mind. It doesn’t necessarily get rid of thoughts, but with the ongoing practice of meditation you do have less thoughts. Neuroscientists say we have around 50,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day and around 90 per cent are recycled, so imagine if you could give your mind a little holiday everyday - twice a day for twenty minutes when it could find some peace and inner calm. Well that’s what has helped me conquer my anxiety (most of the time) and apparently Sarah Wilson as well.