I want to share with you what I am learning right now from the Dalai Lama.
I love neuroscience and I often talk about the human brain. It’s so fascinating how our brains generate anxiety, and I teach many neuroscience-based techniques for eliminating anxiety.
Neuroscience is a very new discipline (since about the 1990’s), growing exponentially along with technology advances.
So it was quite ironic to me to discover the very non-scientific and very ancient perspective of the Dalai Lama (in “The Book of Joy” by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.)
Prevent Suffering from Anxiety
According to the Dalai Lama: “[Just] as a healthy immune system and healthy constitution protects your body again potentially hazardous viruses and bacteria, mental immunity creates a healthy disposition of the mind so that it will be less susceptible to negative thoughts and feelings.”
Our own negative thoughts and feelings are what cause our suffering.
The Sanskrit word for these negative thoughts and feelings in the Buddha’s time was “Dukkha,” which can be translated as “stress” or “anxiety.” Buddha identified Dukkha as the core of much of our unnecessary suffering.
On the flip side of that, when people call me to inquire about anxiety treatment, what do you think is the one thing they consistently tell me they want (besides getting rid of anxiety)? Happiness. The Sanskrit word for this is “Sukha.”
How to find Sukha and eliminate and even prevent Dukkha? The Dalai Lama says mental immunity is the answer:
Developing Mental Immunity
1. Meditation. As a Buddhist monk, one of the main ways the Dalai Lama builds mental immunity is through his daily meditation practice.
The Dalai Lama meditates for 5 hours a day! But you don’t have to! There are hundreds of different types of meditation so you can find a technique that works for you. Here’s an easy way to start with 3 minutes a day: Metta Meditation.
Meditation is proven by both monks and neuroscience research as a way to calm the mind and effectively reduce anxiety. But mental immunity can be built in other ways as well.
2. Mindfulness can be a meditation technique but it is also so much more. It is a way of being. It is a way of doing anything at all, in a mindful way, which is achieved mentally by training your brain to remain present and focused in the present moment.
Anxiety is most often about the future – even if it is the future just 5 minutes from now. Five seconds from now, or 5 minutes or 5 days or 5 years, are all in the future.
Developing your mental ability for mindfulness helps you stay in this moment of now, which reduces anxiety.
3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps you develop mental immunity by literally training the neural pathways in your brain to actually think differently. What is CBT? Click HERE to find out. It works to create mental immunity by changing the way your brain thinks and responds to anxiety-provoking situations. Click HERE to learn more about how it works for anxiety.
CBT also helps you eliminate “stinking thinking”/”anxiety thinking” which also creates mental immunity.
The Dalai Lama on the need for mental immunity: