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A short time ago, I read a profound article written by physician and contributor, Will Meecham.  In “Forget ‘God.’ Believe in Love,” he discusses reaching a state of spiritual enlightenment that can be experienced by anyone, regardless of their faith or lack thereof.  Despite a somewhat controversial title, the significance of the state he discusses is one that even the most devoutly religious could identify and agree with.  Think of it as that “ah-ha!” moment we’ve all had when, despite whatever problems we have at the time, everything feels ok.   He describes it with the following:

To varying degrees these experiences make the cosmos appear permeated by: 1. Love, 2. Unity, and 3. Rightness. I’ve never felt any judgment or fear when this feeling takes hold.

He argues that instead of it being a passing feeling, our goal should be to spend as much of our lives in this state as possible.  He writes:

The normal course of every human life is to move toward this principle, though some people make very little progress while others end up deeply immersed in it. You often hear stories of nasty, hurtful personalities who transform into loving, caring servants of humanity. People rarely, if ever, change in the other direction…Love is both our initial nature and the proper final goal of life.

So how does this apply to anxiety?  Many of the newest branches of psychology and therapy address these issues in ways that echo this philosophy.  They emphasize mindfulness and concentration on the present instead of future problems or past mistakes.  There is also some movement away from referring to anxiety as a mental health condition in favor of viewing it as a state that we all experience and can learn how to manage.  In Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong, a book outlining the principles of Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), Kelly G. Wilson and Troy Dufrene write that two of ACT’s main goals are to help you:

  • Accept with equanimity and relative good humor all aspects of your life, whether pleasant or painful, in or out of your control.
  • Recognize your life as a place of great and unfolding possibilities rather than a set of confining, rigidly defined stories about who you are and what you might become.

Feelings of anxiety, panic, etc. often come from a fear of judgment or embarrassment.  This approach addresses that root issue with the belief that life, with all the things that can “go wrong” included, is still perfect just the way it is.  This is far from a quick fix and you might have trouble figuring out where to start.  I recommend the next time some big problem you’re worried about just seems to work itself out in a way you never expected (happens all the time.  Just wait for it!), be aware of and focus on that moment for as long as you can.

If you have any “ah-ha!” moments you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them!  In the meantime, here’s an excerpt of Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata to keep in mind as you go about your day:

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

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3 Responses to All You Need is Love: Spiritual Tips for Overcoming Anxiety

  1. Thank you, Lionel, for citing my essay in your post. I much appreciate the exposure. For the record, I still practice medicine, though now as a physician acupuncturist rather than a surgeon. So I’m not technically a ‘former’ physician, though before embarking on this new path I thought of myself that way.

    By the way, I agree with your endorsement of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, which has helped me and many others. And the Desiderata has long been one of my favorite inspirations.



  2. No problem, Will! I’ve removed the “former” from the article.

  3. Dr Brad says:

    Great article and quick reminder from both of you to our true spiritual nature and connectedness. Thank you!

    I had an anxious day yesterday that I could not pinpoint as to why, and now recognize I was not following the laws laid in nicely in this article. Back on track, into the light! Light workers unite, stay positive and keep up the necessary light work. Blessings to all, Brad

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