Let It Be: Using Mindfulness to Overcome Anxiety and Depression


“Perhaps many things inside you have been transformed; perhaps somewhere, someplace deep inside your being, you have undergone important changes while you were sad.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke

When I was twelve years old, I figured out how to get out of things.

It was a rainy Saturday morning and I was supposed to be getting ready for choir practice—an eight-hour rehearsal before a big concert. Eight hours! I began to obsess about how much time this was in my then tiny life.

As though by my own will, a heavy sensation of dread and nausea arose. I wasn’t aware of it at the time but my brain had said to my body, “Hey, if you feel sick, we can get out of this!”

Unfortunately for me, this would happen many more times, well into my adult life.

Commitment equaling nausea coupled with a terrible fear of vomiting. Concerts, sport events, sleep overs at friends’ houses—any situation that might be awkward to get out of.

It wasn’t until I was sixteen that it started affecting school. Too paralyzed to turn up to the first day of year eleven, I was taken to the doctor. She said I was anxious. She prescribed Effexor, an anti depressant. I wasn’t depressed. I would end up taking one tablet everyday for the next eight years.

At twenty-four, a friend made a comment: “I don’t think those tablets are actually treating what you think they’re treating. Maybe you would be fine without them.”

I realized then that I had been swallowing them purely out of habit. Maybe they had been my crutch—a morning ritual to keep the wolves at bay. By that time I wasn’t really experiencing too many of the attacks. I felt okay. I started to slowly wean myself off the medication while on a trip overseas.

The withdrawal symptoms were horrendous, but I came through—a bit dazed and spaced-out but “clean” nonetheless.

I returned home. At first I was happy, comforted by the familiarity of my pets and family. But something was slightly off. I started having strange thoughts—negative and disarming.

Usually one might shrug such moods off, but they came with such conviction that I began to worry. I Googled: “Why don’t I want to do anything anymore?” and “Why do I feel detached?”

A month later I experienced what one might call a nervous breakdown. Lying in bed watching a film, something in me clicked: “Life is meaningless.”

A horrific wave of panic and racing thoughts ensued. My mind was trapped in cycles of anxious rumination and would go on like this for months, with little to no respite except in sleep.

Everything seemed bizarre and pointless and menacing. Worst of all it felt as though, despite their best efforts, nobody could reach me.

Anxiety is not the nerves you feel before a performance. It is not the quickening heart upon realizing you left the stove on at home. Anyone who says, “Just relax!” to a person who is experiencing anxiety or depression should know this; they just cannot. Not yet anyway.

Both are fuelled by worry. Not only about these new and disorienting sensations, but also of the thought “Will I be this way forever?”

I tried CBT and it was a waste of time. Maybe I sought the wrong psychologist, but she seemed more concerned with the small clock on her table than my exasperated tears.

I was prescribed anti-depressants again—but even through the hardest days, a tiny voice inside said, “No drugs. Just wait. Please.”

I found another psychologist, a Romanian man who was kind and spoke my language. I bought $300 worth of useless supplements. Trial and error.

Anxiety plays tricks. It tells you that everything you feel is serious. Depression paints everything in black and white. Together, they skew perceptions. 

One day I became truly convinced I was developing schizophrenia. I Googled “disturbing thoughts.” This time I stumbled upon a website called Anxiety No More, created by a man named Paul David, an ex-sufferer himself.

It summed up every symptom I had—racing and disturbing thoughts, dizziness, panic, depressed feelings, detached feelings, plus a myriad of others. Paul had suffered anxiety and came through completely unscathed. The answer? No drugs and no expensive smoke cleansing rituals.

The answer was so beautiful and near unbelievable in its simplicity: Stop fighting it. Let it come.

This was the first breakthrough for me, and from then on I became determined to learn as much as I could about the human brain and why we experience anxiety and depression.

I learned that those born post 1940 are ten times more likely to experience depression. This indicated that in many cases, life events are to blame; the stress we endure, assuming we are unbreakable. You only need to watch someone trying to balance two iPhones, a laptop, and an iPad on one knee to see how we even overload ourselves.

I learned that anxiety is a slow-to-evolve trait leftover from our prehistoric ancestors (apparently our brains haven’t received the memo that the lions are no longer lurking behind bushes). 

And depression? In many cases it is the brain saying, “I can only handle so much! Bye!” and feelings are seemingly switched off—a defense mechanism.

That is not to discredit cases of severe depression caused by other factors where medication is necessary, but knowing how easily and frequently anti-depressants are prescribed, one has to ask, at what cost exactly?

Are we perhaps interfering with a natural defense process that might be best left to run its course, approached with patience instead of a ‘fighting’ attitude?

I had read all the books. I was meditating daily with soothing music and practicing breathing exercises.

I let the panicked feelings come and go and surely enough, over time they lessened until I no longer anticipated them. Feelings came back. I could laugh. I felt battered and worn, but hopeful.

But still the dark thoughts would seep in, slowly swelling in my mind. Heavy as wet wool. Despite my best efforts, I was left in depression and wanted so terribly not to be.

Sure, thoughts came with less urgency, but they were still there and I remained in a daze, as though I was swimming an inch away from reality.

I Googled. I was lead to mindfulness.

Mindfulness—the final stepping-stone of my path to healing.

It was intuition that led me to the practice of mindfulness. All along, medication and CBT felt wrong for me. Even chanting affirmations, burning lavender candles, and distracting techniques seemed unproductive—as though I was telling my mind, “This is a thing that must be gotten rid of!”

It really is the equivalent to “Don’t think about pink elephants!” Of course we will. It is in our nature.

The great revelation came when I was listening to a podcast about mindfulness and secular Buddhism by a man named Peter Strong, a mindfulness expert and Skype counselor. His own experience with anxiety and depression as a young adult mirrored my own.

I organized a Skype session with Peter, excited to learn more about mindfulness and encouraged by what I had read.

I confessed to him that I saw breathing exercises as an attempt to distract. He said, “Yes. It’s a tool. Mindfulness is all in the subtleties.” Then he paused and told me, “Instead, when thoughts and feelings come, you simply say to them ‘Hello. I see you. Welcome.’”

After almost two years of struggling with my mind, the battle was coming to an end. I let the thoughts in. I let them stay. I treated them as one might a small wounded bird. Compassionately.

As promised, the negative taboo enshrouding them dissolved. The rumination stopped. I finally felt free.

It is my genuine wish that no one suffer needlessly as I did and as so many others do. My story was one of trial and error, one that has taken almost two years.

I think if I had discovered mindfulness earlier, the road could have been a little shorter. Trust me when I say that I thought I would be trapped like that for the rest of my life. But I took the advice to sit it out, be patient, and not take everything my mind threw at me so seriously. It takes time. Relapses happen, but you do heal.

Accept the uncertainty, open up to those close to you, and try to allow commotion to coexist with who you are. And believe me when I say that despite how hopeless it may feel, you are still there—temporarily clouded, but there, waiting.

Photo by Moyan Brenn

About Lucy Roleff

Lucy Roleff is a Musician, Poet and Illustrator living in Melbourne, Australia.
She is an advocate for daily mindfulness and mindfulness-based meditation and hopes to one day teach others about its benefits. Lucy has released her first book “Somewhere; poems and illustrations from a place” inspired by her own healing from anxiety and depression. You can find her at

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  • PRI

    I am so so happy you read At Last a Life by Paul David – it’s one of the most powerful tools out there to help people who suffer from anxiety. I read it over the summer (bits & pieces) and it really helped me, I hope that everything in your life is much better now and that you’ve made your own human revolution!

  • Sheena Vasani

    I am currently learning this myself through ACT therapy. Nothing else has worked on me so far and while I am a novice at mindfulness, there are moments where I experience greater healing than I’ve with other approaches. Thank you for this! I’m taking it as a sign I am on the right track.

  • Lucy Roleff

    I’m sure you are on the right track, Sheena. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to just keep at it. Once we get into the habit of anxious or depressive thinking, it can be hard to break those habits, so don’t feel disheartened if you don’t feel 100% straight away. Everyday it seems there is a new scientific article about the physical effects mindfulness meditation has on the brain – I found this really encouraging when I was starting out and not sure about it all 🙂

  • Guest

    Thankyou! Finding At Last a Life was indeed a small miracle – i’m so glad I found Paul’s site really early on. Glad to hear it helped you too 🙂

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thankyou! Reading At Last a Life was indeed a small miracle. I’m so glad I found Paul’s site early on. Happy to hear it has helped you too 🙂

  • Lucy – thank you so much for sharing you story. I experience some pretty severe anxiety myself about a year ago. Fortunately, it only took about a month for me to try several unhelpful therapists and solutions until I stumbled upon mindfulness and correcting limiting beliefs. Truly life changing.

    Thank you so much for spreading the word to more people – I honestly believe the mindfulness is the most loving, lasting solution to anxiety and enhancing life experiences in general!

  • Tom

    I’m over 60 now and I have suffered from anxiety (2 types) and depression my entire life. Well, since I was 5 or 6 years old anyway. Diazepam works pretty well for the anxiety, and I’m on an old anti-depressant that helps, but mindfulness, when I can actually accomplish it, practically takes it all away. My problem is that mindfulness is very hard for me, probably due to the decades-old habits I’ve picked up – the automatic responses in my brain that are so deeply entrenched. I will continue working on mindfulness, and I hope to break away from the devastating effects of the anxiety. Thank you for this article and for the inspiration!

  • Guest

    I find it amazing how effective mindfulness can be. I’ve struggled with a lifelong depression (To the point of being suicidal) since I was about 7ish and after I discovered mindfulness this summer my life has changed so much in such a short time. In addition to helping me fight depression it has also helped me change so many of my habits, such as: I’m so longer a slave to instant gratification, I exercise and go for walks/jogs regularly, my diet now consists of mostly veggies, I don’t mindlessly watch TV anymore, I’ve started reading books (Something my attention would never have been capable of before), etc. In short: life-changing. It’s really nice that it’s getting more attention now.

  • Me

    Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

    “…apparently our brains haven’t received the memo that the lions are no longer lurking behind bushes.”

    Society is breeding legions of lions – in our institutions, traditions, members and elsewhere – that, though metaphorical, are very real dangers. The fact you can meditate away any sense of responsibility for addressing these births – “fitting in” as it were, despite all claims to being “authentic” – simply ensures mankind will soon be outnumbered by it’s self-created demons.

    I also see that as God’s will. The only way this mess could ever be “fixed” is to tear it down and start over.

    I so can’t wait to say: “I told you so.”

  • Sara Harvey

    Beautiful! Thank you so much. I see hardly anything in the collective conversation’s general flow that’s not, “Do this to fix that.” “Not doing” is powerful, too. “Hello. I see you. Welcome.”

  • Joana

    Thank you. That was beautiful. I felt like I was reading about my life. Mindfulness is my life now. I am really happy for you.

  • Josh

    thanks for this, i too was on effexor for an extended period, (10 years) and when i came off them my experience mirrored yours in many ways. There is growing evidence that taking these type of drugs for extended periods actually causes various receptors in the brain to whither away and it can take a year or more for them to become as they were prior to when you started taking the drug! Much longer than the so called ‘discontinuation syndrome’ period. I think that is why it takes so long to recover, and why so many end up back on medication. Again, thanks for the post. it really is about letting things flow through and out of you, welcoming rather than resisting, cheers,, Josh

  • niamhb

    This story has resonated so much with me, its so so similar to my own experience. Mindfulness has been a feeling of finally coming home and finding solace, understanding of my own journey and learning to live my life so much more fully. I cannot put into words how much it has helped me.

  • Amberlea87

    I used to get physically ill from anxiety, for a couple of years when I first left home for college. My turning point came when I read ‘A New Earth’ by Eckhart Tolle. It’s an amazing book, and I highly recommend it to everyone, especially to those dealing with anxiety like this.

  • Deanna Lang

    This gave me tears. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in these feelings. Especially this: “Everything seemed bizarre and pointless and menacing. Worst of
    all it felt as though, despite their best efforts, nobody could reach
    me.” I’m trying to not be a martyr about it and work through it, but this is exactly how I’ve been feeling off and on for the last year or two. My new mantra is ‘Let go let go let go…’ Thank you.

  • Gabrielle Stapleton

    Thank you Lucy, I was in need of this article today. I had not realized how much I have been letting my anxiety control my life and my goals. After nearly succumbing to a near breakdown today after losing my final research paper, I decided this morning that taking my final exam this afternoon was simply pointless. What was the point, I wasn’t prepared, I had self sabotaged myself to a point past repair and decided firmly against even going, simply accepting a zero. I’m sitting here now having read this article having realized my greatest self sabotage in accepting defeat…which now I cannot change, only accept. So here I go picking up the pieces of my work and my scattered mind trying to remember to breathe and focus and continue to repair what I can. I’m still working through my cycle of self destruction but it is encouraging to hear of your self recovery and it gives me hope to make it through today.

  • The Healthy Eating Guide

    Very brave of you to share your story, Lucy. Glad to hear you’re in a good place.

  • Desta

    I’m embarking on the mindfulness journey through meditation. I’ve coupled it with Kava Root supplements and I’ve been feeling so much better. Trading the negative thoughts for thoughts of gratitude, forgiveness and awareness has been the key.

  • tms71972

    What a brave, wonderful essay. I commend you for sharing it with everyone. It truly resonates with me and my past. Thank you!

  • Emma

    I tried meditation, going to an actual Buddhist run meditation group but I could not shut my mind off no matter how I tried. It just keeps going over and over everything in my life, lack of relationship issues, job issues and how I don’t know what to do in my life….I cant stop it. If meditation and listening to relaxation CDs and exercise does not work what next….I go for walks which help a little. I have had counselling and CBT and not a help and I have tried medication, again did not help…..I just want my mind to stop and to be normal again..

  • Μιχάλης

    Hi. I think these two videos can help with this kind of frustration during meditation (they helped me)

  • wrikar

    Hi Emma, I don’t know anyone that can just “shut off” their mind but, at least as I’ve experienced it, mindfulness isn’t about that. Mindfulness tells us its our very effort to always be relaxed when we’re actually uptight, to not think when we’re actually ruminating/obsessing, to always be trying to control and avoid our unwanted inner experiences that keeps us trapped in them. This makes us frustrated and feeling like we’ve failed. Its like having insomnia and trying harder and herder to get to sleep, gritting our teeth and tossing & turning- we usually just end up wide awake. Its a paradox but, as Lucy describes, we need to learn these counter-intuitive skills to break out of this cycle. Mindfulness asks us to stop fighting and trying to block these unwanted experiences in order to transform our relationship to them, to reduce their power over us. Perhaps you could look for a contemporary mindfulness course in your area? That’s what turned it around for me. Good luck Emma- you sound really normal to me 🙂

  • C

    god this is beautiful. my life with anxiety began at age 3 with my first panic attack. now at age 28 they seem to have returned after a couple years of just anxiety, but no panic. i needed to read this just now. it was seriously lovely.

  • Franziska

    It almost felt as if this was written by a (hopefully) future me. I still have to learn a lot, but this article really helped me. Thank you very much for it! 🙂

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thanks Franziska. It certainly does feel like there is much to learn sometimes – and it sounds like you are on the right path. The minute you give in to the uncertainty of it all and trust (as best you can) that you will get better, the easier it becomes 🙂 Best of luck

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thank you! It is amazing how the brain hangs on to these old habits and they pop up every now and then. Even today I get little rushes of panic and what not, but I let them come in, do what they please, and they eventually get bored and leave me alone 🙂

  • Lucy Roleff

    Hi Emma. Trying to shut my mind off was how I first approached meditation too. Then i learnt about the subtleties of the practice and how this is actually another way of telling your brain that it needs to ‘sit down and shut up.’ The ultimate goal is to let all thoughts, no matter what they are, come in to your mind and not judge or try to cast them out. It takes practice but you WILL get there. I would highly recommend having a look through Anxiety No – Paul talks alot about how to approach thoughts that just won’t stop. Also the free meditations you can download from ‘Meditation Oasis’ I found to be excellent – her approach is exactly the style of mindfulness that I practice. Good luck

  • Lucy Roleff

    Wonderfully put! Of all the practices it seems that Mindfulness is the most complimentary with how the human brain works. Practices that try to control or ‘tame’ the mind often feel counter intuitive, though we at first assume they make the most sense – wanting so much to be rid of the ‘bad things.’ I love the analogy of trying to fall asleep – such a classic issue for sufferers

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thank you 🙂 x

  • Lucy Roleff

    Gratitude is certainly a powerful emotion! Glad to hear you are on the mend x

  • Lucy Roleff

    You will get there, Gabrielle. Remember to be gentle on yourself and take it step by step. Sometimes it feels like there is a literal mountain of things that need to be done, in our own minds and in our lives. I often felt just making a list of what I needed to do really helped me. Weeks later I would go back, read the list and realise what was a big deal and what really didn’t need all my stress energy. Anxiety held me back from pursuing some things for ages – and I hadn’t even realised. Realising is half the work! Many stay in that state their whole lives. Good luck x

  • Lucy Roleff

    It really is a huge part of the human condition to experience these things, Deanna. That sounds like a good mantra. There are some fantastic relaxing meditations you can download for free from “Meditation Oasis” with titles such as “let it be” and “letting go” which I must have listened to at least 100 times each 🙂

  • Lucy Roleff

    That is absolutely spot on about ‘finally coming home,’ Niamh. I remember hearing Sarah Silverman on a program, likening her feelings of depression to ‘being homesick’ and yet she was home.’ Getting well again is really like a returning, but with much less baggage 🙂

  • Lucy Roleff

    Beautifully put, Josh. It breaks my heart to think that people go through such terrible withdrawal from these medications. I know it’s sometimes necessary but in cases where it isn’t, it seems so unfair

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thank you so much for sharing this. In many of the cases I researched, it seemed those who struggled with depression from an early age were more likely to think their problem was purely neurological and perhaps discredit meditation practices. I’m so glad to hear you are doing so well.

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thank you for sharing your story, Tom. Those automatic responses sure do get themselves buried deep, don’t they? My ‘nausea’ response was with me for about 15 years and granted it took a bit longer to ‘fade away’ than more short-term symptoms, but reading about neuroplasticity gave me hope that any neural pathway can be changed – with practice of course. Good luck to you!

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thank you Meg. I’m so glad to hear you are on the right path 🙂

  • Satish

    Four times of “Googling”. Is that all to get out of anxiety? 🙂 Just kidding… the article was really great and I enjoyed reading it.

  • Lucy Roleff

    thank you 🙂

  • Lucy Roleff

    Hehe. Thank goodness for the internet, I guess!

  • Katie

    Thank you for your post! I love that I can trust this blog to not feel alone!! It’s really easy for me to get discouraged with anxiety but mindfulness is the single most helpful skill I’ve ever learned. It gave me the power back to respond to my negative thoughts and feelings instead of letting them take over. I recommend taking the official 8 week course Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) developed by Jon kabat – zinn. It changes my life! Then I found a therapist who specializes in mindfulness and was trained in MBSR to support my path. This has really helped!

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thanks Katie! I would highly recommend that anyone struggling should seek a therapist or counsellor who is trained in mindfulness – often in the early stages one might feel disheartened or have alot of questions. It’s good to have someone to run it all past and help you through

  • Sage

    Brave and courageous living is the result of living through what doesn’t work. I am only courageous after the fact. Pain has motivated me most of my life to seek the Truth. Today, I am motivated by the Truth even when the pain is powerful – it doesn’t hold the same power as in the past. Mindfulness is one of the tools I use to find peace and my place in Truth. Thank you for your honesty in sharing your journey.

  • DominoTricks

    I have become known in my group of friends as someone who ‘pikes’ at the last minute. Someone who can’t be relied upon to show up, and it has been the source of joking and semi-serious jibes at my expense. These things aren’t understood by many, and unfortunately to try to explain it to someone is too much for me. Thank you for the article, despite my present tears. it’s nice to know others suffer from this as well.

  • Dominotricks

    I didn’t mean it’s nice to know others suffer!! It’s just nice to not be alone.

  • Mikey

    Thank you soooo much for sharing your story Lucy. Like others I identify all too well with your experience, the irrational, disturbing fears, afraid you will never be yourself again. It is so comforting knowing you’re not alone. Your words of encouragement and conviction that this is something that can and will get better was exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you thank you!

  • Lucy Roleff

    You most certainly are not alone. I too got in the habit of cancelling plans without realising I was being controlled by the anxiety. I hope there is someone you can speak with openly

  • Kirsten

    This was exactly the blog post i needed today, thanks.

  • Lucy Roleff

    You’re very welcome Mikey. I truly was in the position where I simply couldn’t foresee a future where I didn’t feel awful and needed constant reminders from people who had recovered – but you just take as many tiny steps as you can and, as with most things, it is when you have stopped analysing how you feel that the symptoms quieten down and eventually make their exit

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thank you, Sage. Sounds like you have a good system going on 🙂

  • Anxiety Girl

    Wow. This hit me so very hard. I have experienced anxiety as long as I can remember and I am merely twenty. It, in the last year, has increased after a few traumatic events and I am struggling very hard with anxiety and depression now. I had felt so tragically hopeless and alone, especially regarding the “disturbing thoughts”, like there is something severely wrong with me; like I should feel guilty; and like no one around me understands or would understand.

    I am currently pursuing my Bachelors degree in Psychology with a minor in Art, but finding it difficult to maintain motivation enough to do much of any of the work, (which is very unlike me, I am an A/B student). The worst part of this entire plot is not knowing how to deal with any of it on top of all of the other daily struggles in my life, it’s like you said: “You only need to watch someone trying to balance two iPhones, a laptop, and an iPad on one knee to see how we even overload ourselves.”

    It is interesting that the root cause for anxiety is worry, and then we experience these ongoing disturbing symptoms and it creates more worry, which just feeds the anxiety.

  • Amy

    Thanks Lucy 🙂 I am coming to the end of my anxiety journey too! It’s been pretty awful and I never thought I would ever be free. Some days are tough and I really have to remind myself that thoughts come and go, especially about not so nice things from the past, but they are just that thoughts. They can’t hurt or actually do anything at all! Mindfulness has really been my savior as well! Thanks again Lucy 🙂 this article seemed like a well timed reminder after a bit of a difficult day!

  • Lucy Roleff

    Glad to hear you’re doing so well, Amy! You are so right. Once we allow all the stuff that gets attached to a thought to fall away, the thought itself is often not all that horrible

  • Lucy Roleff

    Exactly right. It’s a vicious cycle. It sounds like you are burnt out and i’m sorry to hear you’re having a rough time. Where those disturbing thoughts are concerned, many many people think that there is something very wrong with them when often it is just anxiety throwing whatever it can at you for a reaction. It’s not at all uncommon for sufferers to have strange thoughts of harming others or doing strange things (not that they would ever follow through but their anxiety makes them fear they could!) It is also very common to go through such turmoil in our 20s because there is so much change and having to establish who we are. I hope there’s someone you can chat to because you really are not alone x

  • What a well-written, precious and helpful text you have written there! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with these two huge errors of the human soul and body.

  • Val

    Thank you so so so so soooooooo much for writing this Lucy. It’s a beautiful thing to know you’re not alone and crazy in your struggles with inner peace. These random waves of panic have only recently started to happen to me, probably with the adding stresses if life, as you mentioned. I am confident I will reach a state of peace and mindfulness, it’s just a matter of being patient and loving/accepting all feelings as they come and go 🙂 thank you again! Much love and luck to everyone who has/is going through this.

  • Michael Dittmar

    Most do not come to realization that, as a person you are one second away from happiness, for the rest of your life. Smile and start living it.

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thank you, Val 🙂

  • Lucy Roleff

    Hi Guys – here is a list of some of the books and websites I referenced in the article. I hope they are of some help to you too x

    – Paul David’s website and blog:
    – The User’s Guide to the Human Mind – Why our brains make us unhappy, anxious and neurotic and what we can do about it. – Shawn T. Smith, PsyD
    – Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway – Susan Jeffers
    – The Mindful Path through worry and rumination – Sameet M. Kumar, PH.D.
    – The Path of Mindfulness Meditation – Peter Strong PH.D.
    – – Mindfulness meditations for all situations
    – – Interactive mindfulness meditations

  • Hilge

    Give up the “I”-dentification and there is no more fear.

  • Holly

    Mindfulness has been the ONLY thing that ever worked to help my anxiety. Now, I just think, “Okay, I here is the anxiety”, and it surfaces, no big deal. There it is. Then it goes away because I am not struggling to force it to go away. I try another trick at times…..I do something I know will make me anxious or uncomfortable just to remind myself that whatever it is actually is not going to kill me or even do much of anything.

  • Mindfulness

    I will try and give myself a little rest the next couple of days and try and read this post and remember to keep myself healing 🙂 thank you for sharing your “battle” with us, you are a great inspiration 🙂 keep fighting the good fight! for nirvana! :p

  • Lucy Roleff

    Fantastic attitude, Holly. Many sufferers have reported that they purposefully do the things their anxiety tells them not to – over time the anxious responses fade away

  • ConcernedMama

    What a wonderful article, thank you for writing it. I wonder if you have any advice for parents of children who are developing these patterns. My son is 10 years old and while he does not appear outwardly anxious, he is sensitive and at times has severe stomach pains that the doctors attribute to stress. Do you have any insights into what would have helped you prevent the path of suffering you endured before you found answers? Thank you!

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thank you 🙂

    Absolutely – when I was 12 and the nausea stuff started to happen, I didn’t realise I was anxious as I had no real concept of what that might be. Thus, whatever brought up the anxiety would be blamed – having to go to choir practice, stressful classes and so on. In hindsight I realised it wasn’t the situations I was in, it was just that I was a sensitive girl and certain things got to me that may not have affected others.

    There are now more and more yoga schools, meditation teachers and primary/elementary schools who are introducing mindfulness meditation to children from a very young age and from what I have read, the results have been fantastic! I would highly suggest that if there are such resources available near you, that you take your son to some classes where mindfulness meditation is offered for kids – and where it’s not too heavy! it should be relaxing and enjoyable for him 🙂

    One website in particular that is doing wonderfully in Australia is – there are different meditations catered to children, teenagers and adults. The layout of the site is fun and encouraging – kind of like a game with a bit of visual interaction – and it’s completely free.

    10 seems a perfect age to begin mindfulness as children are already by nature more ‘in the moment’ than us grown ups 🙂 For kids that show signs of being a little more sensitive, the earlier they are given tools to express their feelings and manage anxieties, the easier they will coast through things that come up in the future. Good luck!

  • Lucy Roleff

    p.s. you may also like to listen to this program by a woman who teaches children mindfulness

  • sooraj

    THIS was EXACTLY what i needed. I feel a little lighter now. I know exactly what lucy muat have gone through, i haven’t been diagnosed with anxiety and depression(haven’t been to a psychiatrist) , i’ve been dealingbwith bith anxiety and depression on and off for about 4 years,and they are back now with a greater control over me jow, bt i’ve been practicing meditation, reading, breathing exercises, yoga and it seems to be helping a bit, i want to keep medication at bay for as long as possible. The thoughts seem to have control over me, and that is followed bt minor panic attacks and anxiety. I’ve started to avoid people ,circumstances and situations. Its hard, but is feels good that i’m nit alone in this battle. There is still a lot to learn and thank you so much for this post, will try to welcome the thoughts without having a sword fight with them. Hope we all get better and reach a place of mental tranquillity.

  • Lucy Roleff

    It definitely sounds like you are on the right road. I listed some resources in a comment below if you are hunting for some extra tools 🙂 all the best

  • ConcernedMama

    Thank you Lucy! I appreciate your suggestions and thank you again for sharing your story.

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    Thank You for sharing your story. As someone who still struggles with anxiety & depression…stories like these gives more of a hope that maybe..just maybe I’ll be fine afterall! 🙂

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thank you. I shared my story because I too went through the horrible uncertainty of whether I would ever get better. It is, ironically, once we give up the struggle that things start to get easier. Good luck!

  • onewithnature

    Heartfelt. Much respect to you. Thank you.

  • Kayleigh

    Thankyou so much for this, thats exactly what I needed to hear. It’s scary and lonely when you’re in the grips of anxiety and depression, I’m comforted to know that despite what my silly brain tells me, it won’t be like this forever.

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    I’ll try to remember that more often…:)

  • Nikki

    I agree with the power of mindfulness. But how do I get rid of the sinking feeling, or heaviness I feel. It’s not just the thoughts…

  • Lucy Roleff

    It’s all connected, Nikki. Sometimes the subconscious can play little games and we might feel horrible with no real idea as to why. This is why panic attacks are so awful for sufferers as often they are brought on with no obvious cause and thus, hard to avoid. The mindful and compassionate attitude can be applied to both thoughts and unpleasant feelings. In time it will lift

  • Tony

    I liked the part about welcoming the feelings or thoughts that are overwhelming me. Treat them with compassion and understanding. That may just help me to stop feeling broken.

    Great read.

  • Sooraj

    This was exactly what i wanted to hear. i could totally relate to it. thank you for sharing your story. i’m 23 and struggling, life has fallen apart since 3-4 years and unable to put the pieces together, doesn’t make any sense, job,education etc i’ve been telling myself “my story” again and again for justifying where i’m today and its hard to move on, dealing with pain, depression and anxiety.(back-story: bullying, failed/rejected love, failed and directionless career, no jobs, all plans of career and job fell apart, nothing working, paralyzed by fear) i’m trying meditation, yoga and breathing exercises, its helping a lot but sometimes the anxiety, the overwhelming feelings of failure get to you and you get stuck in that cycle again. sometimes it does feel a lonely journey when you see all your counterparts/friends have moved ahead. I want to break free from this negativity and i wish there was an easy way to just switch off the thoughts and LIVE my life without the physical and mental stress. it would be so beautiful, so light and peaceful. We all are a work in progress i guess..sometimes i wish i had like-minded people to talk to and share things. Thank you again..will practice(and google) mindfulness.. 🙂

  • Sooraj

    This was exactly what i wanted to hear. i could totally relate to it.
    thank you for sharing your story. i’m 23 and struggling, life has fallen
    apart since 3-4 years and unable to put the pieces together, doesn’t
    make any sense, job,education etc i’ve been telling myself “my story”
    again and again for justifying where i’m today and its hard to move on,
    dealing with pain, depression and anxiety.(back-story: bullying,
    failed/rejected love, failed and directionless career, no jobs, all
    plans of career and job fell apart, nothing working, paralyzed by fear)
    i’m trying meditation, yoga and breathing exercises, its helping a lot
    but sometimes the anxiety, the overwhelming feelings of failure get to
    you and you get stuck in that cycle again. sometimes it does feel a
    lonely journey when you see all your counterparts/friends have moved
    ahead. I want to break free from this negativity and i wish there was an
    easy way to just switch off the thoughts and LIVE my life without the
    physical and mental stress. it would be so beautiful, so light and
    peaceful. We all are a work in progress i guess..This story gives me hope that i’ll beok after all!!! need to let go!! sometimes i wish i had
    like-minded people to talk to and share things. Thank you again..will
    practice(and google) mindfulness.. 🙂

  • Ash

    Hi Lucy. Excellent article. Thanks for sharing your story.

    I’ve been practising mindfulness for about 2 years now and I agree with Peter’s comments that it’s all in the subtleties.

    I’m so taken with the concept that I recently wrote the ultimate guide to mindfulness which lists 34 benefits (I think there are many more).

    Watching your thoughts as a witness rather than buying into them is a very subtle but powerful mental shift.

    It has an incredible impact if practised consistently over a long period of time. And the best part is that you can incorporate it into your everyday activities.

    I wish you all the best in your incredible journey.

  • Ash

    I agree that the analogy of forcing yourself to sleep to cure insomnia is a great one. Thanks for sharing it. 🙂

  • Ash

    Something that you may find helpful is trying to focus on bodily sensations. This helps to bring the mind back to the present moment and out of the thoughts projected into the past or future.

    If you’re feeling fear for example … try and notice the sensations in your body. Perhaps it’s a tingling in your shoulders … or butterflies in your stomach. I find this approach very useful in getting me out of my head.

  • Ash

    Yes they’ve even got a term for it. Exposure and response prevention (ERP). It’s used for people who suffer from OCD.

    A combination of mindfulness and ERP can be truly transformational in my experience. It builds confidence in all aspects of life.

  • Ash

    Totally agree. The critical thing here is that you have to give it time for it to work. And that’s the part I found to be the hardest. Patience and time. But eventually it does work.

  • Ash

    Yes focusing on the fact that all things will pass is very powerful in dealing with anxiety I think.

    The buddhist principles of interdependence and impermanence are very powerful in freeing the mind from ‘black and white’ thinking which is almost always at the root of a victim mindset in my experience.

  • Ash

    Great point. I too have a little boy who appears to have similar anxiety symptoms to me. I find practising mindfulness myself and modelling the right behaviour is very effective. But I look forward to checking out Lucy’s link in her response below. ‘

    Thanks Lucy.

  • Tony Zipple

    Lucy (love your name!), congrats on progress. There is no question that antidepressants are over prescribed. Most people do just as well or better with cognitive behavioral treatment for depression and anxiety. One small point: anxiety and depression highly related are linked at a neurochemical level. Antidepressants are sometimes effectively used to treat people who primarily have anxiety. I am not saying that you needed them, but the treatment may not have been so far off.

    Be well!


  • drewdiscyo

    Such a simple and yet effective method, Yay mindfullness 😀

  • jamie

    Hi, this is good insight.
    My story – I’ve had a couple of bouts of mild depression in my late 20s, but have usually been happy and anxiety-free. But I was ill about 14 months ago, was frightened and eventually became depressed. The depression got hold of me and got me anxious about things in my past that I’m not proud of and worry that something could come up in the future that reveals this (its nothing illegal by the way, but I regret the lifestyle). My wife is very supportive, knows exactly what I’m worried about, but is not concerned about what worries me.
    I’ve been practising Mindfulness for a few months, but only 4 weeks in to a book-lead course. It is helping, but at the moment I feel as if I’m coping rather than dealing with my issues.
    When I’m resolute and not under too much pressure, I am patient and accept the thoughts and feelings as things that will pass and I trust that eventually I will go back to being my old care-free self. When I’m low, I worry that I will always feel anxious.
    While I have enough control to be medication-free and live my life normally (work, exercise etc), I don’t get any real joy out of life and I am bombarded with negative thoughts all day long.
    My question is, am I being realistic when I hope to be back to the ‘old me’, how I was before I became depressed?
    The next chapter in my book is about facing difficulties by welcoming the thoughts and treating them with compassion. I expect that stage to be difficult and I know I need to be patient and not try to force myself to feel better.
    To someone with experience, is it possible that through continued practice, the onslaught of anxious thoughts will eventually lose their emotional power over me and fade away? Also, is this something that takes years to work, or can specific anxious thoughts be dealt with more quickly if the sufferer is committed to Mindfulness?
    Many thanks.

  • Veganzombie

    Thank you for this. I am now embracing all the thoughts that come through my mind and understanding I shouldn’t panic, just staring at them has made me heal. Kudos.

  • Lucy Roleff

    Hi Jamie. You are being realistic when you hope that the ‘old you’ will return! I read somewhere that you may view the real you as being ‘clouded over’ by the symptoms. You haven’t gone anywhere.

    Rather than seeing your mental health as a battle to be won, Jamie, it seems more effective to accept that these are the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing right now and aiming instead to alter your attitude towards them as a whole (rather than tackling each thought one by one.)

    For me, it was when I stopped waking up everyday, wondering if I would feel better, that I eventually actually did wake up one day …and felt better! Rather than seeing Mindfulness as something you have to practice for weeks and weeks in order to ‘break down’ or ‘fade out’ your anxious thoughts, see it as a whole new way of perceiving your thoughts – effectively seeing them in a new way – one devoid of judgements and all the attached emotional reactions that come. Sure, it takes time, but if your goal isn’t to completely eradicate or forget your problems, the rewards will be the all the sweeter

    Good luck!

  • jamie

    Hi Lucy, thanks for the reply.
    I am in full agreement with you in that accepting, rather than battling your thoughts and feelings is the progressive way.
    I mentioned I’m following a book-based Mindfulness course. This week has been about just that – acceptance. 3 days in to it, I have already felt comfortable taking responsibility, accepting my feelings and not avoiding my thoughts. In less than a week I already feel much more positive and relaxed.
    I think the key so far for me has been to – as you say – accept now for now rather than try to ‘make’ myself better. I’ve had the same negative thoughts a million times. I’ve realised they no longer have the control over me they once did. It’s liberating and also positive in that I am still relatively early in my Mindfulness ‘career’ – and I’m loving meditating 🙂
    Thank you again, Jamie

  • Emma

    Hi Lucy,

    I hope this message gets to you. Your story is tremendously encouraging, I read it last night and I couldn’t stop thinking about . I was just wondering if you still consider yourself recovered after posting this article and how you are doing today? I was also wondering how long you were in therapy with Dr. Strong and if you would recommend Skype therapy with him.

    Thank you in advance 🙂


  • Lucy Roleff

    Hey Emma,

    Thanks for your message. Yes, I do see myself as recovered. This is not to say I don’t have days where I feel down or a bit anxious. The real difference is that it doesn’t really bother me anymore because I know it will pass.

    I think many people are waiting (in vain) for the day when they feel 100% awesome – as if they had never experienced any anxiety or depression. A valuable piece of information someone told me was that our memories can trick us into thinking we are returning to ‘the bad times’ (not judging! that’s just what we think) when really it’s just learned responses flickering away in our heads. It is confusing and annoying yes but over time, patience and a bit of distancing our sense of selves from our thoughts – these episodes lessen.

    For me I only needed one session with Peter Strong to just solidify some things I knew and to answer some questions. I would definitely recommend having a chat to him. He’s the type of guy you chat to and feel you’ve known a long time. Good luck xx

  • carlan8611

    your post really resonates with me because I am going through a relapse right now. I’ve been diagnosed with anxiety for 18 years now, have tried anti anxiety medication and have been perscribed antidepressant medications a thousand times, but I will not take them. I’ve tried CBT and regular talk therapy
    which helps a little but I’ve been through so many therapists, its crazy.

    last month I was introduced to mindfulness and DBT therapy. at first I was very skeptical, I think that is in our nature though and the anxiety tells us to be skeptical of anything new.

    but after committing myself, I do a mindfulness meditation for at least 15 minutes everyday, and have found that this week I have been more symptom free even tho I’m still a bit disoriented from some lingering depression. but I know it takes some time since this isn’t my first relapse.

  • jamie

    Hi Lucy, I asked you a question about ‘letting it be’ a couple of months ago and you gave what has proved to be the correct answer. You can get over your anxieties – I have experienced this – and Mindfulness is the answer.

    I have just completed a 6 session one to one Mindfulness course with a very experienced practitioner and I have to say, ‘letting it be’ is the answer. Not AN answer, but THE answer. Just observing and being aware of your anxious thoughts, no matter how painful is the only way to go. Through Mindfulness, you learn to notice these thoughts and feelings – when they happen, how they happen and why they happen. Through CONSTANT training, you see these thoughts for what they are – thoughts, nothing more.

    It becomes natural to focus on the moment. It stops you ruminating on the same old anxieties every second of the day – in a healthy way. You embrace the dark thoughts, they relinquish their power over you and then you notice that the uneasy feelings and painful thoughts simply dissolve.

    You are still aware of your anxieties – that’s normal and healthy – but you are free to live the life you want to live.

    I wanted to post this as motivation for people who may be suffering the constant cycle of arguing with their thoughts. I felt COMPLETELY helpless. I was worried about something specific, a horrible worry that would affect my entire existence – I felt sick when I wondered how I would be able to live with that sort of fear.

    That anxiety lasted over a year. Now, 2 months after formal training, I am back to my normal self – actually better than ever because I have learned to be mindful.

    To anyone who is suffering – take it from me – you can be absolutely, 100% fine again if you commit to mindfulness. Notice the doubt, the cynicism and the lethargic mind states – just be – as much as you can. DO NOT strive to be ‘better’ – that is counter productive. Just accept what you are experiencing and let it go. In time, it becomes natural. The anxieties lose their power and you become empowered and confident.

    Never give up, always maintain that hope and just relax. Mindfulness is remarkable – commit to it.

  • Lucy Roleff

    beautifully said, Jamie!

  • AnxietyControl8

    Such an awesome post. Be sure to check out my new anxiety site if you have time Lucy!

  • Silvia

    Omg. This article describes what I’m currently struggling with. My mind swings from anxiety to depression over and over to the point I feel I will go mad. I’ve been taking medication for almost 8 years. I’ve tried so many, I lost count. I’m surprised my brain hasn’t fried. I’ve heard of mindfulness but it’s hard to follow. I meditate at times and I do feel some relief, but I can’t help wanting to find a “cure.” Maybe I haven’t understood fully what mindfulness is all about or something. I would appreciate any feedback. Thank you.

  • Lucy Roleff

    Hi Silvia,

    These extra resources may help you understand Mindfulness (see below)

    The best way to view Mindfulness is that you are developing a new attitude to your thoughts – all the time (not just for ten or fifteen minutes a day.) Although meditating is of course beneficial and has been proven to make physical changes in the brain, true mindfulness is being able to take a little step back from your moods and thoughts as they pop up, and see them as what they are – just moods and thoughts. With time, all the extra stuff that gets attached to them (physical responses, worry, rumination etc) fades. You might like to start with the meditations on smiling mind x
    – Paul David’s website and blog:
    – The User’s Guide to the Human Mind – Why our brains make us unhappy, anxious and neurotic and what we can do about it. – Shawn T. Smith, PsyD
    – The Mindful Path through worry and rumination – Sameet M. Kumar, PH.D.
    – The Path of Mindfulness Meditation – Peter Strong PH.D.
    – – Mindfulness meditations for all situations (free)
    – – Interactive mindfulness meditations (free)

  • Sarah Chase

    This spoke to me on many levels. Thank you for sharing!

  • bryce

    Thank you so much for this article, its the night before the first day of school and am having a relapse. I, just like you, began to treat my anxiety with practicing mindfulness and have made significant progress. The truth is never that bad, its just a matter of seeing these unpleasant sensations or feelings clearly.

  • anon

    Yay I love this!! I used to struggle with major anxiety/panic and depression… I actually developed a phobia of getting schizophrenia. I really thought that I was going to end up in a mental institution… Then I went to see an incredible therapist who told me about mindfulness. I am forever grateful for her. I’m glad to know that there are people like you who spreading mindfulness as a way to overcome anxiety and depression. It’s really refreshing.

  • PR

    When I say this article saved me, I really mean that. My experience with anxiety and depression so closely resembles yours it’s uncanny. Mindfulness – accepting the feelings, the thoughts. That’s the answer. When that finally really clicked for me (it takes time, like you say), I felt so incredibly happy. Anxiety really does push you to think everything you feel, every thought is so serious, so dangerous. But it’s not permanent. There is an answer to anxiety and depression. And the lesson you learn in accepting it is so useful in life, so useful to being a happier, wiser person.

    Anyways, thanks. This article pushed me in the right direction, and helped me in my mindfulness and meditation practice tremendously. I’m much better now, and this article was with me in my darkest times.

  • Lucy Roleff

    I’m so happy to hear that the article helped you! You are right it does take time for the mind to ‘get’ all these new concepts, it’s a more organic understanding that can’t just be forced. Thanks for sharing your story and all the very best! x

  • Chrissy

    I can so relate to this blog. I had my first panic attack 15 years ago. Panic attacks led into anxiety and depression For 15 years I read every book, forum and jumped from therapist to therapist to get rid of “it”. Granted I have two degrees and toe beautiful children so I was living life but on the inside felt horrible. I too came across paul David’s blog and cried when I read his book. For the first time in 15 years I felt freedom. It’s not easy method. As it’s been a habit for me to fight the thoughts and feelings. However when I am able to allow the thought and feelings, To give them space it lessens the fear. Thank you for posting this.

  • Lucy Roleff

    Great to hear you are doing so much better, Chrissy. It certainly takes practice but everyone can get there. It really is fear about how we feel that keeps the thoughts and feelings around, so it makes a great deal of sense that once we remove the fear through observing, the thoughts/feelings have less reason to bother us x

  • Daniel

    I have struggled over the years with both anxiety and depression. Anxiety about school, my future etc. I have and do take antidepressants – my depression started after the anxiety. Can you recommend a resource to start with the mindfulness. Mostly I try to meditate using visualization of relaxing scenes and sometimes use music. I do some CBT which can help put the truth to the doistorted thoughts we ruminate on but I have been unable to grasp the mindfulness nor find a good resource. Thank you greatly. Hopefully this can help me to find some peace. Every bit helps.

  • Stephen Danks

    Thankyou for that. I have been suffering for two years and feel despair some days. Although I was anxious in my twenties as a lot of people here indicate I did get through that with a very mindful and calm approach to life. Unfortunately a major trauma produced a series of panic attacks and now in a state of constant anxiety, The readings of buddhism and mindfulness are a great help and your compassionate statement is a beautiful way of responding to it. Fighting never works it just makes the monster stronger. I think anyone who is going through this process is incredibly strong and brave, other people don’t understand so it takes great inner courage.

  • DyeLongJustice

    This article resonates with me so well. I’m on the exact same path, Lucy, but seeing your story has helped confirmed what I innately knew as the right treatment. Mindfulness is the answer, but I fought doing it for so long, as I think I wanted to deny my issues. Thanks for being such a good voice!

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thank you! Denial certainly can be a big obstacle in the beginning. I went through that too. But then I realised that denying it was just sending the message to my brain that I was scared – which only created more avoidance!

  • DyeLongJustice

    Was your path to recovery up and down? I’ve been slowly changing my attitude, and noticing some happier moments. However, the past three days have been miserraabbbllleeee. I’ve had anxiety 24/7, and it’s all the more confusing because I thought I was making strides. It’s incredibly hard not to want to fight it when you feel this awful, and your mind keeps going back towards the anxiety, when I know the right answer is just to accept it and let it be there. I keep telling myself this is just a blip on the radar, but it’s frustrating when it’s 24/7 and nothing you do really helps (besides just working out really hard, which I can only do for like an hour, lol).

  • Stephen Danks

    Appreciate the response. The websites are interesting. I think your method of treating things with compassion is similar to Buddhist teachers like Thich Nhat Hanh. I am the early stages of working with Satipatthana meditation and hope to gently accept and gradually re-train my mind.

  • CollegeStruggles

    Wow, I am happy there is hope. I am an 18 year old boy, freshman in college. I am plagued with depression and anxiety constantly, and it is severely impacting my college experience. I am curious, how does one begin this “Mindfulness” process. I need it

  • What a beautiful, heartfelt story.
    I’m a fellow musician and have also learned to live well with anxieties through mindfulness.
    Your post reminds me of what we’ve overcome, and makes me take a deep, strong breath of happy and peace. Thank you for sharing, Lucy! <3

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thank you, Carla!

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thank you, Carla!

  • Yasmin

    I agree, just want I needed today.

  • Mindfulness describes the process of forming a conscious, engaged relationship with your emotions. In mindfulness therapy we learn to meditate on the emotion itself; seeing it as it is in reality – a part of our self that is in pain and needs our compassionate presence if it is to heal. Our job as meditator is to help it heal itself, which is based on metta (friendliness and love) rather than aversion. Trying to “cure” it can fall into this latter category; it’s very subtle, but that is what make mindfulness so powerful. Just sit with the anxiety or depression as if it was a child in pain, which, actually is much closer to the reality of these emotions. They need our love, and that love is your True Self, the Buddha within you…

  • Mindfulness therapy provides one of the most exciting developments in psychotherapy and is completely transforming the way we work with anxiety, depression and other forms of emotional suffering. Instead of seeing anxiety as a problem or a disorder, we learn to see it as it actually is – a part of our self that is in pain. As I teach my online therapy clients who come to me for mindfulness therapy, “It is not you that is suffering; it is the emotion itself which is in pain and our response should be to respond to it with mindfulness and compassion, because that is what it needs in order to heal and transform.”

    Mindfulness meditation, as I teach it during my online therapy sessions and describe in this podcast interview, is not about trying to escape from out thoughts and painful emotions; it is exactly the opposite, meditation is a turning toward our pain and embracing it. We learn to meditate on the emotion itself, on the negative thoughts directly. Why? Because they desperately need our attention and compassionate presence. I teach that we should be meditating on our suffering (dukkha) and not the breath. The breath does not cause my suffering; it is my mind that causes suffering through the reactive processes of greed, hatred and delusion; it is these that we seek to overcome through meditation on our emotions. This may seem radical to many meditators, but I teach radical mindfulness, and I believe that is exactly what the Buddha taught as well.

  • You might enjoy reading my book, ‘The Path of Mindfulness Meditation’ and read the articles on my website. Mindfulness is is a very rich and rewarding path to follow and is one of the best approaches for transforming anxiety and depression (dukkha) and for finding real happiness in your connection with your self, your relationships and with the world. Welcome!

  • One of the most important things to understand on your path to the cessation of suffering is that your worst enemies are avoidance and aversion. Mindfulness works because it counteracts both. It creates the right internal psychological conditions in which healing and transformation can take place.

  • dizzle

    My biggest obstacle now. I rocognize my anxiety, depression, and negative thoughts for what they are. However I fear they will eventually drive me insane. I mean it is possible.

  • It is only possible if you become totally identified with your thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness meditation (vipassana) focuses on teaching you how to overcome the habit of reactive identification as I outline in my book, ‘The Path of Mindfulness Meditation’ and teach during my online therapy sessions. Recognition is an important beginning, but then you must cultivate sustained mindfulness (samadhi) and metta towards those very thoughts and emotions that constitute your dukkha. This approach transforms everything.

  • Pollytic

    What an enlightening story, Lucy. I’ve suffered on and off with panic attack, anxiety and occasional blues for many years and only heard about mindfulness recently. Wish I’d come to it 30 years ago! Who says you can’t teach an old dog…. xx

  • Mindfulness is, without doubt, one of the most exciting developments in recent history. It has of course been around since the Buddha, the original author of mindfulness, but it is only recently that we are beginning to understand what mindfulness is and how to apply it for working with anxiety, panic attacks and other forms of emotional suffering. I specialize in Mindfulness Therapy, which I offer online via Skype.

  • Jafar

    I am so so glad to read this,I feel better.
    Last year I was feeling the same way I am feeling now,I had overcome it but it came back and I’m gonna fight it again,so it doesn’t ever come back.

  • One important understanding to cultivate is that it is by embracing emotional pain with compassionate conscious awareness (mindfulness) that you create the right conditions in which healing will occur. You can not heal anxiety or depression through aversion or avoidance – you MUST learn to make friends with your emotions if they are to heal.

  • Marianne Threskiornithidae

    Thank you for this beautiful, honest story! I found myself nodding vigorously in agreement with many of your points. My depression has been with me since 7th grade, when I first began to feel suicidal, lonely, apathetic, and numb. I have been through the antidepressants and talk therapy rigmarole many times, though I stopped taking antidepressants for GOOD about 7-8 years ago. My depression has lifted a bit in recent years and I think much of that is due to my shift in perspective. I started to accept that depression and its attendant feelings and inconveniences is a message from my body, my soul, and I didn’t need a cure, a pill, a miracle, an extraction. The depression was here, is here, to tell me something, and I must start listening. And so I have been listening, and my perspective has really changed, and I feel more equipped to deal with feelings. They are not bad, they are not good, they are all just feelings. They are a gift!

    Also, I wonder if you have ever read anything by Charles Eisenstein? Check this out:

    Thanks again! And I love the Rilke quote, that’s PERFECT!

    Stay blessed.

  • Hide

    Hi Lucy,
    I just stumbled over your article.
    Thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences and inspiring others to “stop fighting oneself”.
    Reading this, helped me a lot. Do you have any further reading recommendations? Best wishes from Berlin

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thankyou Marianne! Your words are really inspiring. It seems that many people think that if depression and/or anxiety have been a factor in their lives for years and years, then they are stuck – but it’s just not true. It seems a great deal of the time, we’ve just been “fighting” which only seems to make things worse.

    I’ll have a look at that link. Thanks! L x

  • Lucy Roleff

    Hello Hide,

    How nice to hear from someone in Berlin. I’ve had two stints living there over the past few years and miss it very much.

    I cannot recommend highly enough having a look through the articles of Lisa Esile and Amy Johnson. Lisa and Amy are regular tinybuddha contributors and I often turn to their writings to remind myself of something or to share with others!

    Especially these two:

    Really glad to hear the article resonated with you. Hope it’s finally warming up over there 🙂 X

  • Hide

    Hi Lucy,

    thanks a lot for your reply!
    I wasn’t 100% sure if you’re going to reply, so I appreciate it a lot.
    Spring is coming to Berlin!
    I’ll listen to your music soon. I’m currently finishing off my music studies here. Good luck with music & life!

  • Sloane

    This is gonna change my life I’ve struggled with my mind since I was 14 And I’m now 21 And its ruining me And my relationships And myself and everyday life I hope and pray also and want to feel at ease with these thoughts.

  • As a mindfulness therapist and practitioner I think it is important to re-emphasize that mindfulness is defined as the combination of conscious awareness and compassion (sati=sampajana+metta), and they must both be present for it to be mindfulness (sati). When you bring this quality of awareness to emotional suffering, anxiety, depression, grief and loss the REAL healing and transformation will take place. Welcome to everyone on the path (Dharma).

  • This is so true. Our worst enemies are Avoidance and Aversion. These forms of conditioned reactivity reinforce anxiety and depression in a big way.

    Mindfulness practice can be so effective and healing anxiety, depression and other forms of emotional suffering (dukkha) because it actively cultivates the very opposite to avoidance and aversion. Mindfulness is the combination of Consciousness and Compassion.

  • Kiki

    I come back to this article so many times <3 i love it so much. Thank you thank you!

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thank you, Kiki 🙂

  • Troubled Mind

    I’ve been going through mindfulness training for about a month now to learn how to manage my anxiety and depression and have been finding it very difficult. The part about opening up to negative thoughts and feelings seems like simple exposure therapy. But I’ve been troubled by statements like “Allow thoughts to come and go” and “When you realize you’ve become lost in thought, bring your attention back to the present moment”. What is wrong with being lost in thought? Before the anxiety and depression became a problem for me I used to love exploring my own internal world of ideas and opinions and now, even though I realize I can’t think my way out of my anxiety (it’s that belief that’s at the root of the problem), I feel like I’m being taught to distrust my thoughts and feelings and try and disengage with that world as much as I can. If it wasn’t for people being lost in thought we would never have Relativity, Evolution or any other remarkable accomplishment of the human thinking mind. I think at the heart of anxiety and depression is aversion and reaction to unpleasant thoughts and feelings. The last thing I want is to feel an aversion to my own thinking mind, the part that I feel is truly expressing who I am despite what Buddhism teaches.

  • I am glad you are beginning the study of mindfulness, It provides a very rich path and it will bring great benefit over time. But, only if you fully understand what mindfulness is and how to apply it, especially when working with the mind and painful emotions like anxiety and depression.

    When we advise “opening to negative thoughts” we (I) mean that we are learning to develop a relationship based on conscious awareness and compassion (karuna/metta) with those same negative thoughts that have the power to pull or push you off balance into anxiety or depression. Through mindfulness practice we begin to develop independence and balance toward the thoughts and emotion (equanimity). The purpose id to establish freedom in relation ship to thoughts because only then can you fully engage with thoughts and emotions with compassion and intelligence, appreciation and joy.

    As you say, you cannot think your way out of anxiety, but you can develop freedom from the emotion and the proliferative thinking that fuels the anxiety. There is a common misconception that meditation is “anti-thought” and you shouldn’t be thinking and this misunderstanding is inadvertently encouraged by practices such as mindfulness of breathing (anapanasati) which is commonly taught as mindfulness meditation. It is not! Mindfulness meditation as the Buddha taught it is primarily meditation on the mind because it is the mind that is the root of our suffering and not our breathing! Breathing meditation should be used as a prelude, a preliminary to a meditation session. Start with the breath for 5 mins to develop concentration and a degree of stability and grounding, then switch to mindfulness of feelings and thoughts.

    So, rather than ignoring thought, we actually meditate on our thoughts or emotions as primary objects. But, and here is the big “but” we do this by developing open conscious awareness and become the observer of the thoughts, which is totally different than becoming lost in thought or emotion, swept away by mind. We are learning to develop Buddha mind, “the one who knows” rather than the thinking mind alone. It is only from this wider perspective that is free from conditioned content that we can change, heal, discover true happiness, love, intelligence and creativity.

    Case in point, I would say that the creative genius of Einstein, Darwin and Newton was because they were able to transcend the conditioned thinking of the time which allowed them to discover something totally new. If you look closely, you will see that all great human accomplishments arise from the unconditioned mind (Buddha mind) and rarely if ever from being lost in thought. There is nothing wrong with thoughts, as long as we do not become slaves to thoughts and beliefs, and understand that all thoughts are fundamentally limited “snapshots” of truth; never truth itself, which is always beyond thought.

    At the heart of anxiety is fear, an emotional state, that we react to out of habit (absence of consciousness). Anxiety can only heal and transform itself when we bring compassionate conscious awareness (mindfulness=awareness+compassion) to that fear. Embrace it as you would a hurt child and it will heal. Push it away or indulge in it and it will simply grow stronger. This is a universal law (karma) that you can examine and see at work in yourself if you so choose. The choice to do this is meditation (vipassana) as the Buddha taught.

    I hope this commentary will be of use. Most of my students and clients seeking help for anxiety and depression raise these very questions and this is why my book is called “The Path of Mindfulness Meditation” because mindfulness only comes alive when we approach it with curiosity and that spirit of discovery that is at the heart of all of us, waiting to be awakened.

  • Ramesh

    Hi Jamie, I’m practicing mindfulness since few months. I’m feeling same as you right now. When there is less pressure i’ m calm and accepting thoughts, but when I am low then I worry a lot about this anxiety. I think I am worrying about my anxiety which is creating more anxiety in me. How long it took for you to fade this away?

  • jamie

    Hi Ramesh,
    I found a Mindfulness mentor who has decades of experience with Mindfulness and followed her teachings. When I started with her, I was very low, always anxious and feeling like I was never going to get out of it. That was a year ago – just after I wrote my previous post.
    However, after 6 sessions with my mentor (1 hour a week, so 6 weeks), I had a major breakthrough in my understanding of Mindfulness, and I haven’t looked back since – my previous worries do not bother me at all, even if I allow myself to think about them. It is just incredible, but absolutely genuine.
    Once I had my breakthrough, I was able to practice Mindfulness with much more effect, and I started to feel much better very quickly – I’m talking days, not weeks or months.
    My breakthrough came when I realised the obstacles that I was putting up myself – I would constantly think ‘how am I possibly going to be ok with these thoughts’ – that was a powerful obstacle because it was a very straight forward question with a simple, negative answer. It made me doubtful of whether Mindfulness ‘would work’. Once I recognised this doubt, I was able to treat those thoughts like I would any other – by noticing them, but nothing more.
    I would strongly urge anyone who needs it, to seek a Mindfulness mentor. Other than that, you need to practice, practice, practice – formal meditation every day, also take a few minutes each hour through the day to be mindful, recognise all thoughts, no matter how powerful and convincing as just thoughts. You will eventually realise how simple (and powerful!) Mindfulness is and you’ll feel better very quickly.
    Best of luck, and feel free to ask any further questions.

  • Ramesh

    Hi Lucy, after reading your story I have started doing mindfulness meditation few months ago. While doing meditation I was able to notice thoughts and I’ll gently move my focus back to breathing. But this is something not working rest of the day. When I get anxious thoughts even though I tell my self that these are just thoughts I can’t just get back to what I am doing before. Iam also getting doubts that meditation is not working for me or may be I am not doing it right way or if it works how long will it take. I have these questions keep coming lots of times recently. I also don’t understand the concept of let it be. Please help me on this its really affecting my every day life. I have stuck in this anxiety loop and i feel it is very difficult to break this loop.

  • What you describe is a common misunderstanding of mindfulness meditation as meditating on the breath – it is not – and it will not help manage anxiety or other reactive habitual thoughts because all you are doing is cultivating avoidance (a form of aversion) to those thoughts by prioritizing the breath over thoughts. This is a form of discrimination and judgement which is NOT what the Buddha taught!

    What I would advise, as a mindfulness teacher and mindfulness therapist, is that you meditate on the thoughts themselves. Then you will be cultivating freedom and balance in relationship to those specific thoughts that currently have power over you. As always in mindfulness practice, cultivate friendliness (metta) toward those thoughts and they will eventually stop tormenting you. If you cultivate avoidance and aversion then they will continue to haunt you.

    Hope this helps!

  • Good post. Although I feel compelled to say, that there are many strands of CBT. I for example emphasize mindfulness skills and compassion when treating my clients as these are focused on within subsets of CBT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Compassion Focused Therapy). Best of luck for your future!

  • I would like to emphasize that Mindfulness Therapy takes a different focus than CBT, ACT or CFT. When we develop compassion in MT, we direct that toward the very thought itself, the negative thought, because we see that it (the thought) is a state of distress and recognize that it needs our compassion in order to resolve itself. Classical CBT attempts to negate the thought and replace it with a more “functional” positive thought through rational argument. We do not take this approach in MT. Also, MT does not imply acceptance as that implies we know what it is that we are accepting, which is seen as part of the problem of reactive identification with self which actually prevents resolution of suffering. Mindfulness is NOT acceptance; mindfulness is awakening – an that is something quite different. We choose to awaken to the emotion to discover what is actually there rather than assuming we know what is there. The mindfulness approach starts with, “What is this anxiety that has arisen in me?” and NOT “I am anxious” and I should accept that I am anxious. Mindfulness is the inquiry into the reality of what is, and like good science that is inhibited by acceptance of the way I think things are.

  • Ana Doiro

    Today driving to work I have this insight that I should let my feelings and thought come
    trough and do not fight them and then I found your article – thank you. My sadness is a product of heartfelt, or it has manifested after a broken heart. And because everybody has had a heartfelt at least once in their lives they think they know better: “He is not worthy”, “just forget him”, “find another man”. So I did, I had another boyfriend but I had to leave him because I felt worse after 3 months of ‘trying my best” to forget. So I hurt another person. When we deny our feelings we are creating the conditions to hurt other people, which will add to our inner suffering. My ‘nervous breakdown’ started August 2014, I was put in antidepressant which didn’t stop my suffering and were creating other health problems. After two months, I have to be taken out. I also tried CBT, wiccan, burning candles/incenses, chakra alignment, crystal wearing, praying, meditating, coming back to Catholic practice. Nothing really works, but today I decided yes I am still ‘in love’ so be it, yes ‘unrequited love’ hurt, so accept that reality. Maybe one day it will hurt no more.

  • Wayne Welch

    Hi Lucy, Your blog is exactly what I’m looking for. I’ve suffered PTSD for over 20 years with it’s accompanying anxiety and depression. I’ve tried meditation, breathing exercise until I’m blue in the face..Ha..Ha.
    I was a soldier and a Police Officer and I’ve seen my share of death and carnage than I care to relate, but I wasn’t the only person going through it. My Family suffered alongside me. It pisses me off that I couldn’t shake the feelings of anxiety and depression off.
    For a long time I had this severe fear of death. Being a resilient sort of a person, I reasoned that the only way to overcome these feelings was to investigate death itself. As it turned out, I found quite a few websites that had a lot of information on the subject.
    I plan to give talks on the subject this September/October, but I need to get back my positive side, and because of your blog I can see light at the end of the tunnel.
    Thanks very much Lucy and my very best wishes for your future.

  • Thanks for sharing. To fully recover from PTSD it is so important to meditate on the associated emotions and memories themselves. Meditation on breathing is not sufficient as I try to teach. By itself, that becomes simply another way to avoid the emotional suffering. When the Buddha taught meditation it was always for the purpose of bringing about the resolution of suffering; a message that is not being taught enough in my opinion.
    You are right to meditate on death and the associated fears – that can be such a powerful subject for meditation and can bring about tremendous healing. You will regain that positive side of yourself because that is your fundamental True Self, or Buddha nature that we call bodhicitta and it is that very compassionate and consciousness that is willing to embrace the suffering (dukkha) that you witness. Have courage and persevere with the good work you are already doing!

  • Wayne Welch

    Thanks for the encouragement Peter. I shall push forward.

  • Wayne Welch

    Peter, How do you meditate correctly??

  • Good question, and one that we should all be asking ourselves, rather than just blindly following a technique; that’s why I named my book’ The Path of Mindfulness Meditation’ because meditation is a journey of discovery not a technique. Techniques yield limited benefits whereas a journey will make meditation really come alive for you.

    I have included a section of an article I recently wrote which might give you a direction on how to meditate. There are many approaches to meditation and it’s all good; my focus is simply on how to work with the mind and emotional suffering, which is often side-stepped in many meditation techniques, but which is a central point of meditation for me and which I teach during online mindfulness meditation therapy sessions.

    Mindfulness Meditation (Vipassana)

    When we meditate, we need to focus on our thoughts and emotions. Many teachers teach meditation on breathing (anapanasati), which is a useful exercise for developing a degree of stability and concentration, but this should only be used as a prelude to meditation on the mind. After all, it is the mind that is the source of our suffering (dukkha), and not our breathing! The Buddha’s primary focus in all of his teachings is on the resolution of dukkha, and this applies to meditation too. The purpose of meditation is to facilitate the resolution of suffering, and that means we need to meditate on the source of our suffering, the thoughts and emotional reactions to which we become attached and identified.

    So, we might begin our meditation with 5 minutes of meditation on the sensations of in and out breathing to stabilize the mind, but then we let go of breathing and focus on the specific thoughts and emotions that are creating problems for us. The first goal of our meditation is to develop a strong relationship with these thoughts and emotions (mental objects) in which we remain as the observer, “the one who knows”, which, by the way, is a direct translation of the word “Buddha”. When we are meditating, we are developing Buddha within our own mind.

    We are learning to sit with our emotions and thoughts, our memories and fears, without becoming identified or reactive toward them. We develop what is called equanimity (upekkha) toward the very mental object that previously had the power to push or pull us off balance and create anxiety or depression. Developing upekkha is the first stage of meditation. We are, in effect, developing freedom in relation to the contents of our mind. This is called the liberating function of mindfulness.

    The second stage of mindfulness meditation (vipassana) involves the response to the thought or emotion itself. This response is based on friendliness (metta) and compassion (karuna). In fact, mindfulness (sati) should be
    understood as the combination of conscious awareness and compassion (mindfulness=awareness+compassion); if either is missing then it is not mindfulness.

    We learn to embrace our emotional pain, our traumatic memories, our negative thoughts, in the infinitely large space of Buddha mind, our True Self. In that space, anxiety, depression and dukkha will heal in much the same way that the body will heal if we create the right conditions based on awareness and care (compassion) toward the injured part of the body. We know that love heals, every religion teaches that.

    Mindfulness meditation is the process of bringing that natural healing energy of our Buddha mind to those parts of our self that are in pain. We learn to care for our emotions or thoughts just as we know how to care for a child in pain. In fact, our emotions are very much like children: they are limited in their experience and resources are ability to heal themselves. The function of a parent is to bring this greater wisdom to them so they can learn how to heal and grow in a healthy way. This is PRECISELY what we should be doing in our meditation; we are learning to take care of our emotions and thoughts as our own children, with the same degree of love and respect. This attitude is essential to good meditation and we all know that this relationship promotes health, happiness and well-being.

    Many of my students complain that it is too hard to meditate on their painful emotions, anxiety or depression. But, this is the whole point! Meditation is the courageous path of learning how to do just that. Anyone can meditate on a neutral object like the breath, but that is the equivalent of taking a vacation from the mind. Vacations are pleasant and have their place, but then you have to return to the real world.
    This view of mindfulness mediation is radical in nature, and I often use the term radical mindfulness to highlight the essential need to integrate the courageous aspect of meditation as taught by the Buddha, to be willing to awaken to dukkha and be willing to respond to dukkha with compassion to facilitate the resolution of dukkha. This is basically the Four Noble Truths, which are absolutely central to the Buddha’s teachings (Dharma) and meditation. Meditation is so much more than just being a passive observer. As Ajahn Chah, one of the greatest vipassana teachers used to say, “If sitting still was all there was to meditation then chickens would be enlightened.”

    Peter Strong, PhD is a Buddhist Psychotherapist, based in Boulder, Colorado, who specializes in the study of mindfulness and its applications for healing the root causes of anxiety, depression and traumatic stress.
    Besides face-to-face therapy sessions, Dr. Strong offers Online Mindfulness Therapy via Skype. You may read his book, ‘The Path of Mindfulness Meditation’.

  • Excellent! Mindfulness meditation, when well understood and practiced is one of the most effective therapeutic tools I know of for healing trauma and emotional suffering. I feel for you. Do go to my website and contact me directly if you want to discuss how to use mindfulness meditation to work with emotions. I always like to hear from those on the path of Dharma.

  • Wayne Welch

    Thank you Peter, you are very kind and generous with your time. I understand what you are talking about, surprisingly. I will work on this technique. I will commit myself. I will be in touch and let everyone know how I’m going..
    Once again Peter; Thank you.

  • You are very welcome. Remember top treat the emotions, the painful memories, the negative thoughts, and any reactions to these mental contents like a child in pain, a friend in need. Stay with them as you already know how to do. The problem is not the contents of mind but our RELATIONSHIP to our emotions and thoughts. The problem is in the aversion and avoidance to our pain; the path to healing is the exact opposite – loving kindness (metta) and conscious presence (sati). The combination is mindfulness meditation (vipassana).

    I look forward to your updates.

    Boulder Center for Online Mindfulness Therapy

  • Lucy Roleff

    Hi Ramesh,

    I understand how it can be very tempting to view meditation almost as another ‘fix’ – kind of like medication! I found that I too was looking at it this way, cursing myself and wondering why I couldn’t just DO IT properly! 🙂 I personally experienced quite a powerful shift when I learned about a few insights into thought and our relationship to thought – that we don’t actually need to take thought so seriously, that it is transient, impersonal and often very biased. Below are a few links which might help you take some of the pressure off and instead look toward the nature of thought (rather than trying to push out thought)

    All the best, Ramesh!


  • Lucy Roleff

    It is certainly never too late to recover, Sloane. Below are a few extra resources which might help you feel a bit more comfortable with your thoughts. Remember that you don’t need to push them out. Thoughts are transient and impersonal – fixating on them and treating them very seriously is really what keeps you locked in the loop.

    All the best, Sloane. Let me know how you get on.

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thanks Jafar. Remember, you don’t need to combat your thoughts or banish them forever. In my personal experience, that takes a lot of work and is a short lived solution at best.

    These resources might help a bit with sitting with your thoughts rather than pushing them out –

  • Lucy Roleff

    Sorry for the late response! Very glad the story resonated with you 🙂 Hope you’re feeling a bit better these days. Best wishes

  • Lucy Roleff

    The fear of going insane, losing control, losing the plot etc is a very common part of anxiety. When I feared I was developing various mental illnesses, my Mum reminded me that if I indeed were ‘going insane’, I would not know it. This helped me gain some perspective – as anxiety can be very convincing! I hope you’re doing OK x

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thank you Yasmin 🙂

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thanks Peter! Oh yes, I admit my reference to CBT was definitely just based on my very limited experience with it. Since writing the article, I have become good friends with a psychologist who has told me some people respond well to CBT and so she’ll gladly implement CBT techniques if it’s working. I think that seems like a great approach as there is certainly no ‘one’ path for everyone 🙂

  • Wayne Welch

    Thanks heaps Lucy and I’ll keep you informed via the website.


  • Andre

    I have a really important question I’d like to ask for anyone who has experience in this area. I’ve been suffering from anxiety and depression for about 3 years and first read this article about 4 months ago. Since then I’ve been practicing meditation daily and have noticed massive benefits. However there is a big stumbling block that I can’t seem to get around. I hold very negative self-beliefs surrounding my career (I made a few mistakes a couple of years ago and since then have not been able to shake the conviction that I am talentless, incompetent and need to change career…). I feel completely stuck because I know on a rational level that these beliefs aren’t true but emotionally they feel 100% true to me. I’ve learned with mindfulness to let the feelings in and not resort to doing battle and worrying endlessly. However the thoughts seem to return over and over again, even though I’m experiencing less stress I can’t seem to shake these convictions and it’s really getting in the way of my life and my recovery. How do you “challenge” or change negative beliefs in a mindful way?? I’d like to hear from someone who has experienced a similar thing or someone who is familiar with psychology, no spiritual or religious viewpoints please.

  • Glad you are benefiting from meditation practice, which can be immensely effective for anxiety and depression when applied correctly.
    Your struggles with negative self-beliefs and other painful emotions now presents you with a real challenge to develop and deepen your mindfulness meditation practice. As you know by now, the heart of meditation is to meditate on the mind (not the breath) in order to generate a completely different relationship with our thoughts and emotions based on the application of the form of consciousness and loving-kindness that we call mindfulness. Most of the time this is sufficient to develop the balance and non-reactivity of mind that we call upekkha, equanimity, which is the opposite of anxiety and agitation. However, the real challenge is when we encounter a very painful emotion that won’t let go. This is when we need to make that emotion the central focus (primary object) of our meditation, returning to it over and over again with mindfulness and the other element of meditation – compassion. Think of the recurring emotionally charged thoughts as being like a frightened child. What it most needs is YOU, that is your True Self, the inner Buddha that can and delights in being totally open and welcoming toward those thoughts. It is by cultivating conscious loving presence for those “negative” thoughts and feeling that you establish upekkha with them as well. When you do that, you effectively create the right internal conditions that allow that inner pain to heal, transform and resolve.
    Sometimes it can really help to visualize the emotion as a child or frightened animal. Care for it, embrace it, comfort it just as you would a hurt child. Learning to do this IS the purpose of meditation.
    Hope this helps.

    Peter Strong, Online Mindfulness Therapist and author of ‘The Path of Mindfulness Meditation.’

  • Andre

    To be honest I feel as if I have gone backwards since undertaking Mindfulness to deal with my negative thoughts and feelings. The more I open myself up to them, try to explore them with compassion and kindness the more and more intense they become to the point where it feels like I’m being overwhelmed with sadness and fear. I think either my mindfulness skills are not yet strong enough to confront these things or what I more strongly believe is that depression makes it extremely difficult to deal with yourself in a way that’s constructive or helpful and trying to heal yourself will only lead to feeling much worse (this is what I’ve experienced so far). I really think I need to talk to a psychologist instead.

  • This is where you need to focus on the internal imagery of the depression or other imagery. Put simply, in order to feel “overwhelmed” by sadness and depression, the inner psychological imagery of these emotions MUST be bigger than you. One of the approaches I teach in mindfulness therapy is to practice changing this inner imagery. Literally make yourself bigger and higher, looking down on the emotions. It often helps to move the emotion from its habitual position (above you) to a lower position and place it further away. Give it a go and see if this strategy helps you.

    In mindfulness meditation we are in effect generating a sense of Self that is infinitely large. The unconditioned observer is by definition not limited by form.

  • Mel

    Lucy, Thank you so much for sharing your story, it provides so much hope for me.
    My story feels very much along the same lines, started with panic attacks which I managed to loose pretty quickly… by simply saying to myself “bring it on” and I quickly lost the fear of having them and they never returned. However after loosing the attacks the disturbing intrusive thoughts reared their head and became the main problem.
    I also stumbled across Paul’s book, this has been one of the biggest influences to me, I followed as he said and just allowed things to come and go to a point I would say I would have been about 85% better. The thoughts still came, but i just wouldn’t respond and over time the thoughts slowly stop. ( another book along the same page is Hope & Help For your Nerves by Dr Claire Weekes, I found it went over the same things as Paul but in more detail)

    Over the last few months, the thoughts have come back stronger and it seems to be the frustration keeping them in the loop. A lot of the time I can just accept them and let them pass and seem to do good for a while, then something pops into my head and says whats going to go wrong now…. and then i simply get frustrated that I’m still letting these thoughts ruin everything. I feel so close to recovering, and feel littler parts of my old self every know and then but then they just creep back in… Its more the fear of the thoughts keeping it going. What advice would you give to get over that last hurdle!

  • Michael Osborne

    Don’t be concerned over the disturbing thoughts they are categorised as intrusive thoughts in mental jargon but most people get them. It shows commonly by wanting to shout out in church or the desire to push someone. They are nasty but it will be most unlikely for you to act on them. I am sorry that you are feeling bad at the moment but all you an do is carry on the best that you can. Try not to give in to the depressive thoughts and do what you can. I burned out at 71! and it is tough.

  • In the mindfulness approach we make a great effort to counter the habits of avoidance and aversion. I teach people to meditate on those very thoughts that currently have power over you. Invite the intrusive thought in (overcoming fear of these thoughts is central). Then, a useful exercise to try is to expand your inner sense of yourself around the thought, also making it much smaller, the size of an ant. Make yourself like the space in a room, and the thought like an ant in the floor. Meditate on it in this new configuration and notice how it loses power over you. Let others know here if you find this technique to be effective.

    Peter Strong
    Boulder Center for Online Mindfulness Therapy

  • Lucy Roleff

    Hi Andre. I went through something very similar when I was recovering – becoming hung up on certain thoughts which I just could not shake. It wasn’t until I learned a bit more about the nature of thought – that it is transient, impersonal and highly subjective, that I made some big breakthroughs. Here are a few articles that opened my eyes and helped me immensely – specifically, helped me to let my thoughts carry on as they wished and not take them so personally or hone in on them with such scrutiny. Through this I really learned that all the attention I had been giving my thoughts was what kept them around. Hopefully these links can shed some light on this problem for you X

  • Lucy Roleff

    Hi Mel,

    I understand your issue all too well. I too was tracking my progress and feeling really frustrated until I began to do some research and learned a bit more about the nature of thought – that it is transient, impersonal and highly subjective.

    I noticed something very interesting with anxiety and it was that, it can pretty much cling to anything. By this I mean that once it has stopped focusing on one thing, for example, your career, it will jump over to your love life and start nit-picking there. This can be absolutely infuriating because it really feels true – like that part of your life IS rotten and needs your immediate attention. It’s so important to remember that the common denominator all along is the anxiety! When you begin to see that an issue only really exists in the very moment you are having anxious thinking about it, some space opens up and you can start to see that it’s not true. It’s an illusion. It’s your brain trying to keep you safe by scaring you about absolutely anything it has decided to latch on to.

    These links might help you out as they helped me. Maybe grab a cup of tea and have a look/read through these and just let it wash over you. let me know how you get on X

    P.s. I also regularly read over the email written to the author in this article –

  • Brannon Stark

    I used to suffer from an anxiety disorder for about 15 years so I am very familiar with the horrible symptoms that anxiety & panic attack sufferers have to live with both physically & mentally. After spending countless hours of online research, going to specialists, online discussions & various medications I finally found great relief from my anxiety disorder which has calmed down dramatically over the past 18 months to the point I would now consider myself anxiety free. Ive written some tips for anxiety sufferers below:

    1. Take Valerian supplements. It is one of the best supplements for anxiety because it increases the availability of GABA in the brain. Valerian also helps with insomnia and is known to have very few side effects.

    2. Follow every step in the video & guide at:
    curehealthproblem*com/anxiety (obviously change the * for a dot as it won’t let me post links here). This will tackle the root of anxiety in a NATURAL way via the ’60 ss’. This is very important!

    3. Take up one of the following: tai chi, yoga or meditation (any other sport will also work). Not only will it boost serotonin in the brain through exercise but it will improve mental state due to offering yourself a distraction. While you are distracted for long periods of time your brain will even forget anxiety exists and so its important to do this for as long periods as possible.

    Try those two steps and hopefully you will get as much luck with getting rid of your anxiety as i did. Obviously regular exercise, certain diets (drink camomile tea) & losing weight etc will have a positive effect but you should try tackle the root cause of anxiety, and remain strong minded about it as you don’t have to suffer forever. Good luck <3


  • Lynn

    I read your blog and I do happen to only be 17 years old and I have had anxiety before.. When I was about 13 or 14 years old during the summer, it did however go away when school started back up because I was so busy with work I guess anxiety just left my mind.. But a few months ago I randomly got it again and I was wondering how you trick your brain into thinking good thoughts because the feeling of anxiety is pretty scary and I try to think positively but I honestly dont really want to to anywhere because of fear. So I was wondering how to accept the fact that it does happen and that you shouldn’t live your life fearing it… because I’m very stubborn and in this particular case, my stubbornness is holding me back not helping me or protecting me. Thank you for sharing your experience with the rest of us because I know Its never easy to admit things like that. I hope you do see this considering the last comment was over two years lol.

  • Lucy Roleff

    Hi Lynn, Thanks for getting in touch. I know how scary the anxiety can feel and yes, I also don’t really think trying to trick your brain into thinking positive thoughts is very effective in the long term. It seems that a better approach in the long run is to begin to see the ‘scary’ thoughts in a new way – so that they become not so scary! It of course takes time and patience but over time you can start to see that all your experience (the feelings of angst, fear, worry etc) are really caused by thoughts – and thoughts pass on their own without you having to interfere. Have you heard the term ‘what you resist, persists’? Well that’s very true where thoughts are concerned.

    Here are some links that you might find helpful. They explain the nature of thought, some great tips and both of the women who write these blogs went through anxiety too and their advice was one of the most valuable insights for me! 🙂 Don’t feel like you have to read them all – maybe just have a look through and see if anything resonates with you 🙂

  • Lexi Roseby

    hey, thanks for the read it too was what i needed.
    I came off effexor incorrectly nearly 4months ago and i lost my shit about a month ago…
    I’ve been on and off anti depressants ever since starting them about ten years ago.
    Its really challenging the fear and anxiety seem to majorly override the depression but some days when you give in and feel the hopeless thats sitting there in your mind and on your shoulders the apathetic moods set in and can become beyond scary.
    the hardest part I’m dealing with apart from all of it is my fear of people.. from before starting to take meds i was a very social and out there person and i know over the years of suffering anxiety that its been challenging for me at times people wanting to get close to me etc but I’m freaking out and just amazed at how scared i am of people or its just the thoughts in my head that are leading my anxiety to creep up on me and make me feel and believe so…
    so much so that i am too scared to get a job. my initial reason for wanting to stop meds once and for all is that the bandaid they played didn’t really help my anxiety and they would work for periods of time… but when i look with all my awareness that i have today the same issues have always been there the meds were extremely effective when i wasn’t aware and the stresses and depression i suffered had me bed ridden and physically sick. i’m curious to know if you suffered from this social anxiety i speak of and how you got around it…. i cannot NOT work!!! yet i really want to overcome this and become my true authentic self without the need for meds which will need to be tweaked and changed over and over and still not manage to help me. is the social anxiety a side effect of having strong antidepressants in your body for so many years? the obsessive thoughts over it and the feeling state together is just horrendous! everything else too.

  • dora

    i am 22 ,an i am in depression for tow years i am still . I want to be free and feel more confident

    i have a relationship with a man who was married . I love him so much as well as this was my first love . That was a virtual relationship . I meet him on social media and i fell in love with him U

  • Lynn

    Okay, thank you so much for your advice!

  • Nicolai

    This sounds so much like me! Only difference is I am guy and of another nationality 😉

    Seeing that you story resembles mine so much, I want to ask you a question, Lucy. I am actually already taking Mindfulness classes, more specifically the MBSR/MBKT program. I am really hoping it can turn things around for me. I am 25 now, writing my thesis, and sort of at the doorstep of real adulthood – and it scares me off, mostly because of my anxiety. Quit antidepressants half a year ago, and it’s not going well right now. First girlfriend ever just came into my life, and I am definitely not equipped for the feelings that come along with that.

    How long did it take for you to turn things around with mindfulness? How much effort? And how did you cope with life in general while undergoing this change? Love life, etc.?

  • Glad you are off the antidepressant, which only mask symptoms, unlike mindfulness therapy which will help you transform the underlying psychological process that creates depression and anxiety. Most of my clients see major turnarounds after the first month of practice. Be sure to also develop metta/compassion towards your emotions – that is an essential part of mindfulness practice.

  • Lucy Roleff

    Hey Nicolai,

    Yes it does seem quite common to go through these big changes around the ‘quarter life’ time doesn’t it? All the conditioning of childhood and from school we might start to question. Self-imposed or family pressure to be an adult etc. I was pretty scared of the whole process of change I went through, but I do feel like it happened for a reason – in hindsight 🙂

    To be honest it was bits of mindfulness and a combination of other things that helped me come through it. It really wasn’t from doing XYZ hours of meditation or being strict with myself that helped me – it was more from gaining insights about the nature of thought which meant I didn’t have to fear thought anymore. Some people seem to think that if you tally up enough hours of meditation, you should be fixed but in my experience it doesn’t really work like that. Then meditation just becomes yet ANOTHER thing you scold yourself about doing correctly. Not for everyone, but for me it was this way.

    Here are a few things that helped me see what I believe to be the true nature of thought and ultimately that it is transient, impersonal and will pass on its own if you just step out of the way.

    My advice with your current love life is to be open about what you’re going through. I had a new boyfriend when I was suffering too and I hid almost everything. I wish I hadn’t. We’re still together now and it was only when I properly opened up to him that we became closer, I think!

    All the best 🙂

    Lucy x

  • Lucy Roleff

    Hey Lexi,

    Sorry to hear you’re having a tough time. It does sound like there are a few layers to what you’re going through so I hope you’re talking things through with a psychologist or counsellor. It made a big difference for me just being able to talk to someone who understood. One of the worst parts of anxiety and depression is how alone we feel in it – but the truth is we never are. It’s far more common than we think and you never really know who can be suffering too.

    Some of these links might help you think a bit differently about the scary thoughts and depressed times. Don’t feel like you need to go through all the links but they were particularly helpful for me to see the true nature of thought and to stop being scared of my experience.

    With social anxiety, I wasn’t necessarily scared of other people but I felt incredibly detached and alienated – even from my own parents and boyfriend. That really sucked. And my mind would want me to stay at home all the time because I was exhausted and didn’t want to have to fake normalcy around others. But it went away once my mind calmed down. Again, this took time. When I was going through it all I was very tempted to analyse every single symptom and figure out which was withdrawal and which was anxiety/depression. It wasn’t really until I just threw up my hands and said “OK. This process if happening. I trust it will resolve” (and boy was THAT hard to say), and got out of my own way… that things started to shift.

    I highly recommend reading through Paul David’s Website, Anxiety No More where scary thoughts and fear of people are concerned: – that one in particular helped me with my fears of going mad 🙂

    All the best, Lexi. I know it feels incredibly overwhelming right now but I assure you, if you can just learn some more about what you’re going through, try not to analyse/change/push out thoughts – alot of its power may well be taken away X

  • Calm Coach

    Great post! I’m a huge advocate for natural, simplistic solutions to treating anxiety and depression. Personally, yoga has been my gateway to finding relief as it combines both exercise and mindful movement.

    Thanks for spreading hope!

  • Hana

    This is exactly what I’ve been feeling. So glad I came across this article. When researching my anxiety, Paul David’s book is one of the other things that hit me most. This article gave me, an anxiety sufferer, a lot of hope and peace of mind.

    I first got a panic attack my freshman year of college which caused ton of worry for weeks/months to come. I somehow managed to get rid of the panic and feelings of detachment from the horrible thoughts I was experiencing.

    Going through another life change at age 24 by living in a bigger city further away from family, being in a full-time job and starting my first serious relationship, I experienced another panic attack at my boyfriend’s house. I knew what it was immediately. However, that moment initiated the horrible dread that goes along with the anxiety. The next morning was foggy and even days after the worry would ensure. The disturbing thoughts of doom are what I find the worst. My mind wants to go to the worst case scenario and the fear of living with it my whole life, even when I know it’s something I have gotten over before. I try to avoid being by myself so my thoughts can’t go to the bad ones but now I know mindfulness is the answer.

    This is very helpful to me. Thank you for sharing!

  • m lo

    This post was like an angel in disguise. I have never read anything I could relate to more than I did this, especially at the point I am at in my life. Thank you so much

  • Hannah

    Hi Lucy, I hope this gets to you.
    Your writing has resonated with me so much, it’s amazing – right down to the feeling nauseous as a kid to get out of things and the ‘life is meaningless’ nervous breakdown. I am dealing with those dark thoughts at the moment, particularly about harming myself, and the idea of letting them in and looking after them has helped so much. I am still terrified that I might act on them though, and wonder if you also had those anxious thoughts about your dark thoughts, and if you dealt with them the same way? Do you just have to trust that you won’t?

  • Great stuff Kirsten. I heard that a lot of patients is having a real breakthrough with mindfulness. Hopefully, approaches like this will be able to replace use of medication in future.

  • Yvonne

    Hi Lucy,
    Thank you for sharing your story. We do condition our minds unknowingly. Mindfulness has been my practice for 30 years. I had strong habits born of suffering to overcome. At 24 years old, I did a 10 day silent meditation retreat. I’m still practicing and working with my thoughts and patterns.

    Likwise, I was able to create an effective protocol based on a year of research on neuroscience after graduate school. I helped about 30,000 people, many with anxiety and panic attacks, through combining mindfulness meditation and restorative cognitions- a personalized positive internal message in response to a negative internal or societal message. It is a cognitive technique.

    I just wanted to share this with you and I am happy to hear that mindfulness eased your suffering.

    Kind Regards Yvonne

  • Alyssa Tye

    I have severe panic disorder. Anything I anticipate, good or bad, anything that changes, good or bad, and really anything I think about at all (even something happy, sends me into panic. I am on autopilot to think everything is dangerous when it is not.
    I understand the “feel not avoid” aspect of getting over anxiety and panic. I understand that the rumination, negative thinking, and black or white thinking all go along with the panic. There are times where I just cannot breathe, I hold my breath without knowing it, sometimes all day with only getting short breaths in every once in a while. Sure, I can practice some deep, belly breathing, but that only works half way, if at all, and then only lasts for a minute. In addition to all of this, the actual panic that I experience is much worse that what I am actually fearing. Like I said, sometimes I’m not even fearful at all, my body just reacts like I should be fearful.
    So my question is- What do I do when “feeling the anxiety” does nothing? I have tried to do this through so many days of panic, but all that happens is that I feel it and it stays. In addition, it is very difficult to just live with the panic because then my actions (ex. reaching to food to calm down, or reacting with any form of comfort like avoidance or distraction, inability to carry on with the things I have to do for the day, etc- are all affected, which then leads to more panic. I get that this is where mindfulness comes in, but I am too over-the-top to even say to myself “This panic is okay” And if I can say that to myself, there is no way I end up believing it.


  • Lucy Roleff

    Thank you Yvonne 🙂

  • Lucy Roleff

    Hi Alyssa,

    Have you read “At Last A Life” by Paul David? He is the creator of the Anxiety No More – website …I found his book very helpful where panic and anxiety were concerned. I do know what you mean about feeling the anxiety feeling like it doesn’t work but I think there is a subtle trick there. Basically, if we use “feel the anxiety” as yet another tool against anxiety, we’re still sending the message to our (well meaning) brains that this is a thing we’re trying to get rid of.

    I would highly recommend reading the writing of Amy Johnson. She suffered panic attacks very similar to what you describe for years. She was housebound and desperate. I think her story and articles could really help you.

    The nature of thought –

    Relating to panic attacks specifically –

    These are a couple of interviews with Amy where she talks about the nature of thought and her experience with panic attacks –

    If you have any questions, I would recommend getting in touch with Amy. She’s always so happy to help and point you in the right direction – to help you have a bit more insight into this.


  • It takes a bit of practice, but the first step in mindfulness meditation on emotions is to learn to stay conscious with the emotion without becoming identified or reactive. A practice that I often teach my clients is the mindfulness placement technique, where you imagine moving the anxiety emotion from its habitual position to a new position (always further away and at a lower level, eg on the floor). This really helps maintain that non-reactive relationship. Then you start investigating the imagery of the anxiety emotion and experiment making changes that help that emotion resolve itself. At all times you need to generate a conscious and friendly relationship with the emotion. This is what it needs to change and heal.

  • Crystal MacLeod

    I’ve just started mindfulness myself, your post gives me hope. Thank you.

  • David Byer

    Lucy, hi, i found yur pice very helpful for my GAD. bUt i also have hypochondria, and in that the pains make me assume the worst, and im not sure how to tell myself its nothing if its mayb something.

  • When I work with clients suffering from anxiety, the most important mindfulness practice that we work on is learning to break the habit of reactive identification with thoughts and emotional reactions. These are seldom if ever good indicators of whether you need to seek medical help or not.
    Emotional reactivity simply creates suffering and more worry; it does nothing to solve real issues. During Mindfulness Therapy we learn to break free from compulsive thoughts and conditioned emotional reactions. This opens up more space in which our innate intelligence can evaluate what needs to be done. Action that arises from the non-thinking mind, non-ego mind, will always be more accurate, skillful and effective.

    Boulder Center for Online Mindfulness Therapy

  • We learn to meditate on our anxiety. This results in our ability to be with our anxiety, but without becoming reactive and overwhelmed by it. The next part of mindfulness meditation and therapy is to look at the imagery of the anxiety and investigate changing that imagery. When you change the imagery of an emotion you change the emotion directly. This is what we investigate during mindfulness meditation.

    But the most important foundation is to form a friendly and compassionate relationship with your anxiety and any other emotions that are in a state of suffering (dukkha). Without this it will never change. As the saying goes, love heals, never avoidance nor hatred.
    Aversion and avoidance are common habits that simply reinforce the anxiety or other emotions and prevent that emotion from changing and healing.

    Peter Strong, Boulder Center for Online Mindfulness Therapy.

  • This is very true. The Buddha taught that out True Self, the awakened state of being is and always has been there; the problem is that we simply lose sight of it. Through the practice of mindfulness and meditation we begin to rediscover what constitutes our true nature (Buddha nature) and that is the path to the end of suffering (dukkha).

    The Boulder Center for Online Mindfulness Therapy

  • David Byer

    thank you. I understand that the principle is that anything which causes reactive emotion stems from teh same source, be it OCD or hypochondria, right? if so, the system is one and the same. Its just hard with hypochondria because it feels like it has more substance than othe rthings..

  • Yes, you are right. The path to overcoming hypochondria is to develop mindfulness of the compulsive impulses that lead to the proliferation of reactive thinking or actions. This is what we meditate on in order to gain freedom from the compulsive pull of those impulses (called tanha in B. psychology). It is possible to cultivate non-reactivity in relationship to these impulses. We call this learning to sit by the fire without being burned. The key is not to feed the reactive impulses. If you don’t feed them then they will lose their strength. There are also many other mindfulness techniques that I teach, but establishing right relationship (sammasati) is perhaps the most essential.

    Boulder Center for Online Mindfulness Therapy

  • Mary Wilson

    *Hearing voices* is a common symptom of severe mental illnesses such as

    schizophrenia. Voices can be critical or they can be complementary and

    many people may be able to find ways to live with them. It’s difficult to

    explain what it is like to hear *voices*, particularly if you’ve never

    heard *voices your self*

    that was the kind of problem my son once face,but now he is living a normal

    life and am very happy that he is now going to school.I got the medication

    from Dr Benard you can also get it from him by contacting him on *

  • Remember that thoughts in themselves have no power; the power they acquire comes from your automatic identification and blind attachment to your thoughts. We use mindfulness meditation practice to consciously change our relationship to our thoughts and break the cycle of reactive identification and attachment. We learn to see thoughts as just objects in the same way we might see a scorpion or snake: they have no power to hurt you if you stay conscious; become unconscious and unmindful and you will get bitten!

    This is why we encourage you to develop a friendly and, therefore, conscious relationship to your thoughts. Meditation is the active process of cultivating this right relationship (sammasati). Avoidance and aversion are your worst enemies and will get you bitten!

    Peter Strong

    Boulder Center for Online Mindfulness Therapy and author of ‘The Path of Mindfulness Meditation.’

  • That’s right, Mindfulness Therapy and MBCT are making tremendous contributions to the field of psychotherapy and with good reason. Mindfulness, as taught by the Buddha describes the process of awakening to and changing the underlying process that creates anxiety, depression, fear and stress. Consciousness heals, love (metta) heals. Mindfulness is the combination of both and that is why it is so effective.

    Peter Strong, PhD
    Boulder Center for Online Mindfulness Therapy for Anxiety and Depression.

    Author of ‘The Path of Mindfulness Meditation’ (Amazon, Kindle).

  • We may start with using meditation to relax, but mindfulness meditation offers much, much more. The real healing begins when you actually direct your mindfulness onto the depression or anxiety itself – meditate on your emotions. Emotions will heal very effectively and in direct proportion to the amount of time you spend sitting with them. Our habit is to push them away or try and reason with them, but that does little. You have to respect your depression and hold it in a compassionate space where you give it full attention, but without becoming overwhelmed by it.

    You are learning to become a friend to your emotions, and that means listening and opening to embrace them fully. This is what the Buddha taught, and in my experience as a mindfulness therapist, this is what always works best.

  • As Lucy says, mindfulness training and practice is one of the very best skills for you to develop if you are struggling with anxiety or depression or any other form of emotional suffering. It’s through developing mindfulness that we are able to break free from the negative psychological habits that cause anxiety and depression. As a therapist specializing in mindfulness therapy (available online via Skype) I am always delighted to see how well people respond to the mindfulness skills I teach. It all begins to change when you embrace your anxiety with the compassionate conscious awareness that is mindfulness. The problem for most is that they avoid and suppress painful emotions, and it is this conditioned reactivity that prevents healing and resolution of anxiety and suffering. But mindfulness is cultivating the opposite, where we actually meditate on our anxiety, depression or other painful emotions. We learn to direct compassion inwardly to where it is most needed. Interestingly, it this same inner compassion forms the solid foundation for external compassion and love. As you grow, we all benefit.

    Try meditating on your pain if you want to become a happy and well-balanced person. Cultivate love internally if you want to see love flourish externally.
    Peter Strong, Boulder Center for Online Mindfulness Therapy.

  • Laura

    Thank you for this beautiful post and for all the people who have shared. I do find one of the hardest things to not despair when I think I have finally reached a new level of peace and then have a miserable day or set of days. It is important to accept that those are part of the healing process and that we don’t have control over them, so it is best to accept them, knowing (even if intellectually only, because we are afraid) that they too shall pass.

  • Free to be

    I honestly truly needed this- thank you.

  • Brook

    Thank you so much for this article, I have always had some anxiety and been able to deal with it but recently it has become over whelming. I have started my Journey to mindfulness after reading this but when I become over whelmed I keep coming back to your story finding more resourced you have mentioned to look up, to understand. This article has change my life and continues to help me a guide me.

  • Wesley Blake

    This was how i got a cure for my son who was diagnosed with schizophrenia 9 years ago when he was 19. He told us that he got messages and he heard people telling him that he should hurt himself. He had a terrible temper with cursing and violence towards me and his dad. The doctor gave him different anti-psychotic drugs like Zyprexa, prolixin, risperidone, Ablify but all this even elevated the condition because he became worse over the years not until last two years that help came our way. I got Dr Joseph’s contact from an old colleague of mine who relocated to Kansas city and he told me about this herbal medicine that can put an end to my son’s condition. I contacted the doctor and i explained it all to him and he told me all will be well. I got the medicine and gave him as instructed and before i knew it he was normal again, no side effects at all. I am writing this today because i needed to be sure the cure was a permanent one which it is. I know what schizo is and how heart aching it can be but i tell you today that there is a cure for it. Contact the doctor on (josephakormah@gmail. com) for psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, he can help you too on this type of matter.

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thank you Brook 🙂 I’m glad it resonates with you! X

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thank you Free To Be 🙂 I’m glad it helped you x

  • Lucy Roleff

    Thank you Crystal. All the best xx

  • Dan

    Hey Lucy, Thanks for the great article. I am able to relate to it. i just have a question because i sincerely want to understand the article. It’s about mindfulness. Isnt mindfulness just fighting the thought? Bec. you are essentially thinking in the present or accepting IN ORDER to relieve or ignore the thought . How do i do mindfulness and at the same time accept it if it keeps coming in every couple of min when i leave my distraction ? thanks

  • If I may answer. Mindfulness is NOT about ignoring thoughts, positive or negative, and it is not about cultivating internal aversion to thoughts. This is a common misunderstanding and does not understand that thoughts themselves always occur in the present. To live in the present, a common objective for mindfulness practitioners, does not mean ignoring thoughts but rather being PRESENT with your thoughts as they arise in the present moment, along with all sense experiences. This means being conscious and non-reactive to your thoughts. Being a conscious observer of your thoughts is VERY different than automatic thinking, which is largely conditioned and not, strictly, a conscious process.

    If thought reoccur then you should understand that they do this for a purpose, which is to complete themselves and come to resolution. If you ignore or refuse such thoughts then they will simply return over and over until you give them what is an essential requirement for their resolution – CONSCIOUS PRESENCE.

    When I teach my students and therapy clients to meditate, we deliberately focus mindfulness on our anxiety, our thoughts, our painful memories, etc, IN ORDER to give them the consciousness required for their resolution.

    This is basically the Four Noble Truths in action, and it begins with awakening to dukkha. Proper meditation must involve this process, otherwise it becomes little more than a desperate and futile attempt to escape the mind, which is neither possible nor desirable.

    Hope this helps.

    The Boulder Center for Online Mindfulness Therapy

  • Lenny Estrin

    There can be many a problem to have anxiety depressions but how to overcome from it, is mentioned in your post. Thanks for sharing this information.

  • Janet Williams

    I decided to share this to help someone out there who is still held with schizophrenia.
    My son suffered from chronic schizophrenia for 18 years and we traveled round the world from one hospital to another neurologist and spent thousands of dollars and even got scammed in this process of seeking a cure and the problem still persisted. He acted weird and aggressive and this was so scary. All thanks to Dr Joseph who was able to use his medicine to cure him permanently. He is one of the Honest men out there. If you want to contact him on how to get his medicine or for info just reach him directly on Thanks admin.>

  • Lucy Roleff

    You’re very welcome 🙂

  • Liz

    “Apparently our brains havent received the memos that the lions arent lurking…”
    Better yet, apparently people over reproduced ending the (whatever you call the past or past century).

    One day mother nature will not stand all carelessness & end it. You can thank your neighbors.

  • karen dish

    i suffered from schizophrenia
    for 28 years, i lived in pain with the knowledge that i wasn’t going to ever be like every normal human, i contacted so many doctors on this issue,and i have use so many western drugs prescribe by various doctors and all was no avail, because i was determined to get my life back, one day i was researching for this on internet and i saw a post about devansh herbal health care who cure different manners of diseases,including schizophrenia, I contacted him via email: and made purchase of the schizophrenia herb, i received the herb through USPS within 24 hours, when i received the herb i applied it as prescribed, and to god be the glory i was totally cured of schizophrenia within 1 months of usages,my dear brothers and sisters You do not have to suffer more just contact him for his medicine on he will definitely put an end to that problem of yours

  • Ty Dauster

    Thank you very much for this post.

  • Simply beautiful, your journey echoes mine – thank you.

  • P.Arhat

    Loved reading it. Thanks for sharing your valuable experience. I am so glad to have found this. I am right now battling with severe anxiety, panic attack and fearfulness. I hope to implement this and gradually overcome my poor state of mind. The way of the Buddha is the way to go.

  • Claudia Grimaldi

    Hello thank you for this article I jsut have one question. Ok so after reading this my anxiety was relieved for a little while BUT after my thoughts kept asking me constantly “ok if you heal and feel better what’s gonna be your purpose to life? You’re gonna mean nothing to anybody and a relapse will occur that won’t be curable” my depression and anxiety are caused by constant worry and fear. Fear of doing something about this, fear of feeling relief and that after that short time relief it’ll come back stronger again, fear of derealization. I’m in constant fear and my brain can only produce thoguhts that make my anxiety and depression worse. Do I just let these thoughts roam? Do I let myself feel this way? Do I stop beliving them? I’m 18 and I feel like I don’t want to grow up. I miss the innocent world of having my mother with me all the time. I’m scared of living lfie aloneZ scared of being alone with these thoughts. I’m scared he more I keep thinking about it the worse I’ll get and head into another downwards spiral that’s painful.

  • The way to really make the difference is to learn how to meditate on your anxiety. This means forming a stable and loving relationship with it. Treat it like a small child in pain. How would you respond? Meditation as the Buddha taught it is about cultivating this quality of inner (and outer) loving conscious presence (my definition of mindfulness).
    The Boulder Center for Online Mindfulness Therapy

  • You real purpose in life is to live a fully conscious life so you can allow your life energy and inner intuitive intelligence to flow freely and implement themselves in you daily life and relationships. In short, the purpose of life is happiness. Anxiety and fear take this away from us.
    The Boulder Center for Online Mindfulness Therapy

  • Kyle

    I just wanted to share my experience at this time. I noticed that after i meditate i start to experience lots of fear (anxiety) etc at some point during the day or its always there etc. I realized that my chest pains was some sort of averaion to this experience, and i was wondering if telling myself that “anxiety is here” and “to let me feel it” or “be open to what ever this is” is a form of allowing. Im struggling with finding the best way to just allow my unpleasant feelings or sensatons to be there as i dont try to control or avoid. But these anxieties go on for days sometimes, just wondering if others struggle with the concept of allowing and let be like me?

  • I appreciate your struggle. This is a very common response. Many people try everything they can to get away from their anxiety or other painful emotions. That is understandable, but it needs to be fully understood that if you follow a path of aversion and avoidance, the anxiety will grow stronger. That is just how it works. So, although it is more difficult to cultivate mindfulness (compassionate presence) towards your anxiety, you are on the right path. Meditation on emotions is challenging, but the rewards are immense. The first part of meditation practice is to learn to become the Observer, the True Self, Buddha mind. Understand that as long as you do not identify with your emotional reactions to thoughts and physical sensations that they lose all power to cause suffering. When we practice greeting our thoughts and sensations with the mindfulness response of “I see you. Welcome”, that response strengthens your identity as Observer and trains you out of the habit of reactive identification with the emotion. The more you stop reacting to thoughts and emotional reactions, the more the anxiety will reduce and resolve. Remember, you are not just “letting it be” but creating the right conditions in which the anxiety can change and heal.
    As I teach, meditation is a training on how to be with the mind, not and escape from the mind. It is hard, but so is the alternative.

    Hope this helps!

    The Boulder Center for Online Mindfulness Therapy

  • Alex Zebeljan

    I just found this article and I’m experiencing a lot of what you were. Is there any specific books or tools you used? I believe in mindfulness but I also want to learn about it from a reliable source that hopefully doesn’t cost me too much money.

  • Roybert Ho

    Hi miss lucy roleff I am 23 years old and currently suffering from anxiety and depression for almost A week I cant sleep at night and I have to drink medicine just to sleep and in the middle of the night I wake up and not able to sleep untill morning. And I am so scared everytime my anxiety will attack me I feel helpless. Untill I have read your story it gives me hope to overcome it. I I would like to ask about the mindfulness how is the process of it. Please help me thank you.

  • Leanne Phillips

    Me too as my Dad lays in ICU fighting for his life :'(

  • This is very so hard. We are learn very well. Thank you for sharing.

  • Melanie Hartke


  • bhaskar jyoti

    Hello, could you please tell us how and what mindfulness things you went through during the 2 years in some extend.

  • Konstantinos Mertzanidis


  • Konstantinos Mertzanidis

    Same here! Put yourself in anxious situations or uncomfortable situations! It’s the only way to beat this! To confirm that all this can’t kill you. That all this has no power whatsoever!

  • Konstantinos Mertzanidis

    Start working out! Daily! Put some music on your earphones(not necessary relaxing ) and go jogging somewhere outside where you feel comfortable! Trust me!

  • Poppy

    This is an interesting read. After some terrible events in life I am consumed with fear that something terrible will happen to my husband and I will be alone. I see where this comes from, even from early childhood being abandoned and then the manslaughter of my father was the tipping point where the fear of losing my soul mate has become so suffocating, something has to change. I have tried meditation when unable to sleep and this just seems to amplify the thoughts rather than stop them. My Dr. has just asked me to go on Effexor, I refused, she asked me to think about it. I will not go onto an anti depressant, as I know I am not depressed. I need to change my pattern of thinking.

  • Mindfulness Meditation can be extremely useful for healing the core emotions and patterns of reactive thinking that cause depression, but you will need to learn the right way to meditate. Meditating on the breath (if that is what you are doing?) is quite common but not sufficient for transforming anxiety and depression. For this you need to learn how to meditate on you emotions and thoughts directly; meditating on the mind as the Buddha taught. This is what I teach and find to be immensely effective.

  • Liz Craven

    Listen, I know I’m really late, but this helped me out a lot. I’ve been dealing with severe anxiety ever since I was a kid. Whenever I start to break down, my parents just tell me to grab the pill bottle. I’ve just always felt like no one was there for me, and I would never be able to get through it. I know now that I have to not think so much about things, to learn that not everything is the end of the world. This was a big wake up call for me, thank you

  • herring

    Mindfulness is only for people who are mindless.