Problem of our brain
I have been receiving a lot of emails from people with anxiety in the past 5 years and I noticed the fundamental problems in their thinking brain. The photograph above is taken by fMRI and is called orbitofrontal cortex which is believed to encode emotions. The recent research revealed that alcoholics in general are more likely to confuse the facial expressions of anger and disgust. This new finding suggests that the function of this orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala which encodes the emotions of fear and sadness are both impaired in alcoholics brain.
I think we can apply this new finding to social phobia as well. When I was severely suffering from social phobia, I felt as if I was rejected from my girl friend when she just would turn and look at somebody. I could not date girls when I was young and that lead me to a single life for a long time.
We have 'Eye contact phobia' in Japan in which you feel extreme fear when making contact with somebody's eyes. They have difficulty even riding on a train. They often complain that the person who sat in the opposite seat in a train stood up and walked away because they felt uneasy with his or her strange eyes. This shows their typical confusion of anxious brain, which can not encode facial expressions and emotions and therefore delusion grows in their mind.
We have another Japanese phobia which is called ' Body odor phobia'. They are always afraid that their bad body odor is perceived to others, even though there is no such odor at all. We try to explain them that their feeling is not true, but we constantly fail to convince them. They can not draw the line between real world and their flawed world. They might even undergo an expensive operation in order to solve this problem but naturally they only end up loosing their money.
With all these facts we can come to the conclusion that there are fundamental problems in the anxiety type of brain.
What do you do now with a confused mind?
I always insist to people that they do something they can find in front of them in the state of MU. MU is the ultimate condition in which our mind acts free from any constraint. If you want to be a Buddhist monk in Zen religion, you have to go to a Zen temple and study hard of Zen practice in which you are ordered to clean the rooms, toilets and cook the meals. You might think that this practice has nothing to do with the Zen enlightenment. But this is the most important duty for all Zen trainee monks. Rational thinking process is prohibited in Zen practice. We can learn very important implications from this Zen practice for curing anxiety disorder.
I ask the anxiety patient to do the same as a Zen monk apprentice does. You have to wash dishes, clean rooms, prepare your foods, clean toilets and so on without precondition. You must follow this practice without expecting any cure of your anxiety.
We healthy people do our daily chores in exchange for nothing. There is no order of daily chores. We start something we find at hand. We have no difficulty with this activity and we find that the time goes by quickly when we are doing daily chores.
In contrast with healthy people, anxiety patient can not do their daily chores. Instead they insist on web surfing , reading magazines and jogging in the nearby park. They even might say they want to go on a job interview after withdrawing themselves in the apartment for long period of time while still neglecting their daily chores. This fact tells us there is problem in their thinking process.
What is right thinking?
It is not enough that you work hard at your office or study hard at your school. What is right thinking for anxiety people is to do something right in front of them at the moment. A healthy brain is just doing that and it is not necessarily important to concentrate on something. Our brain always pays attention to our surroundings to secure our life.
The core of Saito Therapy is to consider that the problem of anxiety brain lies in the thinking process but not irrational fear.
This is the most important principle in solving the problem. As long as you fight against your fear, you will never win the fight. But if you stop fighting against the fear and start to do daily chores, your impossible anxiety disorder will be over soon.