Anxiety plagues many of us when we are unsure about the outcome of a certain situation; we feel nervous, apprehensive, and a sense of unease regarding one or many factors. When we consider the sources of our anxiety, it seems that it’s our need to control the future that drives it.

Though really, what is anxiety? Looking at its literal meaning, it is our habit of anticipating discomfort, misfortune or adversity that has yet to happen. Our anxiety may not originate from not knowing the future, but rather our desire to control it. In most cases, though, unlike stress, we feel anxiety from situations that haven’t even occurred. Some have anxiety due to fear of failure, loss or status change; some have anxiety due to loss of health and wellbeing.

While it’s normal for us to feel anxiety from time to time about uncertainties in our future, having constant anxiety on a daily basis can be emotionally paralyzing for us and lead to elevated blood pressure, a weakened immune system, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorders, or phobias. We all feel anxiety from time to time; this is perfectly normal, and yet we must also remain self-aware of how long our anxiety persists and try to understand its sources to help us limit its effects.

The practice of Mindfulness Meditation by definition forces us to practice self-awareness and consider what fears, insecurities, and feelings of unease are grounded in reality or not. In our practices, we consider if we can actually control our futures. We observe our desire to control our lives and plan ahead in order to prevent misfortune and bad surprises, and we see how that desire can be not only impractical, but also both mentally and physically detrimental. By doing this, we are able to work with the sources of our anxiety head on and weaken the negative impacts of those sources.