If we are to learn to master our anxiety in an enlightened fashion, we must first know something of its nature. What is anxiety? Unfortunately there is no complete agreement among psychiatrists on this subject, but it is possible to make a number of general statements that help to define anxiety. The ideas which I offer you now are a summary of a theme which I have developed elsewhere.
Most people when they experience anxiety take heed of the warning and do something about it. We do a little less work and so reduce the stream of impulses to our brain, or we take a holiday and remove ourselves from conflicts that have been disturbing us, or we rest and so give our brain a chance to re-establish equilibrium, or we take sedatives and tranquillizing drugs which further aid its integration. This works well enough when the major inflow of disturbing impulses comes from outside sources, but it is generally ineffective when it arises in our unconscious mind. In these circumstances we need something more. We shall see how this can be achieved by helping our mind to sort things out in the relaxing mental exercises which we are about to discuss.