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By guest, Jul 2 2017 07:47PM

Masterly Inactivity - A Forgotten Precept

Matthew Coleclough | Anxiety Recovery Roadshow

When I was a young lad suffering with panic disorder and agoraphobia I was introduced to the concept of masterly inactivity during my early meditation years by a Buddhist Monk. He suggested that, just waiting and seemingly doing nothing is sometimes the best way to deal with fear. At the time I couldn’t grasp what he meant nor could I put trust in this seemingly absurd ‘method’, after all, at my worst I felt like I was dying AND I had my pills!

How little I knew back then but I believe if that monk had had the backing of the doctors and therapists I would have probably gave it more thought and application. Instead I continued on my self-destructive path until my eventual breakdown. Without a shadow of doubt the most challenging time in my life but also my most rewarding one by far! It is the most liberating feeling to come through so much suffering and build so much self reliance and confidence. During my breakdown I thought that I had absolutely nothing else to lose and so I gave this ‘masterly inactivity’ a whirl and it was proven – the Buddhist monk was right all along!

My recovery lay in my ability to give up the struggle but this was by no means easy, simple but not easy! I needed to gain a deep understanding of my condition and learn everything about it so when doubt arose (and it often did!) I could dispel it before it grew into despair or self pity.

Masterly Inactivity means to give up the struggle and stop holding on so tensely to yourself by trying to control the fear and trying to do something about it while subjecting yourself to constant self analysis. It means to cease trying to navigate your way out of your illness by meeting each obstacle as if it were a challenge that must be met if recovery is ever possible. It means to bypass the struggle, to float on through and let time pass. It means to sit back, smile at yourself and say a great big FUCK YOU to it. Recovery soon follows!