How Ancient Wisdom Can Reduce Anxiety

May 29th 2020

Whilst time moves on, wisdom can be timeless. Here is an ancient principle that for me, is very relevant to today and for people feeling anxious


There is a time for being ahead and a time for being behind,

a time for being in motion and a time for being at rest,

a time for being vigorous and a time for being exhausted,

a time for being safe and a time for being in danger

Lao Tzu, From Ch 29 of the Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu was an ancient Chinese Philosopher credited with creating Taoism.  No-one it sure when he was born but we are talking 400 yrs + BC.

I came across this ancient wisdom today from a coach I was working with, but he brought it up to a more modern context.

He was talking about there being a time for going fast, a time for going slow.  A time for being awake and a time for sleeping.  A time for summer and a time for winter.

Whether you take the original version or this new adaptation, there were two things that I took from the quote:

  • Most things have their opposite and without one, you cannot fully appreciate the other.
  • When there is no balance between the two, that is where ‘dis-ease’ lives.

Without one, you cannot fully appreciate the other

I found myself today reflecting on this ancient wisdom and it’s relevance to our current environment.

Perhaps by being faced with such danger, we will appreciate safety more.

Perhaps the world has just had too much vigour and is now exhausted. Are we in a period of ‘dis-ease’ because the world became unbalanced?

Finding YOUR balance

In the work that I do with my hypnotherapy clients, we talk a lot about balance.  Too much time being in motion and not enough rest creates an imbalance.  Too much time spent worrying and not enough time focusing on gratitude creates an imbalance – which we recognise as anxiety.

I have read several articles related to mother nature having got out of balance and so now by keeping people in their homes, she’s rebalancing. And with the dramatic improvements in air pollution in many places around the world, perhaps that balance is starting to be restored in nature through having taken so many vehicles of the road – by having changed something.

And this is true when it comes to anxiety.  The balance can be restored by changing something, doing something different.  And now is a great time to do that ‘something.’

With many people feeling anxious and out of balance currently, what can you do differently to not just rebalance, but perhaps get even better balance?

Is there now the chance to spend more time behind than in front and know that that is OK?

By spending more time at rest, can the motion be even faster when that time comes and a new balance struck?

As always, we have choice as to our use of time.  I am certainly getting more sleep having often spent too much time in high vigour.  I trust though that there will also be a time for vigour and spending too much time in rest for me is also unbalanced.  And when that time for high vigour comes, I will more fully embrace it and appreciate it more.

What does this ancient Taoist wisdom mean for you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Please share your comments with me in the comments box below and let’s chat.

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