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October 2016 Club News

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The Go-Anywhere Matchless 350

Meditation and Medication: The East's Suggestions for Anxiety Disorders  Making an improvement to the way that the world has been dealing with anxiety disorders is crucial. At approximately $42 billion dollars US a year, these disorders are one of the largest single costs to public health, affecting 40 million adults in the United States, and making it the most common mental illness today. This is not just an issue the US is dealing with; a recent study found that “the burden of mental disorders in Australia is third in importance after heart disease and cancer”. Furthermore, anxiety often has a co-occurrence with depression, drug addiction, and many other disorders, making the real cost higher. This compounds further in a culture where it as seen as weak or inferior to talk about the issue.  This essay aims to show the prevalence and cost of the most common type of anxiety, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Western psychotherapies and cultural thought patterns will be outlined and compared to eastern viewpoints, focusing in particular on meditation and asking: How should the west be dealing with this?  The costs associated with GAD go deeper and wider than may be seen at first glance. $42 billion dollars is a figure that is difficult to put into perspective. To put it another way: it works out to be almost $80,000 a minute, and takes up approximately 30 per cent of the entire US mental health bill. According to Greenber Et al (1999) “Anxiety disorders impose a substantial cost on society, much of which may be avoidable with more widespread awareness, recognition, and appropriate early intervention.”   GAD has shown to have a severe impact on productivity in the workplace, which shows itself in the form of diminished work ethic. Also involved are reduced social connections to colleagues, and a higher absence rate from the workplace. In addition to the primary costs, such as doctor visits and psychiatric appointments, long term secondary effects of GAD include an increased risk of heart problems such as stroke. These compounding issues make an accurate figure difficult to reach.   The list of personal costs because of problems like GAD are extensive, as cited by Law. R, these can include an increase in shame and embarrassment, which can lead into an increase in negative mood states. GAD also takes a physical effect on the body in ways such as, an impairment to the immune system, and also a significantly higher disturbance in sleep. Furthermore, the feeling social of shunning that one might feel with GAD has shown that the brain activates in a similar way to when feeling physical pain, and has been compared to major depression in debilitation.   Sigmund Freud is often used by pro-buddhism texts to represent the western view on how the human mind works. Freud thought that human beings were hedonistic, and in never-ending conflict with our impulses. This comparison is unfair in contemporary psychology as many of Freud’s concepts have since been rejected. The views that remain still emphasize strengthening the ego or the self, whereas Buddhism rejects the idea of self and regards it as an illusion. Due to the ambiguous or long-winded definitions and explanations of self, this essay will go no further than showing the divide.  Another difference between east and west is the fundamental Buddhist principle is that possession will not bring you happiness. In fact, Buddhism proposes that the source of some of our anxieties come from this capitalistic desire. Buddhism does not claim that these feelings are abnormal but claim they are not healthy. Craving is what needs to be reduced for happiness.  The ease in which anti-anxiety drugs are dealt out is also a cause for concern. GPs are given the power to prescribe medications without consulting a specialist. Moreover the evidence is beginning to mount against the effectiveness of these types of drugs. Though not specific to GAD, depression medication is the same Poo and poo claim “A substantial proportion of patients with major depressive disorder do not respond to standard treatments. A proportion of these patients remain severely depressed despite repeated trials of medication.” Anti anxiety drugs cause yet more problems when reliance is developed. The stopping or missing of doses can cause withdrawal-like symptoms.  When surveying contemporary types of western psychotherapies, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is often used to combat symptoms of GAD. CBT works on the premise that how you think has an effect on how you feel. So in thinking realistic thoughts, rather than anxiety driven flusters, you will feel more in control. For example: the therapist will ask questions to help identify unhelpful thoughts, evaluate them, and attempt to create more a realistic idea to help take action against fearful experiences.   In many ways, therapies such as CBT and western psychology as a whole align well with a Buddhist approach; they both seek to understand what suffering is and how it can be stopped, and also seek to transform destructive emotions into positive ones. However, CBT is used as a measure to help people who are already suffering from GAD, whereas the introduction and regular practise of meditation automatically creates this same positive thought process.  When discussing meditation, it is important to clarify exactly what meditation actually is. According to this XXX website “Meditation is a means of transforming the mind. Buddhist practises are techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and a calm seeing of the true nature of things.” Meditation is a state of awareness that can be achieved anywhere, making it versatile and easily applied in management of GAD.  Loving-kindness meditation (LKM) is a particular type of Buddhist meditation has been empirically shown to buffer against social stress. Lutz et al. (2008) saw that LKM activated brain regions that have been linked to emotion sharing or empathy. LKM refers to the wish to cultivate kindness, wellbeing and happiness for the individual and all others. It also seeks to overcome feelings of social isolation, which people with GAD often feel, by showing the connectedness of everything.   Hutcherson, Seppala, & Gross (2008) have shown that seven minutes of LKM increased feelings of social connection and positivity towards strangers. Further tests show that LKM produces a significant increase in self-acceptance and other positive social traits. These studies show the potential for both short and long term effects that can be achieved with LKM, with no ongoing costs like medication, or therapy sessions.   LKM does not include any aspect of Buddhism's religious practise. It has been stripped of what little there was of this in the first place, making these techniques available a wider audience. Though people with a strong belief system other than Buddhism may not be able to accept that separation, and in turn make LKM less effective.  Mental health disorders are the third most costly health issue in Australia. Their prevalence in the US costs over $40 billion dollars per year. This essay proposes that the western view of quick fixes though the use of drugs. Capitalistic society exacerbates our anxieties, whereas the development of compassion through methods such as LKM offer unrivalled support for individuals and society as a whole.   These eastern concepts offer additional help to existing effective western psychotherapies such as CBT. This proposed cohesion offers a cheap and compelling approach to help a widespread audience.  As Pinit states “Buddhism and science have human concerns and final goals that are different, but as long as the boundaries between them are not trespassed, they can be mutually corrective and allied to benefit humankind.” This cooperation is absolutely necessary if we are to overcome the obstacle of anxiety.Pictured on a recent Border Run is Claude’s 1951 (I think) Matchless 350cc. He rides this bike all over Australia.

He lives in Victoria and the WA/SA Border was only a slight diversion for him on his way to Birdsville. Gravel roads are a breeze on his bike. He’s also been known to ride his 500cc twin Matchless on these long rides.

When the National Velocette Rally was in Perth a couple of years ago he rode his Velocette from Victoria to Perth and back home.

All these rides are with no back-up vehicle. And we think riding to Bunbury is pretty good? I think part of his maintenance schedule is to use excess oil on the motor to prevent rusting ha ha. Makes you want to get your old bike out and go for a long ride doesn’t it. Doesn’t it?

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