#358. Buddhist Lessons on Anxiety | Leslie Booker

Ten Percent Happier
June 21, 2021
#358. Buddhist Lessons on Anxiety | Leslie Booker
Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris

Taming Anxiety Series - Episode 4: Welcome to the final episode in our Taming Anxiety series. So far, we’ve talked about the experience of anxiety with the inimitable Sara Bareilles, the science of anxiety with Dr. Luana Marques, and the thorny challenge of social anxiety with Dr. Ellen Hendriksen. Today, to wrap things up, we are looking at anxiety from a deep dharma perspective.

Leslie Booker – who goes by the name Booker – is one of America’s leading dharma teachers. She began sharing the practice with vulnerable populations back in 2005. She’s worked with incarcerated and vulnerable youth, she’s done mindfulness and cognitive-based therapy work on Rikers Island, and has written about best practices for teaching yoga in criminal justice settings. She’s a graduate of three different training programs at Spirit Rock, including their four-year Retreat Teacher Training Program

In this conversation, Booker will make the case that one of the most important, even life-saving, tools when it comes to dealing with anxiety is our ability to connect with our communities. She also brings our attention to yet another Buddhist list – the “three characteristics.” Basically, she argues that the experience of anxiety, like all things, is inherently impermanent, unsatisfactory, and unreliable (or, in Pali, it has the characteristics of anicca, dukkha, and anatta). Understanding this fundamental truth, she says, can help us see our anxiety with more clarity, and therefore relate to it more healthily.

Booker also explains why bringing awareness to our bodies can help settle us in our most anxious moments. And this, I should say, is something she’s worked on with me personally. If you’d like to see that, you can actually do so, because we filmed it as part of our new Taming Anxiety Challenge, a ten-day meditation challenge, which begins today over in the Ten Percent Happier app. 

Booker is one of the core teachers in the challenge, which features short videos and guided meditations about how to live with anxiety more intentionally. In the app, you’ll see her share strategies with me – and you – for putting into practice everything we talk about on the podcast today — including ways to normalize the experience of anxiety in your community. In fact, by joining the Taming Anxiety Challenge, you'll be part of a community of thousands of meditators learning to cope with anxiety. You can even invite your friends or family to join you in the Challenge – for free! You'll get a notification each time they meditate, so you can be accountable to and supportive of each other. 

Join the Taming Anxiety Challenge by downloading the Ten Percent Happier app. You should be prompted to join the Challenge after registering your account. If you've already downloaded the app, just open it up or visit this link to join.

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