Question: Can Nianfo (practice of sincere mindfulness of Amitabha Buddha’s name – ‘Amituofo’) relieve anxiety?
Answer: Yes, of course. The verse with comments and details below explain how this works –
Verse On Mind At Peace
With the mind at peace,
it is easier to be mindful of Amituofo (Amitabha Buddha).
To have peace of mind,
one should be mindful of Amituofo.
Although it is so, that when the mind is at peace, it is surely easier to be mindful of Amituofo, it is also true the other way round, that to have greater peace of mind, one should be more mindful of Amituofo.
The key to Nianfo well, so as to overcome anxiety (which is the opposite of peace of mind) is to, with as much peace of mind as possible, even if little or absent, abide upon Amituofo’s name (安住佛号).
This is done by putting the mind entirely (wholeheartedly) upon (verbal or silent) recitation, with (physical and mental) listening of Amituofo’s name, as sincerely as possible, without putting the mind on anything else. When stray thoughts arise, simply return immediately to utmost sincere reciting and listening.
For sincerity to be there, remember that faithful mindfulness of Amituofo’s name is the path to all Buddhas’ mindful protection, as taught by Sakyamuni Buddha in the Amitabha Sutra. This means that the blessings of all Buddhas can be received via mindfulness of Amituofo’s name.
As Nianfo is easily practised, there is no swifter and surer way to connect to all Buddhas, whose blessings can dilute afflictions that give rise to anxiety, to give rise to peace (and even bliss) of (body and) mind instead. The more Faith one has in this truth, the easier it is to be sincere in Nianfo.
If the mind is still anxious after some Nianfo, this means one’s Nianfo is still not sincere enough, and should simply persevere, according to the instructions above. With all Buddhas’ blessings available through sincere Nianfo, what need is there for anxiety or worry? Of course, if what anxious about can be resolved with action other than Nianfo, it should be done swiftly too.