Are you next?
Cyndi used to suffer from panic attacks. It was a struggle for her doing common tasks like getting a haircut and going to the dentist. She even had trouble sitting long enough to get her nails done. Going on short rides were bad enough but she found it to be absolute torture to sit in the car (or, worse, on the train) to go to a Yankees game with friends. As you can imagine, getting on a plane for her was not even an option. She would experience anticipatory anxiety just thinking about potentially getting trapped in any of these situations.
“I won’t be able to get out.”
I completely understand Cyndi’s hesitance to fly because I went through the same thing. Someone who has never experienced a panic attack might think a fear of flying was rooted in the worry that the plane would crash but actually that is ENTIRELY not the case. Rather it is a fear that turns into a terror of feeling trapped in a situation and then having a panic attack that you feel powerless to escape. On the outside, it seems as if being in the situation is causing the panic when, in reality, it is the fear of the panic itself. It becomes a vicious cycle. Ironically, she mostly panicked from the fear of having a panic attack!
“It was like I had no control over my own mind.”
Can you relate to this? Maybe you even feel a little panicky from reading about someone else’s panic. Maybe you constantly second guess your decisions because you believe that, if you can just zig at the exact right moment and then zag when that seems appropriate, you will be able to avoid panic attacks forever. But the reality is you can’t “control freak” your way out of this … even if you have found success hyper-controlling other areas of your life. Eliminating panic attacks involves acquiring a new skillset that I am ready to teach you.
Cyndi broke free from the overwhelming grip of fear (you can too)
One of her staples is a breathing technique (in yoga, we call it “pranayama”) called 3-part breath. It is preferably done with the eyes closed but – please – eyes open if you are driving! Start by emptying the lungs then slowly fill the bottom third of the lungs with air. Continue to inhale and try to visualize it as the middle third fills with air. Complete the inhale by totally filling the top third of the lungs. Once the lungs are full, pause briefly (count to yourself, “om-one, om-two” then exhale even more slowly (bad-ass slow) visualizing the top third emptying, then the middle third, then the bottom third. Repeat as many times as you like. Try it now!
See how she took back her thoughts #peace
Why does 3-part breath work? How we breathe either adds fuel to the inferno of a panic attack or douses it out. The body tends to breathe more shallowly under stress, which causes an increase in the heart rate whereas a full steady breath not only slows the heart rate but also has a calming effect on the nervous system. An added bonus is that, since you likely have to really concentrate on the individual segments of the lungs, this pranayama provides a much needed distraction for the mind.
She is but one of many whom I have helped get her life back and is living it to the fullest. Let me help you do the same.
Learn how she stopped avoiding situations, places, people.
How did she do it? Once Cyndi was able to stop perceiving the situation as “the enemy”, she was able to tap into the peace of the present moment. She began to use positive self-talk to remind herself that, if she REALLY wanted to, she could leave a truly uncomfortable situation without risking embarrassment. For instance, she realized that it would be no big deal to ask the dental hygienist if she could step outside for a minute. Then, once she knew she COULD leave, she didn’t feel so trapped and was able to sit more calmly.
“Meditation taught me how to choose my thoughts.”
She then applied the techniques to the fun things on which she was “missing” even though she was there – like the Yankees game. Cyndi no longer obsesses about the traffic and being away from home. During the car ride, she instead converses with friends and family or enjoys the scenery along the way. And, instead of obsessing about the ride home, she now enjoys the game. This ability to reconnect to the world around you is the grounding that drains away the seeming power of a panic attack, which, in turn, causes its symptoms to disappear.
What would YOU do if you stopped having panic attacks?