You CAN Breathe: How To Have A Panic Attack

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

I have a client that had a super amazing first session with me. She has a LOT going on, and it’s big stuff. All at the same time. And there’s a lot from her past as well. And as I’ll write about sometime in the future, the present heals the past. So things come up now that remind us of past things that need more healing, whether we’re aware of it or not. And those energies want to leave, but the feeling gets really amplified and is sometimes overwhelming. Never forget Chapter 11 of The Untethered Soul 🙂

So she came in and had been feeling “hopeless and overwhelmed,” to the point that she often had trouble catching her breath, maybe for a month or so prior to coming in? Panic attacks. Not fun. But they’re not a very big deal now! And after just the first session. Why? Because she got the education she’s needed the whole time, the education we’ve all needed this whole time. Panic attacks are not rocket science, but nobody explains them to us. So we freak out, which is a perfectly normal reaction for someone that hasn’t been educated about them! But she got the education and then got several chances to practice, all in that first session. So now she had some experiences to go with the education. Awesome.

So we were talking about her situation, and at one point her breath started to get shallow. This was the beginning of a panic attack. I love when people have them in my office, because again, it ends up being such a profound experience for them. And they’ll never be afraid of a panic attack again. They might not like them, but they won’t be ruled by them. So her breath got short and she began to panic a bit. And I had her relax and simply find her breath. I reminded her that she CAN breathe. Her racing mind wanted to tell a story of “I can’t breathe.” And of course we’re feeling our thinking, and that doesn’t feel good! So the whole thing spirals and gets worse. But it’s not true. At no point could she not breathe. So I reminded her that she’s absolutely fine. Stay calm, don’t think or analyze, and simply relax into your breath, even if it’s shallow. Open the chest. Feel those energies and put the breath there, wherever you feel them. And then after a minute or so, her breath opened up. It deepened. And she started to feel better. All that energy moved out of her system, gone forever. Wow.

She doesn’t have an anxiety disorder or anything like that. Rather, she has a very powerful mind (and so do you, because there’s actually only one level of power – max!). And her body is always responding to what’s going on in the mind (as is yours and mine, right here and right now – we’re always feeling our thinking). So she had panicky thoughts, whether conscious or not, and this created panicky feelings in her body. But remember Chapter 11! These are energies – albeit really strong ones – that are trying to leave. They want to leave. They have to leave. So relax, get out of the way, and let them. But whatever you do, don’t try to think your way out of it. That’s what we instinctively do, and it mucks everything up. So in my office that day, she experienced how to relax into and surrender to a panic attack. And it only took a few minutes. Bam!

Can you see how cool this is? All that we talked about – that we’re feeling our thinking, we have a good source of thinking built in, and feelings are neutral energies that want to leave – was lived by her in that super comfortable chair in my office. It was an experience now, and not concepts. And it happened several times. I was so psyched! I could tell that it was very life changing.

She came in a week later and felt way different. No problems breathing. Woohoo! I can’t tell you how much this stuff pumps me up. All she needed was some education, and she went from constantly being short of breath to… no problem. Now, the situations in her life were still there, since they’re all in the process of unfolding, but it felt more spacious in her body. And she’s still dealing with some tough stuff, but her body isn’t carrying all of it, all the time. She’s learning how to attach, deal, and detach. One thing at a time. And her body feels different. After only one session. So cool! So there we go, please share this with any panic attack folks you know! Because there is hope, and lots of it. They just need education and then life will give them practice, right on time. And I’m always here if I can help.

Client Likes Panic Attacks!

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

I have a client who just blew me away. He’s a smart kid who’s in his late teenage years. He came in reporting feelings of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, fear of the future/unknown, and issues with death and dying. We did the normal first session teachings that you’ve read about here, and then we applied this new way of seeing things to his specific concerns. He seemed to really get it. We decided that two weeks would be a good amount of time to pass before he came back in.

So he came back in, and I asked how the last two weeks had been. He said he was feeling much better about things. Yes! I asked about the panic attacks, and he said they were now “no big deal.” Yes! I asked if he had had any of them since we had met, and he said that he had had two of them. One lasted for two minutes and one lasted for thirty seconds. I was trying to contain my laughter and tears of joy… It gets better, though. He said, “I kind of like them now, because they force me to stop and kind of meditate.” Remember that the teaching on panic attacks is just like any other feeling – stop, breathe, and welcome it. Totally allow it, but don’t hold it. Let it go. You can even demand more intensity, and watch what happens. You get less fearful of it and it goes away. He did this and it seems that they’ve been exposed as being not so bad. Remove the fear and welcome it, and you have a little kitty instead of a huge tiger. He actually said, “It kind of makes me feel invincible, as if anything that could be stress-causing can’t touch me.” YES!! We’ve talked quite a bit about our reality as a spiritual being and not a body, and he hit the nail on the head in this context. If you’re spirit and not a body, then you literally are invincible. The body is never invincible, but you are. You ain’t a “meatsuit.” He got a big taste of this. Whoa.

At this point, we were about five minutes into the session, and I didn’t know what we’d talk about the rest of the time. Hilarious. I scanned the notes from the first session and asked him about the rest of the things we had talked about. What about death and dying? No problem. He had a 24-year-old cousin die of cancer back in Fall 2012, and this shook him up quite a bit. It helped a lot to just really talk about death with somebody for the first time. I might’ve told him about how I actually feel closer to my dad since his death over a decade ago – I don’t remember. And my dad and I had gotten along just fine. I had also seen a gifted psychic a year after his passing, and that was a real game-changer. Understatement… That was a game-changer for my whole life. “Logical math guy” had to open up to the fact that the rules I’d grown up believing were not even close to valid.

I had also recommended a documentary on Netflix called The Afterlife. He watched this and loved it, saying it helped to see other opinions and viewpoints. The movie features a couple of medical doctors (i.e. trained scientists), and they approach the afterlife and near-death experiences from a totally logical, scientific viewpoint. They gather data and do all of those “scientific” things. That really appeals to me, as my readers know by now. Speaking of which, I just learned of a professor named Gary Schwartz, Ph.D, who studies the intersection of science and spirit. Cool stuff. Anyway, death and dying no longer seem to be an issue for my client.

I asked about fear of the future and fear of the unknown, and he said there’s still some of that. I said that I have some of that, too. He knows what to do with it now, though – stop and let go of it. Any feeling will pass. Any thought will pass. He can let it go and then remind himself that it’s just that pattern of fear of the future and of the unknown – no big deal. He reminds himself that he’s here now, so just live now. Great job.

We had covered all of the bases from the first session, so I asked about his daily life and how he can incorporate this major simplification. He said he can just live – go to school and work and keep it simple. He was getting stressed in math class recently, so he walked out, sat in the hall, and just breathed and let it go. He walked in feeling much better, and he had friends who could let him know what he had missed. Excellent! He was watching a depressing movie one day, and he felt himself feeling pretty bad and thinking negatively. He paused the movie, stopped, and released. He felt much better and watched the rest of the movie. In each case, he stopped a snowball while it was small and let it melt. Then he continued what he was doing. Yes!

Another thing he said was really awesome. He works at a restaurant, and it sounds like it’s not exactly his dream job. He’s found joy in helping his co-workers, though. He noticed that when he helps them, and it could be in very simple ways, it makes them happy. And this makes him happy. Yes! I explained how we have a warped concept of giving and receiving here on Earth. We think that when we give something, we lose it. When we receive something, somebody else loses it. This sure seems to be true in the material world, but with things like love and happiness, we give in order to receive. If you want love or happiness, give it away freely and watch what happens. Great stuff.

Well, that’s the tale for today. Whenever a client seems to really “get it” the first time they come in, I get excited about seeing them the next time. Life sometimes throws the kitchen sink at them in that time, which of course I warn them about. It doesn’t always happen like that, though. Anyway, I always want to see how they are when they return. This guy blew me away. I told him that the same things he’s been doing will work for the rest of his life. This is literally Human 101, the Laws of Living on Earth. They will not change. Life might throw more at him, but never get discouraged if it messes you up. Just get back on that horse. Feelings are still temporary and the voice in the head is still not the voice of truth. There’s no reason for him to come back in unless something big comes up or he wants to go deeper into some of the things we talked about, like the spiritual stuff. That’s his call, and I’m here if he needs me. But for most of what life will have in store for him, he’s all set as his own therapist now. And it’s times like this when I really love my job.

Anxiety Attack Unplugged

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories, Common Issues

A client was telling me how she hasn’t been going to the gym very often in the last couple of months. I had been seeing her for about that amount of time, and she had told me in our first session that she had been drugged and raped by a bunch of muscle-bound guys about ten years ago. She said that ever since that happened, she has had anxiety attacks when she sees the gym where those guys worked out, sees big muscle-bound guys, or hears the word “rape” or “gym.” These are triggers that tell her body to go into a certain mode in which she gets tense, she sweats, her hearts races, and her breathing speeds up. This is the anxiety attack, or panic attack.

A good analogy is that the mind is the software and the body is the hardware. When she was raped, her mind basically got programmed to freak out at the triggers mentioned above. When any of these things happen, her body follows her mind’s instructions and in only a split second it starts to react with the panic attack. She has a prescription for Xanax, which relaxes her body. It does a great job at treating the symptoms. If a person is really tired of this game, though, then it might be time to treat the cause. Let’s go right to the source, the mind, and change the software. And that’s what we started to do that day.

So we’re sitting in my office, and she mentions that she hasn’t been going to the gym very often recently. I replied that I thought she said could not even drive by gyms, much less go inside to work out. My asking that question is all it took and her body started freaking out. She got tense and started to sweat, and she said she was having an anxiety attack. “Here it comes,” she said. Her heart was racing and her breathing was quick and shallow. She began to reach for her purse to take a Xanax. I asked her if she would be willing, since she was in a safe place, to hold off for a few moments and just surrender to the panic attack. Breathe and feel and let go. She could always take the medication.

She wasn’t thrilled at the idea, but she agreed. So she just sat there and let it be there, breathing and feeling, and she experienced it directly without a story. I reminded her that she was in a very safe place, and the Xanax would still be there anytime she wanted to take it. Let’s just try it another way, the opposite way, this one time. Let’s just sit still and surrender to it.

She was shaking and sweating. I had her breathe and relax into it as much as possible, just feeling it without any words. Don’t call it anything, and definitely don’t tell a story about how it happened, why it happened, whose fault it was, etc. She said she really felt embarrassed that it had happened. I told her to just let herself be totally, completely embarrassed in that moment. Be embarrassment itself. Just surrender to it and feel it all the way through.

After about five minutes, she smiled and said it was passing. She literally could not believe it. She said this was the first time she had had one of these anxiety attacks without taking Xanax. She didn’t know that she could weather this type of storm. I told her about the hardware/software analogy and told her that in only five minutes, we had gone to the cause of the problem and had essentially told the body that it didn’t have to freak out anymore at these triggers. There’s nothing wrong with taking the Xanax, unless of course you want these attacks to finally lose their power. If this is what you want, the irony is that you have to go there and let it be. Go into it. Let it consume you. Invite it and meet it head on, face to face. The trick is to do this and only this, though. No story, no reasons, no victims, no good, no bad. No words or language at all. Just feel it. In that feeling, you might learn that it can’t really touch you. This is true acceptance, and it’s very powerful.

NOTE: Be very careful if you experiment with this. My client was in a safe place in my office when she did this. Also, there’s a time and place for medication. I am in no way saying that medication is bad or that you shouldn’t take it. I’m also not saying that panic attacks are no big deal. They’re very scary and powerful. But this post is meant to show you that they might not be as powerful as we think if we take a deeper look.

She’s Getting It!

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

A client called this morning to reschedule our next session. We had met only once, so this would be only our second session. Two weeks ago, she came to my office at the recommendation of a common friend and began to learn a new way of living. At the end of that session, I explained that she had just learned some very powerful things that could be applied as soon as she walked out the door. She would leave my office, go back out into the world for a period of time, practice what she had learned, and then return to discuss. What did you do well? What could use improvement? It’s all purely about learning – there is absolutely no self-criticism. If you got into a fight or an argument, that’s fine – we just roll back the film, replay it in super slow-motion, and break down exactly when things started heading south and why. Then you go back out into the world and practice some more. Wash, rinse, repeat. Life will invariably bring you exactly what you need to practice on. And you get better and better with practice. It’s so cool for me to see. People do this stuff that they learn and it works.

After the first session, this client wanted to come back one week later to really keep on it. That’s not a bad idea when learning something new. A conflict came up that week, so we moved it back another week. This brings us to when she called this morning. So it has been two weeks. I said that we could set up something soon or wait another week to keep that same day and time – of course it’s up to her. She replied that overall she was doing fine and waiting another week would be no problem. Then she casually said that she had started to have a meltdown at work recently, but she used what she had learned and avoided it. She’s had panic attacks at work before, by the way.

She sounded very non-chalant as she said this, but on the other end of the phone, I was jumping for joy. I was high-fiveing the air (if that’s how you spell high-fiveing). I said, “Wait – you almost had a meltdown at work and you avoided it? You mean to tell me that you simply learned some things from some dude, applied them in your life, and the result was avoiding a potential freaking panic attack? Do you realize how huge that is? You did it! Do that same thing for the rest of your life and it’ll be so much more peaceful than it otherwise would’ve been – no comparison!” I get kind of excited about these kinds of things…

After my initial happy freak-out, I asked her exactly what had happened. She said that she had been at work at a stressful restaurant job and suddenly felt a very strong wave of dread about being there. This was the moment of truth. In the past, this dread had lots of power to take her down. Now she was armed with some pretty powerful knowledge, though. Instead of letting her mind race out of control with thoughts of how terrible the situation was and how bad it would be if she were to have a panic attack, she stopped. She breathed. She felt that dread without labeling it, and she let it go. She reminded herself that it was just another day at work, and there wasn’t anything that bad about it – not bad enough to justify freaking out, anyway. Maybe it wasn’t her ideal way to spend the day, but a panic attack out of nowhere? No way. Not anymore.

At this point, the dread was stopped in its tracks and revealed to be not that bad. When we don’t stop to investigate something like this, it can grow in power and even spiral out of control. The voice in the head tells a story that supports it. The feeling is assumed to be crippling. It’s not, though. It’s just not. Go see for yourself, although for some people it helps to first do this in a safe place like the super comfortable chair in my office. When a person gets the hang of doing things this way, s/he is no longer afraid of unwanted feelings. They have been exposed.

This client used new knowledge with great success. The result is that she now has her first real-life experience to go with that knowledge and to support it. That day marked the first day of the rest of her life. Before that day, she had little power. Now she knows that she is very powerful. It’ll take more to rattle her, and as she keeps living and practicing, it’ll take more and more. This is the path of inner peace. As I’ve said before, it’s pretty cool…

NOTE: All of these client stories are told with no identifying information and of course with permission from the clients. My only interest in sharing these stories is to help more and more people find peace, and these clients are interested in the same thing. There is no pressure on the clients to allow their story to be told. Finally, note that these stories are always told at a certain point in time.

When they are told, it is unknown how the future will unfold. Feelings are powerful, thoughts are powerful, and the past is powerful. New and old issues might emerge after progress is made. If that happens, though, we know how to deal with it. In these cases, I’ll write up the rest of the story if and when appropriate. As said before, it’s all about helping more and more people find peace.