Tag Archives: breath

Panic Attacks and How to Handle Them

I have read a lot about anxiety or panic attacks but none of it is comforting or leads me anywhere useful. Yes, I suppose it can stem from childhood traumas. Yes, it can seem to come from big changes in life or from particularly stressful situations. But a panic attack is more urgent than that. We need to know to handle an anxiety attack naturally and right in the middle of it.

For me, it does not matter how much childhood trauma I went through or even why it happens. The most important thing in my opinion is first and foremost to have true compassion for myself when an anxiety attack happens and secondly to have some tools to use.

Having true compassion for ourselves is tricky. It forces us to treat ourselves probably in a way that we never have. Usually, I find that in the middle of a panic attack we beat ourselves up. Usually, it immediately causes some form of self-denigration, some form of self-criticism which just makes matters worse. “Why can’t I get a grip”? Or “why can’t I handle things like other people do”? That’s a dead-end road.

First, let’s talk about the kind of anxiety I am referring to here so we can bound the problem in a more effective way. Then we can talk about how to handle the anxiety. It is said that some anxiety is good for us. It keeps us from being attacked by a bear or something. This is not the type of anxiety that I am talking about here.

The anxiety I am referring to is much less “reasonable.” It grips us in fear instantaneously and we have no idea what to do about it, why it is happening right now, and we can’t think clearly enough to reason ourselves out of it. It just is, happened out of the blue, and “holy shit I can’t even think straight right now”! BOOM. Like that.

The first thing we must do is make ourselves safe. If you are driving pull over. If you are around people get to a place where you can be alone in silence. Second thing is to breathe. Focus on your breath. This slows everything down and gives you the chance of having a clear thought. I haven’t found that trying to figure out why I am having a panic attack useful. We’ve just got to get the biological functions working on our behalf here.

Once we get the breath under control, cognitive functioning starts to return. Then we can start thinking our way out of it. We start feeling our fingers and toes again. Our mind starts working again. We are out of danger. We calm down. The worst is over.

This is when we can begin to be kind to ourselves like never before. Maybe something traumatic has not happened, but our body thinks it has! Treat yourself as if you just jumped out of a burning 2 story building, because that is how your body feels. Begin by allowing yourself to feel how your body feels. Tired. Burned out. Strange. And then start thinking thoughts like ‘I made it”. ‘I am okay”. ‘It’s over’.

Now. I encourage you to do something different. Anything. Watch birds. Take a bath. Give your wounded self a great big virtual hug. Do ANYTHING you can do be kind to yourself. Take a nap. Say no to the rest of your day. Tomorrow is another day and you not only survived, but you also learned how to handle this, and you are OKAY. This is a HUGE accomplishment!

Pat yourself on the back and know that if it happens again, you will know what to do.


Qi what?

Qi by definition, (in traditional Chinese medicine and philosophy) is the vital life force that flows through the body. What does that mean? How do we get in touch with that and why would we want to?

Every living thing carries its own qi or chi or prana or life force- whatever you choose to call it, we all have it or we wouldn’t be alive. It is at the core of us, our very essence. Feel it? That subtle energy that runs through us constantly. When I am teaching people about energy I like to use the example of being in line at the grocery store and feeling someone behind you even before you see them. They are in your space. You feel them energetically. That is the energy I am referring to here.

What most people don’t know is that we can actually work with that energy for our own health and happiness and well as the health and happiness of everyone else, even Mother Earth herself.

There are so many ways to do this. I’ve been practicing and teaching Reiki for over a decade. This form of energy work is well-known. There are over a million of us practitioners on the planet. Another one of my favorites is QiGong. Qigong, which is sometimes spelled Chi-Kung (and pronounced chee-gung), is the study and practice of cultivating vital life-force through various techniques, including: Breathing techniques, Posture, Meditations, and Guided imagery.

My qigong teacher, Jeff Primack of Supreme Science Qigong, teaches us breathing techniques and postures with hand movements to promote this flow of qi. Improving the flow of qi leads to enhanced wellness on every level, particularly our physical bodies. I believe this work is extremely important and used in conjunction with meditation and practices such as Reiki, it can and does keep us healthy physically, mentally, emotionally, and Spiritually.

I encourage you to seek out teachers in these fields.

It will do wonders for you and for the entire population.


Sound Therapy- What do you listen to?

Get up. Check the emails. Check the news. Listen to the media. Start your day. Does this sound like you? Ah! Perhaps this is causing you to start your day stressed out! Think about it. Usually, emails get our head going in the “I’ve got so much to do today” mode. Stress. The media ALWAYS puts us in stress mode, whether we choose to deny it or not. There is very rarely any good news there!

Here is an idea. Instead of immediately going into “zombie” mode, make a conscious effort to start your day in silence. Or at least listening to something that soothes your Soul, feels good to your heart, and keeps your mind quiet for a bit. Spend a few minutes meditating, breathing. What we feed ourselves (rather where we direct our brain) first thing in the morning makes all the difference in the world in how we experience our day.

Technology is a wonderful thing if used properly. Listen to an uplifting podcast- there are gazillions of them on YouTube. Make this a habit. Just 30 minutes in the morning can redirect your entire day. So you have to get up 30 minutes in the morning before anyone else in your household.

It’s worth it.


An Emotional Salve

Human Beings. We are flesh, blood, and bone. We are emotions and physical strength. We have abilities and desires. At the center of us though is our breath. The breath is ever-present and is a very good anchor for us in our physical bodies. We rarely if ever pay any attention to that- we are too inclined to be busy, to move our bodies, to think and do stuff.

These days, given the current world situation, we are more apt to begin contemplating more internally simply because we are forced to slow down. Slowing down our external activities forces us to be more introspective. And this is uncomfortable for most of us. Perhaps it is time to change that.

Little by little when we decide to allow this slowdown, this introspection, we begin to become more familiar with ourselves. We never realized before that we have been operating generally on autopilot. We never realized that inquiry into who we really are was never a “thing”. Now it is.

So who are we really? What are we all about? Is there more to us than our jobs, our family responsibilities, our activity? OH YES. And is there something we can do for ourselves to help us navigate these turbulent waters more effectively, soundly, and peacefully? YES!

Now don’t get scared this is going to go off in some woo-woo direction. This is about being in conscious contact with our bodies, and what makes our bodies run so magnificently (or not), and how to make our bodies and our mind more efficient and effective when we are under stress. And we are ALL under stress right now.

What if under all this stress we decided to try something new to help relieve the intensity of what we feel all around us today? Committing to 10-15 minutes per day- first thing in the morning, and perhaps when the anxiety starts amping up? It’s super simple, but you have to DO it.

My recommendation is to sit down and just consciously breathe. Sit, get still, no distractions, silence, and stillness, and focus on the breath. Not so easy to begin with because the mind goes ballistic. Don’t care about that. When you realize the mind has gone ballistic, take a breath (no judgment) and bring your attention back to the breath- over and over and over again.

I am not asking you to make this a marathon. Start with 10 minutes. If you make it 2 minutes on the first day- awesome! Try for 3 minutes tomorrow. Commit to doing it every day, say for a month- and see what happens. See how your mood stabilizes. See how little things don’t ruffle your feathers or ruin your day. Notice how your activities become more relaxed, more accomplished. Realize that you feel better.

What happens next? This becomes a habit, this becomes something you look forward to, this becomes something you do every day before you even think of leaving the house!
And guess what? It’s called MEDITATION.

Meditation is the single most important tool for living a happy, stable, effective life. Now more than ever, we need this tool!
Please feel free to contact me with questions or if you need help with this- more to come!