Attack of the Panic Attack

I had a panic attack yesterday on my way to teach counselors how to bring yoga and mindfulness into their camp. My stomach was upset, jaw tight, heart pounding and breath shallow. Although I KNOW all the tools that I should be using, sometimes they don’t come naturally. Deepening the breath is very hard when you are in moments of panic/anxiety.  Ironically, I am teaching adults how to find their deep belly breaths, how to be in the present moment and where in the body they hold stress and tension. I teach this because I wish I had tools as a child to navigate some serious anxiety.

The more we can share tools that help build self-awareness, the easier it will be to access these calming techniques when we are in moments of panic. I wish I had muscle memory that when I started to feel anxious, the deep breaths, the sitting with the discomfort and not running away, the guided visualizations would help me get back to baseline.

The training went really well. I got out of the car, breathed in the smell of pine, did a few yoga poses and shook it off. I told the group that I am still learning and consistently practicing all these tools. I got to eat lunch with everyone in the dining hall and one counselor said to me, “it’s nice to know that the mindfulness instructor needs these tools, too!” Truly grateful for the practices of yoga and mindfulness. They allow me to be my authentic self, to tune in and figure out what I need in order to put my best foot forward. We are all human, we make mistakes, we say things we don’t mean and do things out of reaction. When we find practices that increase self-awareness, it gives us the power to choose. Without self-awareness, we don’t get the choice.

The next time I am feeling overwhelmed I will try to:

  • Pause + notice
  • Root my feet into the earth, soften my shoulders away from my ears and be with whatever feeling has arisen
  • Take 3-5 deep breaths
  • Massage my temples, jaw and shoulders
  • Send myself compassion and love for this tough moment
  • Let it go