Thriving During Panic Attacks
Another mystery of the human experience is feeling flooded with emotion without knowing from where nor why it has come. Panic attacks aren’t pleasant nor comfortable.
The mammalian brain spontaneously goes into hyperdrive, to fight or flee some unknown danger, to ensure physical or psychological survival. When we cannot identify the thoughts or past references which escalated into high anxiety, it feels as though we’re under siege and it’s happening without our permission. We feel we have no control; the best we can manage is to “hold on” while our world is spinning, threatening to throw us off its axis.
Confusing, frustrating, worrisome, our emotional reactions resist the unwanted adrenaline spike. We hear inner thoughts, “am I going crazy, what is going on?” We tighten in fearful contractions while the thinking mind tries to interpret, judge and desperately seeks to understand in efforts to “make it stop”. We search for ways to self-soothe as we ride out the panic attack.
Awakening is a time for these types of “emotional clearances”. Our backlog of forgotten, repressed emotional suffering rises to the surface for release. Our repetition of conditioned patterns in the present are teaching cause and effect. It’s okay to not know the why’s and the how’s. It’s fine if we caught a few thoughts and can see clearly how our belief in them allowed anxiety to build. Panic cannot last, it is temporary, it will pass.
The more deeply we sink into the Present moment during the attack, the more aware we become of the Spaciousness which “surrounds” the panic. If panic happens, we can allow it, too, to live and die, to arise and fall away. Only our fear of it prompts the thinking mind to believe it needs to be able to control it. Imagine trying to control the falling of a raindrop. It simply does what it does, part of the natural cycle of falling rain within the framework of weather.
The pattern of conditioned mind would have “us” believe that “we” are the panic. This is mind attaching to its objects. Thoughts and emotions arise within mind. The egoic sense of personal self is ego-mind attaching to its story of a “me”, tied to ego’s identification with the physical body. When mind “moves” into thought and emotion, the story says “mine”, “my thought, my emotion” which builds to become “I’m anxious, I’m panicking”.
The ultimate Truth of Who We Are is the Awareness of thought and emotion arising; the field of consciousness within which objects of mind can appear and disappear.
”But it feels so real…’I’ feel like a ‘me’ to which this is happening.” I get it, I’m right here with you and have believed the very same thing. It has to feel real when thinking mind is believed, this is the power of consciousness, Itself.
“So, what can I do?” Just breathe and watch. Rather than contract, open, allow.
When thinking mind is firing fearful thoughts, allow them to pass without believing them nor resisting them. Dive into the Spaciousness of the moment with curiosity and discovery. Fully feel whatever comes rather than pushing it away. The observation through Awareness will delight in watching everything unfold. We get a glimpse of Freedom, the unlimited ability to honor subtle energetic forms such as thoughts and emotions without mind attaching to them in support of ego’s story of “me”.
The repetition of panic attacks can be reframed from a tale of woe and suffering to be active spiritual practice. We can observe the refinement of Awareness as the egoic story of me unwinds and further detachment from thinking mind occurs.
Awakening is a mystery, benevolent with highest intent for greatest Goodwill. Cooperation through open willingness speeds the process and smoothens the rough spots of conditioning. As we safely sail through panic attacks, compassion flows for the innocence of fear and the reactivity of physically-dependent perceptions of survival. We find the balance of resting in Peace even while panic seems to flail for a tiny while. Soon, the dread of attacks turns into welcome anticipation. The unconditional love of acceptance allows for this, too, as part of the Wholeness of Being.
With You as Awakening Unfolds