Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Staying Calm With the Panic

Anxiety has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. It comes and goes, and just when I think I am done with it, here it is again. "Elle a un temperament anxieux"*, my mother used to say. The anxiety  tends to strike most while I am driving on the freeway. Mini-panic attacks that seem to come out of the blue, and that I have learned to survive by focusing on the breath, and the touch points between hands and steering wheel, and feet against floor. And when that fails, I distract myself, by giving the mind something to do, like switching stations on the radio player. That usually does the trick. 

Quite humbling!

From Mingyur Rinpoche, I have learned this about panic:

Tonight, sitting at my desk, writing this post, I can feel the anxiety rising again. There are no concurrent thoughts to disassemble with cognitive therapy techniques. Only buzzing energy to be aware of and befriend. 

Meditating on the panic . . . 

*She's got an anxious temperament.


  1. is new for me but am tryng to listen to my heart, heart chakra is center of pain...surrendering to being a sensitive as many are expeiencing this....part of the new energy shift growing since the winter solstice/march 11 quantum leaps and changes in earths magnetic field. do not like how raises my BP and i have to go in and going in raises my BP!

  2. Beautiful video. Thank you for writing this. I have a performance this afternoon at school and this technique will really help me to be calm and deal with my attacks in a positive way.

  3. A few decades ago I went through a year and a half of panic attacks. I don't miss them at all, but they taught me what you speak of here. I made it clear how fragile we all are.

  4. First, I can't help but smile when listening to Mingyur Rinpoche speak. I practically laughed out loud as he was thinking seriously about how he was young and struggling to place whether it was when he was 7 or 8 years old :)

    Brilliant insights throughout, but he really gets to the heart of the matter at about 5:20. I REALLY resonate with what he's saying as I run into anxiety a lot as well. I try to be neutral, but if I'm being honest, maybe I treat it more like an enemy.

    Even this morning my mind was flooded with thoughts during my sitting and it much of it was due to anxiety. Not sure what the deal is in the morning, but I'm often thinking about work and worrying about things and that come through a lot! With the anxiety comes frustration...frustration that I can't stay with the breath for even a couple of seconds until my mind carries me away.

    Not sure if this really shares any insights or help...but I thought I'd share my experience as anxiety is certainly a presence in my life.

  5. Dya, I wish you to find peace and ease during your performance. Metta is another good practice for panic. "May I be at ease, may I be at peace" repeating this over and over can go a long way.

  6. Sabio, yes, that is the gift of such a hindrance, as it puts us in touch with our human-ness, and gives us no other choice but to keep on practicing. Suffering as door to liberation.

  7. Nate, thank you so much for sharing. This befriending of the panic, and any other difficult mind states for that matter, is a process isn't it. It is not enough to decide to be friends. The heart also needs to come along, and that sometimes takes time! One think that has helped me is to adopt an attitude of well-intentioned curiosity towards the panic.

    U Tejaniya's "Wise Investigator" . . .

    Now may you be at peace today!