There Are Ways To Cope Without Medication
Panic attacks occur when we get caught up in our own irrational, out of control thoughts. Anxiety and panic attacks are the same phenomena. Learn how to reduce these episodes without medication. Getting to the heart of the matter
In the old days (that is what I call my post doctoral training at the Behavior Therapy Unit at Temple Medical School) we would use systematic desensitization. We would teach people to relax and then have them imagine the things they were afraid of in small steps until they were no longer afraid. Flooding was another technique that we used where we would expose people to the things they are afraid of all at once until their anxiety diminished. Both approaches are effective in helping us unlearn maladaptive anxiety responses to situations. But they only help in dealing with the surface anxieties and fears that the conscious mind is already aware of, it does not deal with the source of what is causing the anxiety in the first place.
What we want to do is get to the heart of the matter. We want to work at the bottom line, with the root of what is causing the out of control energetic state in the first place. When people are having a panic or anxiety attack they are hyperventilating. At the Behavior Therapy Unit, we were trained to say, "Shut your mouth and breathe through your nose." This immediately helps because when you are hyperventilating you have too much oxygen, not too little.
During a panic attack, shutting your mouth helps balance your oxygen intake and calm your autonomic nervous system down. So this first step is easy to implement.
The truth is that panic is a hidden phenomenon in everyone's unconscious. This is becoming more obvious everyday with all the crazy, out of control energy in our world. When humans dive into the unconscious, we discover panic. This universal panic is what we work so hard to deny and keep out of our awareness. This panic is the major reason everyone has developed such unpleasant, rigid, controlling behaviors. So what we find underneath all of our controlling behaviors is this internal panic, anxiety, terror or fear.
So when we become aware of our own panic, we are expanding our conscious. This means that being aware of panic and anxiety is a positive step toward self improvement, it is not a sign of weakness. Sensitive people are usually the ones who experience this first. So when we become more aware of what is in the unconscious, it is great. Then we can do what is necessary to reduce our panic and anxiety rather than continuing to deny it and act it out in destructive ways.
So the first thing you want to do is calm down your autonomic nervous system and get to the root of what is causing you to go into an out of control state. The fear tape that is included in Dr Jeanette's Natural Process for Opening the Heart, clearly explains the difference between anxiety and fear. The energy is very different in each state. Learning this difference is essential in order to know what is real and what is irrational.
Calm down and relax
So the first choice is to calm down and relax the body if you can. However, if you are so anxious that you cannot calm down then you have to go with the flow.
The best way to deal with this high level of anxiety is to let your body do exactly what it feels like doing. Then you will get NEW information into your conscious mind. As you do this, also listen to your thoughts. You will be surprised to discover exactly what they are saying to you. You will find that the thoughts you are thinking are literally scaring you to death!
One way to do it is to get up and let your body act out what you are experiencing. Dramatize exactly what is going on inside of you. When I first did this, I found myself walking around in circles, wringing my hands around and around, repeating the same sentence over and over again. My heart was pounding and I was walking around in circles, literally. Listen to your body and it will help you bring the unconscious material up to the conscious mind.
You want to make your actual thoughts conscious and feel the effect of these thoughts on your body. They will be thoughts like, "I am going to lose everything," "I am going to die of breast cancer," "Someone is going to rape me." "No one will ever love me." You may think this is silly, but this is really what is in everyone's unconscious. This is the major reason we still hurt, kill and try to control ourselves and others.
Some of you may remember Reefer Madness. A propaganda film used to stop marijuana use in the sixties. In the film, young adults smoked the "reefer" and then proceeded to "GO CRAZY." They started to act weird and suddenly they threw themselves out the window, with a Sara Bernhardt flare, as the background music expressed doom!
Now clearly this is not the truth of what happens to people when they smoke marijuana. It is an exaggerated image designed to control people and scare them so that they would never even try marijuana. This is exactly the same energy as a panic attack. It is not real. It is so much bigger than life and so exaggerated that it is impossible to deal with. It is hysterical. It is exactly the same energy as much of the evening news. This Bigger Than Life Stuff is what you want to become aware of. This energy is irrational.
This irrational panic, that exists in our unconscious, is the reason everyone binds their anxiety with controlling behaviors. Such as, having to always clean the dishes immediately, having to have your clothes in order in a certain order, needing everything to be clean or in a certain place or done in a certain way and so on. Underneath every single controlling, rigid behavior is this hysteria.
Panic in humans is like lightning. In nature lighting is immediately grounded. In humans, the panic, the lighting is not grounded. This is the reason it is such a serious problem. In humans, the panic energy flies all over the place scaring everyone to death. If lightning in nature really did fly all over the place, the real world would be chaotic and it would be very, very scary. But lightning does not fly all over the place. It is immediately grounded.
The real world is not chaotic, out of control or scary. So there is a serious problem with humans when we do not obey the rules of Nature. The conclusion seems obvious -- human energy must be literally plugged into the ground with gravity in order for us to feel safe. It does not need to go flying all over the place scaring everyone to death.
So you need to feel your physical body, especially your feet, so that there is a direct connection between you and Mother Earth. It is simple, when you are not connected to gravity, you will feel panicky.
After you have learned to recognize your panic, sit down and breathe through your nose, you will then feel the real fear that is underneath the panic. The real fear is not bigger than life and you can do what is necessary to help yourself with it. Addressing the real fear will calm your autonomic nervous system down.
Energy work of any kind will, of course, help. Any kind of bodywork or body awareness will also help. I find massage to be especially helpful. Anything that puts you back in your body is essential.
So get in touch with your real fears and your real body and you will start to feel safer on the planet. It is impossible to have a panic or anxiety attack when your consciousness is in your body. The anxiety comes from getting carried away into your irrational thoughts!