First off, I'm fine.
Long time since one of these. I get up, make my tea, drink my tea, the han starts, I sit on the zafu, and almost immediately I feel it coming on. As the han sounds from my computer wind down, the black hole steadily builds. I think, "Man, I'm gonna have to sit through this whole sitting with with this? This is going to be interesting, and shitty." Not interesting enough to keep it from consuming everything.
It thrusts me into an "everything is terribly wrong" panic, and I did indeed attempt to sit in it. Of course, any attempt to quell the horrid sensations during these dark moments is contrived and riddled with pretense. About 3 minutes into sitting, it's full bore; I had to break my zazen.
I DID also have to #2, like really, and I'm actually on the throne running through this dark night of the soul. It had been a long time since I had had, what one might call, an anxiety attack. My heart is up, I am shaky, but my breathing never elevated. As subject to it as I was, I was also able to objectify, be curious about what it was, and welcome it in a sick and twisted way. Nothing was wrong the day before, but I soon felt that change as I was sitting there.
From what I can tell, I am feeling nervous about a lifestyle change. I am going into business myself, and I am learning everything from scratch, essentially. I am rolling the proverbial dice and leaving everything behind. I'll be moving out of the country to focus on the business, because it's more financially feasible. My business niche keeps changing, and everything is very uncertain. There are moments of feeling adventuresome, and moments of stress. There was a slew of other topics of guilt that came up; I was scrutinizing small things that I was doing in my life that may not be in accord with the precepts.
I often welcome these times. I feel they are a cleanse. I sometimes get these sensations just as I'm drifting off to bed, and I have to sit up and let it "take me," then they pass. Episodes I would get during the day would usually be because of stress at work, and they were much longer lasting. An episode during the day could ripple through my week This would happen years ago, and also when I was very young. I would get up in the middle of the night, and run around the house. My parents would wake me up from this sleep walk and it would faaarreeak me out. I started remembering these half awake, half asleep states of panic as my parents added to the panic loop wondering what the hell was going on, and what I was talking about when trying to explain things. As I grew older, I began to be able to realize that I was sleep walking, and somehow could get back to my room and get to sleep. Such a strange sensation to be in two realities at once. These types of sensations match perfectly the sensation of the anxiety attacks.
When I started working in high stress situations, this same sensation would happen in my young adult years about once every 2 or three months during the day. Sometimes I would be at work, and it would take everything I had just to sit there and look normal, and not run out of the place in a frenzy. As my discipline with sitting increased, they lessened significantly. In fact, it's been so long since something like this has happened, I all but forgot what a full fledged attack was like.
So, as I'm sitting on the toilet (heh), I'm trying to work with this thing. I remember "Dark Night of the Soul" saying that all you can really do is hope it won't last too long. So, I sit, allowing it to do it's thing. I plan on not working so I can just be with it, and I clear my schedule for the day. This is something I learned is OK to do. TAKE THE TIME YOU NEED to deal with these things. Everything be damned, this is as also a sickness; take your damned sick day or days!
Part of the problem with these things, is that we don't want to freak OTHER people out by telling them what's going on; fearing that they'll have no idea what you're talking about. I feel that's very unselfish of you, but the truth is, the reason why people might get freaked out about you sharing this crazy info is that THEY TOO get attacks and feelings like this in one form or another (well, most people do), and THEY TOO are afraid to talk about it. In the West you are clinically this or that if you experience these things, you need immediate professional help, and quite probably drugs. However, In many cultures, when one complains of having "demons," they may rely on myth, and bust out the medallions, rituals, and what-have-you to exercise the demons out of you. The community supports you when you're falling into shadow. How nice.
In Zen, we resort not to intellect nor myth; we are in special circumstances indeed. What is this?
So I'm sitting there, letting it do it's thing, being curious and gentle with myself, and it.... wanes after about 5 minutes. Amazing. My heard it still racing, the adrenaline is still shaking me, but my head is wrapped around 'it.' I get back up, reset the timer, and sit back down. I get up after my 30, a little shaken, and resume my day as normal.
I could talk about this phenomenon all day. It's certainly a primary reason why I practice. It's such an acute form of suffering, it's such a razor sharp tool. There are wonderful things that come from these periods in my life. My appreciation for everything shoots right up. I appreciate how St. John of the Cross explains this experience as, and I'm paraphrasing, 'God doing his work' or 'God, aligning you with his word' or whatever the hell. It is a time when my whatever is showing me that what I'm doing is just not working, that change is coming, that new neurons will be formed! And it always comes out of nowhere, just when you think everything is honky-dory. Isn't that how it is? heh. Anyway, time to sit!