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Thread: Sitting with VERY deep fear

  1. #1

    Sitting with VERY deep fear

    A little background, since I'm still new. I'm on quite a few medications, and one of them I have to take every day because if I go off of it cold turkey, I'll run the risk of seizures and getting back on it would require going back to the lowest dose and working back up because a deadly rash can develop if you just jump back up to the dosage I'm on.

    I went to the pharmacy to get my medications refilled and was told my insurance was cancelled. Immediate panic attack. Fear the likes of which I've never experienced before, and believe me I've been through some HEAVY stuff. Most of the fear had to do with that heavy stuff coming back, having to go through it again, it being worse this time, destroying everything this time. END OF THE WORLD. I jump there pretty quickly.

    So; once I got settled home, in my "safe place", with my safety plan people on full alert (all of this has to be done FIRST, and quickly), I tried to figure out what I could do to help "fix this", deal with it. I had no way to control the situation, there was nothing I could do over the holiday weekend. I could not "fix it".

    What do I keep hearing? "Just sit". Not easy. But I also keep hearing "Even bad Zen is good Zen". See the sky. Couldn't really do that because of one massive thunder-head, but I hear the sky is still there..and it seems sensible that the thunder-head couldn't even be possible if there was no sky for it to be in, so was willing to keep the idea that this could be true. Keep sitting. Was I doing it right or wrong? Didn't matter. Posture, being "perfect"? Didn't matter. Nothing seemed to matter but doing what I was doing. What was I doing? Just sitting with it. Right then. I couldn't even think about it that much because it was so huge and overwhelming. I'm not going to say the thunder-head went away because it didn't really, but it wasn't so strong because it was all based on "what ifs" and not now. Now was only sitting. It sort of went from END OF THE WORLD, to "here I am, and this looks nothing like the end of the world" so the end of the world isn't actually happening. What's happening is sitting. That was all I needed to be doing since I couldn't do much else, and the other stuff didn't float away, but it loosened up.

    As it turned out, it was a computer glitch and things are fine.

    So, now questions. Is this what is meant by "just sitting"? Do the stuff that Zen doesn't fix, like make the call at the first opportunity this morning and get it actually fixed or at least get the ball rolling in that direction and make sure that I'm physically safe until I could do that, but until I could do that, sit with it? I mean, my grip on this situation being the most horrible thing that could ever happen loosened up a little bit by sitting, so is it possible that I might not react the same way should other, lesser things, come up? That the ideas of doing things "right or wrong" loosened up a bit as well and that I might not "need" those ideas, is that also part of "just sitting"?

    Any insight or feedback would be greatly appreciated. I'm more used to the mindfulness way of going about meditation...and that (no disrespect meant to the mindfulness techniques) isn't all that helpful to me in my own experience (which is why I went looking for something else and ended up here ). Looking into the causes, etc, often causes me to get more worked up because I'm focusing on it and kind of "feeding it", thoughts leading to thoughts leading to thoughts, and I think too much as it is.

  2. #2

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Hi Mari,

    That sucks. I've had similar things happen with my asthma meds (while noting that me going without doesn't cause seizures or a "deadly rash." That's really rough), and I think that, from a strictly human standpoint, that "OHMIGOD" moment is a pretty normal response, given that we (I'm assuming you're here with me) know what can happen if things go awry on an issue like this.

    What I've found in the time that I've been Just Sitting is that gradually, almost imperceptibly, I can let go of the fear and panic and all those other persnickety things that don't really help the situation. They're still there, but not consuming. When I can't find my meds first thing in the morning, I'm still a little...miffed, maybe?...but not in a panicked situation (happened to me yesterday, as a matter of fact). Rather than a desperate "what am I going to do?" taking me over, I can stop and consider, "what am I going to do?"

    This is the important step in my practice. Nothing is changed, except everything. (Sorry, I don't know how else to put it.) I think that, were I in your situation (pure conjecture, and I realize that's of limited use), I would...

    [d]o the stuff that Zen doesn't fix, like make the call at the first opportunity this morning and get it actually fixed or at least get the ball rolling in that direction and make sure that I'm physically safe until I could do that, but until I could do that, sit with it[.]
    There is a fellow roaming around here that says,
    Zazen is -NOT- a cure for many things ... it will not fix a bad tooth (just allow you to be present with the toothache ... you had better see a dentist, not a Zen teacher)...
    For me, it all boils down to "What can I do right now?". That's it. It's why equanimity is so important in my practice; if the dentist can't see you today, make an appointment. If the office is closed, make a note to call in the morning. Then let it go for now--you've done what you can at this moment.

    I don't know about good posture, or right and wrong, but I do know about just sitting with constricted lungs, getting caught up in mind-theatre, and making things generally a lot worse for myself than they really are through my own fear. I think that, my very-not-an-authority opinion, your reactions were both skillful and appropriate.

    Just my thoughts. I'm very glad that everything worked out.

    Metta and Gassho,

    Saijun

  3. #3

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Gassho to you both for this great reminder


    Risho

  4. #4

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Mari, I gotta tell ya that sometimes I still freak out but but not as long or deep as my earlier days. Sounds like you are on the right path. Other than sitting the other things we can do are pretty simple - like making a call or explaining our needs or eating a banana or walking in the dark or .....................

  5. #5

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    A few years ago I was having a panic attack which seemed to only get worse the more I tried to "self-control" with counting breath meditation.

    Eventually I wound up at home, laying in bed dreading going out to pick up my brother-in-law and his girlfriend. Not the picking them up, the having-a-panic-attack-picking-them-up. I could just picture myself having a freak-out about any number of small things there and back. And all because I just couldn't accept the panic.

    Which is the oxymoron way I can explain what I did: I stopped panicking about the panic and just sat with it. After about 30 minutes the panic was there, but it was just there. I wasn't feeding it or denying it. I've come to find over the years that trying to ignore, deny, or what not, is just as bad as staring, or wanting something.
    I just accepted the panic and did the best I could.

    It worked in that situation, which seems similar to yours. And your story reminded me of this moment in my life. Which I'm grateful for. Hopefully my story will be helpful to you as well. I've always found my mind is ingenious in ways of creating problems for itself, only for itself to solve.

    Thanks again for sharing. I wish you all the best.

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Hi Mari,
    Thank you for sharing this!

    Like the others I would like to add that a moment of panic is expected. Practice does not cure that, however in my limited experience, it has certainly helped in returning from that panic a bit faster the longer I have been practicing.

    Like Rich said, I too still freak out now and again but for not as long, not as deep, not for the same reasons, and I usually put it into perspective of what can be done right now? great, do it. Now whats left?- Can it be dealt with and is it really like THIS?(in my case with ptsd Lots of panic of " omg my heart feels like its exploding - oh thats it im dead...nooooow...now no...um now!"), okay move along, go sit - or when panicking sometimes I found walking meditation, kinhin, a good option too.

    Sitting with it is a surrendering to what is. Not a "giving up, and hopeless" kind of surrender, but a surrender that gives up our notions of how things should be, could be, might be and going with what it is right now, and now and now, and letting that understanding take root and grow like the fear that gripped you/me before. That said, while we still work to secure our meds, ask for help, plan a head and do what needs being done. THEN sit or walk or lay, as the situation allows, with it.

    I have nothing much to offer really, good posts already and lots will follow, again thank you for sharing this!

    Gassho
    Shohei

  7. #7

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Quote Originally Posted by Shohei
    Sitting with it is a surrendering to what is. Not a "giving up, and hopeless" kind of surrender, but a surrender that gives up our notions of how things should be, could be, might be and going with what it is right now, and now and now, and letting that understanding take root and grow like the fear that gripped you/me before. That said, while we still work to secure our meds, ask for help, plan a head and do what needs being done. THEN sit or walk or lay, as the situation allows, with it.

    I have nothing much to offer really, good posts already and lots will follow, again thank you for sharing this!
    That's a heck of a lot to offer!! Well said, Shohei!

    Gassho,

    Eika (also an anxiety/panic sufferer)

  8. #8

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Hi, Mari.

    It takes great courage, sometimes, to sit with our lives. Fear can be this spectre (sp?) that follows us . . . shadows our every move. Sitting with that fear, letting it do its thing during zazen, we see it is just another collection of thoughts. Empty of any real weaponry to harm us. But that fear can be crippling . . . it will not go away overnight, but our way, the slow-way of the Soto-shikantaza folks, keeps returning to bravely sit and stare at everything in our lives day after day after day. So, after a while, we acclimate to the fear, see its all-bark-no-bite posturing and chalk it up to the mind doing its thing.

    Gassho, and I hope things get better for you,
    Eika

  9. #9

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    I can sympathize. I too take quite a bit of medication, also dealing with a type of balance. What you did was exactly right, and not because it did anything at all. Just sitting enabled you to see more clearly. All the End of the World bit is the initial "smack" of the reality of the situation hitting the delusion of "safety" and "sameness" that you expect every time you go to the pharmacy. Hi there, just a refill, sure here's my insurance card, see you in two weeks. Then boom! Life, glitches, the whole enchilada. And it sometimes sucks, like a vacuum cleaner inside a black hole.

    But then we sit. And the delusions we have about the severity of the situation, and the Endy-ness of the world, settle. They reveal themselves to be nothing more then what they are. And when that happened for you, you were able to act from a place of clarity and get the problem resolved. Just sitting won't give you the solution, or make the problem easier, or take away the thunderhead. It will, however remind you that there is nothing to add or take away, all is perfectly imperfect. All the stress that you were adding to the situation shows itself to be a magician's parlor trick, and if you take a second to truly look, even the thunderhead has a raw beauty to it.

    I keep remembering Joko Beck's final words:
    According to the Twitter account of fellow Zen teacher Joan Halifax, Beck’s last words were,”This too is wonder.”

  10. #10

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    All the End of the World bit is the initial "smack" of the reality of the situation hitting the delusion of "safety" and "sameness" that you expect every time you go to the pharmacy. Hi there, just a refill, sure here's my insurance card, see you in two weeks. Then boom! Life, glitches, the whole enchilada.
    That's EXACTLY what it was! A dream-bubble popped, and I had no idea what to do without the dream. So I freaked, reacted out of fear. Then the immediate mad scramble to come up with another dream to replace it, only this one all negative, all doom, but still, just another dream because that one too turned out not to be the reality either. Thank you, thank you so much for that!

  11. #11

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Some very very wise and experienced words from folks above!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mari
    ...

    What do I keep hearing? "Just sit". Not easy. But I also keep hearing "Even bad Zen is good Zen". See the sky. Couldn't really do that because of one massive thunder-head, but I hear the sky is still there..and it seems sensible that the thunder-head couldn't even be possible if there was no sky for it to be in, so was willing to keep the idea that this could be true. Keep sitting. Was I doing it right or wrong? Didn't matter. Posture, being "perfect"? Didn't matter. Nothing seemed to matter but doing what I was doing. What was I doing? Just sitting with it. Right then. I couldn't even think about it that much because it was so huge and overwhelming. I'm not going to say the thunder-head went away because it didn't really, but it wasn't so strong because it was all based on "what ifs" and not now. Now was only sitting. It sort of went from END OF THE WORLD, to "here I am, and this looks nothing like the end of the world" so the end of the world isn't actually happening. What's happening is sitting. That was all I needed to be doing since I couldn't do much else, and the other stuff didn't float away, but it loosened up.

    As it turned out, it was a computer glitch and things are fine.

    So, now questions. Is this what is meant by "just sitting"? Do the stuff that Zen doesn't fix, like make the call at the first opportunity this morning and get it actually fixed or at least get the ball rolling in that direction and make sure that I'm physically safe until I could do that, but until I could do that, sit with it? I mean, my grip on this situation being the most horrible thing that could ever happen loosened up a little bit by sitting, so is it possible that I might not react the same way should other, lesser things, come up? That the ideas of doing things "right or wrong" loosened up a bit as well and that I might not "need" those ideas, is that also part of "just sitting"?
    Yes, I feel so, to all your questions. Sounds in my heart like real, wonderful sitting.

    I cannot speak first hand of "panic attacks" like some of the folks here, but I can speak of times of fear and anxiety ... sometimes great anxiety and "what if's" flooding my head, like some moments after the recent earthquakes and nuclear meltdowns here or before a recent medical treatment. That is natural, human, hard wired into our animal brains.

    As some have said above, when feeling panic, just feel panic. Let it be, it is just what is in that moment.

    Try to recall, if you can in the heat of things, that it is merely the staging of mind created theatre that is happening in that moment ... a show on a theatre stage your head is writing ... and just feel panic if panic there is. When in panic, be a Panic-Buddha. When in Panic ... Just Panic Panic Panic!

    There is a difference between (1) feeling panic, just letting the panic move through you, accepting that that is how one feels in that moment, and (2) feeling panic, and then adding self-loathing, "wish it were not so" thoughts, resistance, "this is the way it will always be, no escape from this black hole" thoughts, and the like on top of the panic. The latter are extraneous, more fuel poured on the fire. Remove the resistance and the fire itself may lose much of its heat.

    If you just accept that your heart is beating 200 beats a minute ... and just allow that fact, relax into it ... good chance the beats will slow down.

    As in Ai-ki-do (my wife's a practitioner) ... sometimes we conquer by yielding and letting an attack move past, not by directly resisting head on.

    Anyway, that is how I seek to experience the little "theatre scenes" of fear ... and all the other "junk in the attic" of the head like glumness, depression, anger, worry and the like that naturally arise in any human mind. These too shall pass ... open the grip of thoughts and emotions in the head, and they will fall away.

    (I do not wish to contradict any expert advice by true specialist on Panic disorders, however. So, do what they advice first.) But the following is my typical response to someone sitting Zazen together with some other issues requiring outside counseling or medication ...

    Our emphasis here is on Shikantaza ... which may be said to be "being one" with what ails one, although not necessarily a cure for what ails one. HOWEVER, that "being one" with life ... can relieve much suffering in life. It is a strange thing ... we do not sit Shikantaza to be "better" or to make life "other than as it is" ...

    ... Yet, in the very stillness of letting life be "as is it" and embracing all of life ... and in dropping the hard borders and divisions between our "self" and the world ... this practice does thereby leave almost all people better ... and often does work an effective cure (or is one helpful part of the cure) ... from depression, stress, addiction, compulsive disorders, eating disorders, anger issues, self loathing ... you name it.

    We do emphasize mindfulness of our thoughts and emotions ... but not as a form of meditation. However, our Zazen is the radical non-doing of Shikantaza, and the "mind theatre" and tricks and games of the human mind is something that naturally we also become better able to recognize and avoid from sitting.

    ... I suspect that Shikantaza ... in its quietness, in the total stillness and acceptance ... would be something helpful with what you describe ...

    Zazen is -NOT- a cure for many things ... it will not fix a bad tooth (just allow you to be present with the toothache ... you had better see a dentist, not a Zen teacher), cure cancer (although it may have some healthful effects and make one more attune to the process of chemotherapy and/or dying), etc. Zen practice will not cure your acne on your face, or fix your flat tire. All it will do is let one "be at one, and whole" ... TRULY ONE ... with one's pimples and punctured wheel, accepting and embracing of each, WHOLLY WHOLE with/as each one. There are many psychological problems or psycho/medical problems such as alcoholism that may require other therapies, although Zen can be part of a 12-Step program or such (a few Zen teachers in America with a drinking problem had to seek outside help). My feeling is that some things ... are probably best handled by psychiatric treatment, not Zen teachers.
    My feeling is that receiving outside treatment, medication AND "just sitting" can all work together.

    One comment though ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Eika

    So, after a while, we acclimate to the fear, see its all-bark-no-bite posturing and chalk it up to the mind doing its thing.
    This is true, but it is also true that ... walking this path long enough ... we will also come to places where there is NO FEAR at all, no one to be afraid and no object of fear. There is a realm beyond any possible place to fall or be lost. If anyone has been walking this path long enough, they will have some familiarity with such Fearless Place. Have no doubt.

    Of course, that does not mean that, in this life, we will always be free of fear for it is hardwired into our little brains. If I see a hungry tiger in my path, I may break into a sweat and run for the hills!

    But a funny thing that can result is an experience of feeling fear ... while being totally free of any fear ... ALL AT ONCE. Fear and fearlessness, as one. Most folks who have been on this Zen road for awhile will have an understanding of what I mean by that.

    Gassho, J

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Mari,

    Although I have never had a true panic attack, much like Jundo I have suffered from a good deal of anxiety and "what-ifs" in my life. However, in recent months many long, tightly held conceptions about negative consequences have begun to fall away. The sitting has shown me that I don't have to grab onto these fears about what will happen and that I can rely on what information I actually have, even when it seems "bad"...sometimes especially if it seems bad, rather than focusing on every little direction in which it could lead. Dealing with what is, rather than what if, has been quite a switch for me and the non seeking way of my pratcice has been quite liberating. And as much as you feel like today's revelation was "it", drop that and just sit some more! It was a very big "it", but if you hang on to that feeling for more than a few seconds you can be led astray. The next time you feel the fear coming on and you say to yourself, "Here we go again!", just say "Yep, here we go again...and again...and again!" Just keep riding that coaster!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  13. #13

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    And as much as you feel like today's revelation was "it", drop that and just sit some more! It was a very big "it", but if you hang on to that feeling for more than a few seconds you can be led astray.
    Oh yeah most definitely the case. I didn't mean "this is it" as "Wheee, enlightenment at last!" Haha! It was more along the lines of "What an excellent description!" that helped me to see what I was doing, and what I did as a result of that. Absolutely more sitting, because this was just one event, and like you said "Here we go again!" is going to happen. This was also a wonderful example of what to do now that this one event has passed, sort of reminding me of puppy training (and I am sort of a puppy), "Drop it. Drooooop it. Now, sit." :lol: Thank you!

  14. #14

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Mari, well... you pretty much kicked ass! Seriously, you handled that intense situation better than I handle most little inconveniences! :P

    Thank you for sharing your "sitting at the end of the world" story.

    Gassho,
    Matt

  15. #15

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Thanks for sharing this, Mari. I've been following along and wondering when it would be appropriate to share some thoughts. Then I read this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Mari
    Absolutely more sitting, because this was just one event, and like you said "Here we go again!" is going to happen.
    I won't wax too autobiographical here, but my own history (schizophrenic brother who committed suicide in 2001 after ten years of multiple attempts, trips to hospitals, arrests, etc.) has left a rather potent trace on me that pops up regularly in the form of sudden, vivid, and very violent fears about loved ones. For years, when these imagined car wrecks, murders, and so on would spring upon me I'd panic: what did they mean? what should I do? how could I make them go away? They were horrible -- or at least, I thought that "they" were horrible.

    What's changed, of course, is not them but what I do, or don't do, with them. They still pop up, just as vivid as ever, but in time I've learned to embrace what Dosho referred to as "Here we go again!" They rise, I notice them, they are what they are, and they pass. Indeed, when another one comes down the pike these days, I think, "Oh, there you are!"

    I have to say, this post can sound like some real Zenny bullshit: "Just let the bloody decapitations pass like clouds in the sky." Uh... yeah, sure.

    But, really, this stuff ain't bullshit; it's THE shit. And if these bloody decapitations can just float on by, well, I figure just about anything can.

    So, yeah: absolutely more sitting. :wink:

  16. #16

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA
    But, really, this stuff ain't bullshit; it's THE shit.
    I couldn't agree more . . .

    Gassho,
    Eika

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Mari,

    By sitting we all mean that just sit, meditate and drop resistance. I know this sounds too crazy, but believe me, if you meditate daily, with discipline and joy, there will come the day that when a panic attack hits, you will be able to handle perfectly.

    When in fear, just be in fear. When in panic, just be in panic. But attaching labels and judgments to those attacks will result in unbearable anxiety.

    So by sitting it means just that: meditate. Daily. When you less notices, you'll surf not only on panic but in every adverse feeling you have.

    Granted, you (and all of us) will be subject to panic and fear, since we are humans, but there is a great difference on creating stories and attach them to the feeling, and just melt with things. When that happens, you'll be able to find solutions with a clear mind.

    Hope this helps

  18. #18

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Out of nowhere, I have begun having extreme anxiety attacks.

    This really sucks because I knew someone who used to have them and I always made light of them saying, "Just relax."

    Well, that is not possible during a panic attack. Now I've expereinced anxiety. And some real fears too. But an anxiety attack feels like dying. Maybe because of all the change in my life lately (sick parents etc) but in July I found myself in the emergency room thinking I was having a heart attack. I have never had high blood pressure in my life. And like the Grateful Dead song my pulse stayed 72 come shine or rain. Well, that day my blood pressure sky rocketed, my pulse went crazy, my chest was hurting, my legs were shaking, I felt faint, short of breath, and was surely on the brink of death. Two days later I left the hospital with a good report. No heart problems, no clogged arteries, etc. That has happened three times since. Just yesterday I was walking in the park, something I try to do everyday. It was beautiful weather. I was happy and relaxed. Then out of nowhere an attack hit. It is crippling. For me at least, it is impossilbe to rationalize with my thoughts during an attack. Watching my breath is impossible. It only increases the panic. The only thing I can do during such an episode is suffer.

    I don't know if sitting will help with this or not. I refuse to take medication. I've always been a calm, fun, rational minded guy. Now this. How embarassing.

    No point to the post really, other than to share. Thanks for listening.

    gassho
    Greg

  19. #19
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Hi Greg,

    Sorry to hear about these attacks
    Greg wrote:
    This really sucks because I knew someone who used to have them and I always made light of them saying, "Just relax."
    I think you may know just the right person to consult to help give you some insights to get through it. A small apology might be a good thing too
    Hope you get well soon!

    Gassho,
    John

  20. #20

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Hi Greg,

    We have some folks in the Sangha who have been through this, and I am sure they will have some insights.

    I just want to say that, if it is persisting, talk to a professional in these matters and follow their advise. Read up on it, and if there is an effective treatment be open to it. Yes, my feeling is that Zazen should be very helpful with anxiety but, in this kind of serious case, it must go hand in hand with all other available effective treatments. I usually say ...

    Zazen is -NOT- a cure for many things ... it will not fix a bad tooth (just allow you to be present with the toothache ... you had better see a dentist, not a Zen teacher)... Zen practice will not cure your acne on your face, or fix your flat tire. All it will do is let one "be at one, and whole" ... TRULY ONE ... with one's pimples and punctured wheel, accepting and embracing of each, WHOLLY WHOLE with/as each one. There are many psychological problems or psycho/medical problems such as anxiety and panic attacks that may require other therapies, although Zen can be part of a treatment program. My feeling is that some things ... are probably best handled by medical/pychological treatment, not Zen teachers.
    We will dedicate our Saturday Zazenkai tomorrow to your and others fast recoveries.

    Gassho, Jundo

  21. #21

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Here are some other threads we have had on panic and anxiety ...

    viewtopic.php?p=56387#p56387

    viewtopic.php?p=31554#p31554

    Gassho, J

  22. #22

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Greg,

    I will PM you shortly.

  23. #23

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Quote Originally Posted by ghop
    Out of nowhere, I have begun having extreme anxiety attacks.

    This really sucks because I knew someone who used to have them and I always made light of them saying, "Just relax."

    Well, that is not possible during a panic attack. Now I've expereinced anxiety. And some real fears too. But an anxiety attack feels like dying. Maybe because of all the change in my life lately (sick parents etc) but in July I found myself in the emergency room thinking I was having a heart attack. I have never had high blood pressure in my life. And like the Grateful Dead song my pulse stayed 72 come shine or rain. Well, that day my blood pressure sky rocketed, my pulse went crazy, my chest was hurting, my legs were shaking, I felt faint, short of breath, and was surely on the brink of death. Two days later I left the hospital with a good report. No heart problems, no clogged arteries, etc. That has happened three times since. Just yesterday I was walking in the park, something I try to do everyday. It was beautiful weather. I was happy and relaxed. Then out of nowhere an attack hit. It is crippling. For me at least, it is impossilbe to rationalize with my thoughts during an attack. Watching my breath is impossible. It only increases the panic. The only thing I can do during such an episode is suffer.

    I don't know if sitting will help with this or not. I refuse to take medication. I've always been a calm, fun, rational minded guy. Now this. How embarassing.

    No point to the post really, other than to share. Thanks for listening.

    gassho
    Greg
    Hi Greg,

    I'm very sorry to hear about your anxiety problems. I was in your shoes 6 years ago. But what set it off were some health issues that I had been neglecting for a long time. I was familiar with Zen meditation at that time but wasn't practicing regularly so it was ineffective. Whenever I tried to sit the anxiety would just increase. I also decided to try to stay off drugs.

    For about 5 months I'd been struggling with it, going into therapy, and reading some help books on anxiety. I think all those things had some effect, but it didn't last very long. What finally did it for me is a simple book: "Hope and Help for Your Nerves" by Claire Weekes http://www.amazon.com/Hope-Help-Your-Ne ... 0451167228. The book is written in the 60s and in such a simple way and language that it just clicked with me right away. I don't think I even finished the book, it was so helpful. If you read the comments on Amazon it seems that the book was very helpful to many others.

    I must tell you that at that time when I started reading this book I also started to take care of my underlying health issues, so I'm not sure what helped me first and it was probably a combination of the two. In your case you say that some traumatic events are occurring in your personal life, so may be you need to work on those as well. I don't think that being embarrassed is the right attitude. We don't really know how our bodies work so there's nothing to be embarrassed about. You're not alone with this problem.

    If you have any other questions you can PM me.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Thank you Andy for the book title. There's somebody in my life who this may help.

    Quote Originally Posted by ghop
    I knew someone who used to have them and I always made light of them saying, "Just relax."
    Greg, I guess I'm guilty of that, too. Thanks for your description, helping me to understand better what's going on during an attack.

  25. #25
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Greg,

    It is very good to hear from you.

    I have nothing different to offer than what others have said and feel my mind was very well spoken by what Jundo advised, but did want to wish you the best during this time.

    We're always here...that's what is pretty cool about this place.

    Please take care of yourself and let us know how you are doing.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  26. #26
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Hey Greg,
    I still do get them time to time, best thing for them is to look right at em. I found a few things help with frequency and severity, may work for you may not. 1) cut the caffeine waaaay back.

    2)from past experience, do not self medicate...only works for a bit and just buries the issues to come back more festering and painful.

    3)exercise...I know right... WTF...walk while having a heart attack?!?!" was my reaction but truth is it helps.. best to do so as preventative medicine, light exercise.
    The light exercise will burn off the excess energy that often helps start a panic attack, and hell if you are worried about your heart...well, check it with the doctor, once cleared... its good for your ticker and your mind.
    Don't go lifting weights or stuff right off ...Too heavy tends to cause an attack for me. I get all short of breath a bit and heart pounding and Voila! the adrenaline kicks in and its panic attact time :/

    4) look at the root causes. you know them and until you deal with them (in my case it was dealing with death, loss of family and really my own mortality in this light!)
    and talk about it with some one if you can.

    5) take the meds if prescribed and as directed of course.

    6) try to check list your self in the midst of an attack... I found after I was able to just sit/lay with it...and sometimes talk myself back out of it through just nodding to my attack as it came on. sounds weird but it worked for me.

    My mom had them for bit after my brother died and she decided to walk with them. when one would come she would up and go out the door for a vigorous walk... to quote her:

    "Fuck it, If im going to die from this, might as well take in the scenery"

    Its not easy and if you need an ear you have one here.

    Gassho
    Shohei

  27. #27

    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Thank you all for your responses and advice. It really helps. Really.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shohei
    "Fuck it, If im going to die from this, might as well take in the scenery"
    Shohei, if you will pardon me for saying it this way, I wish I had your Mother's balls.

    Thanks all.

    Gassho,
    Greg

  28. #28
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    What has been working for me is telling myself every time, "I have never passed out from this... I have never thrown up from this... It always goes away... It is just fear... I'm not sick... I'm not dying... etc." Results may vary. I hate panic attacks and I hope yours end. I also try to deeply analyze the feelings and where they are coming from, physically and mentally. Last option is to distract myself with something, telling myself that if I can concentrate on something, I'm obviously okay.

  29. #29
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting with VERY deep fear

    Hey Greg,

    I was wondering where you've been. Sorry to hear about all this stuff going on. Metta to you (and your parents).

    Take care,

    Jen

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