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Connect with Your Soul's Voice

Panic Attacks: My Daily Sadhana


The panic attacks are here again…. The persistent underlying existential anxiety has flared up into acute and debilitating panic. My therapist looked at me in his earnest humble way and asked, “The work that we’ve done, is it holding? Do you feel we’re making progress?”

It’s an interesting question. The fantasy I have is that progress will mean that I don’t have panic attacks anymore. I want this to be about some cure, something I can fix and walk away from, free from all the ways that panic attacks affect my everyday life. I want to get this “right” and then be rid of this burden. What has happened in actuality is that *I* have changed completely through this therapy (Lifespan Integration). I am more resilient, I am tougher, I am clearer, I am 100% more likely to say No to each and every thing that does not serve me. I don’t let people mess with me like I used to. I am finally ready to fight for myself regardless of the consequences. Lifespan Integration has connected me with myself in a way that gives me access to infinite kindness and compassion toward myself. I am my own advocate in a fierce way.

However, sixteen years and counting, the panic attacks remain.  It’s a long time to experience something that is excruciating. The pride that I feel in my own courage is cold comfort for the prospect of a lifetime of waking up suffocating, hyperventilating, and shaking. Trying to sleep when my heart is pounding and I can’t get a breath in. Days of putting all of my life force energy into breathing in and out rather than into the creative projects my mind is filled with. It is deeply humbling. Panic attacks more than anything humble me.

What is coming up for me most this time around is shame. Shame that I can’t just shake this off and eat and sleep and work like others do. Shame that I need help to do the things that most people take for granted.

And still, this determination to live a life that goes beyond managing panic. To still, every day, expand my capacity for a creative life. Panic attacks are unbearable. Yet I survive it and I bear it. At this point, I don’t know why I’m still here, still grappling with panic.  The voices of my childhood rise up and say it’s because I’ve done something wrong: I haven’t been smart enough or worked hard enough.

But the voice of my Soul says simply that this is my daily sadhana. This is my daily practice that brings me to the ground each day and forces me to live from only what is most essential. It forces me to reconnect with what is worth surviving for.  It forces me to let go of all that does not cause me to thrive.  I have no energy to spare for extra baggage.

Oddly enough, it is panic attacks that cause me to face my fears directly without running away (there is nowhere to run from panic attacks).

Panic attacks gave me my life.  They had enough force to break open that which bound me to a falseness that was killing me.  I can only imagine that they are here once again to do the same.  And that they will be here next month or next year to do it again, as layer by layer all that is false to my Self is shattered and dissolved.  The more that I can accept with blithe neutrality that this is just my way, that it is neither good nor bad, the more I can hold the experience with ease and even affection.

Blessed Be.

In love,
Kate Autumn Bokoles