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Monday, September 30, 2013

Breathe Into A Bag

Last night I experienced what I'd call a panic attack.  It was horrible.  The less I could breathe, the more out of control I became and the less I was able to relax... which is precisely what I needed to do.  My husband, being the wonderful husband he is, talked me through it and gave me a paper bag to breathe into.  He's good like that.

Anxiety.  It grabs us silently sometimes.

I consider myself to be a pretty laid back person.  People call me positive.  Optimistic.  Relaxed.  I meditate and I teach mindfulness.  I've been told I help others feel at ease when they are in my presence.  Yet I have a healthy dose of enthusiasm and excitement.  And silliness.  And flakiness.  I'm a cross between the Dalai Lama and Bridget Jones.  I also hurt to the extreme when something really hurtful happens.  I hold it in until it explodes.  It's probably the reason I have constriction in my chest and tension in my neck and shoulders.  The stress of holding in the hurt leads to anxiety - an epidemic in our world.

I'm currently in a hurt state.  I don't think about it all the time, nor do I need to talk about it or dwell on it.  I just have accepted that I have done everything possible to fix a relationship with a loved one and that person does not want to fix it.  It's out of my hands.  Out of my control.  I am healing.  And I was triggered last night (and it would have been nice if I had identified the trigger earlier and meditated instead of hyperventilated!).

In the past, I've crawled into a cave when I hurt. I figured, who needs to be impacted by my hurt and negativity at this time?  I'll get over it and then begin to spread positive vibes and love and peace again.  However, taking this approach has led me down a much slower recovery time.  I didn't have support or community.  I didn't have a paper bag to breathe into.

Now I reach out... to the best of my ability.  I'm still learning how to do that.  As a fiercely independent single mom for 15 years, I did not have the know-how to ask for help.  Now I realize I'm not getting as far as I dream unless I ask.

It's a funny thing... asking for help.  I didn't even know how to ask my husband how to help me last night.  I told him I was going downstairs to be alone and he should go to sleep.  But I was a mess!  Of course, he couldn't bear lying in bed while I gasped for breath downstairs!  It's funny now that I think of it... but that's pretty much how it went.

I needed my paper bag to start today in a better place.  I did not ignore the hurt feelings.  I talked through them (once I caught my breath and regained a sense of normality!).  I took my own advice on mindfulness (well, Terry had to remind me - even a mindful person needs reminders!).  We even started joking - had to get some endorphins moving around.  And then we stretched and did a rain dance.  True story.  I'm pretty sure our neighbor's surveillance camera caught us on video.  I love my paper bag prince.  He has helped me move from fiercely independent to lovingly interdependent.

One of the things I tell my students and clients is that mindfulness is NOT suppressing or denying your emotions.  It's being fully aware of them and learning how to respond most effectively - being completely aware of how your response will impact yourself and others.  So I'm learning how to not suppress hurt... which leads to anxiety.  I'm still learning.

You don't have to deal with your stress, anxiety, or hurt alone.  Awareness of your triggers and how to effectively respond will give you optimal holistic health.  When you're in an irrational state, reaching out can help you do that.  Find a paper bag, breathe into it, and love your paper bag prince/princess.

Warning:  Watch for surveillance cameras if you choose to do a rain dance.

Tina is a Harmony and Wellness Partner.  Through her group and individual programs, she helps organizations and individuals bring peace and higher satisfaction to work and life relationships through mindfulness and leadership.