panic attacks are normal

“You’re on a plane on the tarmac and it’s time to shut the doors. Suddenly, the insanity strikes you. You’ll be in a highly explosive sealed aluminium tube, breathing recycled kerosene-infused air, for the next six-and-a-half hours, with no way of getting off or out. The pilot may be exhausted or inwardly distressed. Air traffic control at any of the 40 waymarks along the journey may get momentarily distracted. You’ll be streaming 5 miles above the surface of the planet. No one else seems remotely sensitive to what any of this implies – they’re chatting and reading magazines – but for you, it’s the beginning of a kind of hell. You are on the verge of giving way to what we currently know as a panic attack.

Or you’re walking up the narrow stairs to a party in a top floor apartment. It’s the birthday of a friend of a friend and you…” read full article  on The Book of Life


– What are some of the ‘odder’ things that bring on your anxiety?

– In what way might this anxiety be entirely legitimate, looked at generously?

– How do others respond when you try to share your anxiety?

– Are there times when you are yourself unaware of how anxious you are?

– How would you explain your anxiety to others calmly?

– How, in your more unfortunate moments, do you give voice to your anxiety – in ways that don’t directly reveal that you are, in fact, anxious?


 Photo Credit: Neil. Moralee via Compfight cc

2 Responses to “panic attacks are normal”

  1. Richard

    Thank you John, good article and indeed fundamental to our understanding and engagement with “self”
    I think we should look at this tonight around the “kitchen table”?

    The article reads as though, and it’s perfectly understandable, that it is external/present perceived threat or danger that is the problem and causes the anxiety, fear, terror or “panic”.

    However, the level, degree or scale of the panic experience is in fact PRE-determined INTERNALLY.
    The propensity for determining the “perceived” level of threat, exists PRIOR to the actual, present events or apparent stimulus.

    We are in fact already “primed”.

    It is one of the most fundamental feelings we CAN engage with in meditation, and its birthplace is of course our shared sense of “powerlessness”. In the scene described above, I have absolutely no power, no control or any form if intervention, and it bring us all, if we’re lucky, back to the “wisdom of no escape”.

    Obviously the safest place to meet this PRIMAL but mostly ignored companion is in the safety of the stillness and the silence and the serenity of meditation.
    The field of contemplative neuroscience is still in its infancy, but has already offered so much understanding in this area.
    Yet again, Well done John in getting to the heart of the human dilema, and cause of so much pain.


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