Some back-of-the-envelope calculations indicated that the probability was high for a panic attack to hit me yesterday. I am pleased to report that my forecast was correct. Yoga friends of mine might be shocked that I assessed an elevated likelihood of a panic attack, and consequently put that thought into the universe. If we learned anything from The Secret: it’s to only put positive things into the universe so that one can reap the rewards of such thinking.
If you ascribe to this particular philosophy, giving the universe negative thoughts is akin to volunteering for a colonoscopy when one is neither required nor recommended - unpleasant experiences are headed your way.
The not-so-secret secret of The Secret is that The Secret is the pinnacle of a towering pile of pseudoscientific cow dung that mars the good work of those in the wellness industry. I am not convinced that the universe knows I exist, nor do I believe that it would manifest my desires if it did. Okay, I’ve ranted enough about a movie released in 2007; let’s return to my assessment of likely panic.
The factors to be analyzed:
I would be bussed to an auditorium 10 minutes from the office with only a handful of coworkers that I knew well. The rest lie just below stranger and just above acquaintance.
There would be anywhere from 450-600 people in the auditorium.
Loud music would likely be played.
Placed inside small confines with a majority of people I do not know, transported to a place I have never been, seated amongst several hundred people, and add in loud noises and you get a near-perfect recipe for a panic attack. Only ingredients missing were strobe lights and a clown.
Fortunately, my brain (your’s too!) evolved to excel at long-range planning. By putting my little grey cells to use as M. Hercule Poirot regularly encouraged I could boost the odds in my favor.
I asked permission to drive myself and a coworker to the auditorium, providing both an easier transition and an escape route under my control.
I meditated for fifteen minutes ahead of the scheduled meeting.
During the meeting I practiced circle breathing.
It took ninety minutes before I felt the first sensations of how I experience panic attacks - tingling electricity running from my elbows to my fingertips. I stayed in the auditorium for another few minutes. Attempting to control my runaway breath while accumulating mental repetitions.
What is a mental repetition? My phrase for enduring an unpleasant mental state for a short period of time while constantly reminding myself that I am not my thoughts and that this too shall pass.
When I could take no more I walked out of the auditorium, an easy task since I sat next to the aisle (thinking ahead), and went to a quiet corner of the building to meditate on anxiety through my Headspace subscription. Then I finished with a single round of Wim Hof Power Breathing.
If fear is a river; I did well to float along the rushing current.
Curious about meditation? My formal introduction was through Andy Puddicombe and his organization, Headspace. They maintain a mobile app, and are offering 40% off their monthly fee until August 19th. Click the banner below if you’d like to sign up. I’m not a paid sponsor of Headspace; and you can register for free to get a taste.