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Focusing Tip #645 – Focusing with a panic attack

Focusing Tip #645 – Focusing with a panic attack
February 20, 2019 Ann Weiser Cornell
What do you do when you are having more than one intense body sensation at the same time?

Focusing Tip #645 – Focusing with a panic attack

What do you do when you are having more than one intense body sensation at the same time? Read on…


Dorine writes:

During Focusing I’m supposed to say “Hello” to a body sense. But HOW do I stay outside the feeling while feeling the feeling? I have been working with childhood traumas and anxiety. I never connected the root cause of the panic attacks to my past until recently doing the Focusing techniques in therapy.

However, as someone new to Focusing and having experienced panic attacks, it can be extremely difficult to say Hello to one panic attack sensation while more than one sensation may be happening at the same time (eg., the vibrations of a pounding heartbeat in my chest, neck and head, feeling light-headedness and out of body, etc). If I could master not going into one particular sensation, let alone ALL of them at the same time I’d be batting 1,000!

Dear Dorine:

That sounds like a lot, what you are going through. Good for you for persisting.

And actually, what I am going to suggest first is that same phrase, “That’s a lot!” You would say it to yourself… as a way of acknowledging all of it, so much going on, rather than (at first) feeling like you have to acknowledge one sensation at a time.

After all, these many sensations are all part of one experience: panic.

Something in you is panicking. And the good news is, that YOU are there. When you acknowledge what you feel using the phrase, “I am sensing,” that is an opportunity to feel yourself present as more than the feelings.

Which can be quite challenging when the sensations are so strong!

And therefore even a little bit of space and relief can go a long way.

“I am sensing there is a lot here.” or “I am sensing there is a lot going on.”

Also, it can help to feel your own grounding. Feel your feet in contact with the ground, feel your seat on the chair. And say the words, “I am here!”

You’ll still feel the feelings… until they shift… but your experience will be of being more than the feelings as well. And that is really what makes all the difference. It’s what makes it possible to with and to explore what is there… at the same time discovering your own resilient life energy. So beautiful!

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