From Panic Attacks to Mindfulness Teacher
I was half way through the journey to north east Thailand on the night train, enjoying the sensation and sound of the wheels turning. This was not the first time I had made this particular journey and I was returning to a town and hotel I had visited before. Nothing out of the ordinary.
All of a sudden, out of the blue, I was swamped with overwhelming terror and could hear the the frantic phrase “I shouldn’t be here, I shouldn’t be here…” looping through my mind. I had no idea what was happening, just that I was very frightened and felt very unsafe. The drama did not stop when I reached my destination and I continued to feel terrified and a bit deranged.
I now know that I was suffering a panic attack but at that time I had no reference point for ‘panic attacks’ – I didn’t know such a thing existed. My fear was that I had suddenly developed a mental health problem and so I went into denial and tried to cover up what was happening to me.
If you have ever had a panic attack you will know that they are not easy to conceal and the upshot was that I swiftly crumbled under the pressure of trying to appear ‘normal’. I cut short my holiday to Thailand and came back to the UK as I hoped I would feel safe if I was back on home territory.
The panic attacks continued and I became consumed by fear that I would have another one and that people would find out what was happening to me. Social situations became very difficult and I quickly became quite socially phobic.
In an effort to contain the fear I went to see my GP and over a couple of years I tried various ways of dealing with the problem. I went for counselling, saw a hypnotherapist, consulted a homeopath, did some life coaching, even tried reflexology … And to be fair these all helped and after a while I became functional again, although I never regained my faith in myself or my joy in life. The whole experience had drained me of confidence and self-esteem, and I felt disconnected from the world.
A few years later I decided to try meditation and mindfulness as I had heard that they lead to peace and calm. I thought “I could do with some of that!” and enrolled on an 8 week course. Despite my reservations …“I will never be able to meditate as my mind is too busy….I won’t have time ….it’s all a bit ‘new age’”….. I found that not only could I do it, but I enjoyed it.
After the 8 weeks, without quite knowing how, I realised I felt much better, and much more like my ‘old self’. This was very motivational and a huge relief. I continued with my meditation at home and started going on retreats. Over a period of time I found my confidence returned and my faith in myself was restored. Although I think my friends would say that I haven’t changed on the outside, on the inside my interior landscape has changed completely.
After meditating for about 5 years I decided to train to be a teacher myself as I love the way my life has changed for the better and I wanted to share that. I love the fact that the technique is so simple and so life changing. No special equipment is needed, it is completely portable and it costs nothing. Mindfulness bought me back to myself, my friends, my family and my life.
I now teach 8 week courses, at retreats and in the corporate world.
Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org