My body feels like its been run over by a truck. I had a panic attack yesterday and I am covered in residue. I hate them. Before I knew that panic attacks were actually a thing, I just thought I was losing my mind. I remember reading William Styron’s Darkness Visible and being utterly stunned that here was a guy, and a famous well regarded one, that was describing perfectly what I had been feeling and hiding for years…truly….years. In that moment, a huge sigh of relief occurred, for I had recently endured a particularly scary day. Completely submerged in what I can only describe as a whirling tunnel that was sucking me down, all I could do was rock myself for what seemed like an eternity, until the wave had passed. It was just another dirty secret moment to be added to my long list of previous moments. Surely this is madness. But reading Styron’s accounts gave me wee bits of courage to reveal this craziness in an effort to try explore and understand why this was.
Thankfully, much understanding has been gained since that moment, but I am not going to lie, it still hurts deeply, when one arrises. After an episode there is aways a bit of me that just wants to quietly melt away because I am still so desperate to dismiss these moments. But perhaps these moments are a part of the scaring that has build up in my heart. Hmmm, so a bit of Pema’s “leaning in” must be needed. Sweet Pema Chodron is an American Tibetan Buddhist monk, who I would follow around like a puppy dog if I could. When she talks about leaning in, it is really just another way of viewing a situation. So instead of running from a panic attack, I need to try and lean into it… stay with it, with no agenda. It will pass much faster and a different view will emerge, and yes, truthfully it does, but it is exhausting. However, what has arisen this morning, is another way to lean in which I had forgotten.
The Gateless Gate, is a Zen classic that is a collection of verbal paradoxes called koans. In Zen training to help students “attain a direct realization of truths inexplicable in words” koans are often studied. Here’s how one of them goes;
The wind was flapping a temple flag, and two monks had an argument. One said the flag moved. The other said the wind moved. They argued back and forth but could not reach an agreement. Then their teacher spoke, "It is not the wind that moves. It is not the flag that move. It is your mind that moves." The two monks were awe-struck.
I had forgotten how much I love this little koan. It has reminded me that this recent attack was just simply an energy that I got hooked on but this is all of us in life. Nothing unique or crazy. It happens to everyone. Its the human condition. Old triggers that have patterns wrapped so tightly in huge wounds in our hearts. It was a sneak attack. In dealing with my Dad’s illness, and my Mum’s memory loss, I was handling it from the perspective as “Lis, a daughter” and “Lis the sibling.” But when my daughters are going to visit and going without me, I think my “Lis the Mother” emerged and I became wrapped up in trying to prevent the energy of all my family history ,circling the girls. My mind wouldn’t even consider to even remember to ask myself “Now lis, who is here, and who knows who is here?” I become lost in the wind and flapping of my heart, that allowed me to forget that I even knew how to breath, soften and open.
Day 9…100 day challenge