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I recently had a conversation with a patient who was experiencing panic attacks.
If you’ve never had one, let’s just say I don’t recommend it. It is a kind of extreme survival response.
I’m going to share with you something that helped this patient almost immediately stop both the panic and the feeling of anxiety. Even if you don’t have either, I think you will find this information helpful… Helpful, that is, if you are willing to apply it.
What you experience as reality is really your own personal take on reality. You could say that each person experiences their own unique reality. It can be described as a sum of their memories, beliefs and expectations.
If you were to somehow step into the reality of someone sitting next to you, it would make the most extreme psychedelic experience seem like nothing.
But to me the most interesting thing about creating your personal reality is that it isn’t some kind of “one and done” process. It is an ongoing experience. And being aware of it means that you can alter the nature of that experience.
When you are being rational, and especially when you are recalling the past or imagining the future, you are using the most recently developed part of your brain. It’s called the prefrontal cortex (PFC).
When someone is worrying, fretting, anxious or panic-stricken, you will find that their PFC is working overtime. It’s imagining all kinds of things. But none of those things are actually happening in this moment. They are always about the past or future.
In addition, these imaginings have been assigned a meaning. In the case of anxiety, the meanings are almost always about survival. It’s like the PFC is thinking, “This (imagined future experience) means that I won’t survive.”
The imagining and the meaning are a one-two punch that can knock out your quality of life.
Mostly these things occur outside of conscious awareness. They’re automatic. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t busy creating your reality. And they are very likely NOT creating the reality you would ideally like.
It’s not that the PFC is a bad thing. It is, after all, very interested in your survival. But because it is operating with automatic emotions, memories, etc., it can’t create a better future for you.
Here’s the thing… letting your PFC automatically create your personal reality is a bit like letting your taste buds determine your weight.
I’m specifically talking about deep, slow abdominal breathing. For a tutorial on this, see “The Fourth Secret of Qigong“.
There are other ways to separate yourself from the automatic reality creation process. But for now, if you get a handle on your breathing, you’ll be miles ahead.
All the best for your health and happiness,
Dr. Bruce Eichelberger
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
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