Panic attacks are sudden episodes of intense fear, anxiety and apprehension coupled with an overwhelming sense of danger and loss of control. These episodes are said to be one of the most intensely frightening, upsetting and uncomfortable experiences of a person’s life. Many of those who experience a panic attack for the first time fear that they are having a heart attack or nervous breakdown. Panic attacks may also be accompanied by physical symptoms of dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, sweating, trembling or shaking, shortness of breath or rapid breathing, a feeling of choking and chest pain. Panic attacks usually begin abruptly, reaching their peak within ten minutes, but may continue for much longer. People who suffer from panic disorder often experience anticipatory anxiety fearing the onset of the next attack.
I have worked with many people suffering from panic disorder over the years. The following accounts are from two of the woman that I have been working with for quite some time now.
“My panic attacks were directly related to being sexually assaulted. The first panic attack happened years later when the person I was being physically intimate with at the time suddenly got up and left early one morning. I felt a sense of strangeness inside once my lover told me he was leaving and that turned into a full blown panic attack.
The panic attacks were infrequent, but usually woke me out of my sleep because they always happen around five in the morning. I was afraid to go to sleep at night, because I never knew if I would be awakened by a panic attack.
I could feel my heart beating rapidly and then I would find myself becoming overwhelmed with feelings of fear and anxiety. It felt as though the room were spinning around me. I had to call out of work on many occasions because I was dizzy to the point to where I couldn’t walk, get up or function.
I became so consumed with fear whenever the panic attacks came on. My heart would start racing and at times I felt as if I were dying. In one instance the attack lasted eight hours. I initially thought that the panic attacks would stop if I stopped being physically intimate so I avoided physical intimacy afterwards.
I had been suffering from panic attacks for four years. I tried many healing modalities, but nothing changed until I began to work with Ben. I experienced a wave of panic attacks that lasted for about three months after having worked with Ben for about a year. These panic attacks were happening at various times of the day and night. I initially became very fearful, but Ben explained to me that the panic attacks taking place were a part of the healing process.
I noticed that things were different this time around. My stomach would become very distended at times. I could feel a huge amount of emotion pouring out of me whenever these attacks occurred and I would often start crying. I could tell that the precipitating force behind the panic attacks was weakening. The dizziness was less intense and the attacks didn’t last as long. In many instances the symptoms would subside in a few minutes.
The practices you taught me of breathing into the fear, anxiety and other symptoms also made a huge difference. I learned to start breathing as soon as I felt an attack coming on and then I would tell myself that I was safe. That made the feelings and symptoms more manageable and helped to diffuse the attacks.
We’ve been working together for a quite some time now. I was so armored that it took a year to get far enough down into the layers where I was holding the overwhelming fear that was precipitating the attacks. I’ll have fleeting moments of what feels like a panic attack on occasion but these episodes usually only last for a few minutes and then they’re gone. I’m very confident that I’m not going to have any more panic attacks.
The panic attacks were one of the most frightening things I ever experienced. I felt so overwhelmed by the fear. I never got used to them. I thought I was going to have to live with the panic attacks for the remainder of my life. It saddens me to see how so many people continue to suffer from panic attacks. Or they end up suffering from the negative side effects of the psych meds they’re taking to stop the panic attacks. I just wish everyone had this opportunity to heal.”
Panic attacks-obsessive compulsive disorder
“I was suffering from panic attacks and had also been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder at the time I started working with Ben. I was having these horrible feelings that I was going to swallow my tongue. I was afraid of my own body and that my heart would stop or that I would stop breathing. I was also very fearful that I would end up doing something to harm myself.
I didn’t want to continue after that first session because I thought the work was strange. I had my own set of beliefs and what Ben was doing was so different from anything I had ever known. I had also split from my true self at the time as a result of my own unwillingness to experience my own feelings or face the issues concerning me. I was on meds at the time, doing the best I could to cope and yet in many ways I hiding from my true self.
I probably would have never worked with Ben again, but a friend of mine living with bone marrow cancer had been working with Ben for some time. The healing sessions had already extended her life far beyond the two to three years the doctors had given her to live. My friend encouraged me to give it another shot.
All of the symptoms mentioned earlier have gone away. I no longer have the panic attacks or fear that I will stop breathing or that I would do something to hurt myself. All of that has been gone for over five years now.
The healing sessions became more of a cleansing experience. All kinds of feelings and issues surface immediately after the sessions. These feelings can be uncomfortable at times, but I always feel better once they have passed. I feel really strong and powerful as a result of these sessions and I also have a lot more energy.
The challenges that I face working in the media industry on a daily basis are brutal. My coworkers have said to me on many occasions “Anyone else would have worn down from all the stress you’ve had to deal with. They wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all that you have and still hold it together. How do you manage to keep going?” In many respects I feel that I’ve pulled off a miracle. I attribute that to the fact that I’ve been able to do these sessions on a regular basis. I feel the wear and tear, but instead of collapsing under all the pressure, the sessions have revived me so that I could keep going. At this point I really look forward to the sessions.”
Many of those who suffer from panic disorder have experienced significant trauma at some point in their lives. Trauma disrupts the stress-hormone system and the entire nervous system in ways that prevents people from processing and integrating traumatic experiences. Traumatic experiences stay stuck in the nonverbal, subconscious subcortical regions of the brain such as the amygdala, thalamus, hippocampus, hypothalamus and brain stem where they are not accessible to the understanding, thinking and reasoning parts of the brain located in the frontal lobe.
Native Americans didn’t have access to the modern medical interventions that many depend upon today. They relied upon the forces of nature to effect healing within the body and mind that would not have otherwise been possible. I spent a number of years training with Horace Daukei, the last surviving traditional doctor among the Kiowa Indian tribe and have since continued with the vision quest.
The presence working through me during the individual healing sessions balances the brain’s biochemical make up along with the endocrine system to create greater calm, stability and a sense of well-being. Highly charged emotions and impressions associated with traumatic experiences are neutralized so they can be processed and integrated. The regenerative healing process that takes place throughout the brain, nervous and subtle bodies increases one’s processing capacity and creates the strong and healthy foundation needed to live a meaningful and productive life.
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Ben Oofana is a healer who began his training with Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Indian tribe. Call (913) 927-4281 to learn more or to schedule an individual session.