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'Are you within or without?' My panic attack in a pop-up camper.

Updated: Nov 20, 2019

"Progress is being aware when there is a storm happening inside of you and remaining calm as it passes by." - Inward by Yung Pueblo

I've been seeing things within myself differently over the past 6 months. Better put, I'm sensing things within me in new ways—things that have always been there, that I wasn't fully aware of.

While gathering extra resources to support my clients with trauma during Somatic Breathwork sessions, I stumbled on the work of Yasmin Lambat and SomaSensingTM Somatic Movement Therapy. In addition to efficient release of tension and hydration of fascia, the heart of SomaSensing is going within and ultimately, accessing inner calm.

Try it yourself right now.

Where is your awareness as you are reading this? Right now, could you take a moment to pause? Yes, pause. Now take a moment to check in with yourself, the container of your body. What do you notice? And now, can you take a moment to simply rest? Is there a place within yourself you could soften and rest? And if so, where is your awareness when you do that?

I loved this practice of finding within-ness and moving from there. So much so, I hopped on a plane to Sweden in July to study with Yasmin in person (and visit some long missed Swedish friends). I spent 5 days immersed in within-ness, intuitive movement and learning. I experienced mindfulness in motion. It was delicious (as was Mia's food) and even though I was in a course, I felt like I was on vacation. My nervous system was so well taken care of.

Once back home however, it only took a few weeks for my self practice to fall away. Back to regular busy life as a mom, householder and entrepreneur, it didn't take long for my usual summer mania to return (making it even harder to pin myself down to practice). Who's got time for within-ness when there's so much great stuff to do!?

Like many northern dwellers, I manage seasonal affective disorder and for me, I have manic tendencies in the bright months and low motivation and other depressive symptoms in the darker months. My pattern is to ride a high from about May through September, getting dopamine hits from my brain, rewarding me for all the doing. But after my SomaSensing training, things shifted. I was able to observe myself with my new nervous system lenses. And I didn't like what I felt inside anymore. It was loud, scattered and quite frankly, felt dangerous. It was, to say the least, a humbling realization (remember, I teach yoga for a living) that I'm addicted to my own dopamine.

It only took about a month to hit my rock bottom moment.

I was at a small, local yoga festival, sleepless in my pop-up camper with my friend Kathy sound asleep on the other side. For a few days I had sensed something big was coming, and here it was. I was on the verge of experiencing my first panic attack. And with all this new awareness, boy did I feel it.

Within-ness felt like a total shit storm. I say 'verge' of a panic attack because even though I was in it, I was also on the rim, observing myself. The mindfulness meditation training I'd taken years ago along with my newfound ability to soften kicked in. I was able to observe the sensations and thoughts without getting entangled and overwhelmed by them. I experienced chest tightness, a racing, pounding heart and shortness of breath which led to worried thoughts, "Am I having a heart attack? Do I have to wake Kathy to take me to the hospital? Where is the hospital?"...

I was able to observe, access my rational mind and coach myself into calm.

I was able to observe and sense the tornado within me with some thread of curiosity. With witness awareness, I was able to be present with all this sensation and thought, and eventually, access my inner calm.I was able to tell myself, "Wow, this is a lot. Relax and soften your body. I wonder if this is what a panic attack feels like? Keep softening. You are fine. Soften."My breath found its way and I was able to sleep.

The outcomes of my practice these days are not only about strength, range of motion or appearance (and I do care about all these things, don't get me wrong). What I'm drawn to is my own nervous system awareness and how this is helping me make better choices for myself. And staying steady in the eye of the storm when they occasionally pass thru.

"The moment you realize you are without, you are back within." - Yasmin Lambat

That incident was a pretty huge wake up call for me. A few days after, I booked a week at a friend's cabin for some quiet, much-needed alone time. I know more regular practice is required. More within-ness more often is my aim. And what about you? What storms are you weathering? Can you find the calm within even as they whirl around and through you? I'd love to hear what practices work for you.


Classes & Workshops

While continuing to learn, I've been sharing Yasmin's pioneering somatic movement practice, SomaSensingTM this past month. Participants are experiencing reduced tension, more self-awareness, finding and accessing calm. Together, we are exploring mindfulness in motion and how within-ness accompanies us into our daily lives. The current SomaSensing session wraps up Nov 29 and I'll be offering another in January 2020. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I'm offering an intro to the work in my upcoming Roll, Restore & Unwind Workshop on Nov 24, weaving it into my current yoga classes, also offering Private Intro lessons in my home studio.

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