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Thursday, March 08, 2018
PASSING THROUGH PANIC ATTACKS: An excerpt from FROM ANXIETY TO LOVE by Corinne Zupko
 

Author Corinne Zupko, a licensed counselor and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction teacher, undertook her study of psychology out of necessity when debilitating anxiety threatened to derail her life. Seeking ways to do more than temporarily alleviate her symptoms, Corinne began to study A Course in Miracles (ACIM), mindfulness meditation, and the latest therapeutic approaches for treating anxiety.

As Corinne healed her own mental anguish, she compiled the perception-shifting process she describes in her new book, From Anxiety to Love: A Radical New Approach for Letting Go of Fear and Finding Lasting Peace.

From Anxiety to Love helps readers learn to undo anxiety-based thinking by internalizing the teachings of ACIM, fostering mindful shifts in their thoughts and actions, and connecting to their Inner Therapist, the deeply gratifying, enormously comforting inner voice that affirms our safe oneness with the universe rather than our ego’s perception of danger and separation. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book. 

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My panic attacks used to happen spontaneously during the day, they woke me up at night, and sometimes they lasted two weeks at a time. The dry heaves, stomach spasms, and trouble eating were “evidence” from the ego that I was losing my mind to anxiety. But I refused to lose hope of recovery.

Extreme suffering brings you to your knees, and this is a great time to start letting go. Being in a state of relinquishment is actually a good place to be. If you’re stuck in panic mode, let the anxiety crack you open to release even more to your Inner Therapist than you thought you could. In relinquishing a thought system that doesn’t work and exchanging it for a new thought system of peace, all you have to lose is fear.

My stepfather once said something that made me feel renewed hope. He told me, “The light in you is too bright to fail.” When he looked at me, I could see that he refused to believe in the sorry picture of his stepdaughter curled up on his couch, dark circles under her eyes, unable to eat, trembling uncontrollably. He refused to believe it because he sided with our Inner Therapist’s vision. And that was exactly the help I needed at that moment.

I say it now to you: “The light in you is too bright to fail.”

When anxiety kicks up, you have a number of options, but ultimately, the only way through it is through it. And going through it looks different every time, for everyone.

Options for Intense Times
In the midst of an anxiety episode, you have to decide the right way for you to handle it. Here are some options, listed in no particular order:

  1. Review the mind-straightening mantras or perception shifts in this book that give you hope that you will make it through this. You will make it through, even if you are feeling stuck in your anxiety pattern. When you are willing to listen to the Inner Therapist instead of the ego, “success in transcending the ego is guaranteed” (ACIM T-8.V.4:4). Practice the mind-straightening mantras and antianxiety meditations as well as you can right now.

  2. See if you can work on accepting (or at least acknowledging ) that anxiety is happening right now. We want it to go away so badly that just accepting it for what it is can seem impossible. Remember, this is happening because it is an opportunity for you to grow and learn. Be open to what you can learn from the anxiety.
  3. Turn to an earthly therapist for help. Many counseling techniques can help you deal with anxiety. Your therapist should be part of your circle of support: if you don’t feel comfortable with your therapist, find a different one. Remember, our Inner Therapist can sometimes speak through others when we’re too stricken by fear to hear it in ourselves.

  4. Consider medication. When I was experiencing intense panic, medication was the only thing that brought relief. The fear had such a strong hold that I needed external help to loosen its grip. For me, medication was like the eye of a hurricane. It gave me a break and some breathing room before I faced the rest of the storm. There is nothing wrong with this option, and no reason to feel guilt. Be willing to take the medication (whether it’s pharmaceuticals or “natural” remedies) with your Inner Therapist rather than with the ego. It may not be fixing the root of the problem, but you’re still working on that root (the unconscious guilt we carry) while experiencing some temporary relief. If you take your medication with the Inner Therapist, you’ll stop needing it when you are ready to let go of that guilt.

  5. Try temporary distraction. Sometimes distracting yourself helps reduce the intensity of the anxiety. I’m talking about healthy distractions, such as going for a walk — not alcohol or recreational drugs, which can simply add additional layers of fear to be undone. We have to be careful about using distractions, because we can fall into perpetual distraction as a way of avoiding dealing with the anxiety. Reserve distraction for the times when the anxiety feels too intense, and be willing to look at your distractions with your Inner Therapist.

  6. Look at what is arising inside you with your Inner Therapist, even if it is only for a moment. If we feel we can’t turn toward the anxiety on our own because it is too much, we can still be willing to look at the anxiety for just a moment with our Inner Therapist’s help. I used to wake up with a ton of anxiety and jump out of bed to distract myself from it. Slowly, as I felt ready, I began to take a few moments on waking to look at what I was feeling with my Inner Therapist. This helped the anxiety fall away because I began to lose my fear of it.

  7. Remember your rock. This is your support system and those people (or that one person) who are willing to look past the surface to the truth. You are well. You are not sick. You are not a body. Love is who you are.

  8. Meditate. The practice of meditation, especially with the guided meditations included in my book, can help you move through and out of anxiety.

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Corinne Zupko, EdS, LPC, is the author of From Anxiety to Love. As a licensed counselor and keynote speaker, she has helped thousands of individuals through her one-on-one counseling, weekly meditation classes for corporations, and the largest virtual conference of ACIM in the world, through the organization Miracle Share International, which she cofounded. Visit her online at www.FromAnxietytoLove.com.

Excerpted from the book From Anxiety to Love. Copyright © 2018 by Corinne Zupko.


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