I am sitting here, quieting my mind, open to what surfaces regarding how to teach and inspire you even more, in this one hour I have to write this, on the subject of Panic Attacks.
I trust what comes to surface, I am thinking of the amazing singer and lyricist, Freddie Mercury. His song, “Play the Game” is what I “hear”:
Open up your mind and let me step inside
Rest your weary head and let your heart decide
It’s so easy, when you know the rules
It’s so easy, all you have to do
Is fall in love
Play the game,
Everybody play the game of love…
The idea of letting someone into our intimate space can provoke anxiety for some. We were created with this longing to love, to be loved, to know, and to be known…to have a purpose, a destiny and fulfill it. I like how Freddie Mercury brings up this idea of a game– because there is a risk in a game, of losing. One of the elements of love is that it involves free-will. A person can always invest and then step out, move away, hurt us, etc. We can choose “not to play” and then miss out all together and freeze our hearts, or cover them with plastic fakeness, or bitterness and sarcasm, or harden them with a wall of stone.
We are often so used to our heart in one of those hardened conditions that we don’t even realize it! We can have sadness, broken beliefs, bad experiences from early childhood and we stuffed down our confusion, anger, rage, grief, guilt, etc– and it is like you put dry-wall plaster over it all and hope that it just goes away. It is a way of disassociating with it or dis-identifying with it. We do not like all of that… so we “bury it,”
like Elliott’s song so aptly describes:
his body’d been buried below
Way back in the day
Oh my, nothing else could have been done
He made his life a lie so
He might never have to know anyone
Made his life a lie you know…
~ Elliott Smith
Why wouldn’t we want to act like everything is perfect and fine now? We really really do not wish to repeat the trauma or chaos or rejection and pain we felt from the past, so we think if we just bury it below then we can move on and build a happy life and learn to love again. Unfortunately, that is like building a house on sinking sand. It’s not as if we even “think” this out, as a child. If we experience pain and no one is there to teach us what to do with it or how to walk through it and release it…or if no one is there to comfort us and love us — what else are we going to do?
I need a sound bite of Henry Rollin’s song, where he screams out ….”rage…I love you and hate you both at the same time…” His solution is to crush the rage somehow and turn it into a diamond.
There is something to that… in a way. I met with this professor a couple weeks ago, he had been a pastor in Santa Barbara for many years, Dr. Jerry Root. He said “pain that isn’t transformed, is transferred…”
I could honestly write 1,000 pages right now on what that means, looks like, etc. We have this limitation of time. There’s no way I would sit and read a 1,000 page blog post! I know myself better than that, so I won’t write one for you!
So, lets understand, like the alchemists of the past– they wanted to transform lead into gold. It is no “coincidence” or accident that Christ’s first miracle was to turn water into wine. He was turning one liquid substance, water, used for cleansing, into another, rich, and beautifully tasting substance– wine. The master of the ceremonies of the wedding said “you have saved the best for last…” Of course, if you know me, you know I wish to talk about all of the amazing spiritual insights and depths we could go into with just this first miracle as recorded in the Gospels… but let’s stay, today, on this topic — of why we get these “anxiety attacks” seemingly out of nowhere.
So, imagine, if the theory that I laid out so far is correct — first, we are innocent children, we “let someone inside our mind/heart” and we play the game of love…we get hurt or crushed in some way…”we bury the ‘body'” and live a lie, so that we never have to “know” anyone. How can we know anyone or anyone really know us when we have our child self that has been cut off and ostracized from ourselves like a pariah carrying our shame– we want nothing to do with that pain. Yet, some part of our subconscious selves KNOWS that we have buried someone. It feels the guilt and weight of that.
The other part of “never have to know anyone” is that we have created a wall around our heart (with the plaster, etc.) and now we have a built-in barrier between ourselves and other people.
Before we go on to see the “cure” — Look for a second at how you can “tell” your heart has been plastered over. I know some people– that insist “I had a great childhood, nothing was ever wrong…” and yet the father was an alcoholic, or both spouses were cheating on each other or one of them was, etc. (The cheating is an indication that something is broken down and not working in that family.) But, how a person like that could “test” their own hearts — is to examine:
“Am I always looking down on other people? judging them, gossiping about them, telling their “wrong doings” to others, making slighting comments and putting them down?”
This is a person who is not living in meekness and humility. When we are that way, our actions are telling us that we have this dark, broken part of ourselves buried below, disconnected from ourselves and we have no desire to be reconciled to that part of ourselves and love, transform, heal and forgive/integrate the child we cut off, back into our own person.
I was reading the scriptures the other day (in the daily prayer readings) and the Prophet Ezekiel had written this re: God:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
The New Living translation says:
“I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” (Eze 36:26)
For me, regardless of what any skeptics say about God– I am so amazed, still, all the time, that we have these writings in Holy Scriptures, and in the life that Christ lived out in his own body —we have access to the Father, God– Creator of all things, and that this same God, is interested in restoring us and healing us. In one sense, all of the scriptures, if you read the whole Bible in one long sitting, you would just see this pattern of God offering His constant love, and people turning to block Him off — and make idols, and form hearts of stones, then God keeps accepting them back, providing a means of forgiveness while not excusing their wrong doing— we wreck it again, there He is offering love again….
I have to wrap this blog post up because I leave in about 5 min.
Here was the commentary at that verse about how God wants to reveal to us the path to make our hearts tender again & not leave us there, lost in the pain and trauma of our childhood.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
“36:25-38 Water is an emblem of the cleansing our polluted souls from sin. But no water can do more than take away the filth of the flesh. Water seems in general the sacramental sign of the sanctifying influences of the Holy Ghost; yet this is always connected with the atoning blood of Christ. When the latter is applied by faith to the conscience, to cleanse it from evil works, the former is always applied to the powers of the soul, to purify it from the pollution of sin. All that have an interest in the new covenant, have a new heart and a new spirit, in order to their walking in newness of life. God would give a heart of flesh, a soft and tender heart, complying with his holy will. Renewing grace works as great a change in the soul, as the turning a dead stone into living flesh. God will put his Spirit within, as a Teacher, Guide, and Sanctifier. The promise of God’s grace to fit us for our duty, should quicken our constant care and endeavor to do our duty. These are promises to be pleaded by, and will be fulfilled to, all true believers in every age.”
I honestly think this age old tradition of praying “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me” aka “kyrie eleison” can and will transform all of our deep psychological wounds… but it is a mystical and contemplative practice. I don’t mean just substituting our anxiety and obsessive “pushing down” with reciting a prayer mindlessly — but mindful, and sincere — When we sincerely ask God, He can help us see what is disconnected in us and enlighten us and fill us with His Spirit and Truth to cleanse and re-join these cut off parts.
Much love to you always