**Note: Names and identifying details have been changed to preserve anonymity. Stories used with permission.**
Ann was referred to me after experiencing a series of panic attacks and a prolonged period of intense anxiety. In our initial call, she expressed fear that this might be her new normal and a sense of helplessness. Her life felt out of balance and chaotic--not the norm for her--and it was impacting her relationships with her children, her work, and her ability to navigate the basic tasks of survival in a major city. She also felt a sense of misalignment, as if something deep within her was bucking against the way her life had evolved around her.
At the end of our initial call, Ann and I decided that a series of four sessions would help establish a foundation for her to move forward with new tools and understandings. We began the series of sessions by exploring the panic and anxiety she had been experiencing. Stripping the words 'panic' and 'anxiety,' along with their associated 'stories,' away, we examined them as physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual experiences. Spending time with the experiences she'd been having without a need to 'treat' or 'fix' them began to help Ann feel a greater sense of understanding, moving from experiencing herself as a 'victim' to experiencing herself as someone with the agency to make choices.
With that foundation in place, we moved into the sessions with the goal of opening up new possibilities and supporting her in developing a new relationship with herself and the larger world.
Each session had a different theme and approach, each building on the next. We began by introducing simple tools and techniques to help Ann both allay feelings of anxiety in the moment and also to build resilience in her nervous system in the long term. She created a 'resilience' plan for herself as well as a tool to help her track how her experiences shifted as she worked with the tools.
From there, we helped her reconnect with the deep calling of her Soul and Spirit through explorations of personal mythology and story. This exploration helped Ann listen deeply to herself and, by listening, connect with a vision of the life that wished to be built from her core.
With that vision as a 'north star,' we moved into a process of identifying the different energies, beliefs, and ways of being that kept her from stepping in to her vision. The goal was not to obliterate these hindrances, but rather to help her develop a new relationship with them. Through energy work, breath, and story, Ann was able to integrate 'blocks' in a new way and release some energies and beliefs that she had absorbed from her family and the broader culture.
Finally, we explored practices and structures that would help Ann stay aligned with her vision and continue connecting with her body, mind, heart, and spirit, deepening her relationship with them all on an ongoing basis.
After the first session, Ann expressed an immediate sense of relief and a new relationship with the anxiety and panic she had been experiencing. With each subsequent session, she expressed a deep sense of appreciation for the new ways of meaning-making and experiencing the world that were opening to her.
Several months after our final session, Ann reach out with an update. Friends, family, and colleagues had all remarked on a new sense of lightness, joy, and ease they felt in her. She shared that she was seeing even the most commonplace occurrences, like a bird perching on a nearby tree during the day or a call coming at a perfect moment, with a sense of wonder. She felt as if she was moving through the world alive to possibilities and, although she did still experience some anxiety, she was able to engage with it and allow it to pass with greater ease.