Wash Away Your Panic

Have you ever had a panic attack in your sleep? One woman told us that on many mornings she’d
wake up trembling in a cold sweat. On these occasions she ached for a long, hot bath before
starting her day, but she never had the time.
Few people have time for a long soak in the bath before work. A brisk shower is the best most of
us can hope for to wash away sleep and pull ourselves together for the long day ahead. And sadly,
showers can also be another part of a mindless routine, a task that we do simply to get it over
with and get on with our day.

Everyday activities are perfect opportunities for cultivating
mindfulness. Perhaps you might consider each shower as a cleansing ritual, approaching it as a
symbolic act of washing away the panicky sensations trapped in your mind and body. In this next
practice you’ll do just that, step by step, breath by breath.

1. Before you run the water or get in the shower, take a few breaths. Each breath links you closer to
the present moment, right here and now.

2. Set your intentions for this mindful practice. You may say aloud or to yourself: May this shower
bring me into my body. May this shower help me be with things as they are and ease my body and
mind.

3. Once the water temperature is set to your liking, step carefully and slowly into the shower.
Experience this moment with all your senses—touch, taste, sound, smell, and sight. What does
the water feel like on your face, arms, chest, back, and legs? What sounds are coming from the
water? What fragrances do you notice from your soap, shampoo, or shaving cream? Notice the
steam collecting on the curtain, mirror, or glass surfaces.

4. Remember to tune in to your breathing while you continue to shower.

5. On your next inhale, recognize any feelings that your body is trying to relay to you. You may
experience fear tightening your throat, making it hard to swallow. If so, allow the water to wash
over your neck and be conscious of your intentions from step 2. You may experience anxiety
making your lower back tense. If so, take this moment to let the warm water wash over and
loosen those aching muscles as you breathe out.

6. For the rest of your shower, continue to pay attention to your body in this mindful and attentive
manner, listening in on what your body needs. By doing so, you’re fostering a new kind of
relationship with your body and your body’s experience of panic.
Let morning showers be your special time for you to mindfully check in with yourself, each
warm droplet of water replenishing and healing to your mind and body.

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