Anatomy of my Panic Attack and Dog-Answered Prayer

Depression lies. Anxiety lies. PTSD lies. I experience academic-writing ptsd-like anxiety attacks because of that man, but I am strong and I will beat them.

The fear, doubt like that of a valkyrie’s projection, the hyper-neurotic-fast breathing, blinding terror narrowing perception to a small space around my head—I have to get out of it, into my body, do things I know will cheer me. I look at my manicure: green sparkles. I get out of my robe and into my clothes. They match. I am vivid color—green—growth. Life.

A shift in perception. The blinders now off, but pulse still racing. I must get control of my breath . . . take my power back. Throw the panther of panic off my shoulders, un-dig its treacherous claws. Name the fear: my old advisor. Face the fear: I can write. He tried to destroy my confidence, but he was never my mentor.

My mentor was a Holocaust historian from Brooklyn, who marched with Dr. King and led student protests at Columbia. My mentor was a high school English teacher who didn’t let me get away with any shit, ever. My mentor was a college professor who was a poet who taught me that words are weapons, beauties, gifts. My mentor was my father, the writer.

I lift my hair of the back of my neck. It is hot, my neck, and my hand is cool. I focus on the sensation of touch; I come back into awareness of my body. More of the fear-fog dissipates, like a dementor being beaten back by the sheer power of the will to love.

Inhale. Deep, slow. Feel the air expand in my lungs, catch myself clinging to the top of the inhale. I am holding my breath. Let it out, I command myself, in my head. I dwell in the bottom exhale for a moment. A glimpse of nothingness—death, even—as the yogi sages say.

Spirit. Serenity prayer. I close my eyes and choke on the first word. Again. Listen to my voice. Corporeal reality into sound.

Vibration. The hum of the universe. Om.

I can manage an Om.

Om gum ganapatayei namaha.

A knock at the door.

My puppy runs in, hiding from his bath. He touches his forehead to mine when I bend down to get him. He hides under the bed. I giggle.

“You cannot hide from your fears, my love. They will always find you later.”

I hear my own advice.

Prayer answered: I write.

the mesmerizing magic of self-care

I took the Sunday. To actually rest. I lazed about in my pajamas and binge watched and wrote and recharged my batteries. I yoga’d some kinks out of my shoulders and I ate chocolate chips and kettle-cooked potato chips together with coffee.

Supreme laziness? Maybe that’s what it looks like. But it’s more like the hummingbird image in this puddle of rain and oil and tricks of the light: junk food and yoga and rest and cuddling my dog and deep breaths and Netflix were more than the sum of their parts, and I feel ready to take on the week and soar, for the first time in a long time, I’m EXCITED about Monday.

The best part is: I DO NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR CHILLING. There were a million things I could have been doing (I’m pointedly not saying “should have” here). But I needed to recharge my batteries so I can begin the week fresh, ready to take on all the challenges and adventures that come.

The more we value our time, resources, energy–ourselves–the better we can complete the tasks set before us and accomplish our goals. But it’s true.

And I’ll start my week with excitement.

Namaste, darlings!

-Maggie

morning meditations: almost better than coffee

I’m re-reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s You are here. Page 39 popped out at me this morning; he’s talking about the beauty of being still and fully present for the moment. And how freeing that is.

I like to make a practice of reading something positive in the morning to set my day off on the right tone. It helps to get me in a place of, hopefully, presence and stillness. The more I practice, the more it works. Like playing the piano, or doing yoga. Mentioning yoga, I’d better get on my yoga flow before work.

But after the coffee. Always, after the coffee and the books.

The Great John Lennon once said: whatever gets you through the day. So go forth and you do you this morning. Even if it means making your silver fingernails look artier in the pic (but hey–I was in the moment 😉

Namaste, darlings!

Maggie

i am the jewel in the lotus, or, the alchemy pain to joy

Pain, transmuted–eventually–to joy.

Sometimes it’s internal emotional combustion. Today, it’s tangible.

I’m making art out of old get well cards.

The reminders of pain, love, struggle, become something like this:

Then, after a lot of work, the magic happens.

This is one of my paper pieces, hand-inscribed with a Sanskrit mantra in brush and ink. Om mani padme hum: I am the jewel in the lotus.

The lotus grows from the mud, just like we do in recovery. And the jewel is your heart, full of love, after time, after letting go, opening up, and revealing the beauty of god inside you.

Namaste, darlings!

Maggie

Chronic Pain, Yoga, Healing, and Celebration

I finally did a proper wheel pose. After starting out in chronic pain, traveling hundreds of miles on a spiritual hunch, finding my guru with the help of my beloved Mayanist archaeology prof, and practicing for twelve years: I did it.

I’m healthy. I’m grateful. And I feel blessed beyond measure.

Namaste, darlings!

-Maggie

feet on the earth

The sea. The mountains. The grass in the park. There is something primal about having our feet on the earth, barefoot.

In yoga, we focus a lot on grounding. Grounding into ourselves, the earth, the ultimate source. Our higher power.

Whenever I’m stressed, I have to stop. Take a breather. Take care of myself. And ground. Let go of what is hurting, binding, release it down. Dig my toes in–never mind the imperfection of the messy pedicure and flip-flop toe stub from the subway–and pull deep from the source. Feel the life in the ground beneath us, the promise in the earth itself.

Wherever you are today, I hope there’s a nice patch of land you can sink your toes in.

I wish you: Peace. Serenity. Joy.

Namaste, darlings!

-Maggie

When the Vet Prescribed More Yoga for the Hooman

My computer, the one that works because of tech support and mindful breathing, has just reminded me that I need to do a yoga video. Funny thing about that: I was just going to blog about how I need to do more yoga. Okay, universe. I get it. I’ll do it after my coffee break with my friend, who is a hooman nurse.

Mentioning excellent medical care, my dog’s veterinarian, Dr. Zen-Fabulous (literally nothing fazes this woman) is awesome. I love her, her staff, and the world map of doggies in Mister Winnie’s favorite examining room. This is the only place in the whole world where my little fur-diva will allow his toenails to be clipped. She’s just the best vet ever.

So when Mister Winnie developed anxiety, he got a fancy new pheromone collar that makes him feel happy. But she also prescribed yoga. Not yoga for him, but more yoga for ME.

Now, I should mention that my dog’s vet is also my friend, and I consider her to be quite wise, (even though she consistently refuses to vote for MY favorite candidates for office…the NERVE…haha! ;). Dr. Zen-Fabulous knows I do yoga, and that it helps my anxiety.

And my dog, in all his fluffy empathetic adorableness, will apparently benefit from my doing more yoga too.

Meds AND mindfulness: a winning combo.

Namaste, Darlings!

And fellow hoomans, our fur babies have super-powers of emotional empathy—so take advantage of good advice from the vet.

🐾💜 🧘‍♀️

Maggie Yancey Happy Winnie

Reach for the Sky—but Remember, Progress, not Perfection

Maggie Yancey Daisy Yoga

There was a time when I couldn’t do a downward facing dog. Actually, there was a time when I could hardly move my neck, but that’s another story for another day. I found my way out, out of pain and dis-ease, and I’m so grateful! Several friends of mine joke now that I’m way too bendy, but I got there by millimeters, over years. Recovery is the same way–it doesn’t happen over night, but over time, with small changes, made when we can. It happens when we graft new habits over the old neurons and brave one more day. One day at a time, one millimeter at a time, reach for the sky. But remember–perfection is an illusion. It isn’t real. Progress is what matters.

Namaste, Darlings!