Monday, 28 May 2012

Panic Attacks

anic attacks and the martial arts. There has always been a historical link between them.

The reason is obvious: the martial arts were founded in war…and the experience of war is perhaps the most intense, thorough, soul shaking experience there is. Not because a moment in war can be brief. It isn’t. War is sustained. War is organized…and chaotic at the same time. (My grandfather told me about soldiers in the trenches of World War 1 whose hair turned white overnight).

Submitting to a panic attack often meant death to the martial artist on the battlefield. Therefore there has always been a very deep and careful study in the martial arts on how to overcome panic attacks.

People in everyday life are sometimes subject to panic attacks as well. At times we can find ourselves in such a bind we feel we’re losing control - not just of the situation (work, family, etc.) - but of ourselves. That can happen any time, any place, and often without warning.

The sky is the limit as far as symptoms go...
chest pain; nausea; a heartbeat that seems out of control; emotions out of control - anger, fear, etc; heart palpitations; dizziness; blurred vision; vertigo; irregular heart beat; profuse sweating; pain in the left arm; shaking and trembling of the entire body; jaw pain; difficulty breathing - shortness of breath or a “drowning”, “choking” sensation; headache; neck and shoulder pain; a spinning sensation in the stomach; an ice cold sensation in the body; intense heat in the body; a feeling as though ants are crawling over your skin...

(Some of these symptoms are similar to those of a heart attack. Be careful!)
As you can tell, the experience can be nightmarish to say the least. 

I’ve showed some techniques to a man in his 40s who woke up in the middle of the night with a feeling that he was drowning. He needed something immediate, techniques that would intercept a panic attack on the spot.

The following are some of those techniques -

GV 24

1.  Place your palms together and turn your hand inward.

2.  Press your fingertips against acupoint GV 24 (in between your eyebrows). You should immediately feel a centre of safety and comfort from the forehead out to the arms.

3.  Close your eyes.  Inhale slowly through your nose; exhale very slowly through your mouth. The sense of peace deepens.

4.  Do this until the panic attack, deep anxiety, worry, anger, fear - and even depression - is over.

This posture forms a deep protective barrier, immediately creating a warm and soothing feeling throughout. It unifies mind and body, brings your breathing back under your control and helps to lower your heart rate. Pressing GV24 has a calming and soothing effect on both the mind and body.


1.  About 2 thumb widths up from the distal crease of the wrist in between the tendons. Press or rub gently for about 3 minutes at a time on both wrists. Inhale and exhale very slowly. The P6 point calms the mind and the body and lowers heart palpitations.


1.  At the medial end of the distal crease of the wrist. Press or rub gently on the left wrist for about 3 minutes then switch over to the right wrist. Inhale and exhale very slowly.

Martial artists are trained to fight. If something is wrong, they try to solve the problem…immediately. If panic attacks reoccur, they dig for the source. They go after panic attacks as if they were an opponent deep inside of them.

And they’ll get help if required. Particularly in “old school” Kung Fu, practitioners will do what is necessary to win. And if that means getting outside help, they will do so.

Please treat anxiety and panic attacks in the same way – if you can’t solve the problem yourself please bring in outside help!


  1. Pretty interesting post, thanks for writing it. I'll definitely give these a try next time I'm getting a bit over-stressed.

  2. Hi Mike,

    I appreciate your comment. These techniques have worked for other folks; please let me know how they work for you.


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