The reaction to the first panic attack is then one of alarm and catastrophe.Thought of heart attack, madness, mental breakdown and imminent death and destruction goes through the mind, a far cry from the innocent message the body is actually giving. The body is tired not dying, the mind is exhausted not cracking up.
We spend our lives hunting for something that has a very limited life span, sometimes lasting only seconds (see sex). Whatever that rush of fireworks in the blood is; winning the lottery, making a billion, getting on the volleyball team, there will be a fall. We've known this forever (see Greek tragedy) and yet we never learn.
Have you ever worked in a business that looked professional and successful on the outside, but turned out to be dysfunctional on the inside? Maybe there was a destructive culture of office politics and complaining. Maybe the company simply didn't care about its people, or it was a chaotic, high-stress workplace, with low morale and high burn out.
It's the only illness where you get - absolutely free with the package - a real sense of shame. I've heard people say, "I know people with real diseases, show me lumps show me X-Rays", and of course you can't so you begin to feel bombarded with self-disgust thinking," I'm not being carpet-bombed, I'm not living in a Township, how dare I, who has everything, be depressed?"
I have been sitting in a hospital bed in an isolation room for the last five days... Being mindful allows me to notice thoughts and feelings as they arise - this is an incredible evolutionary ability of the human brain. Observing and accepting sensations and thoughts for what they are allows me the opportunity to pay attention to, and choose my responses based on, what is most important.
An hour teaching teenagers who don't want to be there something they don't want to learn is never pleasant... A few things tend to raise their curiosity: that they can physically change their brain; that mindfulness is used by top sportsmen and musicians; that it might help with their exams or, at the very least, help them worry less about their exams.
Most of us in the UK have an idea of what an American summer camp is like: swimming, hi- jinks, Patrick Swayze in 'Dirty Dancing'. So when I was approached to teach Mindfulness in Schools Project's '.b' at a family camp in New Hampshire this August, I was intrigued... How would the two experiences mix together?
I'd been toying with the idea of meditation for years. As a health and beauty journalist, I knew all the benefits - from better concentration and sleep to stress reduction - but I just couldn't get my head round actually doing it. I'm a working mum so my spare time is limited. Yet though I could find time for exercise, I could never quite shape up to just sitting still and doing what seemed like nothing.