The Top Way I Stop a Panic Attack

This post is an email from the October session of the free BreatheEcourse; mindfulness to manage anxiety, depression and PTSD. Enjoy! 
4 Day BreatheLet’s work on DBT!. But first a quick word about journaling.

If you’re struggling with the journaling, as I know some of you do, set a timer. Set the alarm on your phone. Write just for ten minutes. I know that sometimes we pressure ourselves to  write down every single thought and then it feels like we started an avalanche.

There are no rules to journaling. You don’t have to capture every thought or every moment of your day. You write what and how much you want.

It’s like being on the mat. You’re in the moment and you notice what you notice. We don’t have time for every pose during a session and that’s okay. We don’t even get in every pose we know and usually we don’t get to practice a pose for as long as we’d like. So just write and don’t get overwhelmed by thinking it has to be a certain way.

Okay, so we’re just going to talk about my favorite dialectical behavior skill. It falls under TIP.

Temperature change
Intense Exercise
Progressive relaxation

I know you think we’re going to talk progressive relaxation. Nope! My favorite TIP skill is temperature change. It works like a charm for me. Before DBT no one ever told me that I could stop panic attacks. i was just supposed to get better at enduring them.


Remember, our goal is to move into Wise Mind. (Wise Mind is when we’re not engaging in black or white thinking, but settling into the place in the middle; the plaid place) When emotions are feeling big, we want to run towards Wise Mind.

Let’s take two people. Let’s pretend they’re in a relationship and they’ve had a huge fight. And they happen to be complete opposites. One is very analytical and fact-based and the other is very creative and feelings-based.  The person who swings towards Emotion Mind is crying and feeling sick and feeling like everything is over and is completely in their feelings. This person my seem hysterical and beyond talking to. The person who tends to Reasonable Mind is having trouble accessing their emotions, is gathering facts and weighing pros and cons to decide the next step. This person may seem like they’re not engaging cause they’re already analyzing the facts and already thinking about the next step.

So it’s January and one person goes for a walk in the cold and the other hops in the shower. A cold shower. This blast of cold shifts both their brains’ chemistry and soothes their nervous systems. Individually, they move towards Wise Mind.

termperature changeThe Emotion Mind person is able to quiet the big feelings, be not quite so much in the high emotion of the body, but into what is really true for the body, move a bit into the head and gather some facts, moving more towards that middle ground. They realizes that despite this being hard and feelings being hurt their partner is generally kind and loving and they have survived fights before and this will pass.

The Reasonable Mind person is able to get out of the head so much and move into the body/heart. They feel the hurt and pain of fighting with their love and can say, I really don’t like this feeling. I don’t want to do this anymore.

Because they were each able to move into Wise Mind, they were able to come to a place where they could value each other and the relationship and maybe even take some steps to ensure this fight doesn’t repeat itself.

Now, I just like that outcome. It didn’t have to be that way. They could have moved into Wise Mind and the Emotion Mind could have gathered facts and decided that these fights are happening way too often and this isn’t the kind of relationship they want. Reasonable Mind could have got into their emotions and decided that it hurts too much to fight like this and it’s not worth it.

Both are valid outcomes because they came from Wise Mind. The opposite might be that Emotion Mind, crying and screaming ran out of the house and called all the friends that were going to say that their  partner is a louse and doesn’t deserve them. The Reasonable Mind might have started a pros and cons list, leaving out emotions and decided that the best thing is to break up. In a few days when they moved more towards the middle ground they might both regret their decision. Some regrets can be fixed. Some can’t.

I’m a huge fan of Temperature Change. Years ago, before I took DBT I was in the beginning stages of a panic attack. I couldn’t catch my breath, I was sweating, my heart was pounding, I was nauseated. I got afraid, which is the worst thing you can do for a panic attack. If you start to fear it coming on, you just make it grow. So I was snowballing fast.

I was with my ex, who grabbed the biggest bowl in my cabinet, fill ed it with ice and water and told me to plunge my face. I really don’t like super cold, so I resisted. He was adamant. I did it once, came up gasping and he made me do it again. I did it again and when I came up it was like someone had covered me with a heated blanket. I felt this warm calm. My breathing had slowed down. My heart stopped pounding. I wasn’t sweating anymore. It was amazing! I couldn’t believe that a panic attack stopped completely. It sold me on DBT. I signed up a few months later.

I highly recommend DBT to anyone who’ll listen. It honestly changed my life.

I love what I teach and believe in it, but the DBT program is amazing. If you’re interested in learning more DBT skills from a yoga teacher consider signing up for BreatheOnline, which starts January 21st.  If you like the group therapy vibe, check out your local mental health facility. Occasionally some therapists teach it one-on-one, but Marsha Linehan says if you’re not getting it from a team of therapists, it’s not DBT.

2018BreatheOnlineWhat can you do to shift your brain chemistry? Try a few things. Change your Temperature. Run around the block as fast as you can for some Intense Exercise, especially great for anger emotions. Go to YouTube for some Progressive relaxation recordings. Keep a list of the tools that work the best for you.

Post that list somewhere you will see it over and over again. The fridge, the medicine cabinet, on your dashboard.

Happy Managing!

Contact me to sign up for the Free BreatheEcourse. Drop me an email. Or, if you’re ready for deeper work and an opportunity to practice the skills and tools while getting support, community and connection, join me for BreatheOnline!


What If You Planned For The Unexpected?

Wednesday!I’m in the middle of teaching BreatheEcourse, the free seven day course to manage anxiety, depression and PTSD with mindfulness skills and tools. In a little over a week, I start teaching BreatheOnline, the six week version I developed from Yoga for Anxiety and Depression to do the same, but slower and with more depth and opportunities to practice the skills and tools.

So, I’m thinking a lot, everyday, about managing stress, mental health, life.

Over at BreatheOnline, we check-in on Wednesdays to pause and take an assessment of the week.

How’s your week going so far? You probably had an idea on Sunday or Monday of what the week would look like. Take a minute to pause, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. How does the reality of the week measure up to the intentions set at the beginning of the week?  Are you feeling worried about getting everything done this week? Are you feeling like you’re on track to have a successful week?

This is the day that you can pivot, shift or keep on keeping on.  This is the moment to set intention again. Wednesdays get a bad rap, but they the perfect day to reset, to begin again, to redirect.

Life happens and things are out of our control. People get sick, there are snowstorms, cars break down. We anxiety, depression and PTSD people can let that derail us. Rather than be surprised by the unexpected or stressed or upset that we can’t control life, what if you planned for the unexpected?

What if on a daily basis you left blank places in your calendar as cushions for the unexpected? So when your kid calls during a meeting to tell you that she forgot her cello, you actually have space to shift things around and help her out. What if daily you said to yourself, I need to prepare for the unexpected and you meditated and drank an extra glass of water? What would preparing for the unexpected look like for you?

Join us January 21st for BreatheOnline. Get six weeks of practicing mindfulness tools and skills as well as connection and community! At the end of six weeks you have a plan to help you manage stress, mental health, life. Get a free one-on-one session with me to help you create that plan and receive custom yoga poses and breath work to ensure your success!. 






The Fuck-its Or, Double Fisting on Monday

Happy Monday! I started my social media interaction this morning sounding more bright and cheery than I feel. If you don’t know me personally, or haven’t figured out by my online presence, I’m a pretty happy person. Bubbly, I’ve been told. People think that I’m one of those people who whitewashes my FB feed so my life looks perfect, which is really surprising to me because when I look at my posts I don’t see perfect. At all.

This Monday, I’m not feeling it. I’m not feeling bubbly or even energetic. I’m dragging, I’m sad and I’m feeling a bit….it’s not hopeless, cause that would be bigger than this. I think I have a case of the fuck-its. It’s that place where I feel like I’m the only one who cares about the holidays, so why bother. I just had to postpone my workshops and two of my clients with depression are really struggling, so why bother? The whininess goes on.

It’s a crappy place to be, but I’ll get to the other side. I always do.  The thing about the fuck-its, is that they can lead us to some dangerous places. They can lead us to some pretty destructive behavior.

Getting Quiet

Getting Quiet and finding connection are two great ways to chase the fuck-its away.

So, what do you do? Here’s what I know. Catching the fuck-its as soon as you can identify them and doing something about them is way easier than pulling yourself out of a bottle of gin and another bad-choice-sex-encounter. Catching the fuck-its before you get to hopeless is going to save you a lot of billable hours at your shrink’s office.

I also know that the more aware you are of your ups and downs, the more honest you can be with how you’re feeling body/mind/spirit in any given moment, the easier it’s going to be able to see the fuck-its and move around/through/past them.

Managing the fuck-its means loving yourself and nurturing yourself with self-care. It means doing for yourself first. It’s time to stop putting yourself on the back burner and taking care of everyone before you

So, here’s what I’m doing today. I’ve been on the run for a few weeks and dealing with my dad being hospitalized twice in the last two months, and is on his second acute care facility. I’ve been working long hours, flying a lot, driving to Salem every weekend for four or five weeks. I’m tired. So, today, I’m not juggling. I’m just doing some work and taking it easy. Cause when we’re constantly in multi-=tasking mode our brains get tired. Really tired. When I’m in Lawrence, I have out with friends and drink more often than I normally would, over a shorter period of time.

Double fisting

So, today, I’m double fisting it. I’m having hot, strong, black coffee, cause i love it and it doesn’t feel like morning if I don’t have some. I’m also drinking Gingerade Kombucha, cause I’m probably dehydrated and because living foods helps me bounce back. It helps even when I’m just flying, it’s a super-tonic when I have ALL these things going on at once in my life.

Dehydration makes everything bigger and harder. It makes your physical ailments harder to manage. Pain is worse, tight muscles get tighter, tension gets more tense. Dehydration can be the cause of sleepiness, fogginess, even inappropriate hunger.

I’m sleeping extremely well these days and I’m not someone who likes to or believes in over-sleeping, so I’m letting myself just do it. I’m letting myself just sleep as much as I find prudent. Now, if I were someone who really likes to sleep, who finds sleep a welcome escape, I would do the opposite. Hypersomnia can be a real problem for those of us with depression and anxiety and indulging in too much sleep can be a slippery path.

I’m making sure that I hang out with friends and family a lot., The fuck-its like two options; isolation or hanging out with other people with the fuck-its. That makes the fuck-its sing and dance.

So, for today, I’m double fisting coffee and kombucha at the library. I have two friends I’m waiting to hear from to see if we’ll meet for lunch or a drink later. Until then, I think I’m going home to nap.


Want to connect with me more? I’m all over. Join me on Facebook for tips, tools, skills to make your life more manageable with mindfulness and yoga. Work with me one-on-one. See my travels, cooking and eating on Instagram or see what I’m thinking on Twitter, search A Yogi Kitchen for either @BreatheBostonNY or @BreatheLawrence. Looking forward to getting to know you better! 






What is BreatheOnline?

This post is from a few weeks ago. I’m working with everyone who signed up for this course privately. It’s just the way it worked out. So, there’s no group class happening currently. The next course starts January 21st.

In 2018 prices are going up, cause they haven’t in quite a few years, but you can catch BreatheOnline at the 2015 price for another two weeks. Sign up by December 1st for just $150. Check out the video and description on the website and read more here to learn about BreatheOnline! 


I’ve been teaching in some way or other for most of my life. Speaking in front of groups comes fairly easily to me. I’ve taught art for grade school, pre-school, yoga for pre-schoolers, teenagers and adults and I’ve even taught a few cooking classes.

I started teaching online last year.and have enjoyed it in a very different way than teaching face to face. It poses so many interesting challenges and I love to problem solve.


So, it was a little surprising when I decided to record on Anchor this morning about what BreatheOnline is and what it isn’t.

Okay, if you haven’t heard yet, over the weekend I discovered this great new app called Anchorfm. It’s basically like SnapChat for sound. Starting Monday (yesterday) I started recording morning check-ins and this morning I went to record answers to the questions  that my clients and students have been asking about BreatheOnline.

I am not someone who has trouble talking. I’m actually more shy than people think, but I’m the quiet kind of shy. I’m the say too much kind of shy. I don’t often have trouble talking.

I had a little trouble describing what BreatheOnline is and what it isn’t. What? that seems ridiculous right?

And then I recognized a core issue for me. What I write about BreatheOnline and how I talk about BreatheOnline are two different things! This course starts on Sunday November 12th! I’ve taught it before! How can this be?

So, I did a lot of work last night and this morning getting quiet and really working on streamlining what BreatheOnline is and isn’t. I think the issue is that I want to be everything to everyone, so I never rule anything out and it’s exhausting trying to cover everything.

So, what is BreatheOnline? Head over to and find out. Also, join me Monday, Wednesday and Friday forMorning Meditation, which will be check-ins for the next six weeks.

Check-ins are a great way to grow your awareness of what is and set intention. It’s also a great tool for feeling connected, body/mind/spriit. Feeling that connection and being mindful in the moment is the core of BreatheOnline.

We’re starting Sunday November 12th. Yes! That’s in five days. All you need is a journal and an open mind and open heart. You don’t even need a yoga mat! Join me!




Welcome to BreatheEcourse

Hello and welcome to BreatheEcourse!

I’m so honored that you’re joining me next week, and if you’re not, I hope you’ll consider it!

Thank you for your interest, your support and for choosing to look at your mental health in a new way. Implementing these skills and tools into my life has changed my anxiety and PTSD. I still struggle at times, but for the most part my life is manageable and even enjoyable. Most days I feel pretty grateful to have the life that I have and know that whatever comes up, I’ll be able to handle it.  That’s a lot different than it used to be.

Starting October 22nd we’ll be spending 7 days together. What that looks like is completely up to you. What I will do is send you emails daily with a core Breathe concept to bring some ease to your life. I’ll talk about a tool or skill that helps me. In the secret FB group, I’ll share my own experience of how the skill or tool works in my life.

I can’t promise you that everything is going to be shiny-happy right away, but I can promise you that these tools will help you shift your thinking and your mood, at least temporarily. I can teach you how to stop a panic attack, sleep better and start to feel a little lightness. I can show you that, but it will still be up to you to utilize the tools and skills. That’s the rub, isn’t it? To manage our anxiety, depression and/or PTSD we have to show up and do what we know how to do, Every Single Time. Cause it can spiral down incredibly fast, right?

Okay, so what will you need next week?

I always start BreatheEcourse and BreatheOnline with Let’s Get Clear and actually, you can start thinking about this now. Let’s Get Clear is about really being honest with ourselves about how anxiety, depression and/or PTSD is affecting us. Is your anxiety making you feel an overpowering need for control? Is that manifesting in skipped meals, washing hands, bullying your partner? Tough questions, but if you’re like me you don’t want to kid yourself anymore. You are ready for some brutal honesty, cause whether you do the work with me or with a therapist or in a group, brutal honestly is imperative. Aren’t you tired of trying to trick yourself? I absolutely am.

So, think about that. In addition, consider your time commitment over the next week. How important is managing your mental health to you right now? Are you really struggling? Or is life humming along okay and this is just a way to add some tools to your toolbox?

How fast do you want to make some changes? I’m a rip-the-bandaid-off kinda woman. I would rather put my life on hold for a bit and jump into healing with both feet so I can feel better fast, than take baby steps. Having said that, there’ve been plenty of times when I’ve had to do a little bit often. Feeling better is not where I like to do that.

First, you’ll need a journal to record all these honesty thoughts, take notes and just be present during the week. 

You can use absolutely anything you like.  It can be a notebook from the dollar store or a fancy leather bound journal. It can be your everyday journal or something new that you buy just for the week, or just for recording thoughts and feelings around your mental health. Whatever works for you is perfect. The only thing that I ask is that it be bound in some way, not just loose pages.

Well, I also insist that you write and not type. There’s lots of research out there that suggests the act of writing things out longhand is completely different than typing, when it comes to our brains.  The healing happens when we write longhand. The healing? Yes, healing. Journaling can even speed our physical healing. You don’t even have to write about your physical ailment.

What else? You also need an open mind and heart. We’re going to work on this, so if that scares you, don’t worry. All week we’re going to work to reach a place that’s called Wise Mind. I’ll explain more when we start, but basically it’s where we consistently look for the middle ground, a hard task for people prone to black and white thinking. Everything we do next week is going to be about centering  body, mind, spirit, so we can stand in Wise Mind as much as possible.

When we’re in Wise Mind, we’re not reacting to partial information, we’re using both sides of the brain to see the whole picture and then we can make observations about how we’re actually feeling and are able to make wise choices about how to act. Take action, not react is the key. 

So, let’s get in Wise Mind and create some changes in our brain chemistry! You’re going to get the most out of these 7 days, if you can stay on top of reading the emails, do the exercises and connect on the FB page. It’s 7 days! The more work you’re willing to do, the more things will shift for you and the better you’re going to feel after a few weeks of implementing these tools.

The secret FB group is not a whim. i really thought hard and long about what’s been the biggest help in managing my anxiety and PTSD. Overwhelmingly, it’s been connecting with people who get what I’m going through. Cause how can you really understand a panic attack unless you’ve had one? Saying, it feels like you might die, or explode, just doesn’t make sense to the person who’s never had one. It doesn’t. We need our people and for me, that means other people with similar health issues! Listen and share and connect and enjoy a whole group of like-minded people who get it.

So, find the perfect journal and the perfect writing implement and let’s join together in community, a core yogic concept, and take a step towards ease, wholeness and maybe even a little happiness.

If you’d like to join us, but haven’t signed up yet just drop me an email at and I can add you to the list.

I’m starting BreatheOnline November 12th, for those of you interested in a longer session with some deeper work.


























DBT Skills, Cope Ahead, Attention Shifting and Temperature Change

Over at BreatheOnline, the six week course for managing anxiety and depression in a new way, we’re picking up again in the middle of week 4 with DBT skills.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy changed my life! As you’ve heard me say here before these skills are simple, but not always easy skills that help you manage your mood, mental health and especially times of high emotion. Developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan for helping people with Borderline Personality Disorder, it has been instrumental in changing the lives of people with Bi-polar Disorder, Anxiety, Depression, ADD and PTSD.

As most of you know, I struggle with anxiety and also have a PTSD diagnosis. For full disclosure, I’m not medicated, but work with lots of folks that are. I manage with diet, exercise, yoga and dbt skills. As with every human on the planet, there are good days and there are bad days. I am extremely grateful that these days the bad days are not the lows that they once were.

One of the skills we’re talking about in BreatheOnline is Cope Ahead. This is one of my favorites. This is a bit of what I wrote to the class in the FB group this week.

What does your week look like from here? Are there meetings, activities, events, interactions that you know might be difficult for you? Are you likely to be triggered?

Where can you anticipate needing to be especially skillful?

Cope Ahead is a skill that I use every morning. I wake up and think about my day and note what absolutely has to be done, what can shift if it needs to, where I have breaks or where maybe I’m going to be in high gear for a long period of time. This helps me know that I need to eat more in the morning and pack a snack, cause the day is going to be FULL and that maybe tonight is not the night to meet a friend for drinks, cause it’s going to be long and, oh yeah, I have to be across town by 7am. Drinks is something that I can easily shift,  so that I can feel more calm and be successful in terms of what I want to accomplish.

Do this with your week and think about what kind of dbt skills might be helpful. This week, I know that I’m traveling and my daughter is picking me up at the airport, then the whole family is going to dinner, before she and my ex head out on a cross-country drive the following morning. So, I need to be “on” when I arrive. I need to navigate a potentially difficult evening of high emotion on everyone’s part. Lots of excitement and sadness and anticipation. A mine field, right?  I need to be at my most skillful. Despite the travel plans to work while I’m flying, maybe the better choice is to work in the airport and then sleep on the plane. If I can’t sleep, maybe watch something totally mindless, so I’m Attention Shifting from anything upsetting or worrying. When I arrive, if I have time, jump in and take a cool shower to feel refreshed, but also to soothe my nervous system, using Temperature Change,  so that I’m in relax and repose.

The next morning, the girl and her dad leave for a three day drive. So. being perky and confident and excited for them is my job. Another shower with some cool down at the end will help me feel energized and help my brain feel calm.  I also will get up fairly early to make a big breakfast, get our son off to school and make sure everyone feels good about their day.  It’s the first time in a long time that I’ll solo parent, so I’ll hit the grocery store and start a week of cooking ahead for my ex and son. I’ll freeze big batches of soup, pasta sauce and breakfast burritos. THEN i will have a little down town, cause the day after I travel always requires a little downtown. Thursday and Friday, as well as the weekend are pretty open. I’ll probably work a bunch and get ready for some private yoga clients and cooking gigs next week. So I just have to be on top of it for a few days and then I can nap, take long walks, watch movies with my son and chill a bit before I get back into work mode next week.

What are you focusing on this week? What are tools that you’re going to be using to make sure you don’t get emotionally hijacked? It happens, there are things we can’t predict, but what can you see coming?

Check out A Yogi Kitchen for more information about BreatheOnline. There’s no session scheduled as this time. Contact me  and let me know if you’re interested and I can get a group going. . I’m nothing if not flexible, I AM a yogini.

Week 3 Yoga Poses to Manage Your Mood

Week3yogaposes`Over at breatheOnline we’re starting week 3 and focusing on yoga poses to help us manage our anxiety and depression. 

Getting ready for this week I’ve been reading, researching and even just reflecting on my own practice, what it’s meant to me and how I manage with yoga.

There are so many yoga poses that help mange my anxiety and ptsd. Legs up the wall, supported child’s pose, supine supported twist, prasarita padottanasana. I use them regularly to manage my emotions. 

The biggest gift from yoga though is that feeling that I got the first day I pressed up into down dog. it was this scary, exhilarating, peaceful feeling. It was coming home to me. I was 26 and I’d never felt that feeling.  I felt it for a moment and then it slipped away. I remember thinking, wait! what was that? it came back for savasana and I was hooked.

Now 21 years later, it comes quickly and lasts past my practice. Sometimes it stays with me for days, but a yoga practice is like showering. You have to do it often to get the results.

Without this simple gift I would be lost.  Well, more lost than I normally am, but it’s a tool that I can pull out quickly and easily.  When I feel lost, which I often do, I can get on the mat and find myself. And not just find myself, but my most honest and authentic self. This is the place where I can’t lie to myself. I can’t hear the voices in the back of my head or the critical people around me. On the mat, there’s only Melissa.

I invited my BreatheOnline class to practice legs up the wall for at least five minutes every morning this week and notice the difference after just a week. Join us! 

BreatheOnline is a six week long course to manage anxiety and depression in a new way. We’re just starting our third week. You work in your place, at your pace, so you can join us and I’ll get you caught up!