A Simple Breathing Practice to Keep Panic at Bay

No matter what kind of storm life whips up for you, a simple notice-allow-breathe practice can help you find your calm.

Antonioguillem/Dollar Photo Club

It’s hard to breathe; the air enveloping us is hot, stagnant. I look around a bit frantically at the other passengers packed tightly in the old train car. A young mother attempts in vain to open a window, able to budge it only a crack. No matter. In the midst of this Paris summer heat wave, the air outside is just as thick, oppressive, and oxygen-deprived as it is inside. The sweltering humidity bears down upon us, sweat slowly beading up before sliding down my face, neck, chest, and back. Over the crackling overhead speaker, the conductor announces what we’ve already surmised—a delayed departure. 

My fellow travelers become increasingly restless, wipe wet brows, and shift uneasily in narrow seats, their discomfort leaning threateningly toward desperation. I glimpse it in the eyes of the college-aged backpacker seated across from me, so close his knees nearly touch mine, and in the young mother’s fruitless fanning of her little one. I peer over at my seventeen-year-old daughter and watch nervously as her eyes grow gradually wide, my mind quickly registering her expression—she is teetering on the precipice of a full-blown panic attack. In a whispered voice, I firmly instruct her to close her…