intense fear from breathing

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 9 Years ago.

intense fear from breathing

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Wonder if anyone knows what this is about or has suggestions.

If I sit very still and breathe slowly, in a certain way, intense, intense fear will start arising. Though not a gut-level-fear - more like anxiety all the way 'up here'. It gets worse + worse (while I'm still breathing in this slow/shallow way) until I basically am gripped by so much fear that I am forced to take a sharp in-breath (which seems to be the reaction that causes it to subside a little).

I would want to let the fear crest + flourish fully so I could get a better look at it... but I cannot, I just have to take that breath which causes it to diminish.

I think I'm relaxing the tension in my head when I do this, since when I stop and go back to 'normal' I feel that tension re-forming and hardening back there.

When I'm trying to breathe slowly and it's forcing me to breathe erratically it just feels like things are trying to grip upwards towards my throat.

I can't tell what triggers it, but it seems to be something like breathing while focusing on a spot around the back of my neck/inside of my nostrils. I can trigger it within a few seconds, and stop it within a few seconds too.

Any thoughts?
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Tommy M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: intense fear from breathing

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
That sounds quite familiar, do you think it could have anything to do with the feeling of being "in control" of the breath?

If so, I've experimented with it a bit in the past and managed to get quite a good level of control over the breath. What I ended up realizing was that it was just more fabrication, "I" don't breathe, the body does and it knows what it's doing. It ends up leading to something like a jhana, if I remember rightly, as the focus required on the breath is more one-pointed, but I don't know if it's worthwhile or useful in terms of practice really.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: intense fear from breathing

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Tommy M:
That sounds quite familiar, do you think it could have anything to do with the feeling of being "in control" of the breath?

If so, I've experimented with it a bit in the past and managed to get quite a good level of control over the breath. What I ended up realizing was that it was just more fabrication, "I" don't breathe, the body does and it knows what it's doing. It ends up leading to something like a jhana, if I remember rightly, as the focus required on the breath is more one-pointed, but I don't know if it's worthwhile or useful in terms of practice really.


I did have dreams where I wouldn't be able to breathe through my nostrils, and there would be a huge panic, until finally I'd manage to finally take a breath.

And I remember one or two times when I was short of breath (deep end of a pool, and when someone sat on my head while wrestling on a bed when I was younger), and the fear is similar... so maybe there is a desire to control the breath so that doesn't happen?

I don't want to control the breath, though, I'd rather let it do its thing. The reason I don't like letting that sharp in-breath happen when I do this is cause it seems to diminish the fear, but not in a way of its gone forever now, but rather in a way of sublimating it/turning it into something more subtle and unconscious, but still ready to pounce at a moment's notice.

I don't think learning how to control my breath would help. I can do that anyway.. no? I'm not sure I follow what your advice is.
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Tommy M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: intense fear from breathing

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
I'm not sure I follow what your advice is.

I got the impression that you were trying to control the breath to some extent rather than letting it be, that was why I mentioned the things about leaving the breathing to the body and not trying to control it. Apologies if I wasn't clear enough.

Try looking at what's causing you to need to take that sharp intake of breath, clearly it's grossly presenting itself as fear or anxiety but what is it that's triggering that sort of inhalation. Doing anapansati and looking at when each inhale and exhale begins and ends might reveal something subtle you're overlooking, something that's catching your attention and developing into that emotional state.

It's funny when you think about it, it's possible to be breathing so shallowly during a sit that it's imperceptible and without that same distress happening, yet if you're not relaxed and not concentrated then it can lead to unpleasant tension and a really horrible sense of grasping.

I don't know if that's any more useful?
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Olyver Mith, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: intense fear from breathing

Posts: 143 Join Date: 6/10/11 Recent Posts
Hello Claudiu,

How about looking for what initially sparks the whole chain reaction? What is the motivation that keeps drawing you to do what you do that generates anxiety? Is it attachment, aversion, etc? What impression and from which sense door starts you leading down this path of anxiety? Can you trace it back? Is it worth it?

When the root cause of suffering is known, then it can be uprooted so there is no suffering. Maybe afterwards one could focus on the breath peacefully without "purposeful" intention, and thus less anxiety, since the reason you generated the motivation to focus on the breath is seen thru for what it is?

This method has worked for me in a situation that sounds almost identical to yours, so I thought I would offer it. If you have questions on my experience I'd be happy to answer emoticon I realize this is kind of a short post.

Very Respectfully,
Oliver
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katy steger, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: intense fear from breathing

Posts: 1745 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
If I sit very still and breathe slowly, in a certain way, intense, intense fear will start arising. Though not a gut-level-fear - more like anxiety all the way 'up here'. It gets worse + worse (while I'm still breathing in this slow/shallow way) until I basically am gripped by so much fear that I am forced to take a sharp in-breath (which seems to be the reaction that causes it to subside a little).


Wonder if anyone knows what this is about or has suggestions.


For what reason are you creating this intense, intense fear with your mental faculty? Perhaps look at that.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: intense fear from breathing

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
katy steger:
For what reason are you creating this intense, intense fear with your mental faculty? Perhaps look at that.


What do you mean?

If you mean why I keep repeating this exercise, it's because I think that this fear is underlying everything on some level, and that finding its cause or how to cause it to gradually relax until it is no more would be productive.

If you mean why the fear seems to arise when I do this, I have no idea. It seems to be a fear of not having enough breath, at its core, but why does it arise then when I have plenty of oxygen?
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katy steger, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: intense fear from breathing

Posts: 1745 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
I think that this fear is underlying everything on some level
Does this fear exist if you do not, and if not how and why is it being fueled?

syntax edit
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: intense fear from breathing

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
katy steger:
I think that this fear is underlying everything on some level
Does this fear exist if you do not, and if not how and why is it being fueled?

No, though it feels pretty powerful, it's just suffering, not actual, gross attention wave, etc.

The how and why is what I'm attempting to figure out. It comes quite quickly from the breathing-in-a-certain-way (or more generally holding-attention-in-a-certain-way, not sure if the breathing a certain way is quite required), grows in intensity quickly and for no immediate reason (just a fear gripping me), I seem physically incapable of not taking a sharp in-breath or making really jittery breathing motions, which causes the fear to subside, and also makes it harder to see exactly what is going on.
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katy steger, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: intense fear from breathing

Posts: 1745 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
What happens when you relax your body during this gasp/sharp in-breath and jittery breath?

What happens when you exhale relaxedly, (I can recall here the sigh of a dog sleeping comfortably at the fire place), during the gasp/sharp in-breath?

edit: correction
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katy steger, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: intense fear from breathing

Posts: 1745 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Ultimately, this fear during breathing - unless you are standing on the high ledge of something and experiencing vertigo or something similar as you breath "in a certain way" - which way you may want to explain clearly here) has to do with your intended use of your mental faculty. Fear arising in the mental faculty can be a great alarm system to alert one to a lack of one's own preparedness*, but it can also just be one fostering a personal fiction.

*edit: and/or an expression of anticipation (and this is not an exhaustive list)
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Bruno Loff, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: intense fear from breathing

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
You can try bravado. "Bring it on, bitch, do your worst," a certain sense of "I don't care anymore," and wanting to see what's on "the other side" of the experience that's generating fear ("smoke and mirrors").

The first few times I've done this in the past, really sitting down and plunging into the fear, I ended up having a few days with panic attacks and severe anxiety. But my last few experiences of fear, even very intense fear, didn't cause me to back off from investigating it. Fear feels like an inconvenient, unpleasant sensation, "oh, that thing again!" but no more.

Mind you that narratives which are fabricated during intense fear tend (for me) to linger for a while. Also they can take on mystical, existential and paranormal overtones. Curiosity and laughter help with these.
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James Yen, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: intense fear from breathing

Posts: 270 Join Date: 9/6/09 Recent Posts
I've been trying this and it doesn't seem to work for me.

Are you sure this isn't just an instinctual fear of suffocation? Perhaps something we evolved to have, in Actualism terms.

Idk, I'm trying this and I'm not getting an intense fear, yet at the same time I know that I might lose oxygen, the intake of air seems to be purely reactionary (not accompanied by an emotion).

But if you do feel this fear are you sure it's a good idea to get rid of it?

Magickally speaking I seemed to be "evoked" by some woman the other day (I'm not a demonic entity though), it was accompanied by the feeling of suffocation.

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