parallax background

How to Deal with Panic Attacks in 4 Simple Steps

Train the Mind in Three Stages – Balanced Practice
Train the Mind in Three Stages – Balanced Practice
Time Management for Meditators – Three Times
Time Management for Meditators – Three Times

In this article I am going to introduce you to a simple four-step approach that will help you deal with panic attacks efficiently. It is by no means the “only valid way” but I am confident that this method will at least work for some of you out there. I hope that this little technique will make your life a bit easier. Let’s get started!

Deal with Panic Attacks | Step 1: Preparation

This step is very important. If you want to properly deal with panic attacks, it is very important to be prepared. You want to have an action-plan, a step-by-step procedure. Ideally you have practiced this procedure many times over in your mind before the panic hits. Being well prepared is key, because in the heat of the panic attacks you will be unable to conjure up a clear mind and recall the essential steps – unless you have trained it.

A warrior that goes to battle unprepared is much more likely to die. If you are well prepared though, it’s much easier to stay alive. While this first step as such is not containing any specific technique it is still very important! It gives you the ability to practice the remaining three steps when the panic hits. All you need to do is find a quiet moment during the day and then see yourself applying the steps successfully (this is crucial!!!) as the panic hits. You want to visualize yourself overcoming the panic by using this approach. Once you overcame it in your visualization – feel the joy of actually being victorious. Train your body and mind and show them what they should do when the next panic attacks come.


Deal with Panic Attacks | Step 2: Acceptance

The second step is all about acceptance. You need to feel as if your panic was a dear old friend wearing a Halloween costume. This friend now visits you at home. As long as you don’t know that it’s your friend, you will fall for the costume. As long as you don’t know that panic only appears very fierce because it wants to get an urgent message through, you will fall for the fierce appearance. Underneath the dramatic appearance of panic attacks there’s often a hidden message of the deeper spheres, your subconscious mind.

In most cases it’s all about the need to learn to love yourself, to forgive and accept your past – or simply to change your current lifestyle. Panic attacks often are an urgent wake-up call and demand full attention and acceptance. Once you know that, you can approach your panic as a friend. You can learn to allow it to be there and start listening to its energy. This takes practice and good preparation of course. It will take time learning to give the energy of panic attacks some space. But it’s time well invested because you begin to look after yourself with care and understanding. In this step it’s all about allowing the energy of the panic to dance – give up resistance and learn to let it be.

Deal with Panic Attacks | Step 3: Attention

In this step you want to bring your full attention into the energetic sensations that are caused by the panic attacks. Let go of thoughts and enter silent present moment awareness. Feel the strong energetic currents in the body without creating opinions, judgments or any kinds of verbalization. This needs practice and you cultivate that skill when learning meditation. You can do our free Meditation Online Course for example to get better at this. You can think of your panic as an energetic storm within your body.

When feeling the intense aliveness that comes with a panic attack, see if you can connect your breath to these sensations. The goal is to feel how your breath interacts with the energetic sensations in your body. Try to breathe deeply. When you inhale, feel your lower ribcage expand to bots sides. You can even place your hands onto your abdomen and feel it expand slowly. The key is to slow your breathing down. You can count during the inhalation, in the gap between in- and out-breath, and during the exhalation. This will help you anchor your mind.

Notice as the sensations of the panic slowly start mingling with your breathing energy. Then allow the breathing process to slow down the vibrations of the panic attacks. As everything in life, this requires preparation and practice. But it works 100%!


Deal with Panic Attacks | Step 4: Reflection

The fuel of panic attacks are fearful thoughts about the future. “Will I die?”, “Am I going insane?” “What’s happening to me?”… They are just a few of the possible thoughts that might occur. When panic attacks arise, they are like a small fire at first. Fire needs oxygen to expand, it starves without oxygen. The oxygen of our panic-fire is thinking. And it is in a mutual relationship with the fiery feelings present at the time of a panic attack.  More oxygen nourishes the fire and fire creates more wind and turbulence.

This means that we need to learn not to buy into those thoughts that are designed to fuel the fire of panic attacks. A feeling arises and we immediately start thinking in accordance with the feeling. This way of thinking then strengthens the feelings which in turn strengthen the fearful thoughts – truly a vicious cycle! In a way, your mind is advertising for the panic attacks. You need to realize that these thoughts are purely there to keep the panic alive and well. These thoughts are neither helpful nor true!

The antidote is to revert our attention back to the raw sensations and the breath. But sometime it needs a bit of “wise reflection” to help you come back. See that these thoughts are only there to keep panic alive. And also see that they are not lasting. They are unstable, momentary and changing every second. This requires a cool head and it will not be possible to do in the beginning and particularly not when the panic attacks are at their peak. In this case we need to simply wait it out.


Some Final Words

Panic often arises due to subconscious movements that are left unacknowledged. It might be that we are not living the life we feel we “should” be living. Maybe you have old and repressed grief, unseen fears or deep remorse concerning the past. These things can keep us wide awake at night and our instinctive response is to distract ourselves away from these unknown  dimensions within ourselves. We live in a time where the art of distraction is approaching lofty heights. People are nearly constantly “doing something”, staring at screens, avoiding silence at all costs. This comes with a heavy price such as insomnia, depression, panic disorders and a host of other modern-day epidemics.

Paying attention to ourselves, learning to love ourselves and doing this practice consistently and properly will yield powerful results. It is important to build your power step by step. You will not be able to just “get rid of your panic in 24 hours”. You are not a 24 hour thing – life requires attention, kindness and nourishment. This is not about getting rid of your panic attacks. It’s about getting to know yourself and receiving yourself with kindness, compassion and appreciation. We are not trying to treat symptoms – this path is about dealing with the root of all our problems.


Feel free to leave some good comments (Everybody can benefit from your skillful contributions!) I will simply delete Self-promotion (e.g. “I love your article. Please check this link to my own site.”). I might post your links if they are truly relevant and contribute to the readers experience though. We are open for meaningful discussions and hope that this article serves as an inspiration for you.

Visit our Meditation Retreats in Phuket


Tobi has been studying and practicing meditation since 2002. He stayed 7 years in a Tibetan Buddhist Temple and currently lives in Thailand where he founded the Dharana Meditation and Retreat Center in Phuket with his wife Parn. In Thailand he continued his practice and found a spiritual home within local Theravada Buddhism. Tobi is known for an open and relaxed teaching style focusing mainly on a practical application of mindfulness meditation within a modern society. The direct experience of what the practical teachings point to is of foremost importance to him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *