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As I’ve been developing the Project BE Bold blog, I’ve come to the realization that it is imperative that I truly define the reasons for my search for boldness. I came into this project thinking that a magazine style blog with general information on being bold would be more powerful than me sharing my ole’ story. But lately I’ve been convinced that there are people out there that need to hear what is on my heart. And for any of this talk about boldness to make sense — I have to tell my audience why boldness is my pursuit.

Having said this — the truth of the matter is that when I was a youngster (around 10 years old) I had so much energy, some of it was positive and some of it negative. Following the death of my father when I was 10, it was hard to know what to think or how to comprehend life. I remember a late evening in which I was sick with a cold and I asked my mom if I was going to survive the night. “Am I going to die?” I asked my mom fearfully. She stroked my brow and promised me that everything would be OK.

While many of my friends were doing what 10-year-olds do…I would space out and wonder what the purpose of life was – why my dad had to leave our family – would my mom die as well and leave me alone to fend for myself? I’d think about the heavens – the universe … I’d float into a mental oblivion and not know how to pull myself back to reality.

One night I was outside and a full moon magically hung in the sky — I looked up and saw the man on the moon. I thought for a moment that I was so small, the universe so big — It didn’t make sense…how could I be here?? The next thing I knew I began to panic…my heart raced at a million miles an hour and I felt as though I were out of body and that I was going to die.

This was my first of many panic attacks. It was one of the scariest moments of my young life. Before I knew it I was fearing another — and another would come. I’d have them at school, while playing sports, while visiting friend’s houses — and especially when my mom went on trips.

I didn’t know how to cope — and in the late 80s (to my memory) psychiatry wasn’t as popular as it is now. Mom worked with me regularly to find ways to cope. She taught me how to breathe deeply and to distract myself as best I could. “If you feel one coming on, bite the side of your mouth,” she’d instruct. “You have to get a hold of yourself,” she’d insist.

This went on until I was near 18-years-old. Along the way — I rarely told anyone, but was thought of to be a Mama’s girl or strange. The fact is that she understood and she was patient enough to work with me to find mental health. She gave me the tools needed to master my mind & body. And then in my 24th year I found yoga and little did my mom or I know — she had been teaching me similar principles. Yoga became my practice – along with prayer, and today I rarely hold the feeling that I’m going to have a panic attack.

I was able to overcome my panic attack disorder without medication — it was a hard road but I came through it with thanksgiving and hope.

I feel for young girls and women in this age – so many are blowing in the wind wondering how to gain control of panic–fear–feelings of worthlessness. And many don’t have the pillar that I had in my mom. It’s far easier today to pop a pill than deal with our personal demons. And before one knows it, the very medication that was their savior has led to other problems & nightmares.

I wish I could yell from the mountain tops — THE MIND CAN BE TRAINED!! It is such a powerful tool :-D It can become your ally and friend.

I must be clear — I’m not against medication and think that it is needed for some. But my heart tells me that if I could overcome it by natural means, others can as well.

Many don’t know where to start, and I’d like to suggest finding a DISCIPLINE of some sort to dedicate yourself to — be it yoga, Tai Chi, martial arts, etc. Find a mentor within one of those disciplines that you trust and share your story. By strengthening mind and body, life begins to take shape. Whatever you do, don’t spend your time in a tailspin staring at walls — isolating yourself, turning to alcohol or drugs for a sense of calm. These things will only pull you deeper into the place you are trying to avoid.

The key to regaining balance when fearful or panicked is in the breath — in rooting oneself into the body and learning to let temporary sensations (such as panic, fear, depression) come and go. Don’t buy into the thought that they are permanent. Breathe deeply and push yourself to higher ground. Find your chosen discipline and pour your all into it. It just takes one step toward your goal and you are on your way.

Ponder these thoughts for strength:

“All the principles of heaven and earth are living inside you. Life itself is truth, and this will never change. Everything in heaven and earth breathes. Breath is the thread that ties creation together.”
Morihei Ueshiba
“An instructor once told me that when there’s resistance in your body, it’s only because of the resistance in your mind. It’s about getting inside the pose. Being the breath.”
Lisa Bonet
“Fear is excitement without breath.”
Robert Heller
My quest for boldness is a daily practice. I invite you to come journey with me and my fellow Project BE Bold contributors in reaching for something more each and every day.
Wishing you a beautiful day, thank you for reading!
-Post by Jen Engevik
Project BE Bold

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