Learning to Breathe

Learning to Breathe

My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life

Book - 2011
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Priscilla Warner has had a great life: a supportive husband, a flourishing marriage, two loving sons, and a bestselling book, The Faith Club. Despite all her good fortune and success, she suffers from anxiety and panic attacks so debilitating that they leave her unable to breathe. She's tried self-medicating--in high school, with a hidden flask of vodka--and later, with prescription medications--daily doses of Klonopin with a dark-chocolate chaser. After forty years of hyperventilating, and an overwhelming panic attack that's the ultimate wake-up call, Warner's mantra becomes "Neurotic, Heal Thyself." A spirited New Yorker, she sets out to find her inner Tibetan monk by meditating every day, aiming to rewire her brain and her body and mend her frayed nerves. On this winding path from panic to peace, with its hairpin emotional curves and breathtaking drops, she also delves into a wide range of spiritual and alternative health practices, some serious and some . . . not so much.

Warner tries spiritual chanting, meditative painting, immersion in a Jewish ritual bath, and quasi-hallucinogenic Ayurvedic oil treatments. She encounters mystical rabbis who teach her Kabbalistic lessons, attends silent retreats with compassionate Buddhist mentors, and gains insights from the spiritual leaders, healers, and therapists she meets. Meditating in malls instead of monasteries, Warner becomes a monk in a minivan and calms down long enough to examine her colorful, sometimes frightening family history in a new light, ultimately making peace with her past. And she receives corroboration that she's healing from a neuroscientist who scans her brain for signs of progress and change.

Written with lively wit and humor, Learning to Breathe is a serious attempt to heal from a painful condition. It's also a life raft of compassion and hope for people similarly adrift or secretly fearful, as well as an entertaining and inspiring guidebook for anyone facing daily challenges large and small, anyone who is also longing for a sense of peace, self-acceptance, and understanding.
Publisher: New York : Free Press, c2011.
ISBN: 9781439181072
Characteristics: 274 p. :,ill. ;,23 cm.


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Oct 26, 2018

This book helped me a great deal. It wasn't perfect, and didn't need to be. Its chapters were repetitive, mostly stories of Warner's experiences with various calming techniques from loving-kindness meditation to guided visualization to rituals from her own Jewish tradition. What I got out of it was a pleasant read and a starting place--a good survey of ideas for calming my own anxious mind. I'm grateful to Warner for writing it, especially because it's challenging to capture this kind of internal healing in a memoir without sounding trite or simplistic. But she's done a service and the book is worth checking out.

Jun 19, 2014

This book is a lovely novel abuot how to fina peace and calm wheenone can be found. I especially reccomend this book to thosewho meditate or are curious about meditation.

Sep 02, 2012

I could dismiss some of the authors magical thinking up to chapter 14, where her sons both cut their hands in the exact same way because she opened a magical envelope that had belonged to her now dead father. That's where I stopped reading.

Aug 22, 2012

Absolute crap

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