Bruno Cayoun’s MiCBT for Wellbeing and Personal Growth works underwater
I’d just been to a lecture on pain management by Bruno Cayoun, one of the principal developers of mindfulness-integrated cognitive behaviour therapy.
Cayoun uses a simple technique that helps people diminish physical and psychological pain in less than four minutes. The process, discussed in his book MiCBT for Wellbeing and Personal Growth, has gained international recognition.
The day after the lecture, I was driving across Sydney Harbour. I always take the Harbour Bridge, which is a hassle, because I’m too scared to go into the tunnel under the ocean. When trapped in confined places without windows I sometimes have panic attacks that can cause hyperventilation and physical pain as blood vessels constrict.
As a passenger in the tunnel I can shut my eyes. But I won’t drive myself with eyes open. Coming up to the turn-off, I pondered: “Can I use the process to get me through my phobia?”
Before I knew it, I had taken the challenge and was driving into the tunnel.
“OMG. Wow. I’m OK, I’m doing it.” (Heart pounding.) “Only another minute or two to go … gonna be out soon …”
Nope. Suddenly a sign: “Breakdown ahead”. Which should have read “Nervous Breakdown ahead”. The traffic had ground to a halt. Unfortunately, my thoughts hadn’t.
“I’m under miles of water. What if this is a terrorist attack? What if it’s a crack and the water is going to pour in? Where is my asthma puffer? Oh no … no. I left it at home … I will suffocate here alone in the dark.” Then as if by miracle I heard my voice say: “Now! If you don’t do it NOW you never will.”
I shut my eyes and started to do Cayoun’s first step of deep breathing, initially struggling to get air into my tight chest. Followed by gently observing my physiology and the degree to which my thoughts were fuelling the adrenalin surges and pounding heart.
I saw the panic as if I were above it; I could name it, watch it, hear the catastrophising thoughts as they were screaming at me, but I was becoming more detached.
I kept going with other of his techniques and felt my breathing ease. I even felt myself smile: “I’m trapped in a tunnel under the sea during a time of high terrorism alert with claustrophobia. Could life get any better than this!”
I felt the adrenalin subside. I felt sleepy. The comedown that was like a sedative. I yawned. Twenty minutes later the lanes converged and we started moving towards the light. I’d done it.
It’s good to learn self-soothing techniques for the scary days ahead. If I can do it, anyone can.
10 COMMENT REPUBLISHED FROM THE AUSTRALIAN NEWSPAPER
Our daughter suffers from panic attacks, any info is better than nothing to help anyone like her.
First world problems.
Confront your fears.
Never run away
If you fall down 7 times, get up eight.
Ruth I feel as scared going over the Harbour as do going under.
Anxiety attacks are far more prevalent than people realise
You are very brave , well done, they say the deep breathing really helps in situation like that
My wife love your article. She has fear of height and small spaces and I am no help as I dont understand any of it!!
Having watched a close family member struggle with the all consuming fear and debilitation that are true panic attacks, I think you’ve just done a great disservice to the many people that have suffered from them with this puff piece.
@Deborah Disagree with your comment. Having also seen family members struggle with all-consuming fear and debilitation from panic attacks, then find peace and recovery in a matter of weeks using CBT, I’m a fan. CBT is remarkably simple and very effective. Mindfulness meditation and thinking enhances many people’s lives, including my own.
If Cayoun is joining these 2 concepts and making them more accessible to people who suffer and can’t afford a psychologist, I say, bring it on. Puff piece or not, these concepts work well, and can quickly help people. Where’s the harm in that?
@Hazel @Deborah HI Hazel, I’m not at all against the therapy. Whatever form help takes, I think is a good thing and mores the better. There are a lot of very good techniques out there and it seems from my observation that different ones work for different people. Re this article, I was taking issue with the way the author used a very few glib lines to convey what she said was a panic attack and seemed to sum it up with an “all better now” type summary. Glossing over how truly life changing panic attacks can be in this way does nothing to help the broader community’s understanding of this issue and in turn that does nothing to ensure that people get the help they need.
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