January 2018 – How I changed my life using The Art of Conscious Change? Piret Ärm's end-point for panic attacks and anxiety disorder – magazine Tervis Pluss
By Inga Raitar for TervisPluss, 25.02.2018
It was only a few years ago when Piret Ärm (47) battled fear and prescription drug addiction. Today she is unrecognizable, as consistent work with herself helped her combat her panic attacks and made her drop weight in a size of a bucket. Piret, who currently works as a family assistant in SOS Children's Village, suffered from panic attacks once every year or two years.
The fears that attacked her would keep her behind closed doors. “A panic attack strikes you without any warning, saying you're only one step away from death”, Piret shares her experience that many who have suffered from anxiety attacks can relate to. “You become such a believer [of what your thought is telling you] that you become completely paralyzed. This becomes an obsession 24/7.”
Thoughts that would create panic would sometimes last for an entire week, without Piret knowing how to escape them. “Fear can have many reasons”, she admits. “I needed to do my groceries, but I didn't have the guts as I was afraid I was going to die at that same grocery's. I had my children going. Different activity- and space-related phobias develop that all come down to this fear of death that just takes over your life.”
During her panic attacks, Piret wasn't even able to walk, as she believed her feet to be too weak for that. “She would call an ambulance, paramedics would measure her blood pressure, you would wait for antidepressants as nothing else would help, as she was told” Piret describes herself from the distance as somebody whose story she knows but with whom she no longer identifies with. “Antidepressants took the pressure off, but I wasn't myself while taking them. They turned me into a zombie, I was very calm, the reality was miles away from my sugar-coated world. After the end of the treatment, I felt good for about 6 months, but then the nightmare would return.” And so for 15 years.
“I turned to my doctor for an appointment with a psychiatrist. Why would you go to a shrink, I'll prescribe you Xanax myself, the doctor said,” recalls Piret the beginning of the gravest period in her health battle. “Xanax is a legal drug, isn't it?! I went in a completely dark place. Your body wants a pill and you're totally under the influence.” Xanax wasn't like the antidepressants which didn't cause such a heavy addiction.
“I had nowhere to turn to,” Piret admits. “Once I stopped with the medication, my body was shaking all over. After I had hit rock bottom, I finally realized I had to stop with the medication. I got rid of the pills and in the following weeks, suffered alone from crazy rehab symptoms: I was sweating and shaking and it all felt like a blur. It was a nightmare! It's a distant memory now, I no longer think about it, but when I do, it still gives me chills.”
After rehab, the panic attacks would return. They had not gone anywhere while she had been in a drug haze. “Doctors stated that I would have to live with this panic for the rest of my life. It seemed like a matter of fact,“ Piret admits. “Yet I felt there had to be something that would actually work. I started looking. Eight years ago I listened to this broadcast where Ingvar Villido explained the five-level system of kriya yoga. No-one had ever told me something so logical that would completely fall in line with my life.”
It was destiny, literally, that led Piret to participate in the Art of Conscious Change courses created by Ingvar Villido. “There was this game on Facebook where I had to answer questions. My wish to find help was so strong that I won!” Piret lights up. “At first, I released unpleasant emotions that were on the surface”, she recalls the beginning of her recovery. “After I had been releasing the most active emotions for a year or two, concepts related to the panic attacks started to emerge. A panic attack is actually a mix of emotions and concepts. Those who experience panic attacks, understand - there's a concept and after that, an emotion and you're stuck in that. You'll feel bad because you believe you're going to.” Piret started to study how panic within her arises - a task which is not an easy one. “You have to be constantly aware to root out every single unpleasantness. You have to notice things instantly. The slightest change in your mood asks that you address it immediately,” she describes.
Yes, you read correctly: she had to release emotions and concepts constantly for years. “When you've felt fear for 15 years, it doesn't go away in 2 weeks. It calls for constant, everyday practice,” Piret says. “At first I spent 5 to 6 hours every day on intensive practice. I just kept on releasing. After a layer was removed, new emotions and concepts kept on arising. I had forgotten all about them, but they don't go away until you have consciously let them go.”
Overcoming fear of flying
Piret says that the Art of Conscious Change is certainly not a miracle cure that heals you immediately. “A lot of negativity had been pushed to the subconsciousness. Things I didn't want to remember kept on arising. Actually, I can't remember those things, because disturbances are released with the techniques permanently. Everything was intense, but I'm grateful, because I knew what to do.”
Although Piret initially only wanted to become free from panic attacks, the results were much more profound. “When I became able to observe my inner domain, I was able to go out alone, I had the courage to go to the theater, the shopping mall and to work,” Piret says. “My ability to be aware has improved so much that I instantly notice what is happening within me, I release an emotion or concept when it has arisen. I'm not afraid that my condition may return, I can battle a panic attack in less than a minute.”
Piret, who had been afraid to board an airplane in the last 20 years, flew on a holiday last year. “I released everything that arose during take-off and had a happy flight”, Piret beams. “I really don't know where would I be without the Art of Conscious Change. Not a single antidepressant takes away your emotion, ever.”
Piret also found the slogan “Be positive!” useless. “I was positive on the outside, but on the inside, a total wreck,” she recalls. “Positivity is an affirmation on the surface. I'd rather be adequate and neutral, positive emotions can be there and I can use them, but I don't depend on them. There's more clarity and peace. I know what I'm doing and things don't happen to me.”
A bucket of fat in two months
Old acquaintances at times don't even recognize Piret on the streets, because besides panic attacks, she has lost a significant amount of weight. “When my previous self returned after 20 years of disappearance, I noticed that I liked indulging in a candy every day. When a panic attack struck, it didn't matter what I ate or how I looked,” Piret admits. But once, all of a sudden she was watching herself from a mirror in a clothing booth. “I received an insight I'm going to lose weight, I won't be carrying this on any longer.”
The decision to lose weight was in part due to health, because last spring she suffered from an illness that had to be cured with antibiotics. As a result of those, however, she had heartburn that took Piret to a homeopath. She was there advised to lose weight and remove from her body the yeast inducing inflammation of the mucous membrane.
Piret excluded flour, dairy products and sugar from her menu. “Sugar is the biggest addiction of humanity, which also caused the inflammatory process in my body. Sugar causes the yeast to proliferate in the intestines, but this, in turn, hinders the absorption of nutrients. The whole time you’d like to nibble something without ever being satisfied, however much you eat. When you get the yeast out of your body, you will succeed in eating healthy and living a quality life.”
Right now, Piret’s menu doesn't include even a gram of sugar, to free herself from the craving for sweets, she also used techniques of The Art of Conscious Change. It is said that any craving will disappear in 70 days, but the first month is the hardest. “You have to observe yourself consciously and keep at it, then the disturbing impulses will disappear,” Piret knows. Now she can look at piles of cake and stacks of candy without any craving whatsoever.
A changed woman
Piret also joined a weight-watchers group. In their forum, every once in a while someone writes that they have sinned and that motivation is waning. “The Art of Conscious Change is like a heaven’s gift for weight-watchers, without it I would certainly have fallen back,” she believes. “It is precisely an emotion that takes motivation down. I see how people don't know what to do with their emotions and they keep going up and down. They overcome it through pure will, but then fall back down.”
Piret is not suffering from this problem, even on her trip at the richly covered tables of the hotel she never slipped. A small kitchen scale helped keep track of the quantity. “Some looked at me strangely, but even on the trip, I lost one kg per week. I didn't even know beforehand that I had these impulses that force me to eat more. For example, sweets are a search for the feeling of security, it feels so enjoyable, but with each bite, you ruin your health.”
Piret believes that the Art of Conscious Change helps the changes to last. “The woman I was in March - puny and weak - isn't there anymore. There is a totally different one. I can work out and do every kind of physical activity that needs to be done, “ Piret vivaciously assures. “Healing doesn't happen overnight. At the same time, I had the knowledge that it is possible to become free of this rubbish.”