Early on in my apprenticeship with Señorita Saguaro, within the first twenty days, in fact, she told me a story of a woman she knew who was having troubles with a form of schizophrenia. The troubles were specifically in relation to the ‘voices’ that would continually hound her, prodding her to self-destructive behaviours… life threatening actions. We were sitting around a small fire in Saguaro’s *quetzaltzin hut which resembled a large bee hive, it had a hole at the top – a chimney where the smoke from the fire coiled up and into the night sky.
She laughed when she told me the story but insisted that it was an ironic laughter. The woman who had the voices, she said, was slowly over time degrading in physical health due to the voices – they wouldn’t let her sleep, she couldn’t eat and was terrified of going out of her house. “You know what I said to her?” Saguaro asked me with a squinty eye. I shook my head, wondering why she was even telling me about the woman – since we had come to the quetzaltzin hut for the sole purpose of discussing the importance of energy retrieval in regards to ‘DREAMING’.
“I looked her straight in the eye, like I am with you now, and asked: ‘Why do you keep listening to them? For 3 years now you have been telling me all that they say, every word. Why do you listen!?”
The woman said nothing and left in an angry huff. Three years later the woman returned to visit the Señorita, looking healthier… and she was smiling, Saguaro told me that they hugged and then the woman told her that she had spent some time trying to figure out why she was listening to them.. to the point of obsession, when finally she noticed that the voices were quiet.
In all her obsessing over the WHY, she realised that there was no room for the voice so it stopped talking. she also realised that she never actually came to a conclusion as to WHY, but occasionally the voice would pipe up, in those moments she simply did not listen.
‘Guidance by subterfuge’. A standard teaching method employed in some Pagan and shamanistic healing traditions that still function in pure form, today. As I mentioned, I had no idea why she was telling me the story, it was a non sequitur moment based on what we had been working on… and it was never mentioned again.
I could see though how she prodded the Woman into asking herself ‘WHY was she listening’ to such a degree of obsession that there was no ‘space’ for the voices to operate. Kind of like ignoring someone who is on a whining binge, eventually the whiner loses interest because they are not getting the attention they are vying for. The woman did this for so long that the energy that the voices needed was taken away and they became inert, depleted to such a degree that in the end she had gained enough personal power to realise that the WHY was not the solution. (The energy of her attention she was giving them prior to being obsessed with the WHY – was actually self-care, as she was giving energy and attention to her problem and not to the problem).
She simply didn’t have the strength after being depleted for so long as a result of her battle with the voices, to simply not listen. Saguaro saw that her mind required a distraction; a shift to the self rather than the problem, so you see it was a subtle sleight of hand, so to speak that saved the woman. By the time the Woman realised that WHY was not the solution, she had essentially energised herself to the point where she COULD simply not listen and it would be effective.
The reason this is important is that well on 20 years after the initial story was told to me, is that I’m having to employ the same subterfuge to this Anxiety/PTSD that my body is experiencing.
When a ‘panic event’ occurs I really have no control over the happening of it… but I am noticing that the level of intensity that is creating a distorted ‘reality’ is super high, so I have to really be on top of the ‘awareness’ game in order to not flip out. It’s uncomfortable in the sense that I have to extricate myself from whatever situation I’m in and be totally alone to let the distorted reality that my brain is producing, to cycle out. Not give any of the thoughts or projections any credence or attention and then just relax out of the warped reality.
It is something that all humans experience; the barrage of thoughts. With the Anxiety the ‘normal’ experience of the barrage is amplified, in my individual estimation by a hundredfold. It is like being incredibly psychic since the sensitivity to external factors seems to get ramped up as well, so the result is that the pummeling barrage of fear based thoughts are acting in accordance with the ability to be super sensitive to external factors that can be as subtle as a change in the wind or the curling of a lip.
At the rapidity that this is occurring it is extremely difficult to maintain a clarity of what is REALLY happening in contrast to the thought, fear, reality paradigm that is being created in the mind. Every action, word or event is latched onto by the hyper sensitised mind that is functioning from a basis of terror, and those actions, words or events are used by the mind to support the terror reaction… the fight or flight response.
When I experience my first out-and-out panic attack a few months ago, I felt as though the walls were closing in, and that every person in the space was wanting me dead, or gone, or at best, strung up as an object to be ridiculed. I left the space quickly and spent the rest of the night in the car. It was here in the car, after a few hours of deep breathing and forced meditation, and nearly twenty years after the fact that I remembered Señorita Saguaro’s story of the ‘Woman with the Voices’ and I began to wonder if I couldn’t employ the same tactic on my own in order to keep this thing from getting worse. And of course this doesn’t exclude employing my medical doctor and the resources they supply.
At this point in time I am still working to retrieve a medical understanding of what is happening, whether it is physiological, chemical or psychological responses due to childhood traumas. In the process of working that out I have had the opportunity to employ a few of the methods that I was taught by Señorita Saguaro – shamanistic, healing methods such as DREAMING, the Quetzaltzin (recapitulation), meditation and the method I focus on in the story she told me. So far the method in her story seems to have given the best results.
That first attack lasted for about four hours and was hellish, think of four hours feeling as though everything was going to make you suffer, to make you feel ridicule and pain… making it worse and ever so much worse as it continued, and there was no escape or relief possible. Four hours.
Two days ago I had a similar attack. I told myself this when I felt it coming on: “Don’t believe anything, just stay calm and observe.” Which I did in order to avoid argument or negative events with my partner, and then quickly went to my office and let the thoughts run their course. It was DAMNED uncomfortable. A two-hour barrage of thoughts that told me of all the worst thing that were going to happen to me if I didn’t DO something NOW! This is how I used Señorita’s story/method: I asked my self WHAT. What do I have to DO? I knew that I wasn’t interested in an answer, not really. What I hoped was that the question would lock my mind into attempting to answer a question to an irrational fear and terror – even though I couldn’t identify the fear and terror as being irrational in the moment.
After 2 hours the panic subsided as my mind attempted to figure out WHAT to DO, and clarity returned. I knew that I couldn’t let my mind continue searching for an answer that existed in an illusory loop, so I went outside and looked at the stars. Planted my feet into the grass and stared into the cold night sky. Within minutes those stars were all I could think of.
*Quetzaltzin is a more pure form of the practice called ‘recapitulation’ by don Juan Matus, it is used to reclaim ‘lost’ personal energy from places, the past, and people.