Sunday, December 6, 2009

Magic Circles at the Mall

As much as I used to love the mall as a teenager, I completely and utterly loathe the mall now as an adult. I avoid the mall at all costs. I don't think I've been near one in at least 2 or 3 years... until yesterday.

The husband wanted to go to the mall to search for grab bag gifts for his family's annual grab bag exchange. And not just any mall, not our nearby, small, unpopular local mall. Nope, he wanted to go to Flatiron Crossing-- *the* mall and massive popular shopping center between Denver & Boulder. My anxiety level rose just at the very thought of it.

Anxiety really set in once we got there. Traffic was heavy and backed up, so many cars trying to get in or out of the area. Traffic cops directing the heavy flow of cars. Parking lots filled to capacity and beyond. My chest and stomach got tighter and tighter, my breath shallow and ragged as we looked for a parking spot.

But when we entered the mall-- that's when my anxiety kicked in full force. Crowds of people, children screaming, shoppers brushing up against me as we manoeuvred through the aisles, music blaring, every store a maze of aisles and displays, overly bright lights and colors everywhere. I couldn't take any deep breaths, I felt like I couldn't get any air, I felt dizzy and jittery, I felt like I would shatter into a million pieces at any second. I had to go to the bathroom. NOW.

Locked in the stall, I knew I had to find some way to calm myself or I was going to have an panic driven meltdown any second. Tears and hyperventilation were dangerously close to surfacing. I tried to breathe slowly and deeply to ground and center myself. And I realized, *now* was an excellent time to create a magic protective circle around myself.

I've been taking a Wiccan Spirituality class since September and one of the main focuses of the class is grounding, centering and creating sacred space around oneself. I used to have these techniques down, but my skills have gotten rusty over the years. Plus, I realized, its not as difficult to create sacred space when you're in a calm, quiet, meditative atmosphere-- but here, at the mall, in the midst of chaos-- *that* is the real test for creating a magic circle. Could I do this effectively when it really counted? That was the true challenge.

I breathed and breathed, I imagined roots growing out of my feet into the ground, pulling up soothing energy from the earth; I imagined a white light reaching from the top of my head through the ceilings and clouds into the sky, bringing cooling energy from the stars down into me. With toilets flushing and doors banging and children laughing and mothers scolding all around me and my private little stall, I breathed slowly and I tried to focus on mentally drawing lines around me-- from above my head, down my right side, under my feet and back up again on my left side and from one side of my body all the way around me horizontally and from the top of my head down back behind me, under my feet again and up in front of me to meet at my head once more. After I'd drawn the omnil, I breathed in strength from the Universe to fill it up with protective energy. Energy that would keep people from bumping against me, energy that would deflect the chaos and noise, energy that would cushion and cocoon and keep me tranquil.

When I felt calmer, I left the bathroom and rejoined my patient husband. I tried to keep focusing on that magical sphere all around me as we waded through the crowds. But about 15 minutes later... I had to go back to the bathroom. Focus, focus, focus. And block out that little voice inside of me saying "this is never going to work"-- it had to work! Why else have we been practicing this very thing in class for so long? Because with practice, it *does* work. Breathe, breathe, breathe. And thankfully, at last, some small measure of peace descended upon me. I could do this. I knew I could.

And I did. And we made it the entire length of the mall, went to the upper level and came back again. And even found some decent grab bag gifts in the process. But, oh! It was so good to finally walk out into the open air and natural light and make it to the car and then home and know that it was all over. But I would never have made it without my magic circles.


sukigirl said...

Sounds like you had quite a challenge finding calm among the storm.
I love how you describe the process that you used, it's a wonderful visualization.
In a Tai Chi I took they talked about developing an iron shirt but I like your way a lot better.

Anonymous said...

It's one thing to study another to practice. Great job on the real life application! I know it was a challenge.

Anonymous said...

I used to have panic attacks at the mall and get all dizzy when I was younger. Now I am usually fine and it may be because I am on an anti depressant come to think of it. I tend to get overwhelmed with the visual stimuli too. I find that parking close to the one or two stores I am going to helps but I will have to try visualizing too if I have issues. Glad you made it out ok! :)

Anonymous said...

first catch your hare, then cook him........................................

Nydia said...

Hi, Turtle! Just stopped by to ask you a favor, can you light a little candle for Lucas? He's going tomorrow morning to spend his vacations with Rodrigo, you know. I made a calling for a positive/protective chain for him, no matter how dramatic it ay sound.

Kisses and thank you!

Anonymous said...

This is such an awesome post! Yay for you to use the bathroom to calm & center yourself.
I know how you feel, and had a couple full blown anxiety attacks this X-mas season while shopping. The crowds, the airless malls, I really don't know how people enjoy it!