Learning to Breathe by Priscilla Warner
My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life

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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.

About Priscilla Warner

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Priscilla Warner grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and spent many years in Boston and New York as an advertising art director, shooting ads for everything from English muffins to diamond earrings. Priscilla co-authored The New York Times bestselling memoir The Faith Club, then toured the country for three years, hyperventilating her way through an extended book tour. Finally, in the skies over Oklahoma, she vowed to find her inner monk, and began meditating her way from panic to peace.
Published September 20, 2011 by Atria Books. 290 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Self Help, Religion & Spirituality, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The author also took up thangka painting with a Lama from Tibet, spending countless hours drawing the perfectly symmetrical face of the Buddha as she absorbed lessons of peace and compassion.

Sep 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Learning to Breathe: My Yearl...

Publishers Weekly

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Warner (The Faith Club) suffered her first panic attack at age 15.

Jun 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Learning to Breathe: My Yearl...

Book Reporter

Determined to learn how to make her singing bowl sing beautifully and armed with the CD of chants, Warner's quest for peace had begun in earnest.

Oct 06 2011 | Read Full Review of Learning to Breathe: My Yearl...


I wanted to share my new refined personality and joy with them but felt I could not and even felt guilty for being so healthy because everyone around me seemed to be afflicted with their own health issues.

Jan 10 2012 | Read Full Review of Learning to Breathe: My Yearl...

Sparrow Magazine

But Warner wonders, as I have so often, “how can you love someone and not become attached?” Lama Tsondru, a teacher of Tibetan painting with whom Warner studies, tells her that if she “opens up [her] heart to others, the weight on [her] shoulders will lessen.” She begins to move towards acceptan...

Mar 02 2012 | Read Full Review of Learning to Breathe: My Yearl...

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