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Learning to Breathe: My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life
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Learning to Breathe: My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life

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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  481 ratings  ·  90 reviews
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 tried self-medicating in high school, with a hidden flask of vodka and later, with prescr ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 20th 2011 by Atria Books
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Best Cover Art 2011 (Non-YA)
135th out of 274 books — 1,569 voters
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Stunt non-fiction
1st out of 50 books — 13 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,730)
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Read It Forward
Imagine: The Glass Castle meets Eat, Pray, Love. Priscilla Warner writes about her journey in a way that's accessible to anyone who wants to find more peace in their lives.

Her story is heartbreaking in places, comical in others. She lived with panic attacks her entire life until one day (after a particularly bad, eye-opening episode) she decides she has to face her anxiety head-on. I love her curiosity - she's willing to try anything! Some of the techniques she tries I'm familiar with (meditati
...more
Barbara
My dear friend, Sanna, bought this book for me a few years ago. It sat on my night table underneath a photo of my son. I think it was the death of my mother that made me pick it up recently. It took my a couple of months to read it. I varied between following with my heart and mind on Priscilla's quest and being totally annoyed at her jumping all over picking at this practice and that. I think my annoyance was based on how similar that is to me in my spiritual practice. But in the end, it was a ...more
Jennifer
I thouroghly enjoyed this book. I am somewhat jealous of Priscilla's yearlong journey - I wish I had the time and means to meet all those amazing people myself :) Second best, though, is being able to read her book about it. Thankyou Priscilla, for writing it. I loved it and I took many tidbits away to carry with me. Now to find myself a guide on lovingkindness meditation. Suggestions appreciated!! :-)

9/23/11---Saw Priscilla on the Today show this morning, and was captivated by her idea for a bo
...more
Rachel Bussel
I started reading this book because I've struggled with panic and wanted to learn more about Warner's quest. What I found was about so much more than panic attacks and meditation, though it certainly covered that as well. Warner is dealing with her mother's Alzheimer's, as well as trying to unpack many childhood memories and hurts. In the process of seeking wisdom, she visits everyone from Tara Brach to Pema Chödrön to Sharon Salzberg to the Dalai Lama. She goes on retreats and looks closer to h ...more
Julie
At the end of a book tour, successful author Priscilla Warner decides to spend a year addressing her recurring panic attacks, seeking therapies that will re-tool her brain to be more like the brain of a Buddhist monk. She starts meditating, seeks out teachers and therapists, and tries healing methods such as Ayurvedic massage. She also has her brain scanned, both at the beginning of her quest and after a year of work, to get scientific feedback on how things are going.
Although our lives have bee
...more
Michelle
I really wanted to love this based on reviews I'd read, but I didn't. What I liked most about it was exposure to some things I was unfamiliar with, such as some of the Jewish rituals the author details. What I disliked was the "poor me, I had a traumatic childhood and bad parents" attitude the author has.

I found the author to be honest but self indulgent. She doesn't realize what a fortunate life she's had and how her "traumatic childhood" is a joke in comparison to most people's childhoods. Hon
...more
Dana
Like Priscilla's first book, this book also made me think. I found the book to be well-written, interesting, funny in parts, sad in parts and open and real. Priscilla shares her story of her yearlong quest to find tranquility and a cure to the panic attacks that she has suffered from all of her life. She shares her experiences with meditation, yoga, different therapies, massage, Buddhist teachings,and getting to see the Dali Lama. I find it encouraging that she was able to use these various tech ...more
Jan
I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Priscilla's yearlong journey. Having experienced panic attacks and growing up in a dysfunctional family myself I was impressed with her positive attitude and healthy relationships with her husband and children. Although I hardly accepted all of her "truths", there are many life-lessons in this well-written book. A good read for those curious about meditation.
Jo
My favorite book of the just dawned new year, and this is a keeper. In Priscilla Warner's journey from panic to peace there are so many gems to explore, from lovingkindness phrases to Trager work, Ayurveda and EMDR. Her honesty is refreshing, her generosity astounding, her experience inspiring. Highly recommended!
Sarah
If you're intrigued by the idea of meditation as a potentially useful tool, yet you're skeptical, or afraid to dive right in, this book is a great place to start. The writing is crisp and wonderful, and her journey is surely worth the time.
Pam
Nov 02, 2011 Pam rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Pam by: The author
I really liked parts of the book, some made me laugh others nearly cry. It did keep me reading, even if I felt it was disjointed at times. Then I thought aren't all of our lives and thoughts disjointed at times. I know mine are often. I felt like I got to get to know the author more, which was nice. I met her in the book THE FAITH CLUB. Over all, I don't think too many of us could go on year long search to do this, financially. But it did encourage me to seek out some books on Buddhism and medi ...more
Converse

I feel a little bad about giving the book such a low rating, because the author had real problems and her spiritual quest reduced them. But I think she is credulous.

Starting in her teens, Priscilla Warner, former advertising art director and author of The Faith Club, had panic attacks. Symptoms include hyperventilating and a racing heart. After carrying around a flask of vodka, she turned to medication, first Valium and more recently Klonopin. However, Ms. Warner's illness really does seem t

...more
Heather
"I'd become just another unhappy person on the planet...leading a life of quiet desperation."

Priscilla Warner and her yearlong quest to bring calm to her life is handbook of heavy hitters in the "peace" genre. Warner wishes to find her "inner monk" and consults Sylvia Boorstein, Pema Chodrom, the Dalai Lama, and Sharon Salzberg among others to learn how to quell her anxiety. This is a great reference for exploring different techniques for anyone interested in meditation or various types of thera
...more
Sarah Bringhurst
The past few years have been a little difficult on me. Things are getting better, but I have some residual anxiety that surfaces every so often. Like Priscilla Warner, I've been trying "to bring calm to my life." The personal narrative format of this book really worked for me. I loved accompanying Warner as she met with people from different faith/spirituality traditions, learned their ways of finding peace, and incorporated them into her own journey of the soul.

She includes quite a few beautif
...more
Jennifer
I am so grateful for Priscilla's book, Learning to Breathe. I learned so much about my own journey of battling anxiety, even though it is mostly in my past, by reading her account of the year she dedicated to finding peace for her brain. There are forms of meditation I had no idea existed, which Priscilla details in her book and I'm enjoying exploring them myself because I see how much calmness they brought to her life. This book is such a gift and I recommend it to everyone because we can all b ...more
Jude
Have now read this book for the second time. First time it jumped off the shelf at me at the library. Fall of 2011. Savored each page and didn't want to let it go. Then I won a signed copy from the author on Pinterest and read my own copy again just now. I feel calmer after I read this book - now it will be a necessary re-read for me. Once a year seems like a good goal.

Priscilla takes you on a journey from frenzy to calm, showing her adventures seeking peace and ultimate comfort with herself. S
...more
Katie Hilton
*******THIS WAS A FIRSTREADS GIVEAWAY FROM GOODREADS***************************

I loved, loved, loved this book. Though Priscilla started her 'calm quest' due to her battle with panic attacks, I think this book is applicable to anyone who experiences stress and struggle--um hello, all humans!

I don't believe I have any unique insights to offer in my review that others haven't already contributed, but I am happy to give my sincere seal of approval and I would highly recommend this book.

Thank you P
...more
Christine
I cannot speak highly enough of this book. Priscilla's writing is accessible, elegant and exquisitely honest. In this book she writes of her year-long journey to bring calm to her life. She narrates her quest from the point of view of living it, but also as wise observer. This is a great gift to the reader because she offers a valuable opportunity for everyone to truly learn from her experience. If you've struggled with anxiety or depression, or simply feel lost in your life, this book will insp ...more
Bookreaderljh
This is a cross between a memoir and a self help book. I liked it for the teaching reagarding meditation as a means of not only bringing calm to a person but also as a means of spreading compassion. If a reader is looking to replicate the author's quest to reduce panic attacks and lead a more balanced life - be forewarned that this is very heavy on Easetern religion and/or new age light and massage therapies. The basic idea is good, though. There are methods out there for brining calm to life an ...more
Jane
Dec 08, 2011 Jane rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
It's been a long time since I've read a book that I was so captivated by. Every chapter took me deeper into Priscilla's journey for truth, peace and healing and I was most intrigued by the choices she made along the way to move from panic to peace. I feel very lucky to have stumbled on this book at my library and know that I'll be thinking of Priscilla for a long time. Reading her story touched a nerve and I'm eager to try some of the techniques she tried in hopes for some similar success.
Louise Mathewson
WOW!! Excellent book - the story of her journey to heal panic attacks that she had had for near 40 years! The author really wanted healing, was willing to face her demons, her history, her thoughts and feelings and in doing so she found relief from terrible attacks of panic. I really admire Priscilla for her strength, courage, determination and persistence to find healing and peace and then to tell her story! I learned things for my own journey as well.
Jan
4 1/2 stars. I really enjoyed joining Priscilla on her quest. I learned a lot about various therapies and meditaion methods and a bit about myself. Obviously, not everyone can spend the time or money to experience all these different systems and wonder people, but in a way I felt that I was right there with her. I think I have a better handle on my own anxiety issues after reading this book.
Angela Joyce
What a delightful book. I like how Ms. Warner avoids the "poor me" mentality, making it clear that everyone suffers in this life in different ways. Her sense of humor is excellent-- the "channelling Joe Cocker" thing gave me a good laugh. I liked learning about just how much help is out there for those who need it, and I like the humility and love she put into writing this book.
Lain
Because I also have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for years, I was extremely interested to see if the author would find a way to "cure " her over active mind and adrenal glands. She's a terrific writer, and her experiences and journey gave me hope. But I wonder if those of us without her connections and resources can find similar peace?

I'm willing to give it a shot!
Susan
a refresher with all the biggies: pema chodron, sharon salzberg, sylvia boorstein, jack kornfeld, even the dalai lama re-enforcing the need to find calm in our lives with meditation practice. the background of childhood trauma the author faced was most interesting and makes you think about even the smallest incidents in one's life that triggers emotion for years after.
Kathy
I just could related to her quest and where she came from. I so appreciated her insight and the things she learned along the way. It also shows that no matter what you believe, especially faith wise, we are all the same.
M K
Oct 10, 2012 M K rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
I do not have the time or energy now to write everything about this book that is wonderful. I just know it will be one of the few books that I read more than once.
Kristy McCaffrey
The author documents her efforts to overcome years of debilitating panic attacks. Her story is very inspiring and hopeful to people with anxiety/panic issues.
Lindsay
I loved this book and felt like I took the journey to heal with Priscilla.
Jessica Kalbarczyk
A great book if you're lost in trying to find what works for you spiritually.
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