Authors on Stage: Priscilla Warner

Category: Authors
Location: Adrian Lamb Room

Authors on Stage welcomes Author Priscilla Warner on Wednesday, May 23, 2012, at 10 a.m. in the Adrian Lamb Room of the New Canaan Library.

Priscilla Warner should have been content.  A Penn graduate, an accomplished art director, and coauthor of The New York Times best-seller, The Faith Club, she was happily married and the mother of two grown sons.  But for forty years, she’d suffered from anxiety and panic attacks so debilitating that they left her unable to breathe.  So when she read about Tibetan monks who had meditated so effectively that they were able to change their brains, Warner wanted in.  Learning to Breathe: My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life chronicles Warner’s mission to rewire her brain and her body in search of her own “inner monk.”

Learning to Breathe jacket.jpg

“I didn’t know the difference between my dharma and my karma,” writes Warner, “but I was willing to learn.  I’d try whatever techniques, treatments, and teachings I thought might move me on the road from panic to peace.  Maybe my journey would resemble something like Siddhartha meets The Diary of a Mad Jewish Housewife.  My new mantra would be, “Neurotic, Heal Thyself (and Please Stop Complaining).”

In Learning to Breathe, Warner tries spiritual chanting, meditative painting, restorative yoga, 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 family history in a new light, ultimately making peace with her past.  And she receives corroboration that she’s healing from a renowned neuroscientist who scans her brain for signs of progress and change. 

Ms. Warner will discuss:

  • What it was like to suffer from panic attacks for 40 years
  • Her plan for meditating from panic to peace and favorite techniques, including Guided Imagery and Thangka painting
  • What she gained from alternative treatments such as EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, & Trager therapies
  • What her brain scans with acclaimed neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg revealed
  • How every moment can be a “breathtaking moment,” like the dozens of mesmerizing videos she recorded and archived on her website,
  • Her advice for people with anxiety and panic attacks, and others searching for their own inner peace

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.

Priscilla Warner grew up in Providence, R.I., and raised her two sons with her husband in Westchester County, N.Y.  After working for many years as an advertising art director, she coauthored The New York Times best-seller The Faith Club, and spent three years promoting the book while engaging in interfaith dialogue all across America.  She has appeared on such national media outlets as The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, CNN, and NPR and writes for More Magazine and The Huffington Post, among others.