Surviving the Cyclone (Part 2 the Amygdala)


A few weeks back, I promised to write about the amygdala, and why practicing mindfulness, is particularly well suited for helping with anxiety, panic attacks, and emotional pain.

 The amygdala is an area of the brain that is correlated with fear and emotion. When we sense fear, it becomes active, and in situations where the amygdala has been damaged, the types of fear we would expect to see are not present~ for example, rats feeling comfortable enough to sleep with cats (la doux).

 While the brain is incredibly sophisticated, many parts of it hail from another time in our evolutionary history; a time when imminent threats were everywhere. It was necessary to continually scan our environment for danger. The older, more primal parts of our brain are conditioned to do this.

 Despite the fact that our living circumstances have changed, this deeply ingrained safety mechanism of the brain, has not. One prime example of this is evident in the popularity of negative news in media. This is a huge part of what makes modern life so challenging. Our brains and bodies evolved to handle impending threats, but much of the danger we experience is chronic and persistent in a way that our brains and nervous systems were not designed for.


In addition to the hippocampus, the amygdala is also connected to attention, emotion, and memory. The amygdala has the potential to influence our perception, and govern our fear conditioned responses to stimuli from our environment.(E A Phelps)

What is tricky in all of this, is that our brains seem primed for stress, anxiety, and fear. However, as scientist do continued research on meditation using MRI scans, it has become evident that, a mindfulness meditation practice, actually causes the amygdala to shrink, and “... increases one’s ability to recruit higher order, pre-frontal cortex regions in order to down-regulate lower-order brain activity” researcher Adrienne Taren relays in Scientific American (Ireland).  In other words, mindfulness meditation helps to calm our inner alarm system, so that we can process our environment and circumstances more clearly.

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a series of step by step videos to lay a beautiful foundation for your new house. Learn techniques to relax the hips, protect the lower back, strengthen your core, support your neck, address tight hamstrings and keep your shoulders aligned. 

"The Mind when housed within a healthful body possesses a glorious sense of power." - Joseph Pilates